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.