Nikita s4 ep 6

image *SPOILERS*

In the last episode ever – till they remake this show yet again – Nikita, with Alex in tow, has gone rogue. Happily murdering her way through the Group behind MDK to get to Amanda, she’s no longer the conscience-stricken Nikita we know and love; it looks like she’s gone so far off-piste, in fact, that Michael, Birkhoff and Sam/Owen are on a mission to stop her before her crazed bloodlust brings about the end of the world.

Or something. I mean, the stakes are MAD high. Except – SPOILER – they aren’t quite as apocalyptic as we’re meant to think they are, and Nikki isn’t at all as psychotic as we’re meant to think she is and thank goodness for that because otherwise, if the storyline had genuinely been “lunatic female who cannot cope with feelings needs to be physically restrained by level-headed boyfriend,” I’d have to take back all those things I said last week about the refreshingly, unapologetically feminist ethos of this show.

While the twist in the tale is fortunate for the feminism, however, it’s not great for the structure of the series finale, since it means we spend the majority of the ep watching our heroine apparently behave in a way that is so drastically, unpleasantly out of character that the ep feels almost as demented as Nikki’s pretending to be. When we find out that it’s all been a – SPOILER – fake-out, it redeems our girl but it doesn’t really redeem the episode. And that’s without thinking about the plotholes everywhere. How did Birkhoff, Alex and Nikki free themselves from the shackles of Super-Max prison, for a start?

Still, despite the messiness of it all, I enjoyed it. Calling it “Cancelled” was a stroke of genius for a start. Then, of course, there was a load of ass-kicking, the long-overdue Amanda take-down was satisfying, everybody (except Ryan, obv) got a lovely happy ending and there was plenty to squee about with the elopement(!), honeymoon(!) and the continuing beach-bound adventures(!) of Michael and Nikita. Aw. Interesting choice to leave the Sam/Owen question unanswered too; it really doesn’t matter which one he actually was, more who he’s going to be – Alex’s bodyguard/boyfriend. Aw again.

I was less impressed with the choice to give us Ghost Ryan instead of Live Sonya, mind you; presumably they couldn’t afford both actors so they settled for Birkhoff saying “Sonya’s doing this”, “Sonya’s saying that” every few minutes which really wasn’t fooling anybody but never mind.

Of course, a flawed finale doesn’t negate the show’s achievement in getting to a fourth season at all, especially given the lacklustre ratings, so well done to all for making it this far and doing so in a mostly entertaining, often startling and always squee-some fashion. This is the third English-language version of Nikita that I’ve seen – not counting Nikita-adjacent stuff like Alias, Covert Affairs or Dollhouse – and despite my affection for Peta Wilson’s La Femme Nikita, this one’s become my runaway favourite.

As far as the supporting characters go, well, I didn’t love all of them – *sticks tongue out at Alex and Ryan* – but Birkhoff obviously ruled. I can’t wait to see Aaron Stanford on screen again, be it in 12 Monkeys or anything else. Special mention also to Xander Berkeley, of course, who is and always will be one of the best villains in the business: Red John and Percy together make quite the CV.

But, for me, anyway, it’s the Mikita romance which has been the main draw. Maggie Q has been a compelling, ass-kicking lead, and a great trailblazer for colour-blind casting; Shane West has proven himself as much of an action hero as a romantic one; and together, their chemistry has scorched up the screen. I’ve been fretting about what to say about the Nikita finale and series as a whole for days now but I think that about covers it. Over the past 4 seasons, I’ve watched, I’ve shipped and, for the most part, I’ve had a whale of a time doing both. As OTP’s go, Mikita has become one of my favourites so, altogether, now, one last time: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Nikita s4 ep 5

“Feels like a dream, right?”

Word, Michael. WORD.

