Nikita – Rough Trade (S01E04) – Episode review

[[Nikita (TV series)|Nikita]] takes on the Triads in Rough Trade. As part of her ongoing quest for vengeance against Percy and ‘Division’, Nikita revisits her first mission in which she posed as a nanny to infiltrate the home of a man working for the Triads.

Inside Division, Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) continues her training until a bomb disposal situation sends her into a panic attack. This lands her at Amanda’s (Melinda Clarke) door for therapy sessions which turn out to be more like torture. The important thing here is that Alex’s schedule isn’t free, so while she should be alerting Nikita as to Divisions movements, she ends up in a high-tech straitjacket being subjected to some serious torture.

The key here is the developing backstory, not so much the Triad situation which has a mild feel of ‘case of the week’ to it. By revisiting Nikita’s first mission, we get to see how uncomfortable she is with her orders from Division from the outset. Consequently, the reason she’s chosen to revisit that first kill is because her conscience is bothering her and she wants to right the wrongs she helped create.

I have to say, it was great to see “Maggie Q: Action Hero” in this episode. The scene where she chopped down several Triad guards in a sweatshop with her bare hands was awesome. More please! Nikita spends so much time looking serious and tense that it’s amazing to watch her kick ass in such a fluid and violent manner.

Another highlight for me was the double-cross: that Percy (Xander Berkeley) had actually arranged Nikita’s mission to fake the death of Victor Haan. Which means that not only was her guilt at killing him totally misplaced, he was a bad guy who totally abandoned his wife and child for the Triads. Doesn’t get much scummier than that.

This leads to another revelation: Michael (Shane West) has no idea about Division’s involvement in faking Victor’s death. This is important, because it’s another reason for Michael to feel uncomfortable about what he does for a living. And critically in this episode, Michael let’s Nikita know that he’s not standing in her way. She knows he has his laser sights trained on her chest. He could kill her but he walks away. There was a bit of “hero” music that played during that scene that made me feel really good about Michael’s actions.

As the episode ends, all the wrongs are corrected and everybody should be on a level pegging. Except now Amanda suspects Alex is holding something back. I’m not sure about how much she suspects, but there will be more scrutiny on the young recruit, which may make it harder for her to spy for Nikita from the inside. And Percy may well be questioning Michael’s loyalties after he witnesses the frustrated agent beating several shades out of a punchbag in the gym.

Despite the backstory and character development, I’m still finding it hard to warm to Nikita (the character). She’s clearly morally grounded and she has a sense of right and wrong, but it’s incredibly hard to warm to her. The character is extraordinarily cold, especially in contrast to Alex, who’s hot-headed and impulsive. I wish that we could see her in a way that grounds her, because as we only ever see her alone on missions, it makes the character feel a little bit like a revengebot.

Still, the tone of the show remains stylish, racy and exciting. More fight scenes and perhaps snappier dialogue would go some way to making Nikita herself a bit more interesting.

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