'Nikita' Season 1, Episode 11 Recap (VIDEO)
by Ryan McGee, posted Dec 10th 2010 7:00AM
['Nikita' - 'All The Way']
It's truly disappointing that 'Nikita' won't be returning to the small screen for over a month, because the last two weeks have easily been the strongest of its short run. 'All The Way' took the opportunity to leave with a bang (literally) in its Fall finale, shedding the show's weakest element, producing a seismic, but logical, shift in the overall show dynamics, and just for fun, pulled off one of the greatest action sequences of the Fall season on any show.
So, yeah, not too shabby a finale, 'Nikita.'
Back in the 1990s, The Smashing Pumpkins had a minor hit with their ballad 'Disarm.' Part of the chorus featured these lyrics: "The killer in me is the killer in you/Send this smile over to you." In a lot of ways, 'All the Way' used those lyrics as a basis for its backstory, in which we finally learned why Alex infiltrated Division, exactly what lessons Nikita taught her ahead of time, and the one lesson that Alex didn't learn until it was too late.
By starting the show seemingly halfway through Nikita's plot to overthrow Division, the pilot episode sacrificed coherent story in favor of red bikinis and big guns. Not a bad way to grab people's attentions, but also a good way to leave them scratching their heads in confusion. The show has periodically used flashbacks to try and fill in the gaps (as well as get some actual face time between leads Maggie Q and Lyndsy Fonseca), but tonight featured the best use of that technique, as it pinpointed the precise moment at which their original plan to de-fang Division showed fatal flaws.
Having Alex volunteer to go inside was the only choice the show could have made, but it was still nice to see Nikita not actually force her into action. If she had, then 'Nikita' as a whole could be seen as a revenge-driven woman exploiting the emotions of a troubled teen in order to avenge her ex. Not a very heroic character, that, and one more fitting on an FX show as opposed to one on The CW. But desire for bloodshed is one thing, and actually enacting it is another. Alex couldn't do it on the night in which Division captured her (a scene that makes infinite more sense now in proper context), and couldn't do it on her first Division mission tonight.
The problem lay not in Alex's inherent pacifism (thought she's averse to murder on general principles) but rather her inability to act without Nikita shadowing her. In a way, Nikita mothered her to the point of inaction, forcing Alex to doubt her own ability in the field. Only by Nikita putting her life in Alex's hands could that dynamic actually change. Unfortunately, that dynamic had to change in a circumstance that forced Alex's hand, the hand which eventually (and accidentally) killed Thom during her attempt to liberate Nikita from Amanda's torture chamber. Thom was more "Michael Lite" than actual three-dimensional character during his time on the show, but his death did serve both as a plot purpose and an emotional turning point for Alex.
Normally, I favor emotional resonance over plot advancement, but the promotion of Alex to agent frees the show up so tremendously from here on out that attention must be paid to that first. There will be a time to grieve for Thom in Alex's future to be sure (as well as to fuel Jaden's fire to even greater heights), but now the literal world is open to her and the show to explore. Her promotion, coupled with the discovery of the shell program (a.k.a., "Instant Spy Messenger"), means that no longer will the show have to spend long stretches inside Division trying to figure out ways for Alex to type her way into the week's mission. Kudos to the show for realizing that endless iterations of this plot would stretch credulity to the breaking point and eventually shatter, not unlike handcuffs chained to the ceiling after the detonation of carefully planted explosives.
And it's not as if Alex is totally in the clear after making Thom a modern-day William Casey. As mentioned above, Jaden will undoubtedly have her sights still set on Alex 24/7. Also? For his part, Michael found Alex's story about overpowering Nikita dubious, and after seeing her bust through weakened concrete and wield heavy chains like a modern-day gladiator, who could blame him? Couple that with their weird psychosexual way in which he taught Alex the proper way to inject a lethal syringe into a dummy's neck, and you have a pretty interesting adversary henceforth in a place Alex might not expect to look.
All in all, a fantastic December for 'Nikita,' which peaked at just the right time for audiences to want more in the coming year. The stage is set for something potentially great; we'll just have to see if the show stays on mission with the same tenacity as Nikita and Alex.
What did you think of the Fall finale? Leaving you wanting more, or causing you to delete it from your Season Pass? With Alex now out in the field, will she be a better asset for Nikita or fall more strongly under the sway of Division? Leave your thoughts below!
'Nikita' airs Thursdays, 9PM ET on the CW.