When a show or its characters spend ages in a particular pattern or milieu, it’s difficult to adjust to seeing them in other settings and, for all Nikita’s allies and locations have changed over the seasons, she’s always been Nikita the assassin and there’s always been a mission and a cover and a big bag (or a big black box) of secrets to hide.

But now it seems as if all the big secrets are out – except for, y’know, the REALLY big one – and Nikita and co are on an army base with their real names (although neither Nikki nor I are ever going to get used to this “Mears” business) and the whole Division story out in the open, much of this episode takes on a weird, dream-like quality. The (admittedly gratuitous) shot of a scantily-clad Nikita waking up leisurely in a sunny, peaceful bedroom; the sunlight on the base bathing her and Michael in an other-worldy, ethereal glow; the Congressional medal ceremony for a new heroine who just last week topped the FBI Most Wanted list…. the first half of the ep feels like a long, strange fantasy sequence.

(Or it would if it weren’t interspersed with the more usual Nikita-style shenanigans of Alex taking the plane – flying it?! – to Paris to rescue Sam/Owen and then, er, taking Sam/Owen in another fashion entirely.)

Like all fantasies, however, it must end, and end it does, as Ryan – of all people – finds a way to expose Amanda and the truth (again) in a bloody and violent sequence that’s as daring as it is surprising. Well, it surprised me anyway. The thumb thing. OUCH. And then the REDACTED out of the REDACTED onto the REDACTED thing. If I might quote Jed on the matter: WHOA.

All of which leads us to another surprising but fitting ending to the episode: I might not have chosen for Nikita to team up with Alex once again, but I agree with her – it’s how the show started 4 seasons ago, so it makes sense that that’s how it should end. Nikita and Alex vs all that is left of Division: Amanda. Female, kick-ass operatives vs a female psychopathic super-villain. I love a good squee and a good ship – and there were plenty of both in this ep since Nikita and Michael are adorable together again – but this unashamedly feminist show, on the CW of all places, is further proof if anyone needed it that you can have plenty of romance and action and entertainment in a tv drama, without ever sacrificing the agency and authority of its female characters. And guess what? Those female characters can be the leads too. As I’ve said before, there are a number of shows with critical acclaim, bigger budgets, and far higher opinions of their own cultural worth – at least one or two of which will be competing for Emmys tomorrow – which could do with learning that particular lesson from this one.

Nikita s4 ep 4

EH?!?!?!?

There I was, sitting watching Nikita, thinking it all seemed to be going oddly well for Nikki and co for a change, and wow, have they really defeated Amanda and that posh dude already, that was a bit too easy, and what about the two episodes we still have to go, surely we’re not going to spend the entirety of them trying to figure out Sam/Owen’s dealio because dear me that sounds tedious and then OMG Squee! SQUEE! Awww! and then… wait…. WHAT?!

OH, COME ON!

24 hours after I watched this episode and I’m still confounded by the mind-boggling ridiculousness of the final twist. I mean…. How… When… Whaaa….?

Oh, forget it. No explanation will make it better. Or less annoying. On the plus side, though, we had Michael (looking very good this week, a little humility suits him) learning a home truth or two from Ramon who we’ve met before but I didn’t recognise, some exciting craziness about control of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles and the bonkers but fun storming of The Shop. (I particularly enjoyed Mikey’s rueful expression when REDACTED asked him if her rescuers were “CIA?…. Marines?…. Division?!” And REDACTED’s face when she realised was hilarious too. Heh.)

Of course, all of this was even further from plausibility than Pakistan from Dubai in the Blue Wolf plane. Except for the way Nikki and Michael fell back into each other’s exhausted arms (and onto each other’s faces) after it was all (not quite) over. That felt both earned and real – no navel-gazing, no speechifying, just finally coming home to each other. Awwww. Like I said last time Ramon played Cupid – never mind the plausibility, you guys, feel the SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Nikita s4 ep 3

*scratches head*

I love Birkhoff, I do but, at this late stage, introducing a brand new story arc about his father being a REDACTED whose murder of a pet spider (!) drove his son to REDACTED his own REDACTED seems a very odd idea. Which is saying something in a show which has surgically-altered doubles, Amanda’s mind manipulation chair and the Frankenhand. Do we not have enough “wall of crazy” to contend with?

