Nikita: 'Til Death Do Us Part

Serviceable, action packed, twisty, and emotional, this should've been a home run. It hit all the required beats, it did everything it needed to do to wrap up the plots for the season. So why didn't I like it very much?

Simply put, they turned Nikita into a victim, and that destroyed the episode. Nikita's actions do make a sad sort of sense, but I hated the direction it suggested. Instead of letting her family help, instead of fighting, she chose go off on her own again. That's like taking three huge steps backward on her emotional character arc. That's season one Nikita. Sure she's been through hell, but she has been there before. I just don't understand why they had her run away in tears. That's the kind of defeat that Amanda has been trying to make happen all season. So in essence Amanda won, and that grates on me to no end. I don't know about you, but that's not what I want to see in my hero.

Which brings me to my other big problem with this episode, Amanda survived it. Not only that, but she was all smug and patting herself on the back for her victory over Nikita. I was momentarily happy at the end, because the team all survived, and it felt like Amanda's plans were ultimately pointless. Nikita had managed to evade the secret service, escape, and showed up in time to save the day in the fight against the dirty thirty. She even blew up Division (which was perhaps the best moment in the series).

Why couldn't the plot have been: the team quickly foiling the stupid Amanda plot, tracing Nikita's implanted listening device back the source, staging an assault on the shop, and killing Amanda dead? Seriously, why couldn't we have had that? Because that would've wiped the slate clean for the final season... God forbid.

At least Ryan showed up for the final episode, and I liked that the group figured out Nikita was compromised. For me all the character interactions were pretty good (except for Nikita's, that is), but that's never really been the show's weakness.

I did like the twist about the President being alive. It means she can be saved by our group next season, but the entire plot doesn't make sense. If the Shop had an imposter in the White House, sitting in the big chair, why on earth did the Shop have her killed? The only possible reason I can think of is they have the VP in their pocket.

I also kept waiting for Owen/Sam to show up. If this was the end, we would've been left with him as Sam, ambiguous, pointless Sam. There was absolutely no pay off for the change to the character. I was hoping maybe he might show up in the last moment and kill Amanda or something, but no. He was totally dropped.

Bits:

Alex's plan to become a public figure to fight human-trafficking while using her new influence to help clear Nikita's name was really awesome, and is a logical path for the character. I love the direction, and I really hope that's what they do with her next season.

I thought Michael lying about the Nano-virus being gone was perfectly in character, very much a redemption from the last episode. Although his death and resurrection was extremely cliché.

I like Amanda's Shop liaison, he seems like a good face for the Shop.

I guess I made it sound like I hated this episode, and in truth I did hate parts of it. If they hadn't done that final moment, then maybe this would've been a good finale. Still, it wasn't all bad. I do have hope for next season.

2 1/2 out of 4 Duplicates of the President of the United States.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

10 comments:

Brain-Dead Blogger said...

This show should have ended after season 2. When Nikita and friends conquered Division and killed Percy, the show basically lost its whole raison d'etre and wasn't able to replace it with anything else that could really grab you and keep your attention. Putting Nikita in the role of the victim again was probably a last-ditch attempt to regain some of the old "magic" of seasons 1 and 2. Too late, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

J.D., I am totally with you. I hated Nikita running away, too. Why can't she accept that they are in it together and that her friends will help her even if she runs away. It's not just about her and her guilt trip is quite annoying now. She does not trust her friends and does not trust them to decide for themselves. Why does she still believe that being on her own is better when the past has proven the contrary. I am surprised that she did not see through Amanda's plan here.

Amanda...still alive and still annoying. Honestly, I don't know why The Shop needs Amanda. They managed to get someone from the Secret Service on their payroll and to replace the president. What's the point of Amanda here? Why would they give in to her little private war? I wish the finale would have been the end of her.

I missed Owen/Sean too. I hope he comes back in the finale season. I would be incredibly disappointed if they drop his storyline.

I am also glad they Alex, Ryan (an anylist that can fight like that? Respect!) and Birkhoff got some bruises from the fight. It's always ridiculous when there are no signs of a fight.

Sonya with her hair down was great. She looked beautiful.

I am glad that the writers finally accept Alex' celebrity status. Was about time and I hope they stick with it.

ChrisB said...

I loved this episode, despite the cheese of Michael's death and resurrection, up through Nikita blowing up Division. The team all coming together; badass Birkhoff and Nikita coming in to save the day were fantastic, all capped off with the destruction of Division which was wonderful.

TPTB probably wrote the episode as a series finale, only to learn at the last minute that they are coming back. Instead of wrapping up everything once and for all, they needed to give next season a jumping off point.

The problem, as you so rightly say, J.D., is that they went too far. Leaving her ring and driving off in tears did not feel like the Nikita we have come to know in the past season or so. Especially after the way the rest all rallied to help her not kill the President, or whomever that was.

As next season is a short one (and more than likely the end), it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

ChrisB said...

Maggie Q got TVLine's Performer of the Week.

http://tvline.com/2013/05/18/nikita-maggie-q-performer-of-the-week/

Anonymous said...

