NIKITA Recap: 4×06 “Canceled” + Final Thoughts on the Show

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Well here we are, at the end of the road. Nikita, one of the most underrated shows on television, has come to an end – and it was the perfect ending. It took me longer to get this post up because frankly, I was still reeling from all the emotions I had watching the episode, and just time to be able to sit down and type. So let’s start at the beginning of the episode.

We start off with a new flashback to when Nikita was first brought in to Division. After having attacked a guard twice her size, Nikita says she wants out, but Amanda tells her that she’ll come to learn that brute force will not beat deception. Amanda then asks Nikita who she wants to be: powerful and beautiful or a wild animal? We see another flashback with Michael suggesting Nikita be cancelled because she’s had four incidents in her first week at Division, deeming her to be dangerous, but Amanda sees potential in Nikita to be the best agent Division’s ever seen. Though Michael warns that if they can’t control her, she could be the one to destroy them all. To be fair, they ended up both being right.

With Ryan’s death last week (RIP Fletcher), it seems that Nikita has gone off the rails, with Alex helping her to take down The Group, starting with Mr. Jones who provided them with the names of the other members before being blown to bits. Senator Chappel has a field day when he learns that Nikita is going after The Group her way and not the “official” way – investigate, collect evidence…the standard boring stuff we see in typical cop procedurals. That does not work for Nikita, the character or the show. Though he hates to admit it, Michael (and Sam) actually agrees with Chappel that there is a right way to take down The Group, but this isn’t it; Birkhoff meanwhile, scoffs at Chappel, “Our government trained her to be an assassin…Look, if Nikita wants to take down the one percent of the one percent to zero, I say pull up a chair and pass the popcorn.” Chappel allows the boys off the base and go after Nikita. Except Slocum and his Marines have to join them.

When we get back to Amanda, she’s got a nasty scar – a departing gift from Ryan before he died. When she discusses matters with Trevor Adrian, he does what every other man she’s worked with does, and tells her to step away because she doesn’t know what she’s doing. He also essentially blames her for The Group’s undoing. But before cutting her out, Amanda did manage to convince Adrian to gather all the remaining Group members to make it harder for Nikita to find them. HA! You just helped her make it easier to take them all down Amanda. Soon enough, Amanda witnesses that Nikita and Alex have tied up the Group and feeding them the lethal neurotoxins, in order to get somebody to cough up the list of doubles.

Throughout the episode, we see Alex, Michael, Sam, each give their own talks to Nikita, trying to essentially talk her down the ledge. Alex brings it up that Nikita’s about to cross a line, that involves killing a whole bunch of people, after she’s been recognized as a hero. Sam channels his memories as Owen and talks about the time in London when he was ready to release the contents of the Black Box, but she talked him out of it. He says that if Owen was here, he’d tell her that she needs to trust the people she loves and that it’s not about her head, but her heart and soul. Then there’s Michael who pulls out the “I have nothing left. If you die…I die.” (And we all swoon and die.) When none of the talking works, Alex resorts to sparring with Nikita instead in order to stop her. But when Adrian finds an opportunity to shoot at them while they’re fighting, Nikita shoots back at all of the Group members.

After the Marines have captured Nikita, they ship her off to a supermax prison in Virginia, where she’s held down by some heavy duty restraints; unfortunately, Alex and Birkhoff (who against orders downloaded the doubles list onto a cloud server) join her in prison. We come to learn that Slocum has been working with Amanda when she shows her scarred face in Nikita’s cell. Amanda comes in to thank Nikita for giving her a new life and reminds her that they both came from abusive homes, but have managed to rise above it. But joke’s on Amanda, as Nikita gets released from her restraints and puts Amanda in them instead. Turns out it was all a ruse to make Amanda think that Nikita had gone off the rails and released the monster inside of her, that she had chosen brute force over deception. Nikita had only temporarily put down all the members of The Group and put on a show for Amanda at Adrian’s house; The Doubles arc closes down with Michael and Sam releasing the originals who were doubled. It was thanks to Ryan’s last words that Nikita knew Slocum was a double, and though she wanted to kill everybody and rip Amanda to bits, she owed it to her family for reminding her that she’s better than that. So Nikita finally gets to deceive Amanda once and for all and bestow Amanda a fate worse than death: life alone in the basement as Helen.

As we got into the final minutes of the episodes, we find out everybody gets their own happy ending. Ryan is honoured with a star on the CIA’s wall of fallen agents. Alex resumes her role as Alexandra Udinov, with Sam now her bodyguard and more. Birkhoff releases Shadownet to the world (reminds me of the movie Antitrust) and settles in for a life with Sonya (Lyndie was sadly missing from the episode because she was too busy kicking ass on Sleepy Hollow). Nikita and Michael? Well they eloped and are having some wedded bliss on a beach in Ecuador. As Nikita says in her voiceover, “The real gift isn’t freedom, it’s what we do with it. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t just sit on a beach anyways.” With that, we see the newlyweds run off and spend their honeymoon going after a guy who was trying to push a kid into becoming a soldier.