Still, Aaron Stanford manages to mine plenty of emotion out of the madness and, to his credit and Maggie Q’s, it all comes across a lot better than it should. Even if, for such a genius, Pops turns out to be a total idiot. Dude. SO close.

While Nikki and Nerd deal with Daddy, however, the CIA are half-heartedly pretending to interrogate Alex in the least safe “safe house” ever, said interrogation taking the form of snarking at her for being an airhead party girl – the outrage! Do they not know she’s a UN special envoy?! – and telling her everything they know. Huh. And there was me thinking interrogation was supposed to work the other way….

Of course, the extraordinary rendition plan doesn’t really take since Alex has almost rescued herself by the time Michael and Sam/Owen turn up to help finish the job. Being an airhead party girl, of course, Alex thinks Sam/Owen is there because he likes her as opposed to her money, but a kiss on the cheek between these two whiners does not in any way make up for the complete lack of Mikita shipping opportunities this week. Beyond grizzling at Sam/Owen, Shane West has so little to do this week that Michael and Nikki barely interact at all, and when they do it’s disappointingly calm and drama-free. Drama-free! What use is that to me?! Give me sexual tension and moody brooding and something to squee about, dammit. Hurrumph.

Nikita s4 ep 2

I watch all sorts of craziness – vampires, werewolves, superheroes, etc – but this Shop/body-swap carry-on in Nikita is really pushing it as far as my suspension of disbelief is concerned. And it seems like I’m not the only one: there was a moment in this week’s episode where Ryan was explaining his theory about it to Nikki, and the “Oh, come ON” expressions on Michael and Birkhoff’s faces were almost identical to mine. Which is odd because I’m pretty sure Division/Division 2 have run their own “Swap in a Double” missions before: didn’t Michael pose as somewhere’s Head of State so the real one could be offed quietly and the Michael one could “die of natural causes?” So why the surprise, guys?

Possibly because a) the basic idea is so exceptionally daft that not even the characters can fully get with the programme but also b) the ever increasing circles of the conspiracy are getting a little unwieldy even for this show. We’re getting close to 24-style stakes here, which would be fine, I suppose, if every scene were so wildly entertaining that we just got swept along with the silliness, but it can be difficult to do that though gritted teeth. I mean – FFS, Amanda: SHUT. UP. Just SHUT. UP. And Nikita: STOP LISTENING TO HER, YOU IDIOT. And – especially – STOP WHINING ABOUT IT.

Having said that, the story may be bonkers but it’s hurtling along at an impressive speed – probably because we only have another 4 eps to wrap it all up in – so in this ep alone we had half a season’s worth of stuff: Nikki rescued and reunited with her boys, Ryan cottoning onto the double trouble, a counter-move so audacious even Nikki couldn’t go through with it (thank God for Michael and the real DDG), the start of whatever bullet-ridden shenanigans Alex and Sam/Owen have to get out of the way before they inevitably rip each other’s clothes off AND yet another couple of twists that BLEW. MY. MIND, the final one being the real kicker once again. Whew. Talk about packing a lot in.

So while the ep wasn’t quite as good as last week’s then, I still enjoyed most of it. Especially since – just in case anyone actually thinks I’m watching for the conspiracy carry-on – the Mikita count was higher than ever. Nikki waking up on the plane with Michael all “I had to cut your shirt off to get to the wound” (Dude. Killing me here); the subtext-laden “disagreements” about guns’n’ammo which weren’t really about guns’n’ammo; the tender removal of the trigger (and responsibility) from Nikki’s hands; the “I am done fighting for us” when that is so transparently not true – you GUYS. Reela afficionados will already be well acquainted with just how fantastic Shane West is at this type of thing, and when you add that to his chemistry with Maggie Q: SQUEE-FEST.

