Note: Spoilers will not be until late in this article, and I will warn you before I reveal anything. I promise not to spoil any big twists. It is safe to begin reading, even if you have not seen tonight’s episode.
TV Guide calls the CW’s Nikita one of the “Seven Show You Should Be Watching”. Overwhelmed with the amount of television running, and unsure if it was even worth checking out new shows, when many are so quickly canceled, I let Nikita build up on my TiVo without watching anything past the pilot until a couple of days ago. What I found is that Nikita is one of, if not the, strongest freshman series this season, though admittedly, the field is unusually weak.
When Nikita began, it reminded me a little of the first season of Alias, before the show really found its legs and took off. Similarly, Nikita began with a mission-of-the-week format, only allowing a portion of each episode to deal with the bigger arcs, and could be classified as average, at best. But it soon began improving, and by the end of November sweeps, definitely became a must-watch. February’s finale ended with a HUGE twist, when Michael (Shane West), having discovered that Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) is Nikita’s (Maggie Q) mole within Division, waits for Nikita in her lair. Jaws dropped, and fans wondered what will happen next.
Tonight, you will find out. And it will not disappoint. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Nikita is a series that does have romance, but does not bog itself down with constant changing of partners or shocking hookups. Chemistry usually slow boils, and happens for a reason, other than just hormones (Alex’s new thing with Nathan (Thad Luckinbill) being the exception that proves the rule). The only current triangle involves Nikita and has not been fleshed out enough to be melodramatic. Instead, the show is about espionage, and the good guys taking down the bad guys. In that, they are really starting to illustrate a complex, very neat world.
At first, it is just Nikita versus Division. She is once an operative of the shadowy government group, until she realizes they are pretty bad dudes, and decides to defect to try to take them down. It’s a daunting task for one woman, though admittedly she is the best agent Division has ever had, and they are a pretty elite group.
As time has gone on, Nikita is getting some allies. Alex is the first, obviously, being inserted as an undercover mole within Division in the pilot. Alex herself becomes interesting when her background is revealed, and she makes her first kill to avenge her parents’ death. At first, Alex is just the protege. Now, Division wonders if she will become even greater than Nikita. I don’t doubt the student surpassing the master is a likely future milestone. What I do wonder is where Alex’s loyalties will ultimately lie, and what she will do, after Division is a smoldering shell.
Then Nikita meets Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean), a C.I.A. analyst that starts to put together the pieces of the Division puzzle. Ryan is demoted, than re-promoted, as he works with Nikita to bring Division’s dark deeds into the spot light. It’s a risky business, and Ryan constantly toes the line between exposure and safety. If he reveals too much too fast or in the wrong way, he will be killed. But he needs to release enough to keep the media focus on him so he is afforded a certain protection.
Owen (Devon Sawa) doesn’t exactly work with Nikita, except when he needs to, but is a former agent and has no love for Division, either, so he comes in handy from time to time. Word is, (slight spoiler) he will be returning to the show soon.
Then there’s Michael. A pretty close match for Nikita in brains and ability, their cat and mouse game influences much of the first season. It seems to me that Michael, with all of the resources he can muster, as compared to Nikita’s small amount, could have captured Nikita long ago if he really put his mind to it. Despite being head of the task force to catch her, his heart really isn’t in it, so he lets her repeatedly escape. Is it because he loves her, or because he isn’t sure she’s completely wrong? But Michael still has loyalty to the head of Division, Percy (Xander Berkeley), whom Michael credits for saving his life after his family is killed, so he isn’t looking to join Nikita’s cause.
Then there are other villains, too. GOGOL is the Russian version of Division, led by Ari Tasarov (Peter Outerbridge), whom Nikita has ticked off twice. Kasim (Haaz Sleiman, Nurse Jackie) is the terrorist who killed Michael’s family. Both Ari and Kasim are evil and smart, a deadly combination, and they keep popping up in various missions. So Nikita has a few other people to watch out for besides Division.
I like that there are other forces at play. A simple two-sided battle can be fun, of course, but it is even better when there are many different players, each with their own motivations and goals. It not only keeps things interesting, but it gives the series different places to go to avoid being stuck in a rut. If Division’s story gets a little bland after being pursued too many episodes in a row, the writers can take a break and move the action to the Middle East or Russia. I expect GOGOL is not the only international version of Division, and I look forward to meeting some of the other groups.
Within the U.S. government, Percy actually controls quite a large number of powerful people, allowing him and Division to get away with plenty. Nikita knows that to bring him down, she must first take out seven black boxes that contain all of Percy’s blackmail dirt. This makes the overall plot a quest type of thing, which is kind of cool. It gives a series of steps that must be taken. I assume it will not take Nikita seven years to take out seven black box hard drives, so I hope, like Alias, that Percy and Division, while being the main bad guys for now, will eventually go down, and the show ill move on. But I also like that there’s still a long way to go, as she has only destroyed one box thus far.
As the years go on, Nikita should not be constantly taking down Division-type groups. Of course, after Division falls, she may go after GOGOL. But there will need to be some bigger story arcs besides just a handful of noble, talented citizens fighting the big, evil corporations. Alias accomplished this with their Rambaldi theme, an artist who created secret devices. Even after the heroes defeated an organization or two, the full Rambaldi secrets were always still a mystery they had to uncover. While nothing along those lines has been introduced yet on Nikita, I’m sure that the writers can come up with something fresh and neat when they need to. But it’s not necessary at this time. The show is doing just fine without it.
And now for tonight’s episode. The following paragraphs contain minor spoilers that will set up the premise, but not spoil the twists.
Michael holds the cards, now knowing that Alex is Nikita’s mole. As we begin the episode. Michael has not yet exposed Nikita or Alex to Division, but is threatening to. He is angry at Nikita, and has been, because she did not allow him to take down Kasim when he had the chance. Now he demands that she get Kasim for him, or he will give Alex over to Amanda (Melinda Clarke), not a pretty picture.
One may wonder how Michael expects Nikita to find an elusive terrorist such as Kasim, but Michael has that all worked out. He knows Nikita has connections with GOGOL, though he does not understand the actual relationship, and demands she use those connections to get to Kasim. So we get Kasim and Ari back as guest stars! Yay! Any chance to see the two get their evil on is more than welcome.
The other important thing going on is that Percy wants Michael to give up on his revenge bend and fully commit himself to Division. While Percy has allowed Michael to investigate his family’s death before, he now suddenly decides it is time for Michael to move up in the company, and to do so, he must leave the past behind. I find this slightly odd, since it is so recent that Percy encouraged Michael on the mission, but with Nikita’s threat to Division growing, it seems logical.
This is definitely a Michael-centric episode more than anything, and it’s about time. I love me some Michael drama, and he goes to a really dark place. He has some decisions to make, obviously, about his loyalty and where to go next.
There’s also a small subplot about Alex and Nathan, and if they should go forward in their relationship. But this one is really all about Michael.
Now, I refuse to tell the really big reveal, because it is fantastic, and I would not want to lessen your enjoyment. Let’s just say that Kasim knows something that he thinks Michael needs to know. You will not be disappointed. I will post a short review tomorrow about the twist, and the implications, so please check back here then.
Nikita returns tonight, and airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.