Nikita was one of the most enjoyable seriables on the map last season, but with a more standalone third season promised, did “3.0” confirm our fears or give us hope that a satisfying serial-procedural balance could be struck?
A bit of both. On the one hand the reset button has certainly been pressed, with the now Nikki-run Division on the hunt for their own agents (aka “The Dirty 30″) who didn’t come in following the fall of Percy. Inherently, the show is now set up for rogue of the week storylines.
Furthermore, with the overarching threats removed (or out of the way for the being) there seems to be a lack of real purpose. In fact, the episode left me wondering whether Division even has a point beyond the contrivance having to capture their own agents.
At the same time there are the continuing character relationships and banter, and we know that Amanda is still out there somewhere trying to rebuild from the ashes. And of course, there are going to be episodes that are more arc related, but “3.0″ sets the stage for what looks set to be a less ambitious show. I hope I’m wrong.
The story of the week sees Nikki and Michael head to Hong Kong to bring in a rogue Division agent, Martin (Jeffrey Pierce), who is killing undercover CIA operatives for Chinese Intelligence. Complications ensue.
Given the way last season ended, the very conceit of Nikki’s Division rounding up Division remnants isn’t ridiculous in itself and could even become interesting in the long run, but there needs to be something to tie it all together — to give it overarching purpose.
Perhaps this will come in time with Amanda recruiting some of these agents, like she tried with Martin, or maybe through the Ryan and Nikki conflicts, or through Division’s apparently precarious position with the US government.
But unless there’s a bigger point to this season then I’m afraid the show will have taken a backwards step creatively. After all, the more common trajectory for a show like Nikita is to become more serialized and layered over time. Of course, I welcome an effective serial-procedural, but after severing its main serial artery, it’s going to be challenge for the show remain as compelling as it was last season.
Still, it was good to spend some time with one of these rogue agents and understand why they may be reluctant to trust this new Division. There were other enjoyable aspects, particularly scenes involving Birkhoff, who for me remains the life of the party. It seems he an Sonya have had some complications while the reset button was being pressed, but I’m interested to see them interact as we haven’t had much opportunity to see that happen yet due to previously divided loyalties.
Alex seems to have little purpose at this point (Sean even less so) but it was fun to see her with a gun in her hand again. As for Nikki, it was interesting to see her begin to think she could have a semblance of a ‘normal’ life before the call came in, and I don’t think it’s possible to get tired of seeing Maggie Q leaping across rooftops and unfurling into cars. The action scenes involving Nikki were fantastic, as always, while the show still has a slick look and feel to it.
I thought Michael getting arrested was contrived, as was the entire ring plot. I get that he must have spent a long time picking it out, but it’s not the ‘One Ring’, he can buy another. His decision to run back into the police department, apparently prepared to shoot anyone who got in his way, was pretty ridiculous.
The point of this was to capture Nikki’s reaction to his planned proposal (and in fairness her expression was great), but was the ring worth killing innocent people over? And how convenient that the guy who had the ring came outside to make it easy for him. The proposal scene itself was sticky, sweet, and felt like it was from a romantic comedy, but it may be interesting to see what healing and complications arise from their union.
Overall, an easy to digest episode that made no bones about the fact that we’re looking at the start of a “new Division”. The character dynamics and action got me through a standard plot that was resolved by the end of the episode. It’s too early to judge how the season will play out, but I’m hoping the show can find a way to balance the “dirty 30″ of the week with an overarching narrative that gives the show momentum and resonance. Time will tell.
6.5/10 Seriable Stars