It was as perfect an ending as any fan could hope for considering the circumstances. I read the interviews with Craig Silverstein by Meg Masters of TVLine and Eric Goldman of IGN discussing what happened in the finale, what could have been, what they wanted to do but didn’t have time for, etc., and really at the end of it all, I’m just really happy/satisfied with how things ended. Sure, it would have been nice to delve into Nikita’s backstory and parents, prior to going into the foster system and wish that the season was longer so everything could have been fleshed out more, but they ended things on a spectacular note.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What else can I say about this show that I haven’t already in my letter to the cast back in March or my write-up when the cast wrapped in October. Nikita has always been an underrated show that deserved so much more than it did. It’s one of the first adult-skewing shows on The CW, something that went beyond the typical teen angst that the network needed in order to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, being the first also means that the network wasn’t particularly sure of how to market the show. But without all the teen angst and a big dose of action, it paved the way for the network to take chances on other shows that weren’t its typical type like Arrow. Granted, Arrow has the added bonus of being a known entity, it also had its own pressures to contend with. Regardless, Nikita was a trailblazer for the network, and you can’t help but wonder what could have been had the show been on a different network (I’m thinking cable because I’m not sure any of the other broadcast networks would be any better – except maybe FOX).

What may be its enduring legacy, besides being underrated and perennially on the bubble, is what it did for females on television. First and foremost, Nikita gave us the first Asian-American female lead of a TV show in Maggie Q. If Maggie ever decides to do another TV show, I would not want her to be some supporting character that isn’t given a lot to do; she’s come so far from doing/being this character that being anything less than that would just be wrong. Second, the ultimate big bad of the series ended up being Melinda Clarke’s Amanda, a woman who was severely underestimated by every one of her male counterparts, but proved to be a crazy adversary for our hero. Lastly, the show gave us a central relationship between two females, Nikita and Alex, who spent more time working together kicking-ass and taking down the bad guys than talking about their love life or fighting over a guy. The typical gender roles were pretty much flipped when in actuality, Nikita and Alex saved the men in their lives more often, bucking the usual “damsels-in-distress” that need saving. What’s truly amazing is that all these women (along with Sonya) were layered characters. They were not defined by any one trait or by their men. They were fully realized characters – smart, good at what they do, flawed, emotional, and of course beautiful in every way – everything a woman is and how they should be represented on TV.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: THANK YOU to everybody involved with the show from the beginning up until the very end, who helped make this incredible show that was underappreciated. The producers and writers – Craig Silverstein, Albert Kim, Carlos Coto, Marc David Alpert, Kristen Reidel, Oliver Grigsby, Terry Matalas, Travis Fickett, and everybody else I missed – you are all amazingly talented and the work you put in to making this show what it is does not go unnoticed by those of us who did watch the show throughout its run. The actors – Maggie, Lyndsy, Melinda, Lyndie, Shane West, Aaron Stanford, Noah Bean, Devon Sawa, Dillon Casey, Xander Berkeley, Ashton Holmes, Tiffany Hines, Peter Outerbridge, and all the guest stars over the years – you brought these characters to life and worked so hard, I will forever be in awe of everything that you did.

I wish all these amazingly wonderful people nothing but the best in their future endeavors and projects. Whether it be, Craig Silverstein’s period spy drama Turn; Matalas and Fickett teaming up and reuniting with Aaron and Noah on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, alongside Amanda Schull and Kirk Acevedo; Shane and Xander working together on WGN America’s Salem (with Seth Gabel and Janet Montgomery); Maggie and Lyndsy with their films, Divergent & The Conspiracy on Jekyll Island (Maggie) and Moments of Clarity (Lyndsy); Lyndie continuing on in Sleepy Hollow; Dillon with his new series Remedy; or Albert Kim’s drama in development at The CW with Eva Longoria’s production company, I look forward to whatever they do in the future. They all deserve great success.

Again, thanks for all the memories and four seasons of awesome! I will miss this show dearly.

Nikita Cast @ SDCC 2013. Even though I didn't get to formally meet them and get a picture with them, they made my first trip to SDCC worth every penny.

Nikita Cast @ SDCC 2013. Even though I didn’t get to formally meet them and get a picture with them, sitting less than 10 feet away from them at the show’s final panel made my first trip to SDCC worth everything.

