Nikita: Wanted

Birkhoff: "Nikki, you're gonna wind up in an alley somewhere, alone and dying, unless you stop running and let us help you."

I have a lot to say about this premiere, and most of it isn't exactly nice. To me at least, it felt like a mad scramble to try and fix the mistakes made in last seasons's final story arc. Except instead of moving forward, they tenaciously stuck to those poorly conceived plots and ran with them.

Starting with Nikita's dream sequence. Running from the FBI, injured and alone, Michael dying, Alex and Birkhoff dead. It was creepy for sure, but a bit too on the nose for me, a too-literal representation of Nikita's fears. Normally I love dream sequences. They can do a lot to illustrate a deep seated fear or reveal important character issues not really obvious to the audience. They are a way for writers to show what's going on inside a character's head. But there was no subtlety or nuance here, just regurgitated and mostly irrelevant information we already knew.

Nikita's entire situation is self-inflicted. She chose to go along with the presidential assassination, which was utterly nonsensical, and her choice to go on the run without her friends in order to "protect" them was just stupid. I guess from one perspective it sort of works for the character, but that doesn't make me want to like her. Birkhoff was totally right that running away would eventually lead to her dying alone. At the end of the episode that's exactly where she was, in an alley with no hope and very few options left.

It's probably not the fault of the individual episode. The show started to go downhill last season when they focused on Amanda and her obsession with Nikita. Amanda is a one-note thinly-crafted villain with nothing to engage the audience. She's a waste of time and energy. I don't blame the actress exactly, and the writers have tried to add depth to her with the whole back-story episode. But she's such a mustache-twirling, maniacal master plan bad guy that there's nothing that pulls me in and makes me almost root for her. I just want the good guys to put her down and be done with her.

In this episode, Amanda's convoluted trap involved sending ENN anchor Dale Gordon a cell phone so that she could feed him information that he would then spout on air like conspiracy theories, in the hope that it would lure Nikita to his office. The problem is that there was no way she could've planned it to that degree. First off, why did a reporter just trust an anonymous source texting from an untraceable cell phone without further confirmation? It makes him seem incredibly unprofessional. Second, the timing of the trap would require Amanda to basically sit around and wait for surveillance to catch Nikita entering the building. Then she had to see through the disguise and tip off the FBI.

Even with FBI Agent Graham in on the plot, how could he justify staying in a nearby location to the ENN building while conducting a massive manhunt for Nikita? There are so many holes and leaps of logic required to make those events happen as they did, and none of them worked from established character motivations. Why didn't Nikita, who's a super spy, wait for Dale to get off work in order to question him in a more private location. Why would she come up with a plan involving timing that would've been impossible to predict, entering a building with heavy security, all without backup or support -- especially considering she's literally the most wanted person on the planet. That's suicidal. At first I thought her plan was to get captured, but when it became obvious that it wasn't, I totally lost interest.

Okay, I'm almost done with my Nikita character rant. Almost. Did Nikita really think her group would just give up on her and move on with their lives? I sort of get her wanting to protect them, but she obviously doesn't know them very well or she would have known they would never let go. Sure she might've thought Michael wanted to move on when they were engaged and the job had basically ended. Except he had a reason to then, her. Without her, he's nothing more than that ruthless agent he used to be with one singular purpose, the job.

Finally, while it's good that Agent Graham was a good shot, Nikita took a chest wound. She would need surgery, and would probably be confined to a hospital bed for weeks unable to move, then she'd need major rehabilitation for months if not years. How much do you wanna bet she has some backroom illegal doctor sew her up and she'll be up and in action in the next episode? Who am I kidding. Michael got his hand back. This show has no injury continuity.

Okay, so what I did like was the rest of the group. Alex is working on her one-woman war to stop human trafficking, which is a nice continuation of her promise from last season. I'm glad Nikki going off alone didn't deter her from her work. I like that Sonia is Alex's Birkhoff. Also when Alex looked into the camera saying 'we will stop you' it was as if she were talking directly to Amanda and the Shop. I also liked the cliffy with Owen/Sam showing up -- please do more with these two. I'd like Owen back, and I'd like him to be with Alex by the end. Is that too much to ask?

Unfortunately, Alex really needs to work on her hand-to-hand skills, and her sense of awareness. Plus, would Sonia really leave Alex alone to mop up without continued monitoring of her area so that she's not ambushed while distracted moving bodies and such? Also, pretty much everything with Birkhoff and Michael and Ryan worked for me, except one minor gripe about the photo used to threaten Agent Graham with. It felt like the worst kind of photoshop. All Michael had to do was show him the candid picture of his wife. As far as I know you can't take a picture through a sniper scope, or if you can would it really have the 'sniper' overlay like that?


I really liked the bit with the crowd all using their cell phones, and Birkhoff using one of them to communicate with Nikita.

So what does Amanda want with those four tagged guys? Probably some sort of nefarious experimentation plot involving the blood stuff that Ryan was obsessed with.

So the FBI had a hostage situation on a roof, with no helicopter support?

Loved Birkhoff telling Nikki that her choice made no sense.

I liked Michael in this, he was so cold and mechanical. Using those camera contacts worked well to illustrate the idea that he's dead inside, a robot going through the motions.

The Kips Bay Creative Technology lead was way too convenient and convoluted, but I guess with the catch-all Shadownet back up and running, that kind of stuff should just be overlooked.

Nikita has a 30 million dollar bounty on her head, 5 million more than Osama Bin Laden.

100 days since the fake president's assassination.

The Shop set Nikita up by tipping off the cops, that was insanely fast. How did they know where she was, really? I mean I don't buy that at all.

