Shedding any fears I had about the CW's interference with the tone and format of the series may have been a tad premature on my part. This was probably the most awkward episode of the show to date, but somehow it still manages to effectively build upon the mid-season finale, and conjures up a few interesting, albeit extremely CW-ised, arcs for the rest of the season.
I have no real problem with the CW, per se. I watch Supernatural, Smallville, Nikita, and my most recent guilty pleasure from this teen orientated network, The Vampire Diaries. (Yes, I'm hooked -- after a dreadful first season, with about only a handful of decent episodes, Season 2 has been really good. No, seriously). It's just... Nikita appeared to have slipped through the cracks and successfully buck the silly trend of having to explore mushy relationships, which only slow a series (on the CW, anyways) down to a snail-like pace. That's why I enjoy Supernatural so much: sure, them Winchester boys could cry for their country, but the show always keeps moving, much like its main characters, so there's no time for silly relationship stuff, not really (yes, yes, I hate Lisa).
Nikita decides to take a breather this week while introducing us to the show's new format, now that Alex has graduated from recruit to agent status. If silly I-keep-bumping-into-you-in-the-hallway, made for sit-com antics with new guy on the block (Thad Luckinbill -- what a name, eh?) weren't enough, Nikita lunges onto Ryan Fletcher for a quick smooch before the end credits, reinforcing the mandate of the CW, that Nikita needs to open up its doors to more female viewers.
This isn't a particularly bad episode, it's simply bogged down by some rather unnecessary additions to the show's format: Nikita makes far too many quips for this reviewer's liking, and there's very little action on offer. Alex's flashbacks to her childhood also don't ring true to the series' style of flashbacks either, and that scene involving her freak-out reaction to a guy trying to force her to dance with him was unintentionally hilarious. I mean, seriously, why would anyone react that way? And did Alex really attempt to turn her first mission down with Nikita because a boy asked her to a party? What's a girl to do: party or fight crime? Puh-lease!
It's not all bad though.
I really liked Birkhoff in this episode. I was surprised to learn that he's a fairly competent fighter, but then again, it makes perfect sense if you're going to be working at a place like Division and be surrounded by snot-nose teens looking for a fight. Ya know, basically Jaden. When is she ever not in a fight of some sort? Classic Jaden. Anyways, we managed to get the skinny on Birkhoff's back-story, and as it turns out, he's no different than the rest of the recruits: ex-con, presumably with a life-sentence, taken under Percy's wing to work at Division.
And dodgy one-liners aside, I really liked Nikita here. I thoroughly enjoy her relationship with Alex and I'm excited to see where the writers take this duo now that Alex has her freedom. Even though Fletcher is very much a good guy (although too vanilla for my liking), Nikita didn't even bat an eyelid while orchestrating a mission that effectively jeopardized his standing within the C.I.A. I'm curious to see how she will make him a hero, but the writers will also need to bring more to the table concerning this relationship if we're to believe that Nikita has genuine feelings for this man. Then again, maybe all that Nikita wants to do is ''connect'' with someone. Or maybe it was simply a pity snog. Yeah, let's go with pity snog.
Overall, it's a watchable episode that's let down by some minor, though very much noticeable (and very much unwanted), additions to the show. It's good to see that Alex still hasn't come to terms with killing Thom, however I would have preferred an episode tackling her issues head on instead of some of the fluff that's on offer here.