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An Open Letter to the Cast + Crew of Nikita

To the cast and crew of Nikita:

I cannot remember the last time I was completely on board with a show from the very beginning. When The CW had announced that it was picking up Nikita to series, way back during Upfronts in 2010, I had this innate feeling that the show was going to be special. I had never seen the previous incarnations of the character and story, so it was all new to me. My penchant for TV shows featuring strong kick-ass female characters (see: Alias‘ Sydney Bristow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe‘s Olivia Dunham, etc.) hooked me in immediately. Oddly enough, finding out that the show was filming in (and around) Toronto was almost revelatory, since I wasn’t use to knowing about my favourite actors or celebrities being somewhat close by, thereby elevating my excitement.

Speaking of the cast, where do I even begin with you guys?! You all are such a talented bunch and a little underrated if I do say so. Lyndsy Fonseca, I only knew from How I Met Your Mother and Desperate Housewives, but as Alex, you’ve come into your own as an actress. Devon Sawa, one of my favourite movies as a kid was Little Giants, and it has been great to see you move up from a recurring guest star to series regular as Owen. Shane West, my early teenage years were filled with your movies, like Whatever It Takes, Get Over It, and A Walk to Remember, but I also remember when you were on Once and Again, ER, and now Nikita – you just continue to surprise. Melinda Clarke, I was a huge fan of The O.C., so I got very excited seeing you as part of the cast (and since Amanda lacks a last name, I’ve come to sometimes refer to her as Amanda Cooper-Nichol, the perfect amalgamation of my two favourite Melinda roles/characters). Also, a special shout-out to the casting department for bringing on actors whom viewers might not have been familiar with or haven’t seen in a while, but have come to love greatly: Aaron Stanford, Noah Bean, Dillon Casey, Lyndie Greenwood, Xander Berkeley, Peter Outerbridge, and all the wonderful guest stars…Then there’s Maggie, who in this humble TV fan’s opinion, was one of the best casting decisions ever.

I am first generation Vietnamese-Canadian in my family. Growing up under the influence of American television, I quickly grew accustomed to not seeing Asian actors in Hollywood entertainment. As terrible as it may sound, I kind of accepted that fact and considered myself a wary fan of pop culture, knowing that it wasn’t a wise decision to completely idolize a specific actor or musician. But then as I wrote essays for some of my Sociology classes in university, talking about minority representation or gender representation in the media, I didn’t realize how important those topics were to me. Just as I graduated university, Nikita comes along with Maggie in the role, and man do I ever wish I could have written a full essay for my classes on the show. I had seen Maggie do small supporting roles in movies like Live Free or Die Hard, Mission Impossible 3, as well as New York, I Love You, among others, so I was familiar with who she was. To cast her as the lead of this gem of a show, it got me excited beyond belief and was just so inspired. I by no means have any intentions on becoming an actress myself, though I would love the opportunity to work in the industry, but to say that I felt proud seeing an Asian actress (who just so happens to also be half-Vietnamese) in a lead role of a TV series would be putting it lightly. I have nothing but complete respect and total admiration for Maggie.

The show wouldn’t be what it is without all the talent behind the scenes, so please allow me to give thanks. First and foremost, Craig Silverstein: thank you so much for bringing new life to this character of Nikita. As I have said before, I was not that familiar with the previous versions of the show and the characters, but you are the reason everyone is here now. Thanks are extended to executive producers McG, Danny Cannon, Peter Johnson, Carlos Coto, Albert Kim, and David Levinson. To the many other producers involved with the show: Marc David Alpert, Andrew Coville, Kalinda Vasquez, Jim Hilton and Amanda Segel – thanks for keeping the show together and being awesome. All the writers on the team, you all are crazy talented at what you do; keeping us fans glued to the edge of our seats with wonderful storytelling, plot lines that feel fresh, real mature relationships and unexpected twists and turns, you guys just never cease to amaze us. The directors that have worked on the show do nothing but add a sleek, almost movie-style finish to the episodes, making each new episode all the more exciting, and that goes along with everyone who does the sound editing, cinematography, and special effects. Last, but certainly not least, a VERY special shout-out to all the crew members working those long days and nights with the cast, everyone else behind the scenes who sometimes don’t get the full recognition they deserve – from lighting to the boom operators, everyone involved with the fight sequences and stunts, hair and make-up, wardrobe, those working in the production office and the PAs – please know that your hard work is appreciated BEYOND BELIEF.

To The CW and Warner Bros. Television, thank you for putting this show on the air and all us fans can only hope that you renew this amazingly wonderful show for many more seasons. All this talent, both in front and behind the camera, are so worth it.