I think a persons opinion of Amanda is what decides this season.
If you like her you like the season if you dont you wont enjoy it as much.
She really should have died ages ago BUT that dosent mean she isnt still a great character. (Brilliantly played by melinda clarke).
She is not the 'big bag' of the season. The whole point was to show what running division would do to Nikita and friends.
Amanda is not the big bad, as she has no nefarious or grand plan for the world, even now with the shop she herself has no actual plan.
Percy was right she has no ambition which is why i dont feel as irritated by her as others.
She is there simply as the flip side of nikita the other side of the coin, now she is the shops henchman.
It magnifies the Shops threat as they are using Amanda and i can see a conflict between the shop and Amanda happening.
Its not like stopping Amanda saves the world, she is more of a personal hindrance to the good guys.

'Instead of letting her family help, instead of fighting, she chose go off on her own again.'

They will help. She will be fighting. They will reunite eventually.


I know its opinions but in what way is Nikita made a victim.
She clearly acknowledges what the rest of the team said and you could see how it moved her.
Her point was clear, its not division thats after them.
Its the ENTIRE NATION thats after HER.
I understand that the team together is better and all that but realistically it was the best decision.
The team is obviously going to continue to work together, its far easier for them to work if no one is looking for them. They are free as division is dead and the government dosen't know who they are.
Nikita working WITH them is actually the stupidest thing they could have done. Her being in close proximity to them will eventually get them caught. Hiding from division alone is something she had done for years and bringing this point up again before the inevitable reunion in season 4 is the show coming full circle.
Her leaving is a sign of the characters strength. The easiest option was for her to stay but SHE CHOSE (therefore negating this victim idiocy) the hardest hearbreaking route, which is why she was crying.

How can you criticise the president plot when it hasnt even started. Of course it dosent make sense yet. Did you expect the shop to reveal there plans in a memo listing all their motivations and objectives. Until you find out the reasoning behind it you cannot completely judge it.

I like how owen/sam is used sparingly. It makes his reapperances that much more epic. He was irrelevant to the theme of the episode so was not needed. I expect him to have a pivotal role in season 4 as he is a wild card now, i cannot fault the writers for holding off. For now.

I respect your reviews and opinions but alot of your reasoning is based on what YOU would like to see or happen.

I admit Nikita leaving her ring was unnecessary and Michaels return to life was so melodramtic and chessy.

J.D. Balthazar said...

She didn't choose anything, she let Amanda win. She let the situation get the better of her. Staying with the group was the right move, she can't actually go out in public. Which means she can't function and survive ALONE. She needs others to help her, she needs others to even eat. She threw away her entire support structure out of a misguided need to protect her 'family'. Except they've been at her side fighting since the beginning. They know the risks and are willing to take them. Her going off on her own was selfish and self-destructive. It played exactly into what Amanda wants, and has always wanted, for Nikita to be vulnerable and alone. Nikita let herself be a victim instead of fighting.

There was no guarantee that this was going to be anything other than the final episode. They shot this before the renewal order had been given. So all those plot lines would've been up in the air. Nonsensical, moronic, and cliché. I admit that the plan has yet to be revealed, and I will hold off judgment of the plan until it's revealed next season. But from just this episode, it makes absolutely no sense, and appears to be absolutely idiotic.

As for Owen/Sam without addressing his character means the entire plot about Sam was irrelevant for this season. Playing a long game is fine when you have a long time to play it. Setting up the Sam plot could've been great, except they didn't actually do anything with it. Again, it might be cool next season. But for this season it was totally and completely irrelevant. It took away one of the best character's on the show, and gave us something we didn't actually need. I hope they make good use of him next season, otherwise the whole plot involving Sam was utterly pointless.

It is very true that a lot of my reasoning is based on opinions. I'm under no obligation to be objective. And yes, I hate the Amanda character. She's extremely overplayed and should've been killed off very early in the season when she still had some omph. Now she's just being dragged along like some kind of bad joke. Also if she isn't the big bad for the season, then there is a real problem with the narrative. This is a very arc heavy show. Without a consistent villain for them to fight, it becomes disorganized and there is no emotional through line. Amanda just isn't strong enough to be a solo heavy. There needed to be something else, which I believe is why they did the Sam plot.

I'll fully admit I wrote this review when I was at my most frustrated with the episode, so it came across as a bit more snarky than I wanted it to be. However, I do think they fell down on this second half of the season. This isn't the show it was in season two, but I have high hopes for season 4. Thank you for the well thought out comment, all feedback is appreciated. Just try to remember not to attack the writer, I felt like several of your comments were aimed directly at me.

Brain-Dead Blogger said...

I agree with J.D. Nikita was, from the beginning, an arc-oriented show. The fascination of the show derived from Nikita's quest to bring down an over-powering opponent, fighting impossible odds to do so. After Division had been conquered, however, the show basically turned into a procedural for most of the ensuing season. After all, what is "chasing the Dirty Thirty" other than a recipe for a "villain of the week" show? Then, when they tried to correct course and get more arc-oriented again, it was done sloppily ... at least, in my opinion. Oh well, maybe they'll at least manage to wrap this show up in style next season.