Nikita s4 ep 1

OMG, you guys.

100 days of tv-time have gone by since Nikita ditched her friends and made a dash for… er, Canada. On the way, however, she’s acquired a surname (Mears?!) and the frenzied attention of the media and the FBI as they hunt the supposed murderer of the President. Said friends meantime have acquired a plane(!), a Conspiracy Wall and their own leads in Operation Save Nikita Whether She Likes it or Not. Michael may be nursing a wounded heart, but he’s very clearly in charge, striding around doing spy stuff in some very becoming sunglasses, looking all moody and handsome. Alex “thinks she’s Batman”- activist and philanthropist by day, secret operative and Shop-fighter by, er, other parts of the day – with Sonya as sidekick. Ryan has been demoted from boss back down to boffin. And Birkhoff continues to be the wonderfully snarky glue holding the team together. And flying the plane.(!)

After a bad dream and a staring contest with a wolf, though, Nikki decides it’s time to come back and clear her name, putting her faith (and evidence) in the hands of a conspiracy theorist tv journalist (much like she did with Ryan, only this guy’s a bit less annoying and not on the government payroll). Of course, Amanda and the Shop are on her trail, however, with the Feds on speed-dial. Just as well then that Michael, Birkhoff and co are on the case, even if they’re still in the huff, or Nikki would be up a creek without a paddle. Or on a roof without an ex-fil route, if you want to be accurate about it.

Now when I initially sat down to watch this, I wasn’t in the mood at all and the opening sequence with the wolf – what exactly was all the wolf imagery about? The wolf in the opening sequence, the Blue Wolf plane, the Wolf codenames Michael was using? – didn’t exactly change that. But as soon as Nikita, in a manoeuvre that was entirely foreseeable but still a thing of beauty, turned the tables on the police who tried to take her in (the first time), the excitement kicked in, my mood lifted and I was right back on board. Hurrah!

The apparently omniscient Amanda did try to spoil things, of course; she’s so stupendously annoying now that I had to fight the urge to throw things every time she Mwah-ha-ha’d onto the screen, but the rest of the episode more than made up for it.

All the action set-pieces were great, in particular, and there were a couple of jaw-dropping twists which I genuinely did not see coming, especially the one towards the end which had both Birkhoff and I staring dumbfounded at our screens.

Speaking of whom…. Birkhoff himself was his usual magnificent self throughout and, in fairness, it wasn’t all carnage and craziness: the newsroom cellphone-palooza was hilarious, as was Ryan being unceremoniously ordered to “talk to Nikki before she tries to shoot the fan!” Heh. But my favourite thing about the ep? Well, duh. Step forward smoulderingly resentful Michael, all “I’m here to help you ex-fil,” “Birkhoff, GET ME THAT ADDRESS!” and the moment that launched a thousand swoons: when he took Nikita’s hand and helped her out of the air vent….. Oh my. SQUEEEEEEEEEE.

Public Service Announcement 32 of 2014: Nikita

Maggie Q’s new show Stalker may be causing a lot of controversy in the US before it’s even aired but, here in the UK, some of us are still waiting to see the end of her old show Nikita. That wait is nearly over at last, however, as the fourth and final season arrives on Sky Living on Monday night (21st) at 9pm.

The second and third seasons had their flaws – Alex, Ryan, Alex, Amanda the Mad Scientist, Alex – but there was plenty of great stuff too so, as long as Nikki, Michael and Birkhoff are around, I’m in. And we’re only getting 6 episodes this time, which hopefully means time to wrap up the story without getting bogged down in nonsense like the Zetrov carry-on. Yay! Anyway, check back here for reviews of every ep, laced with a liberal amount of shipping and squeeing. In fact, let me start practising now: Mikita 4eva!!!!! SQUEEEEEE!!!!!