Fall Pilot Review – NIKITA on The CW

What? When she was a deeply troubled teenager, Nikita was rescued from death row by a secret U.S. agency known only as Division, who faked her execution and told her she was being given a second chance to start a new life and serve her country. What they didn’t tell her was that she was being trained as a spy and assassin. Throughout her grueling training at Division, Nikita never lost her humanity, even falling in love with a civilian. When her fiancé was murdered, Nikita realized she had been betrayed and her dreams shattered by the only people she thought she could trust, so she did what no one else before her had been able to do: she escaped. Now, after three years in hiding, Nikita is seeking retribution and making it clear to her former bosses that she will stop at nothing to expose and destroy their covert operation.   For the time being, however, Division continues to recruit and train other young people, erasing all evidence of their former lives and turning them into cold and efficient killers. One of these new recruits, Alex, is a beautiful girl with a violent past and a story not so different from Nikita’s. After her parents were murdered, Alex’s life completely derailed. Haunted by her horrific past, she ended up drug-addicted and homeless until Division “rescued” her and brought her into the fold.

Division’s top authority, Percy spent years being a good government soldier, taking his role as an insider and using it to turn the secret organization into a lucrative spy-for-hire shop. With Nikita gone rogue, Percy will do whatever it takes to destroy her and protect the empire he’s built, and he often turns to his top lieutenant, Michael, for help. Michael trained Nikita when she was a recruit and is now faced with the responsibility of tracking down his renegade student. At the same time, Michael is in charge of training Alex, Nikita’s young replacement, along with other recruits, including Thom, who has been at Division for a year and is anxious to prove himself, and Jaden, a beautiful and tough young woman who challenges Alex at every turn.

The recruits all spend part of their training with Amanda, a master manipulator who can turn any ugly duckling into a swan and any bleeding heart into a killer. Her use of psychological warfare and strategy is key to Percy’s entire operation. Amanda has only had one failure during her tenure at Division: Nikita, the recruit she was never able to break.  Nikita also left her mark on Birkhoff, the nonconformist computer genius who was caught hacking into the Pentagon’s system from his college dorm room and was recruited into Division at the same time as Nikita. Birkhoff never admits to anyone that he misses his former colleague, and he has managed to hold onto his own rebel spirit, his geek-speak and his slacker dress code.  This is the world of Division that Alex now finds herself facing everyday, and she is just beginning to understand why the legendary Nikita has dedicated herself to taking them down.

Who? Stars Maggie Q, Lyndsy Fonseca, Xander Berkeley, Shane West, Ashton Holmes, Tiffany Hines, Aaron Stanford, and Melinda Clarke.  NIKITA is from Warner Bros Television in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision, with executive producers Craig Silverstein, David Levinson, Danny Cannon, McG, and Peter Johnson.

Where/When? The CW, 9/8c Thursdays after THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

Why (Why Not)? NIKITA is definitely worth a look – high production values, a lead who kicks serious ass and is instantly likable, it’s the kind of show that I gravitate towards (ALIAS, the previous NIKITA iteration, etc) and I have it already set for a series recording.  Maggie Q is strikingly beautiful and I am instantly rooting for her, even if she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to make her point.  The cast in general is really good, believable.  Berkeley is so good at always playing a huge jerk, so it’s nice to see him not playing against type as Percy.  I’m having trouble accepting Shane West as a grown up (man, I love Eli from ONCE AND AGAIN), but I think he’s perfectly fine as Michael.  Fonseca is strong, and Melinda Clarke is always one of my favorite things about whatever show she’s on.  Holmes and Hines don’t have much going for them and Stanford is a little sniveling for my liking, but I think they’ll get more watchable as they’re used more.  In general, it’s a quality show that I tend to forget is on The CW and I think a VAMPIRE DIARIES/NIKITA pairing is going to make the network a small force to be reckoned with on Thursday nights!

How? DVR it, but catch up same-night.