While it’s undoubtedly difficult to reach the end of a show you’ve binge-watched over the course of a few weeks, it’s even harder to bid goodbye to a series you’ve watched week-in-week-out for over three years. I’ve been a faithful Nikita fan since the show’s debut in September 2010, and the show rarely disappointed me with its unique blend of bold thrills, intelligent twists, and lovable characters. But the time has finally come to ask the million dollar question: will the remarkably underrated spy saga go out on a high?
After my first viewing, I was somewhat taken aback by Cancelled‘s enormous twist (the elaborate ruse orchestrated by Team Nikita). It felt somewhat anticlimactic, because I was having an absolute ball watching Nikita and her long-time protege assassinate various members of The Shop in cold blood. But the more I think about it, the happier I am with choices this finale made. When the show began, Nikita was killing scumbags left and right – she was the ultimate cold-blooded assassin. And it ended with her refusing to take a single life (while outsmarting her greatest nemesis in the process). That’s a pretty profound message to end things on. In fact, it’s sort of genius.
Another reason this twist is so effective is because it capably showcases Nikita’s growth over the course of the show. Thanks to a team that brought out the best in her, our heroine slowly began to accept her worth and her purpose. And in the end, in her greatest mission yet, she managed to restrain her savage impulses and impressively manipulate the mistress of deceit herself. Yes, it’s not the most action-packed of resolutions, but it makes perfect sense from a thematic perspective. And Nikita is a show that always respected its characters above anything else.
Amanda’s gotten a lot of flack over the past season, but I always considered her Nikita‘s ultimate Big Bad. Even when Percy was in charge, the devious torturer felt like the show’s true antagonist, with a personal hand in shaping our heroine’s psyche. Interestingly enough, the villainess was not killed off in the finale. I don’t have any beefs with that development, because making Mandy a victim of deception, her greatest weapon, while having to spend eternity in a neglected cell is the harshest punishment of all. Plus, “Helen”, is now back in the basement, bringing her character arc full circle (as disturbing as it may be).
Alex’s ending was also fitting albeit predictable. The girl who began her journey as a sex slave ultimately assumed her place as a renowned human rights activist. It’s not exactly unexpected, but I couldn’t see Alex’s story concluding any other way. Amusingly enough, her new love interest Sam became her head of security. I just wish Alex’s impact on the Nikita narrative didn’t diminish throughout the show’s run. In season one, Alex often felt even more vital to the proceedings than Nikita, but she was eventually relegated to the sidelines as Mikita assumed greater focus. Still, I’m glad the finale recognized the weight and gravitas of Nikki and Alex’s relationship.
I love that Ryan’s death meant something. It wasn’t halfheartedly tacked on; it was constructed to push Nikita forward and underline the importance of fighting the good fight. And ultimately, the gang got their pardons, and Ryan’s name was engraved and celebrated. Furthermore, it’s revealed that Ryan set the entire events of the series finale into motion by revealing Slokum as the double. Simply awesome.
Although I was never Birkhoff’s biggest fan, his ending was also fitting: he revealed his identity to the masses and allowed Shadownet to go public (and protect the masses from spying government agencies). Although Sonya didn’t make an appearance in the finale (Lyndie Greenwood was too busy filming Sleepy Hollow), it’s also alluded to that the two finally got their happy ending. No complaints here.
But let’s be honest, this finale wasn’t perfect. I can’t be the only one who wanted one last explosive action-packed set piece to really bookend the show. After all, Nikita has produced multiple blockbuster-level set pieces throughout its four season run; why couldn’t it have given us one more for its final outing? I know that Amanda and Nikita’s war was always more psychological, but the two have faced off physically several times before, and I just wanted one last hand-to-hand skirmish. Good God they didn’t even throw a punch at one other! I just needed something people.
I’ve often spoken about how important it is for series finales to have that perfect final scene. After all, it’s the thing your viewers will remember most after the journey is over, and I’m pleased to report that Nikita‘s end scene was pretty darn perfect. On a beach in Ecuador, Nikita and Michael have already eloped when our heroine peacefully smiles and sees a vision of Ryan. Of course, it doesn’t end there, as her departed friend nudges her towards her next mission: a thug picking up a potential child-soldier. And thus, the show comes to an end with our heroine and her one-true love playfully rushing off to kick some ass – their perfect sort of honeymoon. Again, it’s not an ending I didn’t see coming; in fact it’s practically the same one Alias employed (true love, a beach, and the prospect of another mission), but would I have been satisfied with anything else? An ending that perhaps wasn’t as hopeful, bittersweet and uplifting? I doubt, so I’m beyond thankful we got this one.
