Nikita 4×02 – Dead Or Alive

63e1e-nikita-review-dead-or-alive

I am dreading the end of Nikita. This incredible little show has been a cornerstone of my TV-watching experience over the last three years, and it’s going to be utterly heartbreaking to say goodbye.

On paper, I don’t like the fact that Nikita is embracing science fiction by introducing clones and doubles. My favorite show of all time, Alias, suffered a great deal when things got too whacky and sci-fi. Thankfully, Nikita seems to be doing a better job of integrating the technology (using Amanda and The Shop) into the show’s world. It also helps that Nikita only recently began this tonal shift, whereas Alias employed the Rambaldi mythology from the very beginning. Ultimately, I’m willing to let this slide because it admittedly raises the stakes for Nikita’s final battle.

The whole Graham debacle was a hoot to watch; I loved everything about Team Nikita’s plan – from “shooting” Michael, to the nifty rifle-equipped camera in the press conference. Nikita has always tackled the world of espionage with an equal dose of fun and thrills, and this was no different. The sequence with Nikita trying to decide if she’ll take out Graham’s clone (as Amanda blackmailed her with the real operative) was downright exhilarating. The stakes gradually escalated, and the tension beautifully climaxed in a gorgeous character moment (Michael profoundly going for the kill and sparing his love the agony of the decision), as Amanda coldly eliminated the real Graham. Utterly sensational.

And that’s another reason why Nikita is so special. Our lovers’ fractured relationship didn’t exactly take center-stage from a storytelling perspective, but it still felt like it was at the forefront this week. While I’m pretty sure these two are going to get their happy ending four episodes down the line, Craig Silverstein isn’t going to let Michael forgive Nikita for leaving him quite so easily. And as always, Shane West and Maggie Q sold it with nuance and a true sense of gravitas. This really is one of the strongest and most underrated casts on television.

It’s also interesting to note that Amanda and The Shop’s plans are much more ambitious than simply eliminating Nikita. Dead or Alive revealed that the alliance from hell is only using our heroine to frame Pakistan for the hit on the President. Their goal? A nuclear war (suitably end-of-the-world-ish for the show’s final season). And as an added touch, Amanda further frames Alex as Nikita’s supposed benefactor (a half-true fact). This little twist gets the heiress arrested in the episode’s closing moments, and that’s bound to be a fun subplot to watch, particularly with her celebrity status.

While I want Lyndsey Fonseca to spend quality time with Maggie Q (Nikita and Alex’s dynamic has always been the heart of the show for me), I’m admittedly glad that Devon Sawa is getting some focus this year. I’m not sure if I want Alex and Sam to get together romantically, but it’s obvious that’s what the writers are going for. Let’s hope they don’t rush the dynamic as there isn’t much time left. A little action and some flirtatious banter is all that’s required. I think.

The episode’s cliffhanger wasn’t the strongest the show’s ever done, but I’m certainly intrigued to see why Birkhoff hid the fact that the NSA director is Amanda’s “ace in the hole”. Perhaps the man in question is his father? That sure seems like the obvious answer. I know a lot of people online are speculating that Birkhoff might be a double himself, but I refuse to believe that’s a possibility. The show’s too close to the end to jump the shark now!

Bits & Bullets

– So Alex bought the gang their new base, the plane. Pretty generous huh? I need new friends.

– Nikki and Birkhoff’s hug? Say it with me: “awwwwwwww”.

– Clone Graham getting his wife killed was extremely chilling. Seriously, how many murders is Nikita going to get framed for?

– Loved Michael uttering the words “Welcome Home” before Nikki brutally shot him.

– Nikita and Alex’s phonecall was too short, but still awesome. I genuinely adore these two and their shared journey throughout the show’s run.

– It sure feels like Amanda wants Nikki to kill her. Can we say death wish?

– Seeing as how Mr. Jones wasn’t happy that Amanda revealed Alex ahead of schedule, I’m guessing there’s going to be tension between the Big Bads going forward.

– I never would have imagined these two being paired up together, but Sonia and Owen on the run together (while trying to save Alex) could be pretty fun!

– Cool touch: the season four premiere was titled “Wanted” and this week’s hour is called “Dead or Alive”. Put them together. Yup.

Nikki Notables

Alex: Shouldn’t you be on a beach somewhere, doing whatever retired Cleaners do?
Sam: Got boring. Turns out I freckle.

Sam: I earned that money. That’s payback for ten whole years Amanda’s brain-rape stole from me.

Nikita: She wants the world to see me as an assassin. Let’s give her what she wants.

Alex: You put a gun to Birkhoff’s head and tried to shoot Michael.
Sam: In my defense… it WAS Michael.

Michael: You haven’t shot in a while.
Nikita: Some things you never forget.

Alex: What do you want?
Amanda: Manners dear.

Conclusion
All in all, Dead or Alive is a bold and thoroughly exhilarating hour of Nikita.

Nad Rating
A-

6 comments

  1. Great review, Nadim!

    After watching last week's episode I was thinking of how cool and full of possibilities the idea of a double placed in our little group is. Alas, there just isn't that many episodes left to do this kind of twist properly, so like you I thought they wouldn't do it. But now, I am not so sure. As far as I understood the NSA director hasn't been replaced yet, since the doubles were just brought in. Plus the way Amanda said it indicated that the double is already in place. Also, Birkoff's face was a bit scary at the end, like he wasn't himself. We'll see I guess…

  2. Thank you so much Sol. Glad to see you're loving it as well! I really hope Birkhoff being the double isn't a storyline they're going to go forward with! Other than that, I'm really pleased so far! Let's hope the next four are explosive and epic (because the show deserves to go out on top)

  3. I really liked this episode. But I LOVED the 3rd one.
    This one was really clever and kind of similar to the old season episodes– the only drawback was it was a bit slow for my taste. The third one on the other hand I watched 2 times. Good stuff.
    (And episode 3– ''All i know about Nikita she wears too much black'' I laughed endlessly at that.)

    Alex

  4. Thanks for your comment Alex. I'm in the process of writing my review of the 3rd eppy. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts always!

  5. I loved this episode and Nikita and Michael… wow. But how can he say he´s done fighting for them? I know he can´t just forgive her that easily but he shouldn´t push her away like that. In season three, he pushed her away because of the hand issue but she was always by his side. She fought for them then even when he wasn´t willing to.

  6. “Our lovers' fractured relationship didn't exactly take center-stage from a storytelling perspective, but it still felt like it was at the forefront this week.”
    Brilliantly stated! I don't know any other show that could've possibly tackled this subplot without heavily relying on the couple's problems. Nikita, on the other hand, uses it to move the plot forward and ups the stakes. Absolutely phenomenal.

    And I love that even though Alex is so far away from the rest of the gang, she's still playing an integral role in the storyline this season. The way this show weaves everything together in spectacular fashion is still one of the most impressive things about it.

    I definitely thought Birkhoff is a double! And the Alias comparisons (particularly when that show introduced the Rambaldi green goey stuff) is spot-on. I certainly hope this show goes out with a bang.

    Really loved this review. One of my favorites so far.

    FOUR episodes left oh nooo!

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