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.