Nikita: Checking In On Season 3... and Michael's Hands-off Approach

Nikita S03E09: “Survival Instincts”

I don’t like to use the word "underrated" when talking about television shows. There's a lot of television—in fact, most of it—that doesn’t get covered by web sites like this one and that doesn’t get any substantive awards love. In that conceptualization, almost everything is underrated. And with the ever-frustrating Nielsen system, most shows are also literally under-rated. But we live in a time when all shows—even those not covered regularly by critics or popular according to an antiquated ratings system—can enjoy rabid fandoms in their teeny-tiny corners of the internet.

Nikita is not underrated. It is under-viewed by audiences who would almost certainly love it if they weren't scared off by The CW brand, and the show is maybe a little undervalued by the critical community. But above almost all things, Nikita is a show that knows its own identity. That identity might not be greatly appealing to a wide swath of viewers, but the show has a consistent rhythm, style, tone, and characterization that is satisfying and yet, can also be a little stale.

What I’ve always admired about Nikita is its ability to present the façade of change without changing much at all. The writers know how to move on from big storylines before they overstay their welcome, a skill they showed off way back in the first half of Season 1. The show’s second season was a bit of a mess at times, but by the end of it, Nikita wanted us to see that EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED. Of course, it hadn’t because this is procedural television—so Evil Percy is gone, but Evil Amanda is still on the loose, doing the same exact things Percy did last year. Nikita, Michael, Alex, and now Owen are all working for Ryan to clean up and then put down Division, but they’re still dealing with rogue Division agents (amazingly named the Dirty Thirty).

I say all this not to knock the show, because I think it's what makes the show very watchable. At its core, Nikita is a procedural spy series where Maggie Q beats people up and looks good doing it, week in and week out. Yet, the writers have done just enough every season to shift the perspective and re-configure character relationships ever so slightly so that while individual episodes can bore (especially when they get stuck in the “shootout at an abandoned industrial park that wastes 13,000 bullets” set piece rut), the larger stories are always moving forward.

The big success of this season has been the show’s ability to take a big deep breath and consider what all the running, scheming, shooting, and killing means for these characters. After so many years of trying to take down Division, how does Nikita feel about working with them? Does she really believe this version of a big repressive force is any different than all the versions that came before? And is a stable, “real” life possible? These aren’t particularly novel questions to be asking, but they fit the show’s world very well because so much of the first two seasons were built on quickly moving plot that there were rarely opportunities to stop and breathe—for the characters or for us.

This week’s episode found the show right in the middle of some compelling interpersonal conflicts between major characters, most of whom are dealing with one tragedy or another. Nikita and Michael are still trying to rediscover their rhythm in the aftermath of an accident that forced Nikita to cut off Michael’s right hand to save his life, and the darkest and broodiest of the show’s dark and broody men, Owen, is now around to make Michael feel inadequate. Alex is pushing to recover from her relapse into addiction so she can return to the field, while her jilted lover Sean struggles to balance his concern that Division is a supremely dangerous and toxic environment (duh) with his desire to put the night moves on Alex.

Again, simple conflicts, executed in a straightforward fashion, with the occasional hard-to-swallow moment (we’ll come back to that in a second). What “Survival Instincts” proves is that although individual members of Nikita’s ensemble aren’t Emmy-worthy, they all work together really well and have a great grasp on their characters. I understand the reasons why a small group of people love this show and these people. The show has found a way to really establish bonds between all of the lead characters despite the dysfunctional world they exist in, even the tech support dweeb Birkhoff and outsider/big-time killer Owen. So, by the time this episode asked us to buy that Owen, the man who killed Nikita’s previous fiancé, cares for her just as much as Michael does, Devon Sawa and Q made it work. It’s in the nature of the show that characters will lie to one another, but Owen tried to have honest conversations with both Michael and Nikita about what makes their relationship work and how he’s not there to disrupt, only to support.

The same can be said for this episode’s (and really this season’s) treatment of Nikita and Michael’s relationship. Before his injury, the show kept pushing them to answer some of the questions I mentioned earlier. Nikita’s our hero, but her tendency to doggedly pursue certain people or injustices makes her blind to the lines between right and wrong. She thought that this new Division would be better, but time and again this season, including in last night’s episode, she's run up against a member of the Dirty Thirty who simply can’t be reasoned with; so, she’s killing again, just as Percy sent Division to kill her. The distinctions aren’t so clear.

This all rubs up against Nikita’s admittedly warped and idealist notion that she and Michael can be happy in a traditional fashion. They’ve both already lost spouses because of this life, and although they get a kick out of what they do, Nikita’s pursuit of Amanda indirectly led to Michael losing his hand. Yeah, she saved his life, but the fact that she chopped off the appendage in an instant doesn’t quite sit well with Michael. So, he’s unwilling to go back into the field and even more unwilling to talk out his problems with his future wife.

Alex’s recovery is much less compelling, but the show hasn’t quite known what to do with Lyndsy Fonseca for a while now. It’s nice for Nikita to remind us of the dark places these characters get pulled out of to work for Division, but when Alex was injured, she was still going on missions, and when she’s supposed to be in recovery, she’s still playing a big part in missions. Little has changed, which feels like a problem if this is a story about getting back on the horse.

What an episode like “Survival Instincts” illustrates is that in its third season, Nikita has wrangled and refined its different storytelling approaches. The season’s emphasis on interpersonal conflict helps make that part of the show the best it has been since the middle of Season 1, the Dirty Thirty thread means that even weekly standalone cases have a larger purpose, and the larger arc isn’t nearly as convoluted as it tended to be last year. The show isn’t as quite as twisty as it was in Season 1, or ambitious as it was in Season 2, but at this point, Nikita has found its strengths and is highlighting them in the proper ways.



NOTES

– Okay, so let’s talk about Michael’s hand. If you saw the preview for next week, it looks like they’re going to try to RE-GROW it. There have been a few moments this season where the show stepped little too far away from reality (the most notable being the dumb Mission: Impossible-style skin mask in “The Sword’s Edge”) for my liking. Nikita has always been ridiculous (I mean, have you seen the number of bullets people waste?), but these sort of things undercut its established rules. And I hope they don’t turn the hand into a MacGuffin; it’s an interesting, somewhat bold choice to cripple your co-lead. Stick with it, show.

