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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nikita opens "Pandora"

Nikita: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]     In the CW's Nikita first season finale, "Pandora," things come to a head in a lot of personal struggles, and allegiances are revealed or reformed. Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) now knows that Nikita (Maggie Q) is the one that pulled the trigger on her father, though Nikita disobeyed orders to save Alex, so the feelings are mixed, to say the least. Bottom line, Alex will no longer be working for Nikita for the time being. Understandable, given the circumstances. Percy (Xander Berkeley) struggles to grow his hold over the government, while maintaining power at Division. Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) gives Michael (Shane West) unexpected assistance escaping, while Amanda (Melinda Clarke) does the same for Alex. Who will be working with who next season?


     While Nikita is certainly an important character, it can be argued that Alex is equally important. Her growth as an undercover operative has been a major focus in season one, and much of what Nikita has been able to accomplish on the outside is directly related to what Alex can do inside Division. As such, Alex and Nikita having a fall out is a huge revelation. It pits the series's two primary leads, who were teamed up throughout this year, at odds. Next season, should Nikita be renewed, will be a very different show.

     Why did Amanda help Alex escape? Amanda's motivations have always been murky, and she is definitely loyal to people above Percy, not her direct boss. Amanda actually gives the chance to Alex to get away from all of the power struggles though, a rare gift from someone who doesn't seem to do a lot that isn't self-motivated. Which leaves a big open ended question for next season, as Amanda seems to be the new supervisor in charge of Alex. Will Alex accept this? She likely will for exactly as long as it suits her purpose.

     The fact that Alex chooses not to take Amanda's chance to escape is not surprising, as she is stubborn, and will only ever answer to her own feelings. Even while working with Nikita, Alex frequently defied Nikita if she thought she knew better. This shows an arrogant streak that could be dangerous, considering how young and inexperienced Alex is. Alex has been through a lot, but that is not a substitute for wisdom and life experience. As to whether Alex will end up being far too stubborn for her own good, that is unknown, but a distinct possibility.

     Percy's hold is much more tenuous. His chances of getting to be head of the CIA, as he hoped, are low. His plan to take out the current head failed, and his two most important prisoners, Alex and Michael, escape right from his own facility. Next season's Percy may or may not know about Amanda and Alex's mission, but the leadership council bringing Amanda in instead of Percy speaks volumes. Percy will probably have to prove himself capable to heading Division all over again, and he will be lucky to stay in charge for another year, let alone beyond.

     Nikita has a new mission, and will have to come up with all new tactics. Last seen speeding away with Michael and a decrypted black box, the set up appears poised for Nikita to accomplish smaller missions next year as she tries to right the wrongs caused by Division, rather than spend all season working on one large foe. While Percy will still be an antagonist, Nikita seems to be less likely to directly confront Percy. Michael assisting her means she will be able to think moves ahead of Percy, even more so than she already does.

     Luckily, Nikita will have some help, besides Michael. Birkhoff has shown willingness towards their goals. Whether he maintains his cover in Division and feeds information, or works from the outside, he can be a real asset. His technological prowess is unmatched. Poor Percy will be hard pressed to find a replacement, and may even leave Birkhoff in place after realizing his betrayal because there is simply no one else that can do what Birkhoff does. Unfortunately, should Percy procure another technological genius, Birkhoff becomes the most in danger and expendable cast member.

     Another help for Nikita, once she manages to free him from prison, will be Ryan (Noah Bean). What he can contribute is largely unknown, as Ryan spends season one wanting to work within the system. By the time the events of "Pandora" unfold, Ryan is realizing that isn't going to work, and he casts his lot with the woman he knows is in the right, even if that ruins Ryan's reputation and earns him a cell. Will Ryan have knowledge that can help, or will he be dead weight that Nikita feels obligated to keep around after the sacrifices he makes?

     The title "Pandora" can refer to a number of things. It could be very literal, with Nikita and Michael stealing the box Birkhoff decrypts for them. They may be starting a whole lot of trouble with that information. "Pandora" may also refer to Alex, who has mostly been seen in a tamed version this season, trying to work her way into Division. We do not know her full capability yet, and with Alex determined to take down the man that betrayed her father, and Division's benefactor ready to help her, a whole new mess could be beginning.


     Nikita has proven itself fresh and somewhat original, a unique treat on television. No decision has been officially made about its second season yet, but it deserves one. Hopefully it will get it.

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