Is it possible to stay alive while everyone believed that you were public enemy number one and the pressure was continuing to get worse? That’s part of the premise behind The CW’s drama “Nikita” as it started its fourth, soon-to-be final, season as the title character struggled to stay one step ahead of her loved ones and the people who wanted her dead. The results were somewhat familiar in a few stories, but there were some surprises that made up for it in the end.
“Nikita” followed former Division agent Nikita Mears (Maggie Q) as she was forced to go on the run after being falsely accused on killing the President of the United States. What people don’t know was that the President’s death was staged to make everyone less suspicious of the fact that she was still alive and being held prisoner by a mysterious organization known as The Shop. This organization is full of powerful people willing to do anything to control any corner of the government to help further their own interests, which now counted Nikita’s nemesis Amanda (Melinda Clarke) as a member. It was Amanda’s plan to use Nikita as a means to an end in The Shop’s assassination plot, but it was an added bonus for her to make Nikita suffer as she cut ties with everyone in life; including her shocked fiance Michael (Shane West). After a few months on the run, Nikita returned to the states to find that the list of people who wanted her dead was growing by the day and that Michael seemed to have somewhat given up on a future with her. Nikita’s protege Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) was living a double life as a Russian heiress by day and undercover avenger by night. She was also developing a connection to the group’s former ally Owen (Devon Sawa) who recovered his memories as Sam, but Alex seemed to think that the Owen persona was still a part of Sam’s psyche no matter how much she didn’t trust him. Speaking of trust issues, Nikita though that her friends Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) and Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) were still the same people. Ryan became obsessed with conspiracies and often overlooked what was right in front of him. Birkhoff’s change in personality was much more shocking as he appeared to have a darker ulterior motive in mind for Nikita and her friends. Will Nikita be able to stop Birkhoff before someone close to her becomes the latest casualty?
In terms of questions, “Nikita” posed a few big ones, but the biggest one won’t be answered until next year when the series comes a definitive close. Over the course of its four seasons, the show was always seemingly on the brink of cancellation, but it always managed to get renewed for another season at the eleventh hour. The first two episodes have clearly indicated that this season will indeed be the last as Q’s Nikita is destined for one final battle with Clarke’s Amanda that will leave only one survivor. Viewers will be waiting for that pivotal battle with bated breath as the remainder of the season will be likely building up to that moment for as long as humanly possible. The show’s first two episodes worked extra hard to demonstrate how Nikita’s absence impacted everyone in different degrees. The most extreme transformation was West’s Michael who became distant and almost robotic by design as the character shut off his emotions for his own sanity. Viewers were eagerly waiting for West’s Michael to finally tell Q’s Nikita how he truly felt about her abandoning him all those months ago. Unfortunately, they had to wait until towards the end of the second episode when West’s Michael finally let loose on Nikita in a way that told her that she made a huge mistake in going on the run. Sure, the show has got to find a way to work out the kinks in The Shop’s double storyline, but let’s hope that future episodes will help to fill in the minor plot holes and put the story into a context that viewers can relate to. Judging by the preview for next week’s episode, that will happen sooner than expected.
As for breakout stars, Q and Fonseca demonstrated two very different heroines who have gone through radical changes since the series premiered. Q’s Nikita has evolved into a ruthless survivor who became the hunter and the hunted in the blink of an eye. She gave Nikita a sense of tough vulnerability that made her fearless, but it also brought up the possibility that the character could potentially alienate the people she loved. Q was exceptionally good at Nikita’s fight scenes, but she also brought a sense of quiet sadness as she realized the damage that she caused to the people that she cared about the most. Q’s most memorable scene came when her character struggled with the decision of whether killing one man was going to lead to the death of an innocent person. Her face contorted into a series of extreme reactions as she pondered whether to pull the trigger, or allow herself to get manipulated once again by Amanda. Luckily, someone made the decision for her in the end so that she didn’t have to truly get her hands dirty, but Q’s shocked reaction still registered even though Nikita didn’t do anything. Fonseca, on the other hand, evolved her once tortured character into a strong voice for female empowerment. Fonseca’s Alex became a public figure who was no longer looking for ways to destroy herself in some desperate act of revenge. Her character now had a different purpose, and her own potential on-screen romance with Sawa’s Owen/Sam. It was clear that Sawa and Fonseca had strong chemistry from their very first scene last season and this season will likely have them working together in closer proximity than ever before. Let’s hope that the show takes it time to evolve the story into something realistic, but not too much time since this is the final season after all.
“Nikita” premiered on November 22nd and airs on Fridays at 9:00 pm on The CW.
Verdict: Q proved to be a dynamic leading lady who mixed action, comedy and enough drama to keep viewers interested as the show’s inevitable end was drawing nearer than expected.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)