– Although none of these characters are technically new, the show’s gotten a lot more crowded in Season 3, with Sawa and Noah Bean both joining up as regulars. It’s certainly different to go from the first and second season’s emphasis on Nikita or Nikita and Michael to this six- or seven-person operation.

– I appreciated this episode’s half-cooked Law & Order-like scenes with Owen and Nikita out in the field, mediocre raincoats and pantsuits and all.


How do you feel about this season of Nikita so far? And how much do you love Michael’s Terminator hand?

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Thanks for the comments guys and gals!
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Three words: Jumped the shark!
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One word: No
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Seriously?
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Not happened in this episode, I thought it was a nice nasty twist to give Michael control over his hand with the emotional angle of self-hatred. There is even the possibility(far stretched I know) that in the long run he can become a villain. Be as it may, self-hatred is the most potent poison for any relationship I think, so if the grow-hand doesn't work M + N is history. Wich is right now alright with me because Michael needs to stop bitchin' and Nikita and Owen have a stronger chemistry.
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I think they have destroyed Micheal character personally.

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I know i will probably be bitched at for saying this!LOL! But if this were LFN,they would have already hooked up Nikita & Owen and had a Micheal/Nikita/Owen triangle with the 3 of them doing under cover missions together!LOL
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So is that good or bad that this show hasn't gone down that route?
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I think that would make it more interesting if they went down that road.Plus i think they should keep Micheal handicap because it makes him a little more interesting.So i would have to say it is bad that they have not gone down that road yet.
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I like this show and it is pleasant Friday night mindless entertainment (I will really appreciate it when Grimm comes back on because it is sort of night of TV, but of course, Merlin is done by the time Grimm comes back I think). I do agree that the show has no idea what to do with Alex now and I almost feel like the drug addiction storyline was just to give her something to do that wasn't strict romance with Sean. I did think that was a funny scene in the woods where Nikita suddenly realized...wait, these two don't know each other and introduced them. I doubt they will follow up on this too much, but Sean would be useful to the guys too since his military training gives him something to bond with Michael over, his observance of his mother gives him something to talk to Ryan about, and he kind of is an easy going guy to talk to Owen about. I have no idea what he might have in common with Berkoff other than they like to leave the implication that if Alex hadn't had the crap happen to her, she likely would have been a big nerd.
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I was a fan of La Femme Nikita and started watching this show because of that.I liked S1 the best but it just went down hill from there.First of all the actors are not as good as the actors from LFN and don't have the same chemistry either.Secondly the s/l's they do on this show are just stupid,especially this crap with Micheal's bionic hand.It is like they only care about how to get from one stunt /action scene to the next and not the quality of the writing or acting .And finally i think people don't watch because they just don't like the show and NOT because they don't like The CW network or because of the timeslot.When a show is really good and people really like it,they watch it no matter what network/day it is on.
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thanks cory..i love the show and really mirror my sentiment..
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I concur.
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Thanks for reviewing Cory!

This season is all right, but I still look forward to it every week! "It's an interesting, somewhat bold choice to cripple your co-lead. Stick with it, show." Agreed!
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Seriously.... I hope it's not like on Fringe when Peter became an Observer for a grand total of 5 minutes...so anti-climactic!
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Thanks for reviewing! I love this show cus I think the writers are very clear on the motivations of the characters and why they do what they do. Personally, I think this season is moving a little slow.. I hope it picks up soon. But then again, Nikita is an amazing show when you watch all the episodes back to back. Can't what to see what the writers have in store for us!
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I love OWEN/SEAN , I'm so happy they are still on the show. I still have hope for Nikita + Owen relationship to happen. I'd like them to be more than friends. I did like Ryan, but now not so much...

I'm a bit surprised by your comments about Season 2. Personally I enjoyed Season 2 the best. It wasn't serialized/mission by mission episode kind of thing. I liked that every episode was different, and it felt new and exciting. I just couldn't get enough...

But they are doing Season 3, the way it was done in Season 1. So I'm a bit dissapointed by the writing. I still like the show but t's just not as good as it was before.


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I liked Season 2 as well. There was more plot continuity.
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I liked season two. I just think, at times, it got a little messy. It's sometimes hard to track everyone's allegiances and who has what SUPER IMPORTANT device. They've scaled that back this year, which is good.
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Nikita is a great show. Really don't care about the negative things people say about the show. I just wish the CW would move it from Fridays.
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Yeah, this is the best show no one is talking about...thanks for giving its some much deserved attention Corey
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I'm really liking the season so far. The statement for this season seems to be clear: How do you adapt from being on the outside looking in to now being on the inside looking out? Does corruption play a big part? And at what costs comes with the power you hold?

Although I feel there's been WAY too many filler episodes---especially considering that there's much to play around with for this season---, it all seems to be buiding towards something bigger and deeper. Nikita's a very consientious show, I feel. It seems to have a clear idea of what it wants. . . usually. That's why I strongly feel that by them taking over Division, it means bigger, deeper things in store for the characters.

I believe that Michael will turn against Nikita. In a big, fat, nemesis way. I just don't see Nikita and Michael's relationship lasting. But then again it's the CW lol.

I can see in the future that, from Nikita's all-consuming, reckless pursuite for Amanda, which lead to Michael being benched from missions due to, well, having no hand, will lead Michael to resenting her. Which, I'm sure will lead to plenty of missions/plots that will creat a grey-area-effect for the long-haul mission they've set since day one after taking over Division. This will lead to Nikita and Michael at odds with each other.

Just a theory. Eitherway, I'm toning in each Friday night lol.
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I LOVE YOU, CORY!! For a while, I always wanted a weekly Nikita review and now, my dream is coming true. Thanks for making it a reality. With these reviews, I hope that it'll intrigue and encourage other readers on this site to check this show out because it's not loved enough and doesn't receive enough coverage.
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I don't like season 3, I think the show used to be original and smart in its first season especially with Alex infiltrated in Division. Now it's just a procedural show why cool spies, it's Alias without the mysteries and it's repetitive. It feels like the writers don't know where they're going anymore or at least what they want to focus on. Nikita was better when it was Nikita and Alex against the world, now the tension is gone and the season is boring...
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Thanks for the review, its nice to have a chance to discuss Nikita with other people who have at the very least heard of the show. I enjoy the series but I do think that Nikita might benefit from having a shorter season order. I just think the storytelling could be tighter if they weren't trying to fill 22 hours.

