After two seasons of consistency, Nikita’s third season opens with a new monologue; it is not Nikita who opens the episode reminding the viewer of her mission to take down Division, the organization that took her from death row and turned her into an assassin against her will. For two seasons, Nikita fought against the system that betrayed her, against the man who turned her into something she hated, and for the loved ones she found along the way despite all odds.
And at the end of season 2, she succeeded. Percy died – Nikita’s name being the last thing he said, just as promised in the original monologue – and Division was put under new leadership.
Season 3 opens with Ryan Fletcher giving a brief overview of the previous two seasons: “Her name is Nikita. Division took her freedom and taught her to kill. She fought back and won. She saved my life and a lot of others. Now we work together to take down the worst of the worst, making right what Division made wrong.” Simple, straight-forward, and succinct. But also indicative of a shift. We’re about to see something different, though the trappings will be familiar.
And the new monologue embodies what “3.0” represents for the Nikita-verse: a reboot in a sense. The familiar characters are back with familiar relationships in familiar settings, but the world has still tilted on its axis. Nikita now works for Division by choice; she, along with her fellow rogue spies, has taken up Division’s mantle to clean up Percy’s mess and save innocent lives. Nikita continues to do what she spent the previous two seasons doing, only under the umbrella of the organization she rebelled against.
With the world tilted on its axis, let’s take inventory of our favorite characters as the new season – the new Division – kicks off.
Nikita is struggling to find her place in the new world she’s suddenly found herself in. We first see Nikita in a yoga class, out in public with no fear of being seen. She walks with a couple of women after class and is about to get tea with them before Michael arrives to take her back to the “office.” It’s all so startlingly normal that Nikita isn’t sure what to do for a moment after getting the invitation. She’s not on the run anymore, and while she seems to be taking advantage of it by getting out, she clearly hasn’t settled into it yet either, like this new life is a second skin that doesn’t quite fit.
It’s also clear from the get-go that Nikita is uncomfortable with returning to Division and taking orders, though her new “boss” is a friend. She chafes against authority and fights with Ryan in the middle of her operation. Nikita has been surviving for herself for so long that it’s become second nature to do what needs to be done, the consequences be damned; she doesn’t blink when suggesting stealing a mack truck to rescue Michael and dismisses Ryan’s concerns about keeping a low profile.
At the end of the episode, she and Ryan have another argument over the mission. She wants autonomy to work as needed because that’s how she’s survived as long as she has with Division after her head. Nikita’s fight has always been personal; it’s been a quest for revenge for herself and the other innocent lives corrupted by Division as well as to protect those precious few people she holds dear. Percy’s Division molded her into a tool for something bigger, a role she eventually rejected whole-heartedly. Now she has a hard time getting back into the mindset of fighting for something bigger than herself. She can’t shake the one-woman army mindset after being so spectacularly betrayed by the system.
If Nikita is out of her element with the new Division, Michael is just the opposite. He was originally a military man, being trained to belong to something bigger than himself. After his family’s death, he spent a long time in the original Division, becoming Percy’s right-hand man and continuing to fight for the big picture. It took a great upheaval for him to finally turn on Percy and his corrupt system, and he remained sure despite going rogue that Division could be redeemed with the right leadership. And he seems comfortable with the idea that Ryan could be that person, so follows orders as necessary.
But the notable aspect about Michael in this episode is not his role on the mission, but rather his relationship with Nikita. After all the bumps in the road between them, he has bought Nikita an engagement ring and is waiting for the best time to propose. His single-minded determination to protect the ring even after he is captured by the local police in Hong Kong is a strong indicator of how the Mikita romance is faring. After all the tragedy in his life, he has finally found happiness once more; he’s fighting the good fight and he’s able to do it alongside the woman he loves. He wants to connect them beyond the fact that they’re partners, and now that they’ve been granted amnesty, marriage is feasible.
He’s bringing his traditional ways to Nikita’s life. So while Nikita is adrift in this new life that she can’t quite settle into, Michael will be her anchor; because he came into Division differently from the other recruits and still remembers a good life before Division – something he wants to share with Nikita. Michael will be a rock, both for Nikita and for the members of the new Division.
While the other members of Team Nikita all had special training – even Birkhoff has been seen training – Ryan represented the everyman in the first two seasons. He’s not a fighter; he was pulled into Division’s crosshairs for piecing together patterns that pointed to Division’s existence and remained in their sights because of his intellect. So it’s intriguing that the everyman of the ragtag group of super spies has become their boss.
