Nikita: Pandora

"You know, I'm really sick of people telling me that you're dead."

The first time I watched Nikita's first season finale last year, I liked it but I didn't really love it. You see, I always set enormously high expectations for season finales, and I'm often disappointed when I don't get an explosive hour and a jaw dropping cliffhanger to top it off. This episode wasn't much of a spectacle at the time, so I was obviously let down. Now that I've seen both seasons of the show, I can appreciate the effectiveness and thematic relevance of the hour, and I've come to realize that it's actually quite the stunner.

First off, Pandora does a magnificent job of paying off everything that's been building up all year, which is a season finale's primary function. Alex is now in a potentially dangerous agreement with Oversight & Amanda to hunt down her mentor in exchange for resources to kill Semak. Nikki & Michael are on the run with a black box, and Birkhoff has switched sides. Everything from the original premise has now been flipped on its head with a thrilling stage set for season two. Thematically and from a story-arc perspective, this is a superbly-written hour that does the plot and characters justice.

Now while the action might not have been mindblowing (which diminished my enjoyment the first time I saw it), the episode was filled with poignant moments jam-packed with layers and emotions. In particular, Nikki and Alex's conversation at the loft was quite powerful. The two women finally put everything out on the table and their relationship was infused with a raw reality that has forever altered the status quo. Of course, Division agents then crashed the loft and we lost the locale that I really grew to love over the course of the year.

Moreover, I adored Amanda in this one. How deliciously evil of her to make Alex say she wants to live just before activating her kill chip? Of course it turns out she was just helping her out as she stabs her with adrenaline and gives her the choice to leave. I've always felt like our villainess views Alex as a sort of protege and this episode cemented that. I also loved her appearance in the end as she revealed herself to have been working with Oversight as they tried to convince Alex to join them in an expertly-executed scene. Alex's world had really been turned upside down over the last few episodes so her actually considering the deal feels earned and realistic in the grand scheme of things.

And finally, I've even grown to appreciate the finale's end scene. Although a bit heavy handed, Nikki worried about the future as she and Michael drive straight into a CGI storm is just the right dose of ominousness and unpredictability to bookend the year on. Color me impressed.

Bits & Bullets:

- Awesome Alex twist faking Nikita's death and injecting her with a toxin. And Nikki waking up and burning Roan with acid? So satisfying.

- I so enjoying watching Nikki making her way through the CIA's front door (especially after Percy mentions she'll be sneaking her way in).

- Michael was much too badass flying at Percy and kicking his ass.

- Ryan had his best moment of the season as he saved Nikki and asked her to save him from prison when she can. Her goodbye kiss to him was also cute.

- Amazing, Nikki setting off the explosion and escaping through the vent.

Nikki Notables:

Amanda: Before you go...
Alex: Let me guess. You'd like to "ask me a few questions."

Alex: Screw Nikita.
Amanda: If you feel that way, then why save her life?
Alex: Because screw all of you, too.

- Absorbing and powerful, Pandora is a terrific season finale from a truly impressive debut season.

4.5 out of 5 CGI storms.

Previously posted at Nad's Reviews.

7 comments:

Miguel said...

I loved almost all of the second half of Nikita's first season, from "All The Way" on, but I thought the last four episodes of season one were outstanding. Betrayals in particular shook me up and showed that the show was smarter than I thought it was. The writers were basically saying, hey you think you know everything, well guess what, you don't. I was particularly impressed by Percy's con, but most importantly I felt Alex's pain so much by what she saw as Nikita's betrayal, and that gunshot at the end of the episode really affected me. Turning two close characters against each other so quickly doesn't usually work in a tv series, but it all felt so natural to me. I understood both Alex and Nikita's side of the situation, and yet I still shouted at the tv screen when Alex shot her. Not because I thought Nikita would actually die (although the start of the finale did have me worried for a brief second), but because I thought their relationship wouldn't recover from that and their mentor-protege/mother-daughter/sister/friend relationship had become the center of the show for me. I loved the two of them together, and I was happy when I found out Alex secretly saved her but sadden that all was not forgiven. I really was bummed that they were no longer fighting Division together anymore, and I felt like it was a great set-up for season two.

(Also, I thought that CIA breakout was pretty tense. I wanted Nikita to have a win so badly after all the sh*t hit the fan the past couple episodes.)

Thanks so much for your reviews Nadim and for getting me into this awesome little show. I'm finished with both seasons now after marathoner through, and it was a perfectly fun way to escape from the summer heat. I grant the episode 5 out of 5 kick-ass rogue division agents.

Nadim said...

Thank you Miguel for the insightful comment. I agree turning the two women on each other was painful and heartbreaking to watch as you really grew to love their relationship and dynamic over the course of the year. It was realistically handeled and didn't require any suspension of disbelief (within the show's world of course).

On another note, I really am so glad you loved the show and are all caught up. It really is phenomenal and I wish more people knew it. I can't wait to rewatch season two now and rewrite my reviews (as my reviews on my own blog were much too short except for the last few and the epic finale).

Can't wait till we get to watch and discuss season three on a weekly basis!

Billie Doux said...

This is the first episode I just no-holds-barred enjoyed. Loved the whole Langley sequence. And especially what Ryan did. And the ending.

And Alberta Watson! Our very own Madeline from LFN! I knew she was in this show at some point, but I didn't realize it was this early.

ChrisB said...

I was very interested to read your review, Nadim, as this finale left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. I think I was expecting a huge action piece and this was not that. What it did have was some amazing character moments.

The rift between Nikita and Alex is very sad and I am curious how the writers are going to take that forward. But, I did love the final shot of Nikita and Michael riding off into the storm. On the nose? You bet, but effective.

A great year of reviews, Nadim. Thanks so much for doing them and for getting me into another great show.

Nadim said...

Chris we are so alike it's scary. The first time I watched this finale when it first aired, I felt exactly the same: "vaguely unsatisfying."

But after finishing both seasons (and loving the show even more), I rewatched the finale for this review and appreciated it much more. I have a feeling you would experience the exact same thing as you will grow to love the characters even more by the end of the second season.

Looking forward to further reading your comments and I'm so glad you're enjoying the reviews :)

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode a lot but seeing Alex and Nikita drift apart is sad because their relationship is really one of the highlights of the first season.

JK said...

I had sort of a premonition about three episodes ago that Michael was going to die in the finale. I've rarely been so glad to be wrong.

Haven't begun season two yet, but I'll be starting right soon. (An astute comment reader might realize by this point that I've been marathoning that whole thing, posting as I go.) I mention this because, even not having the benefit of hindsight, I thought this was a great finale.

Still don't love Alex, but I absolutely love this show.