Nikita / Screen

Kill or Be Killed: Nikita ‘Dead or Alive’ Review

In tonight’s “Dead or Alive” Nikita allowed its characters to figure out Amanda’s swapping of important figures with carefully manufactured doubles including President Spencer and FBI Deputy Director Graham. Knowing this and back with the team aboard their flying command center, Nikita abandoned the shadows to attack Amanda, the Shop and their double directly.   After a phony assassination attempt on Graham and his wife was pinned on Nikita, she decided to give the public the woman they believed her to be: an assassin. 

There’s nothing I love more than a mercenary Nikita, hellbent on doing whatever she has to do to defeat her enemies, but that Nikita exists alongside a morally sound and compassionate Nikita that I love equally.  She’s never easily hopped on board with the taking of  lives, left over from her days at Division where she was expected to do just that.  Her relationships with the rest of Team Nikita are based upon their desires to protect one another, and Nikita abandoned them to do that. 

So a Nikita determined to assassinate an FBI director, even the double of one, was a big deal.  With the entire world under the impression that Nikita is a “callous and cold-blooded killer”, an impression she spent three months fleeing from, Nikita decided to embrace that identity and kill Graham in the hopes that the FBI would realize he’d been an imposter after testing his DNA. 

Despite all the trouble Team Nikita went through (Michael even took a bullet to a bulletproof vest), their plan hit a bump when Amanda rolled out the real Graham and threatened to kill him unless Nikita allowed the double to live.  Because Amanda can’t make an appearance without manipulating someone, she made sure to play on Nikita’s fears of causing collateral damage (a count that was upped by one with the murder of Sarah Graham), and it shook Nikita so much that Michael had to take the shot and kill the double and as promised,  Amanda killed the real Graham.  

Though Michael is still very much Team Nikita, it appears to be in a more platonic sense.  Why anyone would believe this is beyond me.  Nikita could do more with this if they had a longer season, but there’s no time for me to buy that Michael is genuinely finished with his and Nikita’s romantic relationship.  His frostiness is understandable, and apparently he’s been in this state since Nikita’s departure, laser focused but also embracing the strong, silent thing.  When he and Nikita were thrust back into their “two-man op” they finally exchanged some words about her leaving, but all of Michael’s words boiled down to “the team” rather than their relationship. 

It reminded me of season one where Michael and Nikita were on different wavelengths regarding the openness of their feelings about one another.  While Nikita’s never been fond of disguising her feelings for Michael, he spent most of the first season doing just that.  Despite this, the two of them have managed a very mature, satisfying and adult relationship that’s transcended the CW’s propensity for unhealthily skewed and overdramatic romances.  They’ve had their issues, but unlike other CW couples they’ve never ended with one of them storming off in a fit of rage and having sex with the other’s best friend/worst enemy/sibling/parent or calling it quits over misunderstandings.  Michael and Nikita have always favored time and conversation so seeing them go the opposite direction this time is unusual. 

Now moving on from that impromptu shipping manifesto, surprisingly enjoyable was Ryan (Noah Bean) returning to his analyst roots and figuring out Amanda’s plans with a transparent whiteboard and markers.  After his turn last season as head of Division, it was easy to forget his unique skill set, and he nearly reached Owen levels of annoying.  But as the struggle with Amanda and the Shop turned political with the name-dropping of Pakistan and the potential for war, Ryan was on his game, and I’m glad to see him doing something useful with himself instead of dabbling in things he doesn’t know anything about. 

Less satisfying was Alex in Mumbai, forced to deal with Owen/Sam’s grating personality (and she was, at least for most of the episode, just as annoyed with him as I was), revenge plot and shady side dealing that caused her to be taken into custody by unknown forces at the episode’s end.  Now that Owen’s fixated on revenge on Amanda, he’s certainly going to become vital to the plot, but I’m really bitter about it, and I hope Nikita allows Alex to branch away from Owen/Sam because I don’t want her to spend these last few episodes tainted by him.  Unfortunately Sonya’s going to forced into close quarters with him as they team up to get Alex out of danger. 

More than anything I want Nikita and Alex to reunite in the flesh. Their relationship has been one of the show’s strongest points, but Nikita’s return hasn’t been shown to impact Alex as much as the others.  With them in separate locations, Nikita is unable to take advantage of the chemistry between Maggie Q and Lyndsey Fonseca. The show does best when Alex and Nikita are working side-by-side so I hope we get one more before the show bows. 

Finally, it wouldn’t be quality drama without Nikita taking full advantage of the over-the-top possibilities for the team with the doppelgangers so it’s a joy to see them going that route with Birkhoff.   Hopefully this will also see Sonya getting a bit more attention as she deals with that and the team works to get the real Birkhoff back.

Leave your thoughts in the comments. 

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