Nikita – Pilot (S01E01) – Episode recap and review

OK, let’s start with some of the clunkier elements of this show – a shady secret organisation named Division? Usually a division is an element of a larger organisation, so the name itself is worthless and feels like a failed attempt at being mysterious.

Follow that with the wonderful scene where Nikita (Maggie Q) brandishes a syringe in front of a former tech colleague at ‘Division’ – and he asks: “What’s that, truth serum?” Erm…we stopped saying ‘truth serum’ years ago. Any self-respecting spy show tends to call it sodium pentathol. Saying truth serum just sounds dumb.

Moving swiftly along from those grumbles, the [[List of Nikita Episodes|pilot episode]] of [[Nikita (TV Series)|Nikita]] was passable spy fare. Though all I’m hearing from the blogosphere are comparisons with Alias. Well, guess what? I’ve never seen Alias, so this will be a comparison-free review.

The pilot tells two stories – it’s Nikita’s story just after leaving Division and the story of Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), a troubled young girl who’s been made an offer to join the company. Nikita is settling scores while a bewildered Alex has just discovered she’s officially ‘dead’ and about to be trained in espionage.

Along the way, Nikita revisits her father and clearly the two have a history. But her movements are deliberate and the visit draws the attention of Division. Agents are sent to recapture her, but she’s gone, leaving the old man with a broken wrist as a parting gift. They catch up with her later when – get this – a pressure sensor on her old flame’s grave gives her away. So Division close in once more and open fire. But surprise! She’s gone and replaced herself with a shop mannequin in an elaborate wig and wearing exactly the same clothes!

I’m not sure which is the most ridiculous – the pressure sensitive grave or the sight of a skinny woman dragging a mannequin into a graveyard. Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? “A spy walks into a graveyard with a dummy under her arm…”

Meanwhile, Alex is trying to find her way in this new spy world. She clashes with one of the other would-be spies, and also with her make-up mentor. But she’s surprised when the lady also knows that she was brought to America from the Ukraine and has since disguised her accent. We feel a degree of sympathy for Alex because Nikita notes that Division is a conveyor belt of troubled teens who’re given no other choice but to become covert assassins.

Being a pilot, Nikita sets out its themes pretty well: Nikita fell in love with a civilian. He’s dead, lying in a pressure sensitive grave, with a newly bullet-ridden headstone. She also had an affair with her former colleague Michael at some point. And she’s out to destroy Division and its vile leader Percy.

Awesome. But the best bit, the absolute best bit was the reveal at the end – Nikita and Alex are working together! Yep, Alex is Nikita’s spy on the inside. Nice touch. 

Maggie Q does a fantastic job as revenge driven Nikita. I wasn’t fussed on the bikini dream sequences, because to be honest, Q’s legs are too thin. I’m not entirely sure I’ve warmed to her character just yet, but time will tell. Alex’s story is a little more intriguing, especially given the twist at the end.

Quotes from Nikita:

  • Michael tells Alex why she was selected: “Because you’re a young, attractive white female with virtually no personal ties or paper trail.”
  • Michael: “Your life is over, Alex. I’m willing to offer you a new one. But you have to be willing to earn it.”
  • Nikita tells her story: “They told me they were giving me a second chance. They told me I’d be serving my country. What they didn’t tell me was they were training me to be an assassin. They’re probably telling some other girl the same thing right now.”
  • Michael: “Bro, I was talking to him.”
  • Alex: “I don’t wear stuff like this.” Amanda: “As a style choice or because you’re not used to it?” Alex: “Because it’s ugly.”
  • Amanda: “What kind of 14 year old Ukranian girl purchases a forged identity? Someone who was brought here against her will, on a boat? With many other girls just like her?” Alex: “Not like me. I escaped.”
  • Birkhoff: “You seriously think you can bring down Division on your own?”
  • Nikita: “I want you to know I can get to you and hit you where it hurts the most.” Percy:”My feelings?” Nikita: “Your funding.”
  • Michael: “Get down on the ground. Slowly. Spread your arms and legs.” Nikita: “Just like old times, huh?”

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