I don't think season 2 really hit its stride until "Pale Fire" (2x11) and I think we are sort of seeing the same thing this season. And while I appreciate the continuity and callbacks the writers have infused into this season, the unmentioned comings and goings of characters has been a bit more annoying.

I know its based on budgets and schedules but Amanda will be MIA for a couple of episodes, Ryan vanishes (what else does he have going on), after Sonya gets the kill chip un-activated again she's had hardly anything to do despite the fact that we were led to believe her and Birkoff had something going on, and Sean & Owen have went on their own unannounced walk-abouts. And its not so much that the characters disappear, it bugs me that their storylines come and go just as easily.

With all of that said, I still enjoy watching Nikita each week.
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Yeah, but I think it's better that the characters come and go like that. I mean, every single show (especially the mostly scripted ones that have to fill 20-something worth of episodes) has those moments, when certain characters have less of a direct impact on the main story arcs. And most shows try to occupy those characters with subplots that can very easily bring the entire show down (the "Revenge" Stowaway subplot for example; what a waste of the actors' talents) or turn into a joke of itself ("Smash's" adoption plotline, anyone?).
So it's better to bench the characters. Sure, we miss them, we don't see enough of them, but all in all - "Nikita's" approach is better, I think. Because when the characters do come back in earnest. Oh my.
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Yeah that Revenge stowaway plot is a real drag, and I certainly don't need every character to have a subplot in every episode but the season so far, to me, has felt disjointed almost. I mean that could also be because of the sporadic scheduling by the CW in the fall but stand-alone episodes feel very standalone-ish. I'm hoping like someone else said somewhere in these comments that it will all come together at some point.
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Knowing the writers, I trust that it will happen.
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I really enjoyed Seasons 1 and 2 of Nikita because each episode fit really well into the bigger picture, which kept me coming back for more. This season? Not so much...In my opinion, there's something missing. I don't particularly care about the "Dirty Thirty" and they really don't know what to do with Alex's character. I'll still keep watching, but I hope this season starts to pick up soon!
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whether it is underrated or overrated , i fucking <3 Nikita!!!
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Nice review, Cory.
I for one, love this show. I enjoy watching it and admire the writers who are excellent in keeping story's continuity; the old nuances, character habits, history, etc.
Some of them are at times from previous seasons.
I have watched and followed all the Nikita stories in TV and movies, too.
Each one have their own distinctive "brand".
For example, the 1990s take, where Peta Wilson and Roy Dupuis played Nikita and Michael respectively, had a darker kind of stories to it.
Thank you for liking this series enough to make a review.
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It's an OK show. It doesn't deserve to be the lowest rated show on TV.
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Unfortunately, even though I'm a regular viewer of Nikita, the Canadian network that aired it, CTV, screwed around with the show and after just the first 2 episodes this season, I am forced to wait for the entire season to be released on dvd before I'm able to watch any more. After airing the first 2 seasons, after 2 episodes of the current season, they yanked the show and replaced it with Undercover Boss. I wrote and complained and they replied that Nikita would return at a later date. With no notice at all, they suddenly aired 3 consecutive episodes on a Thursday evening, and another new one on Friday. I didn't notice this until too late, and missed them. Also the CTV website never made these episodes available for online viewing when they normally put up every Nikita episode. Finally, having caught up with the CW in the U.S., they are currently airing the show simultaneously with the CW. However, since I refuse to watch a show out of sequential order, I have to skip the season and wait for a dvd release. No wonder the ratings here in Canada are so bad!
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To be honest....

The upside-down scenario set down by the last season ender was an intriguing one, but this whole "Dirty Thirty" thing just doesn't have the same tension anything in seasons 1 or 2 did, even the video-gamey "Black Boxes" collect-a-thon. If Nikita has the entirety of Division at her disposal, these guys are ants.

What I would have done is upped the crisis! Give the show something you would NEED an entire secret agency to fight! A stolen nuclear weapon or a nerve agent, or a hostile takeover of a foreign government with nuke capability! That would have been a more plausible reason for Nikita to not dismantle Division immediately.
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And what do you think Amanda is plotting all this time? Vacation on Hawaii? :P
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I love Nikita but the best episodes are always the ones that focus on progressing its serialized storylines. There's always more at stake when the conflict directly involves the main cast. I always find these procedural episodes a bit of a bore because they always put so much focus and backstory into the targets. I didn't need 20 minutes of screentime wasted on some dirty thirty member and his wife. I get that they can't ALWAYS be about Nikita facing some big bad that's wronged her but these episodes tend to feel like filler.
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Yeah, but remember how back in season 1 and season 2, at least half of the procedural episodes became an important piece of a larger puzzle by the end of the season? Nikita reminds me of a game of go sometimes. The first moves may seem random and disconnected, but as the game progresses, a larger strategy emerges and, by the end of it, every move has mattered and everything comes to a head in a great win.
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Yeah but how many procedural episodes have they done this season and how many have been revisited or mattered in any way? Most of the season 1 missions that mattered weren't revealed episodes and episodes later. I get that sometimes they're useful to show Nikita's internal struggle over taking over Division and all that but these missions haven't felt as much important as they were time fillers.
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the show is a lot of fun. what i assume will happen, is berkhoff came up with a better way to deal with micheals hand, but it will require an old style type division op, which will be a tipping point for what will happen with nikita run division here on out- a litmus test, so to speak. run your old style division op and fix micheal, or don't and leave him broken.. fun times ahead, i believe
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I don't really mind the show going into a different direction story wise from the "La Femme Nikita" version.

Like I explained in my post, the issue I have in the new version is the writing and in West's case the acting.

It just lacking in so many areas compared to the "La Femme Nikita" version.

1.) In LFN the writers did a great job, in one episode we may come to like a good guy and hate a bad guy and in the next episode we may find ourselves hating that same good guy we liked previously and cheering for the bad guy that we hated the day before.

