"The Life We've Chosen" were appropriately Ari's last words and summed up the episode well. Though, it could just as easily have been titled for what Alex said, "Because you say it is?" The mission to get Alex back was full of difficult choices and conflict, which likely will stick with the team members.
In the new Division, the management structure is complicated with Ryan running the joint, but both Nikita and Michael are in leadership roles too. Alex's question could have been poised by and to several members of the team throughout the hour. While this new organization is supposed to be better, one area that it lacks is in command and obedience. Perhaps, the lack of blind obedience is a good thing though.
Ryan and Nikita often have discussed how they want to do things differently and better this time, but Ryan failed horribly when he decided to put a kill chip in Ari's head. His decision to keep that from everyone but Owen proved that it was wrong. If it was the right thing to do, he would have let the mission team leader and his supposed partner in running Division in on his plan. His arrogance that he knew best jeopardized Nikita and the team.
First, the kill chip interfered with the mission communications. At least Birkoff was able to overcome this nuisance and it didn't cause any major problems. Second, Nikita figured it out on her own and that caused a conflict that nearly killed them all. The team wasn't at the ready for the ambush and didn't hear Sean warn them while arguing. Both were problematic.
Even though Ari had the kill chip in his head, he acted to save the whole team and mission. He claimed it was because he didn't want Amanda to win, but I think Nikita standing up for him mattered. They may have been at odds over the years, but he saw Nikita was honorable and willing to risk herself and the team to try and save him.
While the rescue mission was underway, Alex didn't waste any time in trying to escape. She used the medic to distract the guards and they made a run for it. Alex and Nikita aren't that different. They both have a solid moral code and desire to help others. During the escape, the medic was shot protecting Alex. That only heightened the sense of responsibility Alex felt for her.
During Amanda and Nikita's reunion, Amanda warned Nikita that Alex would turn on her. Now, that Alex was under Amanda's control, she took advantage of the opportunity to plant doubts into the young spy's head. Amanda's psychological warfare is how she is able to hurt people the most. And, it may be how she is able to cause Nikita the most pain.
After the Alex and Ari exchange, I was disappointed in what happened next. It came across as too contrived and easy. Alex isn't simpleminded such that she would fall for Amanda's mind games like that. Plus, with Sean there, he should have stopped Alex rather than let down the team. Time was a crucial consideration though and Nikita and Alex took off separately before a real conversation ever took place.
The decision to split up caused both teams to fail in their mission. Ari escaped from Amanda with the black box only to be shot in the back before Nikita could cover him. If the full team had been there, Ari would have lived. And, Alex was not able to fend off the soldiers greater force to save the medic. The only victory was that all the Division assets came back alive and with the black box.
That victory was all that Ryan saw when he complimented Nikita and Alex on a job well done. He didn't take time to notice the fractures that his decisions and the mission caused within the team. Michael and Nikita had it out over the kill switch. And, the current relationship between Nikita and Alex is unknown.
I worry for what will happen to Alex next. She doesn't trust Nikita right now and Sean is in the perfect situation to push the two women even further apart. It would be a shame if Amanda's words get inside Alex's head and then if that is compounded with Sean's negativity surrounding Nikita and Division. Will Sean use this situation to isolate Alex, so he can have her all to himself?
I hope that my worries are unfounded and that Alex will recognize Amanda's manipulation and work things out with Nikita. When it comes down to it, someone has to be the team leader and if the leader's directions aren't followed lives are lost. That was shown both through disobeying Ryan regarding the kill chip and then when the four person team split up. Though, there is a key distinction between the two situations.
Nikita was kept out of the loop on the kill chip, which was an even bigger mistake. Out in the field, trust is probably the most important thing. Ryan betrayed not only Nikita's trust, but the vision they set for the new Division.
Will the Division team be able to overcome the fractures that developed through this mission? Or, will the fractures become full breaks? I really hope it's the former because it would be too much to handle otherwise.
Odds and Ends
- Finally, Amanda fixed her horrid hair. It looked so gorgeous in this episode.
- It's a slippery slope and Ryan has slid down it. Will Ryan learn from his mistake? Or, will the kill chip be just one more step to him becoming Percy II?
- Glad to see that Owen's conversation with Alex in the car wasn't entirely forgotten. Sean doesn't like Owen, but that's okay. Their tension is fun to watch.
- Ari: If you die, Amanda wins and to quote your eloquence, "Screw Amanda." | permalink
- Ari was a foe for so long that is was a shock to me that I teared up when he died. He didn't make up for all his wrongs, but it was an honorable death. And, he did get the black box.
- Ryan: Activating that kill chip is the only smart course of action.
Nikita: I can't do that. We don't make that choice. We aren't that kind of Division. | permalink
- Birkhoff: Scan's all clear. No hidden bombs or gas pouches. I guess Amanda knew better than to turn you into a party pinata. | permalink
- While Amanda didn't plant anything physical in Alex, she definitely planted doubt about Nikita.