What's Parallel State?

So the scene at the beginning of the episode with the cops going in to capture Nikita was like the Trinity scene from The Matrix.


Ryan: "Nikita left to keep the spotlight and danger away from us, she was..."
Birkhoff: "Being Nikki, I know. Act first, think later, first degree martyr."

Nikita: "You know what would help me right now? Turn off the spinning blades of decapitation."

Birkhoff: (to Nikita) "Move on? Yeah nobody's moving on. You may have given up on us, Nikki, but we haven't given up on you."

Birkhoff: "Mikey's gone for weeks at a time trying to pick up on your trail, Ryan's created a whole new wall of crazy conspiracy theories, Alex think she's Batman -which I guess makes my girlfriend Robin. All this to help clear your name."

Sigh, this episode felt to slapped together and convoluted to work. It did nothing to fix the issues carried over from last season, and it made me actively dislike the lead. That's not a good sign. Five more to go folks, I hope things dramatically improve soon, or this could be a very disappointing end to a good show.

2 out of 4 Mysterious Cell Phones

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


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with most of your points although i think you are allowing your annoyance with Amanda and Nikitas lone wolf decision to impact your review.

It sounds like the plot didnt go how YOU wanted it to so your nitpicking at things that happen in every show on tv.. I agree the whole infiltrating a secured building rather than wait for said reporter to go home was dumb.
But the whole point of that scene was to show how impressive Nikita is.
The whole worlds after her but she can still sneak into a secure building undetected. Abit heavy handed i admit.

If your a vampire diaries lover i detect alot of damon like snark coming from you.

Admittedly that dream sequence was more a hammer to the head than on the nose, complete with nikita waking up next to an actual lone wolf.
Nikitas decision to run away and leave the team, was stupid...BUT ask yourself. Would they have been able to do what they have done so far if nikita was with them.
From a personal standpoint leaving them was stupid and selfish, but from a tactical one she has probably kept them alive and off the radar.
I guarantee the moment she gets on that plane they will get shot down or something along those lines.
If you notice the characters actions are all indicative to how she personally left them. Michael and Birkhoff are the most hurt with good reason, but Alex(whose been able to follow her own path) and Ryan (who is the most analytical of the bunch) seemed to be more understanding of it.

Nikitas situation is self-inflicted but she is also aware she put her self in it. Shes not moping around , whining and wondering why things are happening to her.

I think the shop are creating clones thus the two president spensers at the end of last season. That is my biggest complaint with this episode, it looks like the sci fi and the the spy world will be mixing and it dosent usually work to well. Alias comes to mind.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Anonymous, I get what you're saying and perhaps I am a bit upset with the direction of the show as a whole and that came through in the review. However, your main point, that Nikita being alone is beneficial to everyone I just don't agree with. Tactically speaking, maybe her being apart from her family might have saved them from some heartache and trouble. Yet there's been no movement on actually solving her situation. Without backup and support from people who believe in her, she has no hope of getting out from under this frame job.

Getting into a building undetected is not impressive. I've seen movies that depict an eight year old sneaking past rent-a-cop security. What would've impressed me, would've been having her be a step ahead of her situation, and plan an effective way of escaping with multiple contingencies. That might not work with her fly by the seat of her pants attitude, but it would've been smart. Instead she got in, and then got surrounded and couldn't get out without help. Which proves the point, that she can't do it without help. That her choice to run was the wrong one to begin with.

Thanks for the comment though, I really appreciate your point of view. You made me think about my reaction to the episode in a new way. So while I love having the response, I would like to ask that you don't attack me directly. Disagree with my points, argue in favor of character or plot to your hearts content. Calling me biased and snarky is personal. I'm fully aware that I'm not in love with the show anymore, and I want to be the way I used to be.

I went into this episode with an open mind, but it felt slapdash and rushed. Nothing about the events of this episode felt like a shift in a new direction. Instead they just continued along the same lines they had already started. Maybe the producers love the way they left things last season, in which case I'm very worried for the rest of the season. There isn't a strong coherent plot... yet. That's troubling given how little time is left in the show.

I'm really hoping for the best, a return to form. I'd like to be blown away. I'm just not very optimistic at this point.

ChrisB said...

Great review, J.D. Your list of all the things wrong with this episode was spot on.

My problem with the opening dream sequence was the "lone wolf" staring at Nikita. As you say, "no subtlety or nuance." It was so on the nose, I groaned.

I was really hoping that this episode would kill off Amanda and re-set the show for the final five episodes. But no, it looks as though we are stuck with this absurd storyline until the bitter end.

The best part was, as it so often is, Birkhoff. Loved the whole exchange with Ryan about Nikita shooting out of the building. His snark is a refreshing note in this show.

Anonymous said...


Just a little note to tell you I find your review refreshing and put a link on the Imdb page of Nikita forum.. Lets just say the people get emotionnal more then .. giving opinion! I defend your points cause I»'m one of the rare people who find the 3X22 a Jump the shark moment for the show and I made my point clear BUT..Oh well if you go and check I'm on the name of Patrickqc33 (and the more down to earth!)!! Thanks for your review again!!

pink said...

J.D..You don't have to apologize for your review.You were right on target with everything you said.This is exactly why Nikita has lost more then half of it's fans after the first season.I too use to be a fan but now find the show to be too predictable and stupid.It seems they only care about doing the stunts & action scenes right and are willing to sacrifice good writing and acting to fit the stunts.This show was never as good as the ORIGINAL show (La Femme Nikita)that was done on the USA network 15 yrs ago,starring Peta Wilson & Roy Dupri.