Episode 16: Tipping Point
By: Carlos Uribe
Nikita is a show about a female spy who does missions for a secret, undercover government agency.
I'm not a big fan of Tipping Point which is odd. It's actually a pretty good and exciting episode. The action is top-notch, the writing is to the standard I have come to expect from this series, and it made me excited to see what's going to happen next. On the surface, Tipping Point did everything right and I should have liked it. I certainly did as I was watching. I might not have been surprised when the writers revealed that Amanda had done something to Alex's brain but it was a twist that really got my adrenaline pumping because the only good guy who knows is now in a coma. It's a neat narrative idea to have one of the core group of members secretly work against the rest to undermine their mission to save the lives of every Division agent. It was also nice to have Michael basically get his hand back because the conflicts his missing hand had created were basically resolved. He had gotten used to his mechanical hand and he had patched things up with Nikita. It even allows him to go on the field again-an aspect of the show that I didn't really realized I missed until he went on a mission this week. Tipping Point is technically a good episode. It manages to lay down where the story is going to go next in an exciting manner. The problem isn't in where the narrative is going to go in future episodes but in how the journey was starting because it basically disregards some of what has happened in regards to character.
I get that there was a high chance that Amanda did something to Alex's brain. Alex kept bringing up that just because she has a backbone now doesn't mean Amanda changed her. Sean happened to see the chair that was used on Owen to wipe his memories. The clues were there and I did pick up on them but I hoped that's not the direction the writers were going in. The death of Larissa was supposed to mean something. Alex had been able to connect with her and promised to save her. She couldn't because Nikita didn't prioritize Larissa's life. Alex saw that Nikita had ignored her wishes to follow her own. It's the perfect motivator to change. When Alex brings up that Amanda didn't have to do anything to her, she was right. Her character was getting a backbone because she realized she had to be assertive to get what she wanted. Only that turns out to not be true. The real reason that Alex is acting different is because Amanda did change her. This is basically frustrating because it means that Larissa's death didn't really mean anything. Alex is undermining Division because Amanda planted negative thoughts in her. Okay, that's really the only way to justify her being the leader of a mutiny. There might have been hints that she was a new Nikita but she wouldn't be there so soon if this was character-based. It also justifies why she was so dead-set against the side mission to kill that dictator. It makes sense for the plot but it hurts the character. It negates the character growth and renders the valid points she brings up as false. This is ultimately why I didn't like the episode: what the implication of Alex's mind control means to her as a character. One can only hope that when they do finally fix her mind that they're able to keep the growth.
The real plot of the week has to do with a weekly case to get Michael his hand. This involves a side mission to get a cure for the team of scientists that Heidecker was a part of. They manage to succeed but only after incurring a casualty. It's great to see that this volunteer’s death had an impact as it encourages more people to join the mutiny because consequences make the decisions of the characters to go on this mission matter. They manage to get the cure to the scientists, nicknamed the Shock by Birkhoff, and Michael is able to get his hand back. Only there's some complication because the people they had stolen the cure from tried to take it back. The final reveal is that the Shock is lying about who they are to Division and that they're planning something big. It wouldn't surprise me if the Shock turned out to be the organization that Percy had gotten acceptance to right before he died. The series is cleverly setting up a new big bad for when Amanda is defeated. The good news is that Michael gets his hand back long after his missing hand stopped creating conflicts. This basically makes me happy because it means that everything that happened during it still happened but I'm disappointed that Michael can't be part-Terminator anymore. Hopefully his new hand still allows him to break locks. Michael got his hand back but the cost was to increase the ranks of the mutiny. An insider threat they're going to have to deal with.
As I said, Tipping Point is a good episode of Nikita. It manages to do a lot right but I'm not happy because of what it means for Alex. I honestly liked her new fierce side because it created some good conflict but also it was nice to get some real disagreement into the core group. She's now an invisible threat which holds promise for future episodes. Michael gets a new hand which is nice that we do get some happy news. The title tipping point refers to the concept that if enough people leave Division then the seals will wipe them out. It's probably Amanda's plot to reach this point but the question I must ask is if the episode is merely bringing up the theory or if the point was actually reached this week? I'm not sure.
The obstacles our characters are facing: the government, Amanda, the individual rogue agents, Alex, this Shock...and next week seems to be adding Owen to the list as the preview implies he switches sides. This is going to get...interesting, to say the very least.