Bits & Bullets
– Epic opening with the flashback to a junkie Nikita in Division. But the coolest touch? No it’s not a bloody Nikki charging like a beast, it’s Amanda’s long hair which I missed dearly.
– The teaser was downright awesome with Nikki and Alex double-teaming Jones’ convoy and blowing up the van before taking out the other Shop members across the globe. I particularly loved the elevator knockouts.
– The flashback with Michael and Amanda debating a restrained Nikita’s fate was fascinating. It’s interesting to see Michael so intent on “cancelling” the woman who would one day become his one-true love, while the show’s Big Bad fought to keep our heroine alive after witnessing her potential. The revelation just adds a whole new layer to the final face-off.
– The tennis ball launcher releasing a grenade was badass.
– As a payoff to Owen and Nikki’s enduring friendship over the years, we got a poignant phone call between Sam and Nikki. Honestly, part of me kind of wishes we never got the Sam storyline because I’m not entirely sure it worked in the grand scheme of things. I just miss Owen.
– Ooh, a black box reference. Remember how important those darn things used to be?
– Although it wasn’t real, I adored Alex uttering that line (“The person who trained me would want me to stop you”) before having an all-out brawl with her teacher. The fight was well choreographed and included a great touch with Nikita almost breaking Alex’s hand again. But this time, Alex is evidently a much stronger fighter than she ever was. And then, Nikki “shoots” the Shop dudes dead. Brutal.
– Heart-stopping moment with Slokum revealing Amanda who enters Nikita’s cell.
– There are so many tidbits I loved during Amanda and Nikita’s confrontation. I was especially intrigued by Amanda’s jealousy of Nikita for amassing a team of followers through her goodwill and unrelenting spirit, while Mandy had to “claw” her way past Percy, Oversight and the Shop.
– My personal favorite moment of the entire show’s run is Nikita fighting back against Amanda and breaking out of the chains gladiator-style in All The Way. So imagine my sheer delight when the same epic orchestral music score was used in this episode when a chained Nikita regained her power once more and switched places with Amanda. That’s just a legendary callback, and a bonafide highlight of the finale.
– Nikita’s final words to Amanda are “Welcome back to the basement Helen.” For those who have forgotten, Helen is Amanda’s real name, and her transformation began when her father experimented on her in the basement. Yes Nikita, that zinger was a low-blow even for you.
– Melinda Clarke screaming out Nikita’s name as the door closed was utterly bone-chilling. Also, just like Percy’s final moment, “Nikita” is the last word she says (fulfilling Nikki’s promise that “the last word they’ll breathe before the end will be my name”). Brilliant.
– Much like the first four hours of the season, Nikita‘s fifth and sixth episode titles also play off one another. Last week’s hour was titled Bubble, since the show has always been on the cancellation bubble, while the finale is appropriately titled Cancelled. The term also refers to the manner in which Division takes out its agents. Cheeky.
Amanda: (to Nikita) Impressive. Not many recruits can take down a guard nearly twice their size. He had the superior training and conditioning, all you had were your instincts… and your teeth.
Amanda: Brute force will never be as effective as deception. You can either be powerful and beautiful, or you can be a wild animal. But you have to choose, I can’t decide for you. So the question is… who will you be?
Birkhoff: Look, if Nikita wants to reduce the 1% of the 1% to zero, I say pull up a chair and pass the popcorn.
Michael: She doesn’t fight for a purpose. She fights as if something is trying to get out of her. She’s-
Michael: Dangerous. I’m going to recommend to Percy that we cut our losses and cancel her.
Amanda: You know the entire time we were talking, she was trying to figure out a way to kill me. Her tactical senses are intuitive. If we could just harness that talent, she could be the greatest agent Division’s ever known.
Michael: But if we can’t control it, she could be the weapon that destroys us all.
Alex: (to Nikita) You know that I’m with you no matter what. You want to invade the moon, then I will find the next rocket ship.
Birkhoff: Amanda why can’t you stay dead?
Amanda: It wasn’t a good color on me.
Nikita: Now that we’re finally free, I get why we fought so hard. The real gift isn’t freedom, it’s what we get to do with it. I don’t know about you, but I could never just sit on a beach anyway.
Brights Lights by 30 Seconds To Mars
Cancelled is a thoroughly satisfying and (almost) perfect series finale. I’m eternally grateful that this astounding little show, one of my favorites of all time, went out with a bang, and its dignity intact. Nikita, you will be missed.