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Tippi Blevins: C+ | Grade It Now!
Welcome to the Neighborhood
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Welcome back from winter hiatus, everyone! The spoken intros have gotten even more awkward during the break. After introducing Ryan and Alex, Nikita says, "Together we will take down Division piece by piece, and the last word they'll breathe before the end will be my name." The phrasing makes it sound like she means Ryan and Alex. Nikita's just gonna kill everybody before this whole thing is over! When the episode starts, Nikita and Alex are skulking around some big mansion at night, guns at the ready. They're looking for one of the black boxes. Nikita holds off some guards while Alex goes inside to one of the bedrooms. She crawls under the bed and seems happy to find a pink MP3 player instead of the black box. Suddenly, a man's hand falls on her shoulder. Thom is lying beside her, bullet wound still fresh. "Is this really the life you wanted, Alex?" he asks.

Alex wakes up from the dream in Charm School's medical lab, having just been implanted with her new tracking device. There's a fresh wound at the back of her neck. Just outside the room, Michael expresses concern over the device, but Percy pshaws. Just the same, he tells Michael not to tell Alex all the details of their new upgraded tech. Birkhoff finishes up with Alex's tracker, packs up his giant laptop, and warn-tells her that they can now find her anywhere in the world. Also, don't try to take the tracker out: "That'll trigger an instant alert; bad times," he says. Michael escorts her through the training room where Jaden offers her a hug and syrupy sweet congratulations on becoming an agent. "Even though you had to kill Thom to do it," she adds. "I hope you get everything you deserve." You know? I kind of do, too.

Out in the real world (New York City), Michael gives Alex her new product-placed Kia, which dazzles her, and takes her up to her new apartment. She shyly smiles at a handsome neighbor in the hall before taking her first step inside. She's instantly awed by her new surroundings. It's like she's living in a West Elm showroom! "It'll do," she says, trying and failing to play it cool. Michael smirks and gives her her "cover kit," which is a purse full of credit cards and IDs. There are also probably exploding lipsticks and bola tampons. She's now Alex Winslow, "youth trend consultant for a guerrilla marketing company." He turns to go, but Alex calls him back, confused about what she's supposed to do now. Shouldn't they have covered this in orientation? He says she can do whatever she wants as long as it doesn't interfere with her Division work.

She starts by heading for the nearest Bed, Bath & Beyond. Nikita's waiting for her. They hug. "I called as soon as I was alone," Alex says. Nikita gives her a burner phone to use for the next week. Alex, suddenly sad, says that Division thinks Thom was the mole. Nikita assures Alex she didn't have a choice. Well, yeah, she did. It may not have been a pleasant choice, but it was a choice. Nikita makes plans to remove Alex's tracker, but seems disturbed to find the new tracker is, as she says, at the base of the cortex when the trackers are usually in the hip. Nikita tries to act like it's no big, but she flashes back to an op four years earlier. Percy is testing out a "newly minted kill chip" on a North Korean politician. The man is speaking before the U.N. when Percy presses a button. Suddenly, the Korean lets out a cry of pain and falls to the floor. Nikita and her terrible wig watch via monitor, tears coming to her eyes. Percy says the autopsy will show the man suffered an aneurysm. Won't it also show a "kill chip" in his head? Percy thinks they should use the chips in their agents, to keep them in line. You know, offering a good benefits package and cushy pension would probably work just as well and wouldn't make them want to kill you as much, Percy. In the present day, Nikita realizes what this means for Alex. Instead of saying anything to Alex, Nikita leaves her to shop for a new comforter set.

At a nice restaurant, little chipmunk Ryan Fletcher is dining with a pretty blond. She comes off a bit like a gushing fan, wanting to hear about his time in the rebel camp, but Ryan seems bored and uncomfortable. He says it's all classified. When she excuses herself from the table for a moment (implying that nookie is imminent), Nikita slips into her seat. Ryan chokes, surprised to see Nikita alive. She tells him he's not being tailed, and he's like, "Why would I be tailed?" Dumb ass. You helped foil a black ops plot, you fool! Nikita says the same thing, only nicer. She gives him a folder, telling him it's intel for "a weapons test" program Division is about to start. She tells him to arrest Birkhoff and meet her the following day. Ryan protests he doesn't have the jurisdiction to arrest anyone, but Nikita vanishes the moment he glances down at the folder. His date returns. "Are you ready for an adventure?" she purrs. He looks uncomfortable. Again. Luckily, the commercial break spares us from more of this scene.

