‘Nikita’ Recap and Review: ‘Bubble’

nikita

There are just two more episodes of Nikita left, so there’s no time to waste. Unless you’re us, and this week’s episode was preempted a day for The CW’s coverage of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. But never fear, because we’re still recapping it anyway. Especially because  that long-teased death has finally happened.

Our heroes are now unwillingly residing in nice houses on a military base in Virginia, while not-dead Amanda visits her apparent boss (Vincent Ventresca, The Invisible Man) in the middle of his tennis game, and is warned that she cannot incite any “grudge matches” with her longtime rival, and Alex has tracked Sam to France. She’s telling him that she duped him just as he’s jumped by thugs working for the loan shark that he still owes money to. Oh, and Ryan is still paranoid. Maybe because there are still clones.

While various nameless high-ranking officials watch on monitors, the whole of Team Nikita is debriefed not just on recent events, but everything going back to their days with Division. (Birkhoff has clearly had too much coffee.) The guys in suits are understandably not thrilled with what they hear, and afterward, a Senator insists that he needs Nikita to sell the story to the public, no matter how much she wants to move on.

When Nikita eventually agrees to go along with this idea, she finds out that Ryan has requested a meeting with Amanda’s old business partner Mr. Jones, and asking him about that leads her to discover that he’s still obsessing, possibly moreso than before. The next day, as she formally testifies, Alex rescues Sam and then makes out with him, while Amanda is doing more creepy scientific stuff, because she’s really become the ultimate mad scientist.

Ryan eventually gets that meeting with Jones, and essentially tells him that he’s figured out the entire master plan, which is a bit like telling the killer in a movie that you’re going to turn them in to the cops. It’s no surprise at all that Ryan promptly takes a needle to the neck, or that the show follows this up with a sappy moment between Nikita and Michael (who finally gets a last name, Bishop) and an obviously post-sex Alex and Sam, because we need a parade to be rained on later. Cut back to Amanda with Ryan on her table, although we probably shouldn’t snicker when she uses the phrase “a beautiful mind.”

Our favorite perfectly coiffed former CIA analyst isn’t going down without a fight, though, and he puts up a hell of one before deciding he’d rather jump out a window to his death before ending up in Amanda’s clutches. It’s a shame that Noah Bean gets his best scene in the entire series as he’s being killed off. Ryan sticks around long enough for Nikita to emote in the local ER, and then flatlines, never to return.

Alex is notified of Ryan’s death and seeks comfort in Sam, while a now messed-up Amanda has to answer to her boss for his demise, and Nikita tells her new friend the Senator that Amanda is still alive and that bad things are still very much in the works. The Senator tells her to keep quiet for the time being, lest she start a national panic, and so Nikita quietly gets her medal – which she leaves with Ryan’s body – while looking really unhappy about it. As Birkhoff awesomely breaks Michael’s TV, and Sam turns up to say hello, Nikita and Alex decide they’re going to handle business by themselves, although that’s not really likely since it would mean everyone else has nothing to do but shop for another TV. And we go on…

Usually, penultimate episodes are full of buzzworthy stuff, because it’s their function to build up hype to the finale. There’s certainly a lot to talk about here, but not all of it is good. “Bubble” clearly puts the cards on the table for the real final showdown between Nikita and Amanda (and various associates, but really, it’s Amanda), including finally wising up the world to all the stuff that you’d think somebody would’ve noticed by now. The idea of Nikita and Alex starting the show the same way they came in is a nice thematic nod, if nothing else. And hey, Michael has a last name now!

With this being the next-to-last episode of the series, it feels almost wrong to critique it, but unfortunately, we have to. There are quite a few things here that just ring hollow, for a variety of reasons. We brought this up when Alex and Sam’s hookup was foreshadowed episodes ago, but now that it’s happened we’ll revisit the issue: the subplot of Alex and an ill-fated love interest has been done four times now (remember Thom, Nathan and Sean?). Especially since it’s the last season, it’s disappointing to see the same tired subplot again.

The only thing it really does is serve as evidence of Sam’s redemption, though we think that would’ve been more meaningful if he’d ultimately come to that on his own, rather than because of Alex. We are, however, thrilled to see Devon Sawa back on the right side of the line. Somebody needs to sign this guy to another action series immediately, because he’s showed us over four seasons that he can really bring something dynamic to the table.

Then there’s the matter of Ryan’s death. This thing is so mixed up we’re not really sure how to feel about it. On one hand, the sequence leading up to his demise is the best scene that he’s ever had, and the fact that he went out on his own terms rather than just being killed off is a nice twist. However, having him meet with Jones was such obvious foreshadowing that it was laughable. As smart as Ryan is, you’d think he’d know not to tip his entire hand, especially when he’s aware that the terrorist “group” is still very much out there.

