December 28, 2013

THE SKED Series Finale Review: “Nikita”


There was one last super-powerful conspiracy for NIKITA (Maggie Q) to bring down in tonight’s series finale, and a climactic showdown with arch-villainess Amanda (Melinda Clarke) to survive, as CW’s low-rated yet hard-to-kill action series finally came to an end after a truncated 4th mini-season.

The final episode (fittingly entitled “Canceled”), written by Executive Producer Carlos Coto and Co-Executive Producer Albert Kim, and directed by Eagle Egilsson, wasn’t really the show at its best.  Nikita has never been much at finesse, and the hour was “clever” in a fairly ridiculous way, a long con in which it turned out that Nikita and billionairess sidekick Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) had only pretended to kill 7 of the most powerful men in the world, unbeknownst not only to Amanda but to the US government and Army, in order to get a list of the 54 only slightly less powerful people who’d been replaced by Amanda with genetically-modified doubles who reported to her.  “Far-fetched” isn’t a dirty word in the Nikita universe, but this was stretching things, as it was revealed that she hadn’t really blown up, strangled, shot or poisoned any of the men that she’d appeared to be killing for the first two-thirds of the hour.  Even putting the looniness of the plotting aside, much of the episode had Nikita and Alex stuck in a room with a bunch of anonymous bad guys while she worked her con, not nearly as action-packed a conclusion (perhaps for budgetary reasons) as the show seemed to warrant.

It did, however, have a pleasing payoff, as Nikita turned the tables on Amanda in her supermax prison cell, stepping out of her high-tech shackles and putting Amanda into them as she revealed that she’d been one step ahead of Amanda all along.  In doing so, she also proved that she’d retained her soul, able to hold herself back from killing for the sake of killing.  (And should CW or some other outlet decide Nikita merits one last stand on some platform or other, it left Amanda conveniently vanquished but still alive.)  Everyone got a happy ending, including Nikita and her true love Michael (Shane West) leaving their beachfront honeymoon drinks behind to go rescue an Ecuadorian child soldier.  Even dear departed Ryan (Noah Bean) got his star on the CIA wall, and not one that had to be drawn in by a sharpie, as Carrie Mathison was recently compelled to do for Nicolas Brody.

Nikita was never much more than a workmanlike adventure series, but it was classy and well performed, especially by Maggie Q, and by Fonseca, Clarke, West and Aaron Stanford as tech geek Birkhoff (although we could have done without learning about Birhohff’s daddy issues in this past season).  Tonight’s restraint aside, it also did a fine job of stretching its budget to accommodate an impressive number of action sequences set in simulated locations around the world, far more convincingly than quite a few big-network series have been able to do.  It never really fit the CW brand, being neither teen-oriented nor supernatural, but it held its own, pushing Luc Besson’s original La Femme Nikita franchise into nearly a quarter-century of virtually constant activity.  The show may be done, but the fertile appeal of Nikita, an ultimate femme fatale, may well give rise to another incarnation down the road.  Reboot, anyone?


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."