With this new version of Nikita, the lines have been clearly drawn, we know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. There hardly seems to be any surprises left for us to wonder and find out.

2.) In LFN the tortures were cold, emotionless and much more sophisticated than just using brute force to inflict pain. LFN's tortures emphasized very much on psychologically breaking the prisoner, stripping away every ounce of dignity, will, spirit until nothing except a broken and frightened hollow shell was left. Just one emotionless glance or word from Madeline or Michael, or even seeing the torture specialist duo the prisoner would realize he/she had no chance at all.

3.) In LFN, the characters motivations and storylines were ambiguous. One person could could walk away aghast at the methods used by LFN heroines to solve crises another could justify the methods as necessary. This grey area that the show operated under and allowed viewers to question is what made the show great.

This new version of Nikita, doesn't explore anything in any meaningful manner. The plots are cartoon-ish, the characters' motivations are shallow and flat.
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Although I agree La femme Nikita was better, I enjoy this one as well
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As long as we're comparing - and, I agree, it's very tricky to do here - I have a confession to make. Mostly, I avoid comparisons between Nikita and LFN, because these are two very different shows. But I cannot help but put the two Michaels side by side, since these are the two characters that still have the same names and roles, but are nothing alike.
As much as I adored LFN, and thought Roy Dupuis was hot as hell, the LFN's Michael was... well, very robotic and rather unlikeable. He had basically two modes: broody and ruthless, no sense of humour to speak of and his priorities seemed to shift with the sands. I thought Michael was a powerful character, but I did not like him.
Shane West's Michael is as different as can be. He's a fully rounded character with a wide emotional range. He can be scary, he can be kind. He gets happy, he can shed a tear. He goes into a vengeful rage, but then he is also capable of being nice. He can be mischievous and funny, as well as serious and noble. And he has this most adorable teacher-mode. And I don't mind the fact that Michael is a good guy through and through. Having learned his back story, I know why his is the way he is and how he will react to certain things. Yes, it makes him a little predictable, but it also makes him real. Like a real person, Michael has a backstory, a system of values and a personality.
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The thing is Micheal IS suppose to be a bad guy and is not suppose to be nice and have a sense of humor.That makes him dumb,weak and boring and ROY created the role of Micheal,therefore he OWNS that role.SW makes Micheal seem more like a teenage boy inside a man's body.RD made Micheal into what a spy is suppose to be,cold & ruthless.
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Agreed. Micheal is supposed to damaged and cold. However, it was clear from episode 1 that Shane West couldn't pull it off so it's like the writers just abandoned the seriousness of the character altogether.

Shane West needed to stick to boy band movies and leave the serious acting to professionals.
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A teenage boy? Come on! Shane West's Michael is perhaps the most mature man on TV right now! (well, to be fair, most of the show's characters are the most mature on TV right now, 'cause most TV people are basically kindergarten children)
The new Michael can be as cold and ruthless as the old one, only he is likeable. And more consistent in terms of motivations, goals and personality. :P
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@wildkitty, well, if you put it in such a definitive tone...
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Apostrofa,sorry but SW's Micheal has the personality of a teenage boy and is just plain boring.
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Maybe the problem is you're constantly comparing it to LFN. This was never meant to be a LFN remake, it's its own standalone show. Which one was better than the other is a matter of opinion but you're never going to truly appreciate what you're watching if you're always thinking about how LFN would have done it.
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NO the real problem is the "creators" of Nikita DID do a remake of LFN the show and try to coinvince people this is "original" when it is not.We LFN fans KNOW it because alot of the s/l they "borrowed" from LFN are posted on YOUTUBE and have been there for YRS before Nikita even aired.They have not only taken the same characters from the movie but also the characters that were NOT in the movie,but in LFN (Micheal & Berkof) and the EXACT same s/l too.I can even point out episodes that were taken directly from LFN and brought to Nikita.Like the story about the little girl who was kidnapped and trained to be a spy.That came from LFN when Nikita went undercover in this terrorist organization and discovered they were kidnapping kids off the streets and training them to be suicide bombers.Also Owen's brainwashing and drugging started on Nikita too when Madelin(Amanda) drugged and brainwashed Nikita.Those s/l did not come from the movie or even the Nikita writers.
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Exactly. As I said, JS25 is comparing oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. I like them all for exactly for what they are, not how one tastes compared to the other.
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Like I said earlier the problem isn't the show is different it's the fact it doesn't stand up to LFN quality wise (acting, writing, tone, etc)

Kind of reminds me when SGU came out. I was interested to see what new direction they were going to take the SG franchise but the show was just god-awful.

Everyone kept saying it's different just give it time. The truth of the matter is it was just terrible.

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John,i agree with you Nikita is just not as good in the writing or the acting as LFN was but if you want to see a good spy show you should check out The Americans.It reminds me of LFN in the way it is written.
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I can't get enough. Just watched "Survival Instincts" again and just had to comment that it's the little things as much as the big things which make this show amazing. Berkhoff's hilarious lines are priceless. That scene in the woods where Nikita introduces Sean and Owen. LOL. Keep it coming Nikita.
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I was disappointed in the field agents being so easily caught unaware by the SEER's traps. Weren't they briefed? And after they found the first set of booby traps, wouldn't you be a little more careful and look down more often? And it seemed like the guy the were hunting could have saved himself alot of trouble by just sniping Nikita and instead of shooting Owen in the vest, go for the definitive kill shot.
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It's SERE, by the way. Survive, Evada, Resist, Escape.
Well, those guys are mostly cannon fodder. Every action show and movie has that one unfortunate group that seems to die by the dozen. Although, we have seen on Nikita that, with good intel and time to prepare, they are capable of executing most effective strikes.
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I don't think the support team are as well trained as normal field agents (most were probably taken from the guard ranks after Division fell). But even field agents wouldn't be as aware without the specialized training that Ray and Sean (Seal Team Six) had.