We’ve known since the beginning of Season 5 that a major character was going to die, and the fact that it’s Ryan is not really a surprise. He’s expendable because he’s not one of the original team, and honestly, aside from being shot last season and brief moments here and there, he’s pretty much been relegated to delivering exposition. Which is what sticks in our craw about this, too. Noah Bean‘s a wonderful actor, and we’ve been pleading since he became a regular for him to be given more to do. Killing Ryan off just cements his status as the most wasted character on the show.

(But mark our words: more people are going to die. Finales of any kind love to kill people off, and if somebody doesn’t at least get rid of Amanda by the end of the show, it’s going to make our heroes look like dopes.)

“Bubble” is a fair episode in that it moves people into place for the finale, and while we may not agree with the plot developments that happen, at least they’re done reasonably well. Having said that, it also exposes the fact that Nikita has run these particular storylines about as far as they can go. With that in mind, it looks like the perfect time for the show to go out – and let’s hope it finishes like the great, underrated series we love it for being.

The Nikita series finale – appropriately titled “Canceled” – airs next Friday, December 27 at 9 PM ET/PT on The CW. You can click here to check out all of our coverage, including cast and crew interviews.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

3 responses to “‘Nikita’ Recap and Review: ‘Bubble’

  1. Hi Brittany: I wondered why there wasn’t a re-cap yesterday. Didn’t know about the pre-empt for the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Must be a timezone thing. Anyway…

    First off, I really wish the Nikita writers would have infused your humor into some of the Season 4 scripts–this show use to be so much “fun”. But with the exception of the “Birkhoff Quips” humor has mostly been missing ever since (the terrible) Season 3. Your re-caps describe the action in ways it could/should have been played…with a touch of humor. [Think "Arrow". Right now, that series seems to have the best writers room on TV...and they never forget the humor.]

    As for “Bubble” it’s singular achievement is to set up the Nikita & Alex vs. Amanda finale next week. You point out the symmetry of ending the show with the same three-character dynamic that it began with (if we accept Amanda as a sub for Percy). And, for this, we should be thankful.

    IMO Ryan’s death is an awkward choice by the writers on two accounts. First, Sonya was much more “expendable” to the Team since her skills (computer geek) are already handled by Birkhoff. So, her lost would not have affected Team Nikita in the same way as losing Ryan–who was the “Brains” of the team. Yep, the finale will be all action–no thinking or problem-solving involved.

    My second concern with Ryan’s death is that the writers have chosen the “wounded” Sam/Owen as the romantic partner for the “wounded” Alex/Alexandra. My experience is that “opposites” attract–and having Ryan & Alex together after the series sunsets would offer Alex a better longer-term chance for a successful relationship. Two people struggling with their individual demons rarely succeed as a couple. [Of course, I'm assuming that both Alex (and Sam) survives the finale...which may not be the case.]

    That said, and speaking strictly from a male point-of-view: “sex” and “redemption” (forgiveness) are very, very closely connected. So, making the Alex/Sam hook-up symbolic of Sam moving to his “light” Owen side from the “dark” Sam persona, does work. It’s a Guy Thing, trust me!

    Bottom line, as I’ve said before: I use to love the Nikita Series, especially seasons 1 & 2. And the actors have done a great job, and developed their characters over time (especially Lyndsy Fonseca), and they all deserve a better ending than the writers seem to be capable of providing.

    • Definitely a regional thing. I was shocked when I got on Facebook yesterday morning and saw The CW advertising “last night’s episode.” I’m just lucky that I checked my guide and saw that we were getting the episode on Saturday. It seems these final episodes of Nikita are just getting thrown about everywhere.

      I think the decision of Ryan over Sonya was probably not so much from a function POV. Couple of things come to mind: 1) she’s not technically a main character (Lyndie Greenwood remains a guest star) and 2) she’s romantically attached to Birkhoff, whereas Ryan has no character attachments, making him the odd man out.

      I’d still expect Amanda to die in the finale and Sam seems expendable too, since he’s done his redemptive arc and is now making out with the most lethal character on the show. I still think it would’ve been more meaningful if he’d redeemed himself for himself, instead of doing it for her, but mostly I’m just tired of the “Alex hooks up with someone she shouldn’t” storyline. Especially if Sam dies, it’s deja vu all over again, again.

      Now that I look back at the show, it really did have its heyday in Seasons 1 & 2. Once they introduced the more outlandish elements in Season 3, I think it lost the plot. With clones and genetic experiments and whatnot, it’s not the same show anymore. So I can almost understand CW’s decision to cancel it. I thought last night that if it had been renewed, or even extended past these 6 episodes, we would have had to see a massive retooling. (Although I swear Craig Silverstein told me last year that he only had a three-season plan for the show, anyway.)

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