NIKITA Recap: 4×03 “Set-Up”

Set-Up

At the end of last week’s episode, FBI Deputy Director Graham (the real one and the double) was shot dead, with Nikita ordering the FBI (via video) to do a DNA test, proving that the Graham shot dead at the press conference was a fake. We also had Amanda ominously telling Mr. Jones that they still had “one more ace in the hole” with the screen cutting to Birkhoff. What does it all mean? Is Birkhoff REALLY not Birkhoff? We find out this week.

The suspicions started early on with Birkhoff working off his laptop elsewhere on the plane and not at his station. Ryan, ever the conspiracy guy, noticed it immediately, particularly after Birkhoff got beat when trying to control the FBI’s DNA results on Graham. It’s a big red flag: when does Birkhoff fail at anything? When Ryan talks to Nikita and Michael about how weird Birkhoff has been acting, of course they think he’s going nuts, with Nikita hilariously going “Ryan, step away from the wall of crazy…” To be safe though, Nikita goes and tries to have a talk with Nerd to make sure he isn’t a double, and this is where we learn the truth. At 15, Birkhoff faked his own death because life at home wasn’t great – he got in really well, really fast with hackers and whatnot and his father (who had pretty much ignored him) was going to send him to military school to set him straight. His real name: Lionel Peller. And in case you forgot, Ronald Peller is the name of the presumed double Birkhoff found in the NSA database and hid from Ryan last episode…so yeah, Birkhoff’s dad!

There was a reason for Birkhoff not telling Nikita about his dad being a double, and even though they had a strained relationship, he doesn’t want to get his father killed. So Nikita comes up with a plan (she always has a plan!): capture the double, only to release him with false information that he will take back to The Shop, which will then lead them to Amanda. Amanda and The Shop will have no idea their double is compromised, thereby saving Ronald. While Birkhoff pretends to be looking for a NSA double (the fake intel that fake Ronald will take), Nikita encourages him to embed a message in the code, knowing that the real Ronald is on the other side monitoring under Amanda’s orders. At first resistant to the idea, Birkhoff decides to follow Nikita’s advice and does message Ronald. It’s a whole different means of cyberchatting! After they go through with their act and hands off the intel to fake Ronald, Amanda is all happy thinking she pulled a fast one on Team Nikita. But then, in the lamest way possible, real Ronald decides to utter “Why’d you do it Lionel?” as he looks at the picture of Birkhoff that he requested to see from Amanda. I know, time is of the essence, so everything has to move superfast, but that really was stupid of Ronald to do that. Anyways, Amanda quickly pieces together that Lionel is Birkhoff and orders fake Ronald to execute the failsafe, knowing that he’s been compromised. Before fake Ronald can kill Birkhoff, Nikita shoots the double.

Meanwhile, last we saw Alex, she was being captured by the CIA and is now being questioned by a forensic accountant. Remember, The Shop has twisted the truth about Alex funding Team Nikita, but they altered numbers and evidence to make it seem like something bigger involving the Pakistanis. We also get reminded by Nikita that Alex isn’t actually a U.S. citizen, so within 24hrs, the CIA will have her in rendition in some other country’s hellhole. With Alex hidden somewhere in a CIA safehouse (and Nikita, Birkhoff, and Ryan busy with their thing), Michael makes his way to Mumbai to help Sonya and, to a lesser extent, Sam find Alex. It was all very swift, as Michael and Sam found their way to Alex right before she was to be transported.

By episode’s end, Mr. Jones has put Amanda on the bench for once again being played by Nikita and losing another asset. For killing fake Ronald, it was safe to assume that Amanda would do as she did to Graham, and kill the real Ronald. But you know what happens when you assume. Amanda decides not to kill the real Ronald, and instead sees an opportunity to dig into his brain because she couldn’t crack Birkhoff in all those years.

Other short notes:

  • There was a cute little mention of “La Femme Nikita” as part of the French news broadcast at the beginning.
  • I love how they keep referring back to last season’s episode “High Value Target” which took place at a G20 Summit in Toronto. Everything has been tied back to that episode story-wise, but I also like to think it’s their little shout-out to Toronto since that’s where they filmed for 4 years. I’m probably wrong and it’s most likely all for the story, but just let me be with my own crazy thoughts, okay?
  • Love continually seeing the friendship between Nikita and Birkhoff. I think I might miss seeing that the most, when the show is done. Birkhoff telling Nikita to take her own advice, “Stop running. What you run from, you run into” was sweet.
  • Even with SUCH a short season, it was really great to see that they could still include more backstory on Birkhoff, while obviously tying it to the main arc of the season.
  • Judd Nelson was a great casting choice to play Ronald Peller!
  • Carlos Coto did a wonderful job on the script, especially with continually playing up the emotions to drive the action of the story.