Though I can only hope to one day be able to meet you all in person, give you a hug, maybe buy you some coffee, and personally thank you for all that you’ve done (and I’ve come in close proximity on several occasions of your on location shoots in Cambridge and Toronto), this letter will have to do. Again, thank you for working so hard (especially on those Fraturdays!) to give us this fantastic, yet incredibly underrated show. You are all AMAZING! Love you guys!

One of your biggest fans and supporters,

Thi Ky

First close call with filming. Feb. 14, 2011, crew in Cambridge to film part of episode 1x18 "Into the Dark"

First close call with filming. Feb. 14, 2011, crew in Cambridge to film part of episode 1×18 “Into the Dark”

Nov. 7, 2012 - Cambridge for episode 3x10 "Brave New World"

Nov. 7, 2012 – Cambridge for episode 3×10 “Brave New World”

Nov. 12, 2012 - Waterloo Airport for episode 3x10 "Brave New World"

Nov. 12, 2012 – Waterloo Airport for episode 3×10 “Brave New World”

Save This Show!: The CW’s Nikita

In previous posts, I’ve made it known that I love a good underdog. It wasn’t until recently, while checking the renewal statuses of all the TV shows this season, that I realized a good number of my favourite shows are in fact shows whose renewal statuses are on the bubble. In other words, my favourite shows are TV’s underdogs – shows whose fate are not guaranteed.

In light of this realization, I figured I should do my part as a fan (regardless of how small a part that is) and try to get it out there why some shows deserve to be renewed. So consider this my plea to the powers that be. Instead of doing one big posting, I’ll be doing this in installments, one per show.

Now, I fully realize that there aren’t a lot of people out there who read my blog, but I am hopeful that this posting, at the very least, will get read by people who care about these shows as much as I do. If it somehow makes it along with the petitions and other pleas in the blogosphere to the eyes of someone who can actually make a difference in helping these shows’ fate, then I’ll be happy.

NIKITA (THE CW)

If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that I’m an unabashed fan of the show. I’m not obsessive (I don’t think), but I’m a big enough fan to always want to find where the cast is filming, just to personally tell them how great of a job they are doing. Though my luck pretty much sucks and I can’t seem to get to them even when they’re in Cambridge, my hometown.

I remember when I first heard about the show (Upfronts 2010) and I found it rather interesting that The CW would pick up the show because it seemed so different from most other shows they had (pretty looking young people with young people problems). Don’t get me wrong, they still assembled a very good looking cast, but the show is very action-oriented with little room for typical love triangles to be clouding the show. Now, I see the show’s initial pickup as a step into a more mature direction away from typical teen drama, which is exactly what the network needed (and still does) to be taken more seriously.

The most important thing to me was that Nikita as a show did something that is rarely seen – they cast an actress of Asian descent, the lovely and totally kickass Maggie Q, as our titular hero. I always believe in a good role model for today’s youth. Growing up I’d say I was a very conscientious fan/lover of entertainment – the media can be so deceiving so I didn’t really consider anyone as a role model per se or looked up to anyone. But to have someone like Maggie Q as a lead of a TV show is truly inspiring. You don’t exactly see a lot of Asian actors out there in the industry; actually you don’t see a lot of Asians in the industry period. For me, I’ve never wanted to be an actress, just to work behind the scenes is a enough of a dream for me (even though I’m not sure what my skills are). So seeing Maggie as the lead kind of gives me hope for whatever my future career could be (maybe a gig as a production assistant on the Nikita set next season? Wishful thinking…), as well as someone I could truly look up to. It also does kind of help that Maggie is half Vietnamese, but that’s a personal thing.

Besides Maggie Q, the show has assembled a group of very talented, and dare I say underrated, actors. Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca, Aaron Stanford, Melinda Clarke, Xander Berkeley, Dillon Casey, and recurring guest stars like Alberta Watson, Devon Sawa and Noah Bean have all given life to their characters with wonderfully layered performances.

Let us not also forget the amazing producers and writers behind the show. Some people may have suggested that the producers did so much in the first season, that the second season has come up short somehow. But I completely disagree, because with this second season, we’ve only started getting to the origins of the characters and of Division. Not to mention the character relationships and bonds that continue to develop on the show. The show continually gets better and we have Craig Silverstein, Albert Kim, Marc Alpert, Kalinda Vazquez, and all the other writers, directors, crew members to thank for creating such a great show.

I honestly hope that The CW and Warner Brothers decide to renew this show because it would be a damn shame if it did not continue. Regardless of the ratings (and let’s be real, Friday is not a great night for television viewing), it would be a huge mistake for the network to let this one go, considering its attempts at being a serious contender among the major networks. Nikita is one of only 4 CW shows to have ever been nominated for an Emmy (for Outstanding Sound Editing, but it’s still something). Is the network seriously thinking about letting go of a show that could potentially earn them some more accolades? I don’t think so.