It is really hard to teach an old dog new tricks, isn’t it?  Nikita has been part of this team since season two, but it’s still difficult for her to swallow this whole relying on others thing.  Her lone wolf tendencies (not to mention fear of losing innocents) caused her to run for the last three months, and now that decision is coming back to bite her.  Strange things happen when you let people into their lives and then push them away.  They’ll save your life, but not everyone is going to welcome you back with open arms.
“Dead or Alive” was a bit slower than last week’s opener, but it spent a lot more time examining those inner wounds while pushing the plot miles forward.  Last week’s cliffhanger was resolved rather quickly and predictably.  Nikita went into a vet office to get supplies to heal her wound, but she collasped.  Someone was right there to find her.  Yeah, we all knew it was Michael.  He was after all tracking her.  

That setup the reunion of Nikita and team on the airplane home base (yes, we did finally learn it’s flying on auto pilot).  The grand scheme of The Shop was revealed by delightfully dorky Ryan, and I too had the same reaction Birkhoff, Michael, and Nikita had when he mentioned “body doubles.”  I figured all that time at high altitude was messing with his brain.  When he explained the details though it all did make sense, and it turns out our favorite boy scout was right.  A very scary right. 

(See, Ryan is even smiling when unfolding evil plots!)

This episode went into that strained territory of Mikita, which is suffering quite a bit because of Nikita’s actions.  That’s understandable knowing these two characters.  Considering how much personal loss Michael has experienced in his life, he had to put his focus on the professional side.  Separating the feelings of hurt and betrayal from the soldier within meant he could do his job better and recover one of their own for the sake of the team, not himself.  He has always seen the value Nikita brings to the team and that alone make her retrieval worthwhile for the cause.  But he constantly stressed to Nikita that her return was good for the team.  When she pushed harder, at the end had to be blunt about things, and it stung.  “I’m still here to fight Amanda and The shop, but I am done fighting for us.” 

Yes, I felt bad for Nikita, for those words were the sucker punch that she didn’t see coming, despite the fact she should have.  I get her very hurt reaction though.  As with last week, Nikita is emotionally vulnerable right now.  She has chosen to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders and it’s wearing her very thin.  The world has painted her as a dangerous killer and public enemy number one, and the lies about her continue to spread beyond her control.  She so wants to clear her name, but her last attempt got an innocent Dale Gordon killed.  That guilt is now plaguing every decision she makes because she doesn’t want to see another person die.  Unfortunately, her foe, Amanda, all too well believes in the collateral damage in war and will do anything she can to push Nikita’s buttons.  That usually means harming those innocents Nikita wishes to protect.   

Ultimately, Nikita had to make the decision to kill the fake FBI director, even knowing that her act would mean the death of the real one too, who had been captured by Amanda and The Shop.  Despite the knowledge that the death of the drone would spare so much more damage than letting the real director live, Nikita couldn’t pull that trigger.  She didn’t want to be that killer again.  Lucky for her, Michael took that choice away from her and did the task himself, letting everyone else belief Nikita did it.  Amanda was even stunned, because she didn’t think Nikita would do it.  That’s what happens when Nikita relinquishes control and relies on others.  That’s the only way she’s going to beat Amanda, because Amanda doesn’t believe Nikita will let others in. 

So yes, Amanda killed the real director as she threatened, and her partner at The Shop was a bit freaked out about the unraveling of their plan.  But this is Amanda, right?  She plans for contingencies with her steely calm and diabolical ways.  Not only does she plan on framing Alex for funding known terrorist activities (aka Ryan’s rogue Division operation), but she has another fake double out there that has yet to be used.  Suddenly we’re looking at Birkhoff running a scan online, finding something, and keeping it from Ryan.  All previews for next week point to fake Birkhoff being the new mole.  Somehow, I wonder if that’s going to go the way we think.  He’s been too helpful and too like Birkhoff in these first two episodes.  Maybe that’s the point, but I’m not sure I’m buying it yet. 

The Alex and Owen/Sam side plot moved a bit slower this time, but it looks like they’re on the same page.  Owen/Sam wants to find Amanda and get his revenge, although his motives seemed shady when someone wanted money.  However, when he rescued Sonya during the FBI raid that captured Alex, his intentions seemed right.  I guess we’ll just see how it plays out.  I like the idea of these two pairing up, and I’m hoping he’s the one that rescues Alex from her very bad situation.  I miss good Owen/Sam.  Nikita still believes in him, so that’s something. 

So, scorecard: Amanda bad, Michael mad, Nikita sad, Ryan and team had (by Birkhoff), Alex clad (with cuffs and chains), and Owen rad (maybe).  Got all that?  There’s only four more episodes to straighten out this mess and give us our Mikita happy ending (please Craig please???).   

Here’s all the promo photos released by The CW for “Dead or Alive” for your viewing pleasure:

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