This week's Nikita takes us to Norway, where Percy and Roan are visiting a CIA "black site" in order to visit one nasty prisoner: Nicholas Brandt (Rick Ravanello). After having Nikita capture Brandt five years earlier, Percy is ready to set him free and sic him on her now. Yes, it's another case of history coming back into the present - the theme that's run through the entire second season.
After the last revelatory episode, everyone thinks it's going to be smooth sailing, but if it was, that would be a terribly uninteresting show. "It's like you guys need some kind of life and death crisis," Birkhoff tells Michael, but he may as well be talking about the series itself. Just moments later, Sean (Dillon Casey) calls Team Nikita with the news that Percy is back at Division and already making moves. Unfortunately for him, his mother is promptly killed by a car bomb delivered by Brandt. (It's a bigger shame for the audience because that means we lose out on seeing more of the excellent Alberta Watson.)
It becomes clear that Percy sprung Brandt to get access to the plutonium he's been hiding for years, but doesn't approve of his methods. When Percy thinks someone is nuts, you know they're truly insane. Brandt plots to get to Nikita through Sean at Madeline's massive funeral, and captures her when she separates from Michael. While she's tortured, Michael starts to come a little unhinged himself, and understandably so. He snaps at Percy when Percy contacts him and suggests "you're going to have to sacrifice yourself" to save her. He ends up joining her in the basement, like the second act of a horror movie.
Though she's not happy about him showing up, Michael gives Nikita a speech that should melt the show's entire female audience and sets off an enraged-Nikita-versus-Brandt showdown that only ends because Sean and Alex come to the rescue. Sean puts a bullet into Brandt's head and no one argues with him. It feels a little anticlimactic (did anyone else want to see Nikita finish him off herself?) but it gets the job done. The episode ends on an expected note: Percy gives another speech and Nikita vows to take him down yet again.
After this episode, we only have four more left in the season (and possibly the series). If this is the way Nikita may possibly end, I remain with mixed feelings about it. This is another episode where I loved some aspects and didn't care as much about others. While Maggie Q gave another solid performance, I also found myself thinking, "Hasn't this 'fight evil with evil' debate been done many times before?"
In addition, the "past returns to the present" motif, including the flashbacks, wore out its novelty with me early in the run. Now it merely feels repetitive. As a viewer, I never like being able to predict what I might see, and there are times this season where I've been able to do that with Nikita. If this is the show's end, I suppose it will be nice to have learned more about the pasts of these characters, but I'd rather be looking toward their future. I'm truly curious what the show will do in a third season with as much as it's jumbled up in the second, but it should (and can) push the envelope a little more.
Look at its cast: Shane West is, for my money, the most underrated actor on television right now. He's capable of being both heartbreakingly vulnerable and completely believable as an action hero. I absolutely love watching his versatility each week. And on paper, I wouldn't have thought to pair him and Maggie Q together, but it's clear that they work so well together. I'd just love to see them and others truly unleashed. I loved Aaron Stanford's tough side in Traveler and think he could play Birkhoff a little darker and more physical and it would work. I enjoy every time we get to see Xander Berkeley with a weapon proving that Percy is more than just a talking head. These are actors who have many different skills, and why not use them all, especially as we get down to what might be the end?
When Nikita started, I applauded The CW for launching a show with real teeth, something much darker than its usual fare. It feels like the second season is a bit lighter and less edgy (although thankfully not the "Gossip Girl with a gun" that some feared it might become). Should this be the end of the show, I say let it be a fantastic end. Let this show go all out, break some rules (and some heads), and be the sharp thriller it has been and can be again. There's a great show here that could be even better.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.