Archive for the ‘Nikita’ Category

Nikita – 1.05: The Guardian

October 15, 2010

“You can either help me, or I can tell Percy what you’ve been doing after hours in the video conference room….with the girls of Amsterdam?” –Michael

Though I’ve enjoyed watching this series (it’s a good piece of fluff action), ever since the second episode, I was having doubts as to how long the mission-of-the-week format would be able to sustain itself.  Thus, I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find that the latest episode finally delivered on the hints at an overarching storyline that the show has been sprinkling throughout the series.  In the premiere episode, we learned that the head of the black ops government division (appropriately named “Division”) that Nikita has been trying to take down had set up a failsafe to protect himself from ever being replaced or otherwise removed from his position: a series of Black Boxes hidden in safe places around the world containing data on every corrupt mission that Division had carried out over the years.  If anything ever happened to him, he would expose the secrets, thus destroying the credibility of the government and the nation.  A bit of Mutually Assured Destruction, if you will.  In order to take out Division without putting the nation’s global presence at risk, Nikita would have to locate and get rid of these Black Boxes first.  After only being briefly mentioned a few times since the premiere episode, the first of the boxes finally made an appearance in this episode, as well as introducing a new character: Owen Elliot, an operative designated as guardian of one of the boxes.  Over the course of the episode, Nikita manages to track down the box and even successfully convinces Owen to turn against Division (not too difficult, agents of Division end up killing Owen’s girlfriend in order to retrieve the Black Box from him).  With a new character in the mix and the hunt for the boxes officially on, I am left excited and looking forward to the ramifications these latest events will have on the series.  Obviously, they can’t all be storyline-related episodes, and I’m sure we’ll get back to a few individual episodes soon enough, but just a small taste this early on in the series leaves me very satisfied and at least shows that the writers are thinking ahead to more complex threads.

On the other hand, it still kinda bothers me every time they cut to Alex alone in the computer lab chatting with Nikita and providing her with intel.  Is that thing just open to the trainees like all the time?  And why doesn’t their firewall or monitoring software catch her conversations?  I realize a show like this isn’t exactly striving for completely convincing reality, but those scenes really paint Division as a not that tightly run ship to me.  I suppose a show that had the trainees on lockdown and constant surveillance wouldn’t be the most fun show, but still, at least make it look like there’s some decent amount of security in that underground bunker, or wherever they are.

Nikita – 1.02: “2.0”

September 20, 2010

“Dude, when you create your own software that owns access to every government and law enforcement agency in the world, you can call it whatever the hell you want.  Shadownet: taste the rainbow.” – Birkhoff

This week’s episode presents us with Division trying to protect (and at the same time, exploit) a Slavic political leader (Mirco Dadich) accused of war crimes, and Nikita attempting to thwart them using her contact on the inside, Alex.  The whole thing should go off without a hitch, except that a group of mercenaries manage to kidnap the leader, disrupting plans on both sides.  We are also given glimpses of how Nikita and Alex met and why they are working together.

Overall, I enjoyed the action and plot turns of the episode, but I found the format to already be a bit formulaic.  “In this mission-of-the-week, Nikita tries to stop the evil government agency by foiling their evil plans.  Things come to a head near the end, but Nikita wins the day and successfully outwits her adversaries.”  Enjoyable, yes, but somewhat predictable.  The whole thing ends with all three factions colliding at a subway station, leading to another brief reunion between Michael and Nikita, in which she gets away.  I’m not sure how many times I’m going to be able to buy Michael continually running into Nikita at the climactic shootout at the end of the episode, only to have her get away (and successfully thwart Division) in the end.  They’re both supposed to be highly trained professionals, so you’d think that eventually he’d be able to see her coming and catch her.  I give it a pass because it’s only the second episode (and because the action was pretty good), but there’s going to have to be a few episodes where Nikita stays one step ahead of Division the entire time (as well as perhaps a few where she slips up and almost gets caught).  I’m still enjoying the show and will continue to watch, but am wary of what could possibly be a format that gets tiresome.  Hopefully, there is a larger plan at play that unfolds.

Nikita – 1.01 : “Pilot”

September 10, 2010

“Because you’re a young, attractive, white female with virtually no personal ties or paper trail.  Now those do exist, but they’re hard to come by.” – Michael (Shane West)

A show like Nikita seems like it’d be an easy sell for a network.  Espionage, explosions, conspiracies, and ass-kicking hot chicks; what about that doesn’t sound widely appealing?  Sure, it’s probably not the cheapest thing in the world to produce, and the very nature of a serial thriller prevents people from easily picking up the show if they haven’t been following from the beginning, but that’s missing the point: ass-kicking hot chicks. And so, following in the grand tradition of shows like Alias, Dark Angel, and…well, La Femme Nikita, we welcome Nikita, the latest re-make/re-imagining/re-whatever of an early 90s French film.

The show wastes no time dealing with tedium like origins and character backgrounds.  We are instead treated to a 20 second narration telling us exactly what we need to know about the main character (“6 years ago, I was taken out of prison and forced by a covert unit of the government to be an assassin.  3 years ago, I escaped and have been hunted ever since.  I was the first recruit to get out.  I’m going to make certain I’m not the last.”), and boom, we’ve hit the ground running, filling in the missing details as we go.  It’s refreshingly direct and does a good job of setting a fast pace for the show.  Hell, it’s not even 5 minutes before we’ve already got Nikita in a skimpy two-piece at a rich guy’s pool party (who, of course, she has been sent to assassinate).

The show does lag, however, when it’s trying to fill in those pesky missing details along the way.  A visit to Nikita’s estranged foster father leads to a blatantly placed monologue about what happened to her after she ran away from home.  A flashback revealing the pain of losing a loved one is sweet, but awkwardly dialogued.  It’s not that these things aren’t necessary, so much as they could have been executed a little better and slightly disrupted the overall flow of the episode.  (Also, in the flashback, Nikita is presented with a wedding ring, to which she replies “It’s beautiful!”…but never actually does say “Yes.”  Details, I suppose.)

The cast of supporting characters all seem varied and interesting, the most prominent of which is Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), the latest Division recruit being trained to become a ruthless assassin.  It’s hard to imagine the daughter from How I Met Your Mother as a hardened junkie, and her opening dialogue does her no favors by trying too hard to make her sound like an uneducated delinquent (“What do I gotta do?”, “I didn’t kill no one!“).  Still, she does a good job portraying fear, anger, and vulnerability in her eyes and expressions, and she at least comes off as bratty and indignant.  Good enough for now, I suppose.  I imagine she’ll grow into her role as the series progresses; she’s already doing a better job in the last few scenes of the episode.  The rest of the cast is a cavalcade of recognizable actors (“Hey, it’s George Mason from 24! Hey, it’s the lead hooker from that one episode of Firefly!”), and looking up the actors in Wikipedia reveal even more familiar faces that I didn’t recognize (“What??  He was Pyro from the X-Men movies??”).  Most importantly, they all have good chemistry with Nikita (Maggie Q), both when they’re antagonizing or sympathizing with each other.

Overall, I enjoyed the acting and was mostly entertained by the show up until the end, where I became fairly impressed with the show and the turn it was taking.  The surprise twist at the end took me by surprise, and I was excited by the possibilities it presented, though it did disappoint me in the fact that it meant we probably weren’t going to have the inevitable showdown between Alex and Nikita that I thought the show was setting us up to expect, due to the fact that they’re actually working together. Still, I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to having a new ass-kicking hot chick on my screen.