Last week I decided to marathon the CW series Nikita – the third remake of a French film with the same name. I had no real reason to marathon the series. No one I know watches it, I’ve been trying to cut down on my CW shows, and while my Dad used to watch La Femme Nikita, I don’t remember anything remarkable about it. Yet for some reason I found myself on Netflix bumping all five discs to the top of my queue hoping to catch up before its second season premier.
With a 22-episode first season, it took me almost the whole week to catch up leaving little time before Friday night’s premier. I have to admit that I not only sped through the series because of the last minute timing, but also because the story and characters had me hooked from the pilot. I’m not going to say that this is exactly high-quality TV, because it’s not but it’s addicting and not afraid to take risks and that counts for something. Nikita also reminded me a lot of Dollhouse and Dark Angel – in a good way. Apparently it’s also very similar to Alias, but since I haven’t gotten around to watching that series yet I can’t say for sure.
To me, the entire series begs the question; does the end justify the means; and I find that to be a fascinating topic to explore.
“Don’t get me wrong I want to stop running, been running my whole life. I want a home, I just want to be able to live with myself when I get there.” – Nikita “Game Change” (2×1)
Many of the main characters, inside and out of the Division are morally gray, neither fulfilling the role of hero or villain. Nikita both kills and saves lives in her revenge mission / mission to right past wrongs. And even Division occasionally takes on jobs that stop terrorists or prevents the production of dangerous weapons. Allegiances and trust are blurry topics on Nikita. Friends often become foes and vice versa as many of the characters sacrifice relationships for missions or their concept of the ‘greater good’.
The biggest example of this theme plays out through the character of Alex. Even though there’s always ‘collateral damage’ in action based TV shows and movies, the audience typically isn’t given the chance to relate to those affected because their story comes to a close with the end credits. On Nikita however, audience members are given a chance to see how decisions and actions have consequences, as Alex is often caught in the middle of fights that really aren’t hers.
From the very beginning I questioned Nikita’s (Maggie Q) motive for allowing Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) to go under cover in Division. If she was so worried about her and wanted better for her, why would she ever let someone join the very program that turned her life upside down and into someone she didn’t want to be. As it was later revealed, Alex did have a personal stake in the defeat of Division, but Nikita was slow to divulge the complete truth behind her parent’s death. In doing so she kind of pushed her down the very path she was hoping to help her avoid – working for Division and being able to take another’s life.
Although she may have broken ties with Nikita, by the end of the first season Alex become entangled in Amanda’s (Melinda Clarke) new plans for Division. While Amanda offers to help her bring down the people who orchestrated her parent’s death, its obvious that Amanda is just as interested in using Alex for her own objectives as Nikita was. But Amanda also wants to return Division to the crime stopping / national security agency it once was, so its not like she’s on team evil and actively recruiting. However, with Oversight more interested than ever in Division, Amanda has even more reason to look out for herself.
Michael (Shane West) also played an active role in Alex’s Division training and overall season one transformation. On one hand he looked out for her, especially after he re-connected with Nikita, but he also sent her on a number of engagements and training exercises that were less than safe because those were his orders. And although Michael may have questioned Division’s motives and tactics he didn’t take an active stand against the organization until he too learned that his wife and daughter were killed in a Division related attack – in which he was actually the target.
Over the course of the season Alex may have become more self-reliant, stronger, and even more ruthless but I very much doubt that she’s either in control or calling her own shots. But does that make her a victim, an unwilling participant, or a pawn in this entire thing? Based on the season two premier, I’d say this is something that will be explored more and I can’t wait.