So how did you like the episode? We’re halfway through the season (that sounds wrong saying that already) and if I remember correctly, there’s going to be a death next episode. Hang in there, Nikita fans!

56th Grammy Award Nominations

It’s once again that time of year – awards season is upon us and music’s big night just announced their nominations for the past year. Last year’s awards and nominations weren’t that great, coming off a slightly lackluster year (for this music fan anyways). But this year bounced back with some big albums (Justin Timberlake’s return!) and some big singles. So who was nominated this year?

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  • Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist
  • Taylor Swift, Red

First of all, SARA BAREILLES GOT NOMINATED!!!! You have no idea how excited I got when I heard her name get called. I was literally jumping up and down, and I’m glad no one was around to see me with all my reactions to the nominations. All I kept thinking was “Finally! FINALLY! People recognize how talented she is!” The happiness was a little short-lived after I heard Taylor Swift’s name called, and realized that Justin Timberlake wasn’t nominated for The 20/20 Experience. Really? Best selling album of the year gets no nod? How does that even remotely make sense? Regardless, Sara’s album is the only one I’ve heard in full, so I’m obviously rooting for her, even though she’s the underdog. My bet’s on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis winning though, which is truly great considering they’re technically indie artists, self-releasing their album (re: not through a big label).

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Daft Punk & Pharrell, Get Lucky
  • Imagine Dragons, Radioactive
  • Lorde, Royals
  • Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven
  • Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell, Blurred Lines

The only surprise from these nominations is that Justin Timberlake wasn’t nominated for “Mirrors.” I know I’m a JT fan, so I’m a little biased, but come on, “Mirrors” deserved to be nominated. All these songs, admittedly, were some of the biggest songs of the year. Actually, now that I’m looking at the list again, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis weren’t nominated either, which is interesting to me – I would’ve thought “Can’t Hold Us” would be nominated. Considering he was performing, I figured Robin Thicke would be nominated for something, but I have to admit I’m still a little surprised that he was nominated. With all the controversy associated with “Blurred Lines” (the song, the video, the MTV VMA performance…), I foolishly thought it wouldn’t get nominated. I think ideally, I’d want Lorde to win (lies, I’d still want JT to win even though he’s not even nominated), but I’d be okay with any of the other ones (except maybe “Blurred Lines”).

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Pink ft. Nate Ruess, Just Give Me A Reason
  • Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven
  • Katy Perry, Roar
  • Lorde, Royals
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Same Love

On here, it’s the third category. On the Grammy Nominations Live! concert, it was announced first, so as soon as I heard Katy Perry get nominated for “Roar” I was very upset. I kind of figured that with how this stupid world works, “Roar” was going to get nominated and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” wasn’t (the fact that Sara got nominated for Album of the Year later on made me feel better). Not only did I get upset that “Roar” got nominated, but I also got angry real fast over the JT snub. Again, JT fan, I’m biased, whatever. To repeat, this was the first category to be announced, so seeing how JT was snubbed already, did not bode well for me for the rest of the telecast. Now if I had to choose who would win, I might go with “Same Love” because it has a great message, and this award is technically handed out to the writers of the song, so to have this song be filled with so much meaning might actually give it an edge. That’s not to say the other songs are void of meaning because that’s not true. It’s just that “Same Love” has that strong message that differentiates it from the rest.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • James Blake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Ed Sheeran

I definitely expected Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to be nominated, and kind of figured Kacey Musgraves and Kendrick Lamar would get nods as well. James Blake is a name I’ve read but have never listened to any of his songs, so he’s the only question mark for me. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t expecting Ed Sheeran to be nominated because I expected it to happen last year. I know per Grammy rules, if you’re a “new artist” nominated for any award the previous year and you don’t win, you are still eligible for Best New Artist in the current year. With how big “The A-Team” was last year, and with it being nominated for Song of the Year last year, I thought he was going to be nominated in this category LAST YEAR. I was ultimately disappointed when he wasn’t, but now that he is, it just seems weird. So now this year, I’m completely disappointed that Lorde wasn’t nominated in this category, because I legitimately thought she was a lock to be nominated. If she doesn’t win in any of the other categories in which she’s nominated, that means she’s nominated by default in this category next year, right? When it comes down to it, it’s a toss-up between Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Ed Sheeran. It’s been a long time since a rap act has won Best New Artist, so this might be the year things change. We’ll have to see.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • Sara Bareilles, Brave
  • Lorde, Royals
  • Bruno Mars, When I Was Your Man
  • Katy Perry, Roar
  • Justin Timberlake, Mirrors

