This is a follow-up to my review of the premiere episode of Nikita, which you can read here.
In the sophomore episode of CWs new secret agent series, Nikita, the corrupt agency Division attempts to make a deal with a shady imprisoned Russian arms dealer, by setting him free. Rouge agent Nikita and her undercover sister-in-arms Alex, attempt to foil these plans, meanwhile the backstory between Nikita and Alex is further developed via flashbacks that show how they met, and how Nikita saved Alex and got her clean.
So with this new episode the series has its head placed squarely on the proverbial chopping block, at least in terms of my involvement. If it doesn't show vast improvements, this'll be the last episode I'll watch. From the word go it's obvious that this dire situation has escaped the attention of the producers (what? they don't read my blog?!) The teaser opening of the story shows Nikita buying a high-powered riffle from a classy black market arms dealer. It turns out he's got other plans for Nikita, but it also turns out that she's prepared for this.
Now, my good friend and screenwriter Lars has taught me one very important thing: Every good scene must have a "turn". There must be a change of direction during the scene that we did not predict going in. The only thing worse than a scene without such a turn of events, is when the turn is so embarrassingly obvious that it hurts. The opening scene of this episode demonstrates the problem, which is symptomatic of everything Nikita has showed us so far.
A meeting with an arms dealer? Gee, I wonder if he'll turn out to be bad (he does.) Gee, I wonder if he'll point the gun at her and say something like "my price has gone up!" (he does.) But maybe Nikita is prepared for this, and has magically emptied his gun, despite not having time for this (she is, she has.) And then, what if she points the gun she was going to buy towards him, even though any moron would know not to keep a weapon like that loaded? (she does, and apparently it IS loaded.) Every scene in the show proceeds along this line. Every tedious turn of events is predictable, and often doesn't make any sense, or is merely badly written.
In fact the whole setup for the show is questionable. I'm sure the folks behind Nikita watched the original film, but apparently they didn't understand it (you should have paid attention to those itty-bitty words at the bottom of the screen.) Take the training facility, for example. In the original the premise is simple: They take people who have nothing to live for, break them down completely, and rebuild them with a new purpose - contract killing. In the series they take insubordinate teens and turn them into highly trained, deadly assassins. How is this best accomplished? Probably not by placing them in a hostile authoritarian environment - the kind of authority they most likely rejected in the first place - where they are treated like shit, offer them NO incentive to improve, and give them plenty of time alone to plot and conspire, or slit each other's throats.
It's probably also a bad idea to pimp out a young, angry girl to be a plaything for a Russian mob guy, two weeks into her training. That's what Division does in this episode, and of course the young girl is Alex. And how do they get her to do this? They tell her nothing... So let me get this straight: You send a girl out in the field, who tried to escape mere weeks ago, she's supposed to whore her body out, there's no objective in the mission, and no one tells her any of this...? Yeah... That'll definitely work.
Another questionable aspect of the whole Alex situation is that in order for the contrived plot to work, she must stay in constant communication with Nikita, from within a HIGHLY secured, secret organization. They're actually IM'ing away on a daily basis, sharing every little detail of their mission! That seems stupid and dangerous to me. Shouldn't they at the very least use a code language or something? Of course they can't do this, because the writers have no other way of spoon-feeding us the information we need. Oh, and remember how I said it was going to be a problem that Nikita had no one to talk to? Well, lo and behold, suddenly her IM client comes with speech software! Everything Alex writes is read by a computer voice, and Nikita can simply talk out loud, to write her back. Maybe I should have given clear instructions... GIVE HER SOME FREAKIN' HUMAN INTERACTIONS, you morons! Nikita needs people around her, or the character won't work. She's already begun to talk to herself ("Who the hell are these guys?" she asks, while crouching alone on a rooftop with a riffle.) They also need to give her some street smarts in a damn hurry. Maggie Q's ass might be as perfect as they come, but Nikita appears to be dangerously inept at that whole secret agent stuff, making one rookie mistake after another. Actually, maybe the writers need street smarts, 'cause they seem to depend on her stupidity to move the plot forward.
The second episode of Nikita has sealed the deal for me. When the show is not downright bad, it's just mediocre - so heartbreakingly mediocre. I won't watch any more episodes, and I hope they cancel the show soon, so Maggie Q can go back to feature films where she belongs. As for the "creative" team I suggest a calming vacation far away from the rat race of serialized television. Go to Europe, or something. I hear Venice is nice.