Episode Title: "343 Walnut Lane"
Writer: Andrew Colville
Director: Nick Copus
Previously on "Nikita":
Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) went on the run with the black box formerly owned by Percy (Xander Berkeley); which contained all of Division's dirty secrets. Tech nerd God, Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) reluctantly joined their fight against Division and its new leader, Amanda (Melinda Clarke), who had Percy imprisoned. Amanda also hired Nikita's former protegee, Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) to hunt down Nikita and Michael in order to retrieve the black box. Alex's condition was that Division would help her avenge her father's death, but her father's enemies soon became aware of her survival… which may endanger her plans and her life as well.
More recently, Michael used his resources to help protect Cassandra Ovechkin (Helena Mattsson); a woman whom he had once romanced as part of a Division mission. After Cassandra was saved, she confessed to Nikita that Michael was the father of her son and she asked her to keep the truth from him. But Nikita never seems to know when to keep a secret and when to speak up…
Alex enters a church and steps into a confessional. But instead of a priest, Alex is meeting with Nikita via video phone so she can ask her former friend for help. Alex tells Nikita that Percy has offered the information she needs to know about her father's enemies in exchange for the contents of a file on the black box. Alex pleads with Nikita that she needs the information to save her own life now that the same enemies are targeting her for death. Michael and Nikita agree to consider helping her, and as Alex leaves we see that a Division spy has been following her.
Back at Birkoff's house, he uncovers the file that Percy wanted and tells Nikita that there was nothing special inside of it… except information about her birth with the name of her mother, but not her father. Michael notes that the father's name has been classified by the CIA, meaning that he may still be alive. Nikita suggests breaking into the CIA to recover the information, but Michael is against it until Nikita explains what finding her father would mean to her. Nikita also nurses her guilt over keeping Michael's son a secret when he agrees to help her.
Nikita and Michael sneak into the CIA records room under false identities and then clumsily fight their way out with some stolen files. Back at Division's underground prison, Amanda confronts Percy with the information that he and Alex met behind her back and reached out to Nikita. Percy states that he intended for Alex to go to Nikita and that he knows where she will be for the next 24 hours. But once that information is in Amanda's hands, she recognizes the name Richard Ellison (David Keith) and shoots down Percy's plan to bargain with her. Back at Birkhoff's house, Nikita finally learns that Richard is her biological father and that he lives at the address in the episode's title.
After Nikita and Michael head over to her father's home, Birkhoff hacks into Alex's apartment security system in response to an internet search on his name. He tells her that Percy's file had no value and that he played her. In the field, Nikita and Michael arrive at Richard's home and he attacks her because he assumes that the CIA sent her to kill him. Once Michael breaks up the fight, she outs herself as his daughter. The trio have only a few minutes together before a Division strike force converges upon the house. They escape out back on a jet ski and Nikita even manages to save Richard's life.
Nikita and Michael bring Richard to Birkhoff's home and make introductions, before father and daughter bond in the late night hours. Finally having someone to confide in, Nikita tells Richard about Michael's son and he advises her to tell him the truth. Meanwhile, Alex visits Percy in his cell and he reveals Nikita's troubled past as a Division agent. He was ready to have her "canceled," but before he took that step he came up with a plan to let Nikita find her father and realize that she was "intelligence royalty." But Alex realizes that Percy set the whole thing up and he confirms her suspicions.
Alex uses the internet search to alert Birkhoff, but he finds himself under the sights of Richard's gun. Birkhoff manages to put up a fight (way too much of a fight, actually), before Nikita comes back and starts beating the crap out of Richard for deceiving her. Richard is not her father and he has no idea who is. Richard even mentions that he only arrived at the home on Walnut Lane shortly before she did. Soon enough, a Division strike team lays siege to the house. For a slim chance of survival, Nikita orders Birkhoff to use his drone to drop a missle on the house.
In the aftermath, Nikita and her allies survive, albeit bruised and injured. But she makes a special point of going back and killing Richard. Later, Alex feigns ignorance about how Nikita and Michael were tipped off, but Percy reveals that he knows what she did and that he plans to blackmail her with it from now on. Elsewhere, Birkhoff splits off from Michael and Nikita to set up a new base of operations. Michael offers to help Nikita find her real dad, but she finally tells him the truth about his son… which causes him to pull away from her in shock and possibly anger.
I haven't been following "Nikita" as closely this fall, after the season premiere was so disappointingly pedestrian. But the idea behind this episode was intriguing and supposedly offered answers to the long running question of where Nikita came from.
David Keith was fun to watch as Richard Ellison, the man who could have been Nikita's father. It was a little predictable when Richard turned out to be a fake. A bolder choice would have been to make Richard her father and then let him betray her. Either way, his quick death at the end seems like waste of a perfectly good character. Keith actually seemed to imitate Maggie Q's body language and acting tics; which helped sell him as Nikita's father. Her performance as Nikita was still pretty flat, but Keith brought some much needed life to their scenes.
Keith was also involved in the WTF?! scene of the week, in which Birkhoff actually managed to hold his own in a fight with Richard. I know a lot of this season has been repositioning Birkhoff in a more heroic light, but give me a break. I can buy Birkhoff as the tech guru and that he would have basic self-defense training from his time at Division. However, an operative with half of Richard's ability should have mopped the floor with Birkhoff in seconds. Also, Birkhoff's hack into Alex's security system and his obsession with people googling him made him seem like an outrageous creep.
"Nikita" also strains credulity in the way that the lead characters almost always escape without major injuries. It felt like a major cheat for Nikita, Michael and Birkhoff to get away from a hopeless ambush (and an airstrike!) with essentially superficial scratches. Michael got hit in the chest by high caliber bullets and still didn't seem that injured after his vest saved his life. Even Division's current number one hunter seemed to just brush off an explosion that killed most of his men. "Nikita" has a very cartoon-like sensibility when it comes to violence and it can make the series difficult to take seriously.
Regarding Percy's big plan to control Alex by blackmailing her, I have to wonder how effective that can be if Amanda could just eavesdrop on everything that they say. I may have missed a few episodes, but can anyone explain why Amanda wouldn't have Alex's conversations with Percy recorded and monitored at all times? That seems pretty sloppy for someone supposedly so smart.
As a standard episode of "Nikita," this was enjoyable enough but not quite sufficient to earn its way back onto my DVR. With "Strike Back" over for the year, I'd like to have another action show on TV to fill that void in my schedule. But "Nikita" is pretty far from winning me over for the long haul.
Crave Online Rating: 6.8 out of 10.