I also think Ray was setting up for kill shots when Nikita and Owen were warned by ops they were under attack. Once they were moving the static shot was gone.
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Yeah, I completely forgot they've never actually met!
And although I will miss Michael being badass in the field (I hope the show will stick with the consistency of the previous seasons and will keep Michael in OPs), I've been always a fan of Nikita and Owen's dynamic, of their friendship and of Owen as a character. The more time those two spend on my screen, the happier I am. :D
(Bugger for Michael, but, he's a big boy. He'll deal.)
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Yeah. There's a real deep, complex relationship between Nikita and Owen which is completely non-romantic. I always remember that poignant scene in the season 1 episode "Into the Dark" where Owen apologizes to Nikita for killing Daniel.
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I haven't read the entire review yet because I am very excited to see a review for Nikita here (Finally). I love this show, I love the character from way way back, and I mean way back from the original movie back back in the days. And Q, perfect to be Nikita. Before series when I came to know Q is playing her, I thought it was going to be a mess but I was glad it wasn't, she is just super perfect.

About the series, it is I can say the fastest, most natural series on the TV. Fighting gives you chill, it doesn't matter it what action it was, hand to hand combat, gun fighting or spy-sneaking play, they execute it like a PRO. Watching Nikita was more fun when Nikita and Michael was against each others yet still had feelings for each others so they fight to rip each others out but leave them for the sake of ^thing^ they had.

Ok the hand-off case, since the time that happen I am not liking it due to a fact. Nikita is super strong and so is Michael, Michael is more strong obviously. When he was under the car with his hand under it I think it wasn't as difficult to lift the car off slightly to get him out. A car can "wobble" at that position I believe considering Nikita. The only logical explanation there at that sequence was Nikita loosing herself because facing her arch-enemy, just like many times before.

If this is the case then it explain why Nikita and Michael both giving Nikita a hard time. Maybe they will talk about it someday, or maybe writers left it for us to keep on guessing. Or maybe it was all just to create "drama", although I cannot recall a single moment where this show ever create a drama just for sake of drama.

Owen, in this episode he was at best being lame going undercover and talk to the lady. It was fun to watch, poor guy, He was/is a perfect killing machine now what they made him do.
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for right now all I can think about in regards to Micheal's hand is that is what he gets for the stupid decision beforehand when he decided to lean out of the car window and just start wildly shooting with a hand gun at Amanda's SUV in public traffic! Amanda was not aware she was being followed - there was plenty of time to get closer, a better shot, or wait to get away from innocent civilians. Instead Micheal's not-even-close wild hand gun shooting led to a bad chase/accident where he got his hand trapped underneath the flipped car. Well at last these covert spies making some really dumb, non-covert moves really cost them something.

I do like this show and usually just ignore and go along with all the suspend-disbelief moments because I agree the interpersonal relationships and the ensemble as a whole for this show is very strong and usually makes you forgive most of the ridiculous moments.
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I had the same thought as I watched the scene. Didn't he have any heavier automatic weapons, maybe something as heavy as a rocket launcher. It looked like Alex packed a bunch of stuff into that bag for them. But then someone might say the heavier weapons were in the trunk. At any rate the tactical decisions seemed a bit uncharacteristic for someone of Michael's caliber. (Just noticed what I did there). Maybe part of his emotional aftermath is blaming himself as much as Nikita for what happened.
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I was just suprised he never seemed to aim at the tires to stop the SUV, which would have made the most sense......
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LOL. You try to lean out of the window of a speeding car and try to hit the tires of another speeding car.
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Fair point, but he was trained for it. I can't imagine it being that hard to shoot the back tire.
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When Nikita first came out, I just couldn't get into it and I only watched the first few episodes. The "super spies" seemed so clueless and I just couldn't get into Maggie Q.

I honestly am surprised that the show is still on the air so obviously it has a pretty good following.

So I ask, is this something worth catching up on if I find myself with time on my hands and watching to watch something I haven't really seen before? Opinions would be appreciated!
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No it is not worth catching up on.S1 was the best season it has so far and it gets worse with every season.
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Well I appreciate so much informative comments!
It seems plenty of people think highly of the show so perhaps I will dust it off and give it another try!
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Season one alone is very much worth watching. One of the best seasons I've seen on television. It's still a great show but the following seasons haven't had the same focus or distinct vision. Season three has really been a return to form though.
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I'd definitely give it another shot. There's a big uptick in quality about halfway through the first season, so I'd give it until at least ep 12-16 before you decide if it's worth continuing.
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Mmm. Halfway through the first season is when Dawn Ostroff the Terrible started meddling with it, and inserted a stoopid teenage fantasy bodybuilder roommate. You can skip those.
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Are you talking about Nathan? Yea, I tend to forget that storyline ever happened.

I do think the overall plot picks up speed around there though.
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I agree with just about all of the comments below. This is an entertaining show, and is very intelligent in the way it handles its stories and characters. It's not perfect, but it's great at what it is. And the fight scenes are really the best i've seen on t.v., minus possibly Spartacus, but that's with swords mostly, so....ya.