The following day, he meets Nikita in an alleyway. She fills him in about the chip and the Korean cabinet member who was killed four years ago. Ryan hems and haws about helping, so Nikita reminds him she saved his life. He's still not on board, but Nikita insists that getting into Birkhoff's laptop is the only way she can get into Division. Ryan's worried that Percy will find out, which is really a sensible worry to have, but the way it's coming across is less sensible and more... sniveling. Nikita says some crap about why Percy won't connect the dots. It's a boring, talky scene. I wish she would just punch him a few times and make him bow to her will.

Alex returns home, arms laden with shopping bags, but has a flashback before she gets through the door. She thinks back to six years ago, when she and her father were hiking through the Russian wilderness. "I want to go home," young Alex says in Russian. Her dad says, "Home is where you find yourself," and hands her a flint and steel. She kneels down in the leaves and tries to start a fire. Her father encourages her to practice her English so that we don't have to read as many subtitles. He also tells her that "comfort is an illusion" and can be taken away at any time. He says she has a destiny different from other girls and that she can only depend on herself. In the present day, Alex is still trying to get through her front door when her handsome neighbor happens by. "I saw you moving in with your boyfriend yesterday," he says and introduces himself as Nathan. He helps bring her groceries inside and she tells him that wasn't her boyfriend. She proceeds to take six jars of marshmallow fluff out of her bags, calling herself "the worst shopper." Nah, I'm sure the sugar rush will come in handy during your next high-octane fight. Nathan invites her to a party at his place. His neck is crazy long. He could reach acacia leaves with that thing. Alex sputters about being busy. They smile cutely at each other for a while.

Night. As Birkhoff walks out of a comic book store, a black van screeches up to the curb. Three men in black clothes and masks get out and grab him. Birkhoff puts up a respectable fight, but they overpower him and stuff him into the van. Watching from inside his parked car nearby, Ryan calls Nikita. He says Birkhoff's tracker signal is being blocked. Nikita says she'll meet him at the "rendezvous point." Meanwhile, she's at Bed, Bath & Way Beyond, meeting with Alex again. She gives Alex an MP3 player and tells her it's got a computer virus that Alex needs to upload to Division that night. Alex says she has to go to a party, you know, for her "cover." Nikita sees right through that and reminds her not to get too comfortable. The virus is a "red herring" that will distract Division while Nikita hacks into their system. Alex senses there's something that Nikita won't tell her about her tracker. Nikita asks Alex to trust her. It seems like a really good way to remind Alex she needs to remain vigilant about Division would be to tell her she has a new bomb in her brain. But maybe that's just me.

CIA Field Office. The masked men deposit Birkhoff into an office while Nikita sneakily takes his laptop bag. Nikita sets up in another room where she can watch Birkhoff by monitor. Ryan goes in to question Birkhoff under the guise of questioning him about his "Shadow Walker" hacking days. Birkhoff remains unperturbed, even when Ryan threatens to extradite him to a Bangkok prison. Birkhoff tells "mini Ethan Hunt" to worry about himself. Damn. Tell him he's even more mini than Tom Cruise? That's cold.

Division Ops Room. Michael and Percy are trying to track down Birkhoff, but can't get a lock on his tracker. They assume Nikita has something to do with it, so they have their substitute computer lackey check security cameras from Birkhoff's last known location. They don't see Nikita, but they do see the three men grabbing him off the street. Michael guesses it's CIA.

Alex returns home, pausing at her door to look longingly toward Nathan's apartment. Loud music and laughter come from inside. After a while, she decides to go inside and say hi to Nathan and have some awkward conversation with his friends. When an obnoxious party guest tries to get her to dance with him, she goes into combat mode and hurls him to the ground. Everyone gapes. Alex beats a hasty retreat.

Percy's on the phone with a woman named Barbara at the CIA, trying to track down Birkhoff. I guess she's replacing the guy who looked like Chris Parnell. Percy suspects Ryan Fletcher is involved, but Barbara reminds him that Oversight has ordered him to stay away f

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