Nikita: The End?
After the revelations of last week’s Nikita I was worried for the show. I was worried that the writers had backed themselves into a corner that would require far too intricate or far too stupid a story to realistically get out of. Needless to say, my worry was unfounded. Countless times in the 22-episode run of the show’s first season, story lines have developed leading us as viewers to believe that one thing will happen, when something entirely different is on the horizon. The finale “Pandora” lived up to its legacy and delivered possibly the best episode of the series in terms of hard-hitting content, whilst all the while providing the action that many viewers are looking for.
The episode opened following immediately on from last week’s cliffhanger in which Alex may or may not have just shot Nikita. Pretty quickly it is revealed to us that this is the case, and that the titular hero is dead. The one bad thing about having a show be named after a specific character really comes to light in that moment as, despite her clearly being dead, we all know that you can’t have Nikita without Nikita. When Jack Bauer died at the end of the fourth season of 24, there was undoubtedly a large percentage of any viewer’s brain telling them that he can’t possibly be dead, but the tiny seed of doubt that made you think “did that really just happen?” is what made the moment so powerful. Ultimately, Jack, much like Nikita, wasn’t really dead and in fact the two of them had their revival play out in pretty much the same way. We see in flashback that after shooting Nikita’s body armor, Alex quickly discarded her monitoring device and injected her with tetrodotoxin, a paralytic that would make her appear dead until the Division cleaner flushed her system before discarding her body.
Whilst our hero rises from the dead, we come to understand the true motivations of Percy when we get a glimpse of Oversight for the first time. Essentially Percy’s plan is to kill the director of the CIA so that he can become its new leader, giving him access to a much larger budget to run his operations as he sees fit. Whilst the reveal of his plan was actually somewhat underwhelming given the importance that had been attributed to operation Sparrow, having it not be quite so grandiose as killing the President (a previously mentioned possibility as to what the operation was) was actually a good move on the part of the writers. Keeping the plot realistically self-contained whilst having it be of critical importance to our characters is the only way in which we can give any weight to the narrative before us. We, as viewers, cannot conceivably believe that a government agency would manage to remain secret if it were taking over the country in such a sublime fashion.
From this point on, the entire episode focuses on the shift of power throughout the government and Division itself. Whilst Nikita works to stop the attack on the CIA, Amanda and Birkhoff begin to make moves against Percy from within. Amanda chooses to rebel by freeing the traitorous Alex, killing her and then bringing her back to life now free from the tracker in her kill chip. One of the biggest character moments for Alex then comes when she is given freedom to make up her own mind about her future. When Amanda advises her to leave the fight behind and disappear with her freedom, Alex decides to go and visit Nikita one last time against her wishes. Birkhoff’s rebellion comes in the form of freeing Michael. Opening his cell remotely, Birkhoff allows Michael to attack Percy in his office and take possession of his own personal black box. Although we have never specifically been told, one can imagine that Percy’s box holds all of the most critical information about Division operations, making Michael’s ownership of it a huge deal for the second season if it is picked up.
Outside of the covert castle, Nikita’s attempts to stop the attack on the CIA are successful, however she is captured as a result of storming into their headquarters. When the director doesn’t believe her story about Division being responsible for the attack, Ryan — her man on the inside with first-hand knowledge of Division’s power — breaks her out of custody. Ryan’s character has been a useful one throughout this first season, and without him the entire ending to the finale would have been very disappointing, but his existence in the second season might be somewhat redundant. Obviously no longer an agent of the CIA after holding his boss at gunpoint, it would likely best serve the show if he disappeared quickly next year.
As the episode winds down, Nikita and Alex have their inevitable emotional confrontation over Nikita’s killing of Alex’s father — a beat that I felt didn’t actually work as well as it should have. The two have played off each other so well despite rarely being in the same room for much of the season, but when a real face-to-face heart-to-heart was required, it felt a little unnatural. The mandatory colossal fight scene then occurs when Percy sends in a team to take out the two traitors but naturally the women get away without a scratch. They then proceed to part ways; Nikita running away with Michael whilst Alex is kidnapped and brought before Oversight. Declaring Nikita the biggest threat to national security, Oversight offer to back Alex if she helps them to hunt down our hero whilst pursuing her own goals of killing the mole in her father’s empire responsible for his death. The final reveal of the finale comes to us when Amanda is revealed to be a part of the Oversight team and she seemingly convinces Alex to go along with the plan.
“Pandora” was a fairly good finale in retrospect. It brought everything together in a more than satisfactory way, its only problem lies with the fate of the show as a whole. With still no official word on whether or not a second season will be rewarded, the open-ended close to the season may have served only to frustrate fans at what could have been if the show doesn’t live on. The characters are all set up to have their significant parts to play in a strong story, taking us far beyond Division and looking at the consequences of their actions. We now must all wait and see if it has all been worth it.