So last night I finished the final mini-season of Nikita. I hadn't watched the show since the end of season three, however long ago that was, but I bombed through these last six episodes in a few days and damn they were good. I never seriously watched previous versions of the character (on TV or in movies), aside from catching bits and pieces of the movies on cable over the years, but I would recommend this show to anyone whether they're a fan of the original/previous versions or not. Sure, it's not high art, but its fun, and sometimes that's all you need, right?
In order to share the love, let me lay out my case as for why you need to watch this show:
Someone give this woman her own starring role in a major action movie right now. Not only is she convincing in the action scenes, but she nails the drama and pathos, and brings energy to every scene she is in. If there was any fairness in Hollywood (HA!) she would have producers banging down her door. Where do I sign the petition for her headlining a Jessica Drew Spiderwoman movie?
Although we may have more good female characters on TV than ever before, there is still a lot of work to be done towards better representation in mainstream media. So in that context its refreshing that in such an action-heavy genre show the main character, her partner/sidekick, and one of (arguably the main) antagonist are all women. You heard my spiel on Maggie Q above, Melinda Clarke again makes an amazing villain who is is alternatively moving and downright terrifying, and I can see that you could be skeptical about the girl from How I Met Your Mother playing a dramatically heavy action role but I say Lyndsy Fonseca pulled it off.
And it is not just about the individual characters, but while so many movies and shows cast all female characters as emotional rivals or jealous of one another, this show also goes to great lengths to ensure that the audience knows that the most important relationship in the show is the friendship between Nikita and Alex. As typical in a spy thriller pretty much every relationship involves at least a handful of double crosses but no matter what it is clear that Nikita and Alex really do care for one another, and even when they are enemies it is never in a "catty" way.
The initial premise of the show involves our hero, Nikita, recruiting Alex to infiltrate and help destroy the evil organization she used to work for. It's a rather straightforward concept, and the show-runners deftly juggle the conventional spy thriller tropes to infuse the proceedings with a sense of excitement. Combine the solid plots with great action scenes and strong character development and the entire thing hums along nicely. Some of the twists are certainly a bit telegraphed, but a few out of left field moments and a very game cast more than make up for the times you want to scream "No, don't do that!" at the screen.
There's an argument that as this show goes along it delves more and more away from a traditional espionage action and into spy-fi. And you know what? Instead of jumping the shark that just gives the writers more bizarre concepts to play with. Embedded kill chips in the brain? Sure! Drugs to grant vague strength enhancements? Most definitely! Regenerative limbs? Of course! Mind control? Why not! Other things that are even more spoilery!? Get ready for it! And all of this stays grounded because, again, at its core there are some good actors with great chemistry going through it all. Even when the plot is resolved by Deus Ex Computerhack you want to buy in because the characters all do.
I will admit, season 3 had some slower moments. I think at the end of the second season the show-runners were prepared to be cancelled, and concluded the major arc by tying off a lot of loose ends. So when they got renewed, and took the plot in a bit of a different direction, there was a new feeling-it-out process as to what worked and when did not. However, they really did pull it together, which leads to..
It stuck the landing
There is somewhat of a history of sci-fi-tinted dramas badly botching their endings or going into a decline as they drag through their last few seasons, even when they have had fairly good runs. (Hi there, Lost and Battlestar Galactica!) That is not the case here. After surviving cancellation threats after the first two seasons, at the end of its third year Nikita was given an abbreviated six-episode run to tie everything up before concluding. So instead of dragging anything out, the writers dove headlong into that fourth season-let, throwing every crazy idea they had left at the wall, sprinting through it at a breakneck pace, and somehow pulling off the feat of making it all work. Sure, there are a few bits that feel rushed, but that's what happens when you get a whole season's worth of plot twists in just six 42-minute blocks. I don't think you'll find much disagreement that they went out on a high note.