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'Nikita' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Sep 24th 2010 6:50AM
'Nikita'['Nikita' - 'Kill Jill']

Three weeks into its first season, 'Nikita' is settling into a solid rhythm. On a night of TV so packed with quality programming that fans scrambled to add extra DVRs to capture everything, 'Nikita' might run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle. Does it show signs of being something truly special? Not yet. But it's certainly got more legs than many might have believed. And it's certainly worth carving out some time for on this overcrowded night.

What the show has done for the third straight week is think as fast as the audience in terms of asking proper questions and, more importantly, having solid answers. A lesser show might have been content to let Alex send Nikita encrypted messages for months on end, with Division constantly pulling its hair and wondering how on earth their former protégé could continually be one step ahead of them. Luckily, 'Nikita' chose to have Percy realize this trend in a realistic manner. Even more luckily, the show planned on Nikita herself knowing Percy would realize this.


Having Nikita plant a fake bug inside Birkhoff's molar could run the risk of seeming like a ret-con, but since it's part of her long-term misdirection, it all makes perfect, organic sense. It's not a ground-breaking plot device, but it's the type of touch that seems easy when presented onscreen yet is so often ignored in plots like this. It's not exactly "Jason Bourne checking out train schedules to elude his pursuers" in terms of a realistic approach to espionage, but it shows just how far Nikita's plan for Alex extended before inserting her into their midst. At some point, obviously, something will come into play that will break Nikita's prognostication, but it's great to see her smarts as well as her butt-kicking nature on display on a weekly basis.

Speaking of smarts, learning that Alex independently called the police to provide cover for Nikita and a blogger (Jill Morelli) with inside information on a corrupt airline proved a winning choice. Simply having Alex execute Nikita's cons is one thing: showing that she's absorbed lessons learned from her personal Jedi Master is another. Showing Nikita outline the Operations Room in flashback is far less interesting than watching Alex think on her feet in a hostile environment.

Her smarts were also on display during the recruits' attempts to identify Jill's location. Seems like someone inside Division read Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game," since a similar approach was used in that novel to make the trainees think they were engaged in an "exercise" as opposed to a "journalistic assassination." As Percy noted, "Last thing we need is another recruit finding their inner Nikita." Not only did her deductions prove useful, but they also brought Alex slightly closer to her in-house nemesis Jaden, and quite a bit closer to her would-be boyfriend, Thomas. (Poor Thomas: Dude's got a toe-tag all picked out for him by season's end. No way this romantic subplot ends well AT ALL.)

As for the blogger, Jill: It looks like 'Nikita' has found itself another recurring character. Too bad that at present she seems to have come from another show in The CW's line-up, instead of the (slightly) grittier world that this show presents. Having Jill around as a deus ex journalistica will probably write the show out of a lot of nasty narrative corners down the road, but a weekly gag involving Nikita breaking a piece of Jill's electronic gadget arsenal isn't really needed at this point. This isn't a show where one looks up into the sky and sees Superman instead of a plane: It's a show in which it's actually a plane, and that plane is full of illegal narcotics. There's nothing wrong with 'The Daily Planet,' but said establishment need not be a daily feature in The CW's programming, either.

A few stray bullets:

-- As smart as Alex showed herself to be in ordering the police intervention in Virginia, it seemed slightly odd that Birkoff's Spidey Sense didn't go off, especially after Amanda's interrogation. Then again, this is a man who uses the vast hacking resources at his disposal to illegally download the early 90's River Phoenix movie 'Sneakers.' So, maybe we should recalibrate what Birkhoff deems "odd."

-- Jaden may have thought she scored the better deal by snatching up the television as a reward for locating Jill, but it's hard to imagine that Division actually has cable.

-- Thank God the show didn't end in the third consecutive Nikita/Michael stalemate. The two truly went at it at episode's end, with Nikita escaping as opposed to actually winning. Without that, these encounters would seem tedious at best, and Michael would look increasingly weak at worst.

'Nikita' airs Thurs., 9PM ET on The CW.

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Sean

"What the show has done for the third straight week is think as fast as the audience in terms of asking proper questions and, more importantly, having solid answers."

Most intelligent sentence I have read by a TV writer in a long, long time. Great work Ryan.

This show continues to impress me. I thought I'd watch the pilot then never bother with "Nikita" again. But every week, I'm pleasantly surprised at the overall quality of this CW show and how it's able to maintain the momentum from the excellent pilot. It's not high art, but it is fast paced and very entertaining.

September 25 2010 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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