October 20, 2012



NIKITA:  Friday 9PM on CW

WHERE WE WERE:  Vanquishing Division.  Percy is finally, truly dead, Amanda is gone, and Nikita (Maggie Q) and her cohorts–lover and now fiance Michael (Shane West), protege Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), hacker Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford), the more bureaucratic Ryan (Noah Bean), as well as Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood), who had worked for the “bad” Division–have taken over.

WHERE WE ARE:  Specifically, Ryan has been put in charge, and under his direction, the new and no longer evil Division’s mission is to track down the now-rogue agents who refused to come in from the cold.  In the Season 3 premiere (properly titled “3.0”), written by series creator Craig Silverstein and directed by Eagle Egilsson, the quarry is a former agent based in Hong Kong, who’s selling the identities of local CIA operatives for cash, knowing he’s sending them to their deaths.

If the season premiere is any indication, NIKITA is going to be more of a pure procedural than it’s ever been in the past.  Although a brief mention of Amanda in the dialogue raises the possibility that she’ll pop up at some point, Melinda Clarke’s name is no longer in the credits, and it appears that rather than having any continuing storyline, the team will go after some ex-Division wrongdoer (we’re told there are at least 30 of them) each week.  The central dynamic will be the conflict between Ryan’s insistence, in accordance with presidential orders, on sticking strictly to mission parameters and procedures, while Nikita as always improvises and acts with her heart.  That’s not a fair fight, because, well, the show isn’t called Ryan.  (The personal stories, however, will continue, as tonight’s episode had Michael’s nicely screwball more-or-less proposal to Nikita as bullets flew, and Birkhoff is clearly sweet on Sonya.)

Without an overriding serialized story, Nikita is considerably less interesting than it’s been in previous seasons.  The show still has its merits, though.  It’s always been extremely good at stretching its limited budget to effectively simulate globe-trotting adventures, and in Maggie Q, it has a leading lady who can convincingly simulate some impressive ass-kicking. (Alex, on the other hand, while well played by Fonseca, was more interesting before she became heiress to a Russian industrialist’s fortune.)

Nikita has never been strong in the ratings, and has survived mainly because its overseas action appeal–the original La Femme Nikita practically invented the modern international action genre, as well as producer/director Luc Besson’s career– has allowed CW to keep it on the air for a fairly minimal price in the US.  On that basis, it could continue to survive, especially if its numbers hold steady while other CW veterans continue to shrink.  It’s a moderately enjoyable hour of bang-bang, but now more than ever, it seems unlikely to become more than that.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."