Spearheading his first mission, Ryan visibly struggles with his new position through the episode; he’s under pressure from the President of the United States to keep Division’s activities quiet or risk the entire operation and everyone involved being wiped out. As such, he feels responsible for the lives of those who returned after Percy’s death as well as those now working to round up the remaining rogue agents. He’s been sleeping in his office and running himself ragged to catch up and ends up in an argument with Nikita not once but twice in the episode over his methods.
Like Michael, Ryan came up through the system, working toward the good of something bigger than himself. Though he ended up on Team Nikita because of the same system betraying him, it’s still in his makeup to be concerned about the bigger picture – hence his refusal to blow the CIA’s undercover operations in China in favor of rescuing Michael.
With Nikita struggling to find her place in the new Division, it seems inevitable that she and Ryan will continue to butt heads, though it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Ryan and Michael finding common ground on future missions because of their backgrounds.
Division’s technical guru is back in fine form in season 3, though he seems to feel the need to prove himself as he is constantly on the move during Nikita’s mission, taking charge of task after task. This could also be Birkhoff trying to show off in front of Sonya as well, since after sharing a kiss, something happened between them and now she isn’t speaking to him. Nikita even catches him pining over pictures of Sonya on his downtime.
Birkhoff is also the one caught most in the crossfire between Ryan and Nikita, as Nikita refuses to take Ryan’s orders and Ryan demands Birkhoff cut off her communication with Alex, who was planning to help her. Birkhoff does so though is clearly uncomfortable with the situation. But when he later confronts Ryan about putting him on the spot like that, it becomes clear that Ryan is pushing himself too hard, and Birkhoff tells him to relax.
The conversation seems to indicate that Birkhoff will be doing his best to keep Ryan grounded during their missions since the other members of Team Nikita will be in the field. After all, Birkhoff and Ryan seem to have the most in common as both put their intellect rather than physical skills to use, and the two spent a fair amount of time working together toward the end of season 2. Though his comedic timing is still impeccable, Birkhoff has matured greatly since we first met him and it will be interesting to see where his story goes this season – and how long Sonya will continue not speaking to him.
Alex is frustrated in the season opener because she has become a very recognizable figure since revealing herself as Alexandra Udinov. She bemoans the fact that she can no longer be used for undercover work, but she and Nikita manage to put her fame to use anyway, having the spoiled heiress persona work as a distraction while Nikita made her move to rescue Michael. She’s thrilled to see Nikita and eager to help on the mission however she can though she, like the rest of Team Nikita, struggles to reconcile fighting the good fight with doing so alongside Division agents.
We don’t get too much other insight into Alex’s state of mind other than her frustration at her newfound notoriety, though she is the one to unflinchingly pull the trigger on Martin on the rooftop. Martin’s body falling with a bullet square in the middle of his forehead is a stark reminder that there is a darkness in Alex – stemming from the night of her father’s murder and the horrific years that followed when she was sold into sex slavery – that we’ve seen varying degrees of in the first two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see where Alex’s character goes now that her alter ego is in the limelight while she continues to fight.
Sean doesn’t have too much to do in this episode. He arrives in Hong Kong posing as Alexandra Udinov’s bodyguard then later disguises himself as a lawyer from the US Embassy to help extract Michael from prison. He’s a solid presence and, unsurprisingly, there as Alex’s support. His world seems to have remained the most upright of the ragtag band.
Here we go again
“3.0” was a welcome return to the Nikita-verse and one particularly friendly to new viewers. In fact, this episode seemed to be its own kind of pilot. Before the season started, EP Craig Silverstein said that the first two seasons were like their own origin story, with Team Nikita coming together to create the new Division, and season 3 will finally have the super spy group in action. There was enough exposition for a new viewer to follow along and the plot was standalone enough to establish the characters and their relationships without feeling filler-esque.
We also learn that Amanda was responsible for the “Dirty Thirty” group of rogue agents who didn’t return to Division after the recall was issued, setting her up as the season’s big bad and creating a sense of continuity for the long-term viewer. After taking out Martin, there are 29 rogue agents left plus Amanda and Ari for the new Division to take care of, setting up a combination of interconnected standalone episodes as well as those dedicated to the season-long arc of stopping Amanda, a natural progression from stopping Percy.
At the end of season 2, Nikita told Alex, “Here we go again,” and this is particularly apropos for how season 3 is shaping up. We may be rebooting in a sense, but viewers need not worry about retreading old ground. The characters and the missions may seem familiar, but we’ve entered a brave new world: one with the new Division.