I had said prior to the nominations that it would be hilarious if both “Brave” and “Roar” were nominated in this category. And would you look at that? They both are! If it was just those two songs nominated, I would choose “Brave” in a heartbeat but there are other people nominated, one of them being Justin Timberlake for “Mirrors.” Clearly, JT is my pick to win.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Daft Punk & Pharrell, Get Lucky
  • Pink ft. Nate Ruess, Just Give Me A Reason
  • Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko, Stay
  • Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell, Blurred Lines
  • Justin Timberlake ft. Jay Z, Suit & Tie

Most years, the Grammy’s can stretch their definition of pop music, but this year was pretty on point. I personally would’ve put “Stay” under R&B and “Get Lucky” in the Dance category; not a huge deal that they’re in the Pop category though. “Suit & Tie” for the win.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Lana Del Rey, Paradise
  • Lorde, Pure Heroine
  • Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
  • Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines
  • Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience

With Justin releasing two albums within the eligibility period and how the label packaged the albums, particularly when the second album came out, I figured that the two albums would be submitted as one for consideration. Being that it is 21 songs of awesomeness, of course I’m going with JT for the win. Interesting takeaway: none of these albums are nominated for Album of the Year, but Sara Bareilles’ album, which should’ve been included here, is nominated for the big prize.

BEST TRADITIONAL POP ALBUM

  • Tony Bennett & Various Artists, Viva Duets
  • Michael Buble, To Be Loved
  • Gloria Estefan, The Standards
  • Cee Lo Green, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment
  • Dionne Warwick, Now

I normally don’t pay attention to this category, but for one thing, Michael Buble is nominated (yay Canadian! And also, the only album of the bunch I’ve listened to). Secondly, I got caught completely off guard by seeing Cee Lo Green being nominated here. A quick Google search reminded me that this was his Christmas album.

BEST R&B SONG

  • Anthony Hamilton, Best of Me
  • Tamar Braxton, Love and War
  • PJ Morton ft. Stevie Wonder, Only One
  • Justin Timberlake, Pusher Love Girl
  • Fantasia ft. Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliot, Without You

There’s also a category called Best R&B Performance, which should not be confusing at all. Like the difference between Record & Song of the Year, the Best Song is awarded to the songwriters, but to make it easier, I list who is singing the song. I didn’t expect Justin to get nominated for “Pusher Love Girl,” let alone in this category, so I am extremely happy about it. But I am also so incredibly happy to see PJ Morton nominated for his wonderfully sweet song “Only One.” PJ, for those who don’t know, is currently playing with Maroon 5 on piano/keys and back-up vocals; he’s such an amazing talent and I love his album.

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Coldplay, Atlas (from Catching Fire)
  • Jessie J, Silver Lining (from Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Adele, Skyfall (from Skyfall)
  • Colbie Caillat & Gavin DeGraw, We Both Know (from Safe Haven)
  • Lana Del Rey, Young & Beautiful (from The Great Gatsby)
  • Regina Spektor, You’ve Got Time (from Orange Is The New Black)

It’s an interesting list of nominees and though I’m excited for Colbie & Gavin’s nomination, let’s be real – Adele is totally taking this.

Some other quick thoughts:

  • Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” featuring Justin Timberlake is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song. In the Best Rap Song category however, they are nominated against Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.” I think Jay Z & JT will take Rap/Sung, but lose to Macklemore in Rap Song.
  • Kelly Clarkson is nominated with Vince Gill for their song “Don’t Rush” in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance. I’m not usually big on country, but it’s Kelly, so I’m obviously rooting for her.
  • I’m not sure how Taylor Swift’s Red qualifies as country, but she’s still nominated for Best Country Album.
  • There’s no way Pharrell loses Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), right? Such a great year for him.
  • Justin Timberlake & Jay Z’s video for “Suit & Tie,” directed by the awesome David Fincher, is nominated for Best Music Video.

At the end of the day, Jay Z leads all nominations with 9. Justin Timberlake ended up with 7 nods, the number I thought he would end up with, but I thought he was going to get nominations in the big 3 (which instead means he SHOULD’VE ended up with 10 nominations). Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Pharrell also have 7 nominations. Any surprises? Shocking snubs?

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards air January 26th, 2014 on CBS and CityTV in Canada.