EW Interview with Damon Lindelof
What do you guys think about his upcoming project, The Leftovers?
My personal stance on the Lost ending? Not a fan. But I appreciate Lindelof’s vision and ambition and would be happy to see where he goes with this…
So to understand my perspective coming into the finale of Nikita, here’s how I felt about the show in general.
I loved the first season. It was a tense, tightly-plotted, adrenaline-laced first chapter and one of my favorite shows the year it debuted.
Season 2, as things exploded onto a larger scale, I still enjoyed the show as a smart, exhilarating action series, but it wasn’t nearly as compelling or addictive as its opening act. I generally felt the same about Season 3. There was still plenty left to enjoy about the series, but I must admit, my interest waned as the it continued.
What made season 1 so successful was how compact the whole thing was. Alex infiltrating Division was fodder for great stories and painfully tense moments galore. As the deck was shuffled and the playing field expanded, it never quite found its rhythm the way it had in year one. Not that I think they should have kept that dynamic for the entire series, I just think the writers better understood how to work within those parameters than in the sandbox they played in for the following three seasons.
The biggest issue with having everything take place on a large “save the world” scale is that the show became less and less believable. Sure, you have to suspend belief while watching any show like this, but season one felt so much more grounded. What followed was just a bit too over the top; the stakes didn’t seem as pressing because you knew that the world wasn’t going to blow up and World War III wasn’t going to break out.
Keeping Amanda at the center of all the action was always a puzzling choice to me. Percy was the stronger villain and although I was fine with his demise, keeping Amanda until the end in his stead was a bad call. Xander Berkeley played diabolical with a certain charming fury, always pleased with how evil he could be. Melinda Clarke’s performance was always a bit wooden and not helped by her clunky cliched dialogue. Hanging onto her as the main villain was the series biggest misstep in my opinion.
That being said, I still found myself enjoying this season. Maybe knowing that it was only going to be a six episode ride rather than being stretched out indefinitely made it easier to stick with. It was great to have our core characters working together in different pairings throughout the season. I still don’t understand the need to have Nikita go rogue at the end of season 3 only to bring her back into the fold immediately this season, but whatever. I guess I’ll just chalk it up to a scheduling issue. There’s only so far you can take that story when you only have six episodes to work with.
The Nikita/Michael tension seemed ham-fisted to me at times. Sure, he had a reason to be upset with her for leaving, but we knew they’d be together by the end. The relationships that I found more interesting were Alex with Sam in their own little story for much of the season and Birkhoff being reunited with his father. Birkhoff has been a consistently entertaining part of this series and it was nice to see a few layers added during the final run.
Of course, I was moved by Ryan’s death and powerful final scene in “Bubble” (the strongest episode of the season), but there’s no denying that he was operating as so much less than a human for much of the season. I get that his character is driven and obsessive and his board of crazy was in line with that, but at times, I feel like they took that a bit too far at the risk of sacrificing human moments for him until his last few minutes on screen.
As far as the finale (which, by the way, was given the tongue-in-cheek title of “Cancelled”, which I love), it was a perfectly serviceable but ultimately forgettable hour of television.
We already knew what the eventual ending would likely be even if they threw us off the scent on how exactly they were going to get there, in a twist reveal that felt more cheap than clever, in my opinion. The journey was entertaining enough, although I didn’t feel all that invested in Amanda and the band of bad guys she’d aligned herself with. Their motives were silly to me; something about wanting to start World War III in order to earn more money or power or whatever. Again, cliched bad guys wanting cliched bad guy things and saying cliched bad guy things. Same problem that’s been constant with Amanda and whoever she’d partner up with.
Like I said, the whole ordeal was entertaining enough but not especially captivating. And I kept finding myself thinking, “wait…what is the name of this group?” only to realize that they were just called The Group. Guess they didn’t want to put the energy into coming up with another ominous name like Division or Oversight.
The strongest part of the episode came with renewed examination of the darkness Nikita was brought to Division with; the same darkness that she’s tapped into time and time again in order to, you know, save the world and stuff. Still, along the way, she’d had to make some morally questionable decisions and become the assassin she never wanted to be and it was something the show was smart to ponder from time to time, including in the final installment.
Of course, by the end, the day was saved, Michael and Nikita were married, Sam was cozying up to Alex as her bodyguard and Birkhoff had made Shadownet open source before jetting off to Sonia (who’s absence was unexplained in the finale but I guess Lyndie Greenwood had already booked her ticket to Sleepy Hollow).
Not a bad ending but not one I’ll likely give much thought to now that it’s over.