Oddly to the point others make about it being on the CW, the only other place I can really see it being successful is CBS or maybe NBC. The other networks cancel there good shows way too often. Yes FOX and ABC, that means you. I just wonder about the scheduling. Maybe Wendesday or Tuesday night would be best to have it on? It just seems that Friday night is a death sentence for most shows. The demographic they are looking for, while it does tailor to both men and women well and late teens to under 40, are probably getting ready to enjoy the weekend instead of watching the show.
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I'd say CBS is the quickest and most ruthless in cancelling shows because they're the top network and they can. They cancel successful shows. Yeah it's the highest rated network but that just means the bar is higher for ratings expectations. On NBC, as long as you're rating in the low-mid 2s, you're good. They also seem to nurture low rated shows a bit more given Chuck, Community and Parenthood all lasting 4+ seasons when a network like CBS would have cancelled them for sure.
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How many people actually still watch their favorite programs according to the network schedule? I know when I'm ready to watch Nikita I wait for a time I'm at leisure, know I won't be interrupted, (about 2 or 3 am Saturday morning) and can rewind as much as I want.
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That's kind of the point I was trying to make. So sense people aren't watching at it's scheduled time, the network (however they get there ratings) thinks noone is watching the show, and cancels it.
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That's because the scheduled time is when they want you to watch. Networks don't care about the shows they air, they care about advertisers. If you're DVRing Nikita or watching it online, you're probably not watching the ads which is what keeps shows on the air. If you're not watching the ads, they're not making their advertisers happy and that's when shows get canned. It doesn't matter if you're watching their shows, if you don't watch the ads, you're not watching what's making them money.
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Also I'm able to dump the commercials.
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Definitely worth the effort. Go for it.
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Well, I loved the La Femme Nikita and I approached the new "Nikita" with much scepticism. First, how can there ever be a more awesome Nikita than Peta Wilson? Second, The CW. Third, reboot.
But I got hooked after the first episode and it got progressively better.
And I think this is one of the very few truly adult shows on TV right not. Not adult because sex, violence and cursing. But adult because the character behave like adults and the viewers are treated as such as well.
"Nikita" is also entertaining as hell, fast paced, bold with the story lines, has moving stories (oh, the s02e19 episode, Wrath, I still have chills at the very thought) and more twists and turns than you can count. And at least a good half of them will hit you by surprise.
And Maggie Q is one of those few women that make me wish I was a lesbian so I could appreciate them in their full glory.
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Maybe I'm in the minority but I MUCH prefer Maggie Q as Nikita.
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Hm. Peta Wilson was awesome, but I think Maggie Q is the better actress. And, damn, that woman has class!
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It's weird. I would never stop watching it, but I wouldn't STRONGLY recommend taking the time to catch up. It's in a middle ground for me. Certainly others adore it and can vouch for it, though.
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I think what makes this show stand out amongst, well, pretty much 99,9% of other shows, and why I love "Nikita" so much, is the way the show treats its characters and their relationships - like adults. This is something I touched upon many times before in my comments here. TV people tend to behave like kindergarten children, where the slightest of (mostly imaginary) offences can send the, supposedly, strongest bonds off the rails. This doesn't happen here.
The show never tries to force tension upon the characters, and if there is tension - these people, Nikita, Michael, Owen, Alex, Birkoff - they deal with them as adults. Talk it out, don't blow out with bitchy tantrums. Actually, deal with it. Back in season 2, Nikita found out that Michael had a son he didn't know about. She kept it a secret from him (a plotline that the show didn't drag out, the secret was revealed in, like, the next episode). In most shows, Michael would probably decide he can never trust her again, would break up with her and their just and noble cause would take back seat to his injured pride or something. And this is precisely what makes these people, to me at least, believable and why I can relate to them, given the ridiculously convoluted world they live in.
And, contrary to you Cory, I think that the show's ensemble is one of the strongest I've ever seen. Especially Maggie Q (who is so bad ass and classy, I could die with envy) and Shane West who are capable of such nuanced, understated acting that I regularly forget I'm watching actors doing their jobs. I watch Nikita and Michael go through their struggles, which always feel authentic.
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That is certainly one of my favorite aspects of the series too. I also enjoy the fact that the show allows the characters to be just friends, seriously, not everyone needs to hook-up with everyone else. If people want to ship that's fine by me but I can never understand why fans can't simply appreciate the platonic relationships that have been created.
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'Cause TV likes to brainwash us into believing that friendships between men and women are impossible. Which is total bullshit, by the way.
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I totally agree Apostrofa. I made the same comments on a Laura Prudom review over on HP, where there was speculation about Nikita sleeping with Owen because of the tension with Michael and becasue they're out in the field together. I'm so appreciative of these adult characters, written by adults for adults.
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Exactly my point! Nikita's never ever gonna cheat on Michael, because if she did it'd be inconsistent with her character and the writers never betrayed that, so far. I doubt they will.
Hell, on Nikita even the throwaway characters have character. Remember that guy who tried to kill Owen a few episodes back?
Also, I disagree with the reviewer on his relationship with Nikita. It is, in a large part, the amazing work of both actors and their chemistry. But, much more than that. Most of "Nikita's" characters (Nikita, Michael, Owen, Alex), for all of them, this is a story about redemption. And Nikita and Owen are alike more than any other two on the show. I *completely* buy the fact that Owen may care and be protective of Nikita as much as Michael is. Even more so, perhaps.
Plus, another thing I've noticed about the show's characters. They're usually pretty good about putting the blame where it truly belongs. On any other show, it would be SO easy for Nikita to hate Owen, but she never did, because she understand that he wasn't truly responsible. He didn't make the decision and he never had the choice to refuse it. Did Owen pull the trigger, so to speak? (Nikita's fiancee died in a staged car crash or boat accident, if I remember correctly) Yes. But did he have any choice in the matter? No. And Nikita understands that. And the wise and reasonable woman that she is, she never hated him.
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In the films it was made to look like a bathroom accident. In this Nikita he was drowned at a lake house. We definitely share the same appreciation for how these characters are written and portrayed.
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Great analysis and I agree. In that regard, the show is a little out of place on The CW. It never totally had a shot when it premiered. If it came on next season, after Arrow, it'd probably be a much better success here (it's big abroad). I always thought the show belonged on Fox anyway.
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It was on fox it would have been canceled after the first season.

Nikita numbers are bad even for the CW.
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Yeah... This is as un-The CW as can be.
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I enjoyed this episode, as in fact I have always done with this show. It isn't my favorite show by far, but it has been consistently entertaining from the start. I though your review was spot on, Cory, on pretty much every level. So much has changed and yet most of the dynamics are still very similar. Though the one departure I would make from your analysis is that I don't see it so much as that all the dynamics are constantly the same, but rather that there are three basic models that the show will switch between.

There was Percy's division of old, with one main force going against division, in this case being Nikita. This model was pretty well maintained when Amanda took control of division, the only difference really being that Nikita had more of a team to work with. But in Season 2 we eventually developed the situation with Division going up against two main enemies, and with these enemies not being allied to each other. Nikita's team stayed much the same, but Percy and Amanda almost took turns between running Division and being a rogue element. And now we've got our third model, which is that the good guys run Division, Amanda is the new Nikita, and there are a bunch of rogue division agents, who will sometimes ally with Amanda. While this is very similar to the first model, in that we have Division and a small tight-knit duo trying to take down Division, it's still different due to these rogue agents.

