Episode 8: Aftermath
By: Carlos Uribe
Nikita is a show about a female spy who does missions for a secret, undercover government agency.
This week we have a fun weekly case with a former cleaner that has hired out his service to the Mexican cartel. When Nikita and Owen ruin his plan to retrieve an incriminating laptop, the cleaner takes it personally. He decides that he'll get the laptop from the FBI and the DEA (DEA took the laptop but the FBI are holding it) for free after killing the people who had fired him. That guy is not going to have very good reviews on the mercenary section of yelp. He does break into the FBI but he's defeated by Owen and Nikita. The weekly case is simple as it doesn't really get too complicated. It allows the show to have some pretty fun action sequences that this show can do in it's sleep now. The cleaner is a decent antagonist but his personality is pretty bland compared to some of the weekly villains they have faced in the past. Of course, this episode was never really about the weekly case. It might have provided the action scenes and allowed the show to continue it's procedural element but it's really about Michael. I'm not sure if you remember this but he lost his hand in the last episode. He now has a robotic hand he's having trouble closing while feeling the occasional phantom pain. They try to include him in the first part of the mission but he turns out to be relatively useless without his ability to properly shoot guns. He does contribute in the second part of the mission as he's able to lead Nikita and Owen through the FBI building to get the cleaner. It's clear that Nikita and Michael are going to have to leave him at the headquarters for the time being.
This is going to highlight the relationship problems that they have. The episode was never about Micheal’s role on the team but to his own personal adjustment in having a missing limb. He tries to pretend that it's not a big deal when it's clearly affecting him a lot. He's not going home and he's on the edge. He claims that he doesn't blame Nikita because he understands that she had no real choice in the matter. They are at war and there are causalities when engaging the enemy. He might understand this in his head but it's not what's in his heart. There's a moment at the end of the episode where he lashes out at Nikita by stating that she's helped enough. That is to state that there's at least some part of him that does blame her for losing his hand. It makes sense as she cut it off. It doesn't matter if the circumstances called for it, that's an action that's bound to leave some emotional damage with the physical. Just as predicted, this whole hand scenario is leading to trouble between the two as Michael pushes Nikita away. He doesn't hate her for her action, though, as he quickly regrets it. It is significant to note that just as Michael has to stay and observe the mission from ops, he's going to be living in Division instead of going home to Nikita. This is a separation from both spheres (personal/work) of their lives that represents the actual wall that's come up between them.
Of course, we can't just look at this from Micheal’s point-of-view but also from Nikita. She had done what was necessary in order to protect her love. She is now finding herself being pushed away from him. This frustrates her because she just can't break through to him. She had tried to include him in a mission and she's done her best to simply talk to him. He simply keeps on refusing to open up to her. Owen notices how Michael is treating her and he tried to confront him about it but this was a touchy subject for Michael. It's not just Michael who is suffering but also Nikita. The two had discussed before he lost his hand how they would treat any situation together but it looks like this tragedy might break them up. This episode doesn't really dwell too much into what she's actually thinking as we see her more reacting. This makes sense but I'm hoping we're allowed a little bit into her brain so the series can explore what she's going through as well.
What that's all going on, Alex is dealing high blood pressure caused by the drugs she had taken. She might be clean now but she has to find a way to lower her pressure so she can be cleared for missions. She tries mediation with Birkoff and taking out her frustrations on a punching bag. This all makes her realize that it doesn't matter if her body is clean because there is a reason she went back to being on drugs. It might have to do with her desire to be putting her life on the line by volunteering to be on every mission. She might have a new addiction to adrenaline. It might have to do with Sean leaving her. It might have to do with something else. Whatever the case, it looks like the show is now going to do an arc as Alex tries to figure it out. This should lead to some interesting internal drama that will unravel. That the show was able to externalize the existence of this internal problem with the character doing actions to try and resolve it is good storytelling. It allows us not only to hear how much she wants to get better but to let us see it. This is integral to ensuring so that this plot doesn't become a distraction from the weekly mission or the other dramatic bits because we want Alex not only back on the team but to be emotionally stable.
Aftermath is a pretty great episode of Nikita because of it's concentration on character. Micheal’s problems with losing his hand and who cut it off not only make sense but help to create friction between him and the love of his life. Alex will now be going on a journey of self-discovery that should allow the character to grow. The weekly case was fun that was good on it's own while allowing the character drama to take precedence.