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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NIKITA "Canceled" But Not Forgotten

Article first published as NIKITA "Canceled" But Not Forgotten on TheTVKing.

The CW's Nikita ended a four-season run last night with "Canceled." Everything that had been building for four years, especially over the last six episodes, comes to a head in the final showdown between Nikita (Maggie Q) and Amanda (Melinda Clarke). And it makes for a happy, satisfying ending.

Nikita really only got three seasons, though they were definitely full ones. However, the CW deserves credit for bringing back the show for the last six episodes and allowing a natural, fulfilling ending, something other networks should take note of. The story, always fast-paced, did feel a tad rushed in the sextet of installments, but everything that need to be resolved was, and now fans have a complete saga to fondly remember and relive, as desired.

As "Canceled" begins, Nikita grabs Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) and the two go on a rampage, killing all the puppet masters behind the big, shady, evil organization. Their partnership is central to the beginning of Nikita, so it's appropriate that it returns now, in the end, two women against the world. This is made even more moving by Ryan's (Noah Bean) sacrifice, losing his life so that they could even know there was a mission to go on.

It's a bit sad to see Nikita chose the brutal option. Alex is just taking a cue from the elder woman to whom she owes much, so the blame for the deaths falls squarely on Nikita. Nikita has always fought her violent nature, trying to build a better life for herself, so it's disappointing to see it come crashing down now, risking her relationships and her freedom for revenge killings, even though the story gives her justifiable reason to do so.

But then comes the twist. Nikita excels at making viewers think one thing, then turning it on its head later. We know that Nikita always finds another way that doesn't require murder, yet we buy that in this particular instance, she doesn't rise up. Which is why it's so cool to see that we're wrong and Nikita does have another plan, one that only involves everyone thinking she's killing people. Kudos to some great writing and the most brilliant surprise of the series.

Learning that Nikita has not gone off the rails makes the actions of her friends much more palatable. While Nikita and Alex are rampaging, Michael (Shane West) is working with the government to stop them. At least Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) only cooperates reluctantly, siding with Nikita, but Michael is trying to talk her out of it. Thank goodness he's only playing a part, not actually turning his back on the woman he loves. Otherwise, there would not be time for a Michael / Nikita happy ending, a must.

In fact, all of the main players get a happy ending. Birkhoff open-sources his anti-government software and goes to Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood, sadly not part of the conclusion, but she hadn't had time to earn her way there, either). Alex continues her charity work with Sam (Devon Sawa), who is acting more like Owen every day, by her side. Michael and Nikita elope, and, rather than sit on the beach relaxing, continue to do good for those who need help, something far more fitting than retirement. Even Ryan gets a star and a quick vision by Nikita to remember him fondly by.

All of these are well-crafted finales that serve the characters appropriately. Some viewers may have wanted more sadness and death, as befitting the lifestyle the group lived, but the message of the show was always about finding peace and conquering ones' demons, both internal and external. What "Canceled" ultimately ends up being fits that spirit.

The one person who doesn't ride off into the sunset is Amanda, whom is locked away in a very secure facility. I suppose leaving Amanda alive is a bad idea, as she is likely to get back out at some point in the future and cause more trouble, as she has always managed to do. But Nikita and friends have disrupted all of Amanda's work, so it would be some time before that can happen. And I doubt we'll ever see a film, on big screen or small, depicting this because the way things are left is too perfect to mess with.

Before the doors close on Amanda for the final time, Nikita visits her. Well, actually Amanda visits Nikita, which is when Nikita springs the trap and captures her, but the point is, they get to have a one-on-one, heart-to-heart conversation. This is easily the most powerful scene in the episode, as Amanda and Nikita are two sides of the same coin and have learned much from each other. But for a few choices at key moments, either could have ended up in the other's shoes. It's a moment of realization and connection that will never be forgotten by the audience nor the characters, on that caps the show awesomely.

"Canceled" is a mostly triumphant, fantastic way to send off a pretty darn good series. In a way, I'm glad it went out before it grew stale. Sure, there could have been more stories to tell, but I feel like this would have been the way it ended, no matter how many seasons Nikita played out. And the story was structured in a way that it could be finished at this point. There's some definite talent involved to bring those pieces together so neatly, and it is much appreciated.

My sincere thanks to the cast and crew of Nikita. Best of luck in whatever comes next for you. As Birkhoff might fear, we'll be watching.

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