Still Cory, you're pretty much on the ball. Even though Division has switched hands no less than four times in the course of three seasons (and we're not nearly finished with this current season), I doubt Division will ever go away, or change all that much. Sure, these days Division tries to do things for good reasons, rather than use Percy's playbook which includes only two words: "acquire power," but it's still a secret government program that kills and coerces people around the globe. And though Percy is dead, Amanda has taken his place, and when she dies her place will be taken by someone else, and that someone else may or may not just go ahead and take control of division again. And one day Division may be blown sky high into nothing but a crater, but no less than two episodes later a large quantity will find themselves in anther complex that serves much the same purpose. Basically, this show is very similar to Alias in that regard, which is also I show that I enjoy.

But again, as you point out, this somewhat stale approach is just fine. Nikita has a comfort zone, one that it will only stray outside of for brief periods of time, but it still performs really well in that comfort zone. The one problem that I see with this mixture of changing things up but keeping them the same, is that sometimes characters are benched from the action, until they eventually find a new niche that works well for them. As you said in this review, Alex has been awkwardly hanging around division for a while, not going out on missions in the field, and yet still being a part of missions, though these days having more of a "Hey I just walked in on this but still thought I might say something" advisory role. Technically, looking at the playing field in an objective way, she should be joining up with Amanda to fight Division, though of course that would never happen for several reasons.

Personally, I haven't had many problems with this Season so far. As Corey pointed out, there have been far less twists this time around, with Sonya's reveal as kind-of being a mole being the only one really so far. I thought we'd be getting some more twistyness from Owen's past by now, which was alluded to several episodes ago, but I trust that will come up in the near future. But other than the lack of twists, I've thoroughly enjoyed this season so far. I am, however, a little worried about what will happen in the near future. At the start of this season, my guess was that Ryan was going to slowly warp into the new Percy character, so by the end of the season it would be realized that Division corrupts the people that run it, and that even someone like Ryan can fall under its promise of power. But now I'm thinking that this kind of warping is going to occur a little closer to home.

Which brings up to Michael's hand. I was thoroughly shocked when Nikita cut of Michael's hand, more shocked than when Percy died, actually. I really didn't see it coming. It was a very bold thing for the show to do, and part of me hopes that this is a permanent thing, as it has done great things for the character relationships on this show, as well as reshuffling people's roles in division. It's also a great reminder that while Nikita, Michael, Alex, and maybe Birkhoff will probably never die, and if they did it would happen at the end of a season and not in the middle, these characters can still get hurt in ways that will change them forever. So while my first thought was that cutting off Michael's hand was a crazy move for the show to make, I now see it as a great decision on their part.

But now there's this new option of possibly regrowing Michael's hand. I don't like this for a couple of reasons. The first is simply that him losing his hand suddenly becomes a cheat, as if the writers are saying: "jk everyone, it's all good," which means that the next time anyone gets hurt in any way, even if they lose both their legs, I'll just expect them to grow them back in three episodes. But there's another reason that this worries me, and that's how Birkhoff phrased this possible solution to Nikita. I personally got the impression that the doctor who could do this procedure is a bad dude (I haven't seen the promo and all I know from it is what was mentioned in the review and in comments so far). And Division is supposed to be a good place now, that doesn't do deals with bad dudes anymore. So I'm worried that this is going to be the turning point where Division starts to turn darker and darker shades of grey. Nikita will be willing to proverbially make a deal with the devil in the name of love. And once that happens, she may have to do worse and worse things, until she looks in a mirror and realizes that she has become just like Percy, prompting her to become a rebel again.

This is a worst case scenario that I don't really expect to happen, at least, I really hope it won't happen. But I do see the possibility of either Nikita or Michael leading Division back into the mud a little, which is unfortunate. Still, this show has demonstrated in the past that it isn't afraid to kill off people and change the status quo, so anything could happen. And of course, that "anything" has to do more with who's running division and such structural things like that, as opposed to all the other dynamics that stay pretty constant on the show. Anyway, thus far there hasn't been a single episode that I haven't mostly enjoyed, so whatever happens I'm still looking forward the next episode.
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I think Michael or Nikita taking Division back into the mud as you say would be interesting and is likely. It's not like they're not on the way already. Thanks for the comment.
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Are they? In what way?
I think they'd rather put a bullet in their own respective heads, but that may just be my opinion. I know we are used to seeing TV people turn evil for no reason, but I don't see this happening on Nikita.
As far as relationship dynamics and character development goes, while watching Nikita, one should throw most of one's expectations out the window.
Like. Usual TV people: OMG! The main heroine is fighting with her beau and there's another guy who has a crush on her! They'll be in bed in less then an episode, so that the main heroine and her beau have something to continue fighting about and create tension!
Nikita: O my. Nikita and Michael are fighting, and there's Owen who seems to care about Nikita a great deal. He's gonna help them get through this, so they can all be stronger as a team. Plus, he wants Nikita to be happy, as a good friend should.
See?
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Great review. I watched La Femme Nikita and really liked it. I watched the CW version out of curiosity and a lot of skepticism, mostly because of the "reboot" idea and the CW, and absolutely LOVE it!!! I watched the entire first season on dvd and was hooked from the first episode. I especially love the premise: that Nikita escaped and was coming back for Division. Brilliant!!! I've loved every season, especially season 2, and hope for much more to come. Last night's episode was awesome, as usual, for this very underrated and underviewed show.
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The story of Nikita ("La Femme Nikita" 1990 by Luc Besson) is the emotional journey that leads Nikita to eventually escape Division. The Canadian series with Peta Wilson portrayed Nikita's time in Division, and arguably can be compared to “Alias”. The current Nikita is more a sequel to the 1990 film, portraying events after Nikita's escape and her decision to take down Division.
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So surprised –and happy - to see a review of Nikita here. Thanks for that Cory, and your comment on the absurdity of how shows live and die on network television. I agree with much of your review, but would add the following.

You correctly point out the consistently satisfying characterizations, but I feel there is more depth here than you’re giving the show credit for. Nikita (the character) began season 3 as ambivalent about the new Division as anyone else. And those doubts were made even stronger when Owen confronted her in Episode 4. It wasn’t until another emotional Owen scene in Episode 5 that Nikita seemed to finally conquer her doubts. And yes, she finds herself killing again, but for the same reasons as when she fought Division. IMO it’s about redemption – hers most of all, but also others in Division who like her didn’t have a choice, and deserve a second chance.