Anonymous said...

J.D

I understand completely where you are coming from. But i guess we see things completely different.

Despite Nikitas character growth its not out of character for her to do what she just did.
My point is the team is going to continue regardless of Nikita leaving. It would have been far easier for her stay with michael than to leave him. Thats far from selfish.
She has survived alone before and thats the point the writers wont to reiterate in the final season. It was just sloppily done.
Nikita can always find them or reach out to them. Its safer FOR THEM to work with out her there.
I agree its alot more dangerous for her but again, the writers are trying to go back to season 1 and bring everything full circle.
Its not like nikita is running away to hide somewhere, she is leaving to fight albeit alone for now. Nikita acknowledging the groups love for her is what makes her NOT a victim. She is alone but by her choosing. She departed knowing that she will always have people to go back to. She just had to make this painful choice at this moment.

The Owen/Sam plot was resolved in that G20 episode. They laid some foundations for future episodes but they didnt payoff as there was little time. A big fault of this season was the pacing, far too much time ws spent on the dirty thirty.
In the G20 episode they had that Alex/Sam scene and when he destroyed the black box.
I suspected then he would be gone for a while as it left a few little cliffhangers..Did he embrace his 'owen' side again? what are his plans now? is he still sam, but has he decided to help nikita and team?
These questions are better left answered over a 6 episode period than a few minutes in a finale cameo. I remember feeling that he should have been in the season 1 and 2 finales but looking back they made the right choice.
Another prolem with this season was that there were too many characters so even when Owen was on screen it was for comic relief or 1 or 2 lines.
He had 2 episodes devoted to him and both included his apparent alter ego Sam, and i agree that he was brought in as the wrters realized too late that there where no tangible threats to Nikita and team.
Saying that, Amanda defeated Alex, owen and Nikita cerebrally all while surviving herself. Which is why i like the character. I admit she 'mwhahaha'd' her way out of far too many situations but i can always root for a bad guy who dosent have to survive by brute force. I liked that aspect about percy to. Amanda reminds me of T-bag from prison break.
The 'dirty thirty' idea was good in theory but did not translate well to screen and i completely agree with you on your points there. As i mentioned before i never considered Amanda as the big bad which is why she didnt irritate me as much. She is a reacurring hindrance to the team who offers a slightly different threat as she knows them well.
This season reminded me a little of season 6 of buffy..There was no 'villain' divisions affect on nikita and her team is what the bad was. Amanda just appeared every now and again then finally did something substantial at the end of the season (a bit like willow/magic in buffy s6)..But she never achieved anything and over the season there are so many instances that felt like a draw everytime Amanda was involved so i completely get where people are coming from.

Season 2 nikita is one of the best seasons of television. Period. Especially in terms of an arc driven story.
I admit this season dosent reach those heights but how could it. Season 2 was basically one Arc narrative from episode 7 onwards.
Comparing the two seasons is slightly unfair as i think season 2 reached a height very few shows in general reach. To top that was near impossible, while they have failed on a few fronts i dont believe its as bad as you and others suggest.
Didnt mean for my other post to sound like an attack,i guess i allowed my own frustration to seep through. It was directed at other posters as well so i apologise for any offence.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Anonymous, thank you for the apology I had a feeling you weren't trying to offend anyone, but were just passionate about your point. So for what it's worth apology accepted.

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree about Nikita and her actions. I've pretty much said what I'm going to say, and I'm not going to try and convince anyone that my point is the only valid one.

I also get what you're saying about Owen/Sam could've taken away from an already packed two-parter. I just wish they didn't think of him as such a secondary character. So my issues were based more on disappointment and frustration than anything else.

Amanda... well, I've never liked her much as a character. I think the actress is fine, she's done some great work elsewhere. I just don't really care for her acting choices here. She's too 'muhahaha' for me. Too aloof, too smug. A good villain you want to see come back, you want to see more of, and in some ways you want to see win. I've never felt that for Amanda, watching her feels like a chore for me. So having her be the only real villain for the season was a bit obnoxious (for me).

That being said, I do absolutely agree that the big bad was division, and what it symbolized. It was Percy's legacy. That was sort of the thrust of the whole 'Dirty Thirty' plot as well. It just ended up boiling down to like Brain-Dead Blogger said, "a recipe for a 'villain of the week' show". Which just isn't what this version of Nikita works well as.

This show is at its best when it's focusing on the character's arcs, and fighting against a tangible villain. I think they went a bit to hard define, as more of a cerebral enemy, an inner one, instead of something they could physically combat.

That's a bold writing choice, but perhaps an unwise one. I'd say this season was an interesting experiment, but perhaps they shouldn't have risked alienating the viewers they did have by going in that direction.

KyujiRico said...

J.D. AGREEEEEEEEED! Everything you said was spot on to exactly what me and sisters where arguing about. Keen observation.