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Saturday, November 30, 2013

We "Wanted" More NIKITA, and We Got It

Article first published as We "Wanted" More NIKITA, and We Got It on TheTVKing.

The CW's Nikita has had a very exciting, albeit brief, run. It all culminates in these final six episodes, which kicked off this week in "Wanted." It's been one hundred days since Nikita (Maggie Q) was framed for killing President Kathleen Spencer (Michelle Nolden), and one hundred days since she abandoned her friends and went on the run. But they haven't forgotten about her, and when Nikita's efforts to sneak back into the U.S. are exposed, they rush to her aide.

For the titular character, the major arc of the show has always been about accepting others' help. She's a lone wolf, and that served her well for quite a while. Yet, somehow, by accident, she built a family that cares for her. It's because she's a hero who cares and inspires others. She just has trouble adjusting to those emotions being reflected back at her, especially when personal danger is afoot.

"Wanted" is an action-packed thrill ride that spends as much time exploring this aspect of Nikita as it does keeping us on the edge of our seats. Nikita's interactions with others go hand-in-hand to how she might be able to clear her name and save the day. She must rely on their help if she wants to get through this. They are one tool she has not been willing to use.

Will this change? It has to, right? I mean, Michael (Shane West) has every reason in the world to be upset, Nikita having left their engagement ring when she fled, and yet he comes to her aide. If he can forgive her and move past her abandonment, anyone can. And when Nikita sees that, hopefully it will allow her to open up a little more, since she truly does love Michael.

Nikita's arc in "Wanted," which finds her making contact with a reporter named Dale Gordon (Todd Grinnell, Desperate Housewives, Hollywoodland), who is building a name for himself on her story, feels quite familiar, like classic Nikita. She frequently encounters those who need her help and Dale is no different, as working with Nikita could lead to his dreams being realized. What's surprising is how it ends and how quickly it ends, telling viewers right away that these last installments will be fast-paced and surprising.

Along those lines, it seems easy enough to figure out FBI agent Matthew Graham (Alex Carter, CSI, Burn Notice), until a twist late in the hour changes perspective on him. He may end up still being a good guy, blackmailed by Amanda (Melinda Clarke) like so many others, but it doesn't change the fact that his actions in "Wanted" will be unforgivable. Yet, he's small potatoes and likely to remain that way because the ultimate bad guy has to be Amanda, a conflict that has been building for a long time.

The death of Gordon and the revelation of Graham as a villain immediately takes away the predictable arc for the finale. One can be forgiven for assuming the two of them, somewhat familiar faces to TV audiences, will be major players this year until, at the end of the episode, that's no longer the case. This leaves Nikita with no ground to stand on, and raises the stakes even more for the fugitive.

The one hope Nikita still has is that President Spencer is alive. Nikita doesn't know this yet, but if she can find the POTUS, obviously that will forever save her face and reputation, as well as allow her to stop being on the run.

One scene I particularly enjoyed because it highlighted the character of Nikita so well was when the local cops try to arrest her against federal orders. Two idiots think they can handle someone as notorious as Nikita, hoping to claim glory for themselves, and get taken down for their hubris. Even with guns pointed at her, Nikita easily handles the officers without hurting them. She's that cool.

"Wanted" makes time to give other characters story, too. Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) and Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood) have their own mission to take down Amanda by way of a human trafficking network. Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) has a cool new plane with awesome tech. Ryan (Noah Bean) is hard at work on conspiracy theories that just may be proven true. And Owen (Devon Sawa) is still Sam, his evil alter ego, presumably in Amanda's employ. This means the last tales won't be confined just to Nikita herself.

That's fitting because Nikita, despite its singular title, has always been an ensemble series. To let an hour-long show grow and breathe over several American-broadcast-network-length seasons, there has to be more than just one person at the center. The only shows that make single-character premises work are formulaic procedurals, and that would not describe Nikita at all, thank goodness. Thus, while Nikita may be the most important person in the end, fans who love everyone else should be satisfied by "Wanted," too.

In all, "Wanted" makes a heck of a great season opener, actually feeling like the start of a miniseries (to its credit), and really builds anticipation for what is to come. Nikita airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.

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