Michael is coping with a trauma, and I appreciate how the writers are dealing with it. It’ll take more than one or two episodes for Michael to regain his equilibrium and his relationship with Nikita. What Michael is dealing with is a bit more complicated than a mere unwillingness to talk out his problems with Nikita. At this stage, until he works out the anger, blame and guilt plaguing him, it may do more harm than good. Although a gut-wrenching “Wrath” type confrontation, with the roles now reversed, may be the catharsis he needs. In any case I trust Nikita’s writers to conclude this storyline in an emotionally satisfying manner.

I also trust them with the Michael-regains-his-hand scenario. I’m sure it’s going to be more complicated and satisfying than the previews suggest. Regenerating a limb or mimetic skin may seem out of the realm of plausibility, but it’s also possible there are projects happening in the real life top secret DARPA that make reality look like fiction. Just saying.

I agree one of this show’s strengths is its ability to switch up the pace to focus on the character’s interpersonal relationships, while continuing to keep its audience engrossed.
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Great comment. I'm not too concerned about the emotional conclusion to whatever's going on with Michael. The hand stuff is what it is. I love the choice, and am still curious to see how they pursue it -- even if that means dipping toes into a different generic pool.
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La Femme Nikita so much better then CW version. Section/operations was not portrayed as the black and white bad guy as percy was in the new one. Operations made questionable decisions and held firm in the belief that the end justified the means. Maybe CW felt that in post 9/11 world Operations might actually be sympathetic and decided to make Section/Percy the prototypical big-bad for this reason.


Irregardless, that was one of the more interesting dynamics of the show was lost (Nikita trying to do her job and keep her moral baseline at the same time) and this mistake has made the show nothing more then a boring generic spy thriller.


Also, while I agree that Maggie Q is a good actress. She is more then offset by how much worse West is then Roy Dupuis. He just doesn't come off as serious no matter how much he tries. Whoever the guy is in person of interest would have been perfect for the role.


Look, I understand the reasoning behind having a divergent story for "La Femme Nikita" but it's like they removed every interesting dynamic from the "La Femme" version and copy & pasted every modern Micheal Bay type spy thriller cliché into this one.

Thats why I don't think this show is underrated at all and I don't agree that it's problem lies on which network carries the show. It's problem is that it doesn't stand up to the La Femme version to fans of the series like myself and doesn't differentiate itself from the 2-5 action type series that the major networks both more heavily promote and finance every year.
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I’m a fan of all the Nikita iterations, even the throw away “Point of no Return.” Comparing Nikita’s against each other is like comparing apples and oranges - well actually, to keep it in the same family genus – like comparing oranges to grapefruits to tangerines. All stand on their own merits (although there’s not much merit in “Point of no Return), and I can enjoy Maggie Q’s Nikita every much as I enjoyed Peta Wilson’s, with Anne Parillaud remaining the standout.
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Televisioneer..it is more like comparing apples to apples with Nikita being the rotten apple when compared to LFN.
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Thanks for putting this show out there in the review section again! I love the terminator hand, and while I like the drama involved with it (as is to be expected), I also hope he keeps it and just learns to use it, or something a little more advanced. I hope he doesn't get a real hand back. They could do so much with Bionic Michael. And ya, the mimetic skin was really out of the realm of plausibility.

Alex and the story around her doesn't really appeal to me, but i'm glad when she has constructive input for the team. I also love seeing Michael lead from HQ. It seems he was born for it, as his delivery and knowledge when in the 'lead' are second to none.

You are spot on about them keeping with there strenths, but switching things up just enough to keep it highly engrossing. I for one am hoping for a renewel on this gem.

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Thank you, Cory, for reviewing Nikita. As a fan of the original Nikita, I started to watch this Nikita with concern. But, I was already hooked in the first two episodes. Now I'm concern about cancelation, because of the ratings.
I love this season, The question about "can they have a normal life?" was starting to come up and with the engaging, things were looking good, like they could have a normal life. But, as Alex said in this episode, they are not normal people. You think you can be normal and then you have to cut your fiancee hand to escaped a car that's about to blow up. Michael's hand plot was a brave move, and I laugh so hard when I read that RE-GROW thing. I love the show but sometimes they come up with ridiculous solutions. I agreed with you, is better to stick to the no hand thing.
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Great review and thank you for reviewing this show!
I like this season of Nikita and feel that the show is going the right direction. I like the questioning of how different is Division now, really? (it was brought up to Nikita in the prior episode I think).

I like that the heroes are finally getting hurt--more realistic. All those bullets flying and rarely doesn't anyone get hurt. I think Nikita's decision about saving Michael was great for the show. I love that he has an artificial hand--it can become a badass bionic hand:-) I think his struggle to accept it and struggle with how it affects his relationship(s) is well done. Sure, a part of me wants to say "man up dude, she saved your life" but on the other hand (lol) I can empathize with his loss. Just wait until he gets phantom limb syndrome!

I'm so happy you reviewed this show and it was a great review. There are so many shows that should be reviewed imo so if you are reading this Cory, then stop and get back to work--there are more reviews to be done:=)
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Thanks. I think the show's made a conscious (and smart) decision to slow down and really ponder the state of these people's lives after two seasons of flat-out madness. It's an interesting choice that's paying off thus far.
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One of the things this show does very well. Whether slow, or fast, the pacing always feel right and satisfying.
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Yay so excited for the discussion. I love that Shane seems to get a character who looses an appendage or two. I love the cast of this show not only are they all serious eye candy and kick ass action heroes but they all gel so well together.
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His character lost limbs in ER didn't he? I assume this is what you're referring to.
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Yeah that was the first thing that came into my head when Nikki cut off his hand, poor Shane!
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love this show. love where the season goes. can't wait to next weak.
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Very good review, Cory!
I really like this season, but I'm not sure how I feel about Michael's hand situations yet. I guess, we'll see.

And can you please correct your mistake about Nikita being married before? She was NEVER married. Not yet anyway. Daniel was her fiance.
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couldn't have put it better myself.
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They weren't married? Huh. I'm dumb.
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not dumb~just human! I also forgot that she was engaged not married in the past.
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We're getting corrected. Thanks for letting me know.
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No problem ;)
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