Nikita episode 10 review: Dark Matter

Nikita stays on good form, discovers Luke, and sets the scene for an even better episode next time around...

Nikita: Dark Matter

This review contains spoilers.

10. Dark Matter

With the Wikileaks scandal spread like an embarrassing rash across the single-numbered pages of the world’s papers over the past few weeks, it seems oddly apposite for this week’s Nikita to focus on an unfortunate intelligence leak, and the frantic scramble to plug the holes, repair the damage done and to find someone to incriminate quickly, just to take everyone’s mind off the whole sorry affair.

Not that Nikita would trouble itself with snoresome tittle-tattle about members of our royal family being (gasp!) arrogant arses, or with ‘shock’ revelations that an Italian pensioner in an inexplicable position of power is a fan of a bit of the old in-out-in-out with young ladies of negotiable affections.

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No, Nikita busies itself with revelations of political assassinations, secrets within a government’s own intelligence services and quite a fair bit of shooting, explosions, and hard kicks to right to the face. Proof irrefutable that fiction is more entertaining than ponderous reality.

For the second week running, Nikita enjoys the assistance of a partner to aid in her rattling Division’s cage. It was a only a matter of time before ex-Guardian Owen showed up to offer his help in the fight, and it is a positive sign that the show didn’t keep him on the back burner for so long he ceased to be of interest. Owen is still a welcome addition to the show, and here he was in a less sombre frame of mind, allowing a bit of welcome banter with Nikita to enter proceedings.

Owen, as it turns out, had been keeping rather busy. Taking it upon himself to leak footage of a Division operation to take out the leader of the Chilean opposition, Owen hoped to convince Percy that there was a flaw in the security of the black box system on which his continuing retention of power solely rests.

In the hope of drawing out ‘The Engineer’, Owen aimed to use Alex to glean the location of the remaining black boxes, so they could all be half-inched from under the proverbial nose of Percy. Adding ‘Engineer’ to the list of improbably cool designations for the myriad of Division operatives, it seems only a matter of time before they unleash a Cartographer and an Arbiter. My inevitable descent into full-on Halo madness will be complete.

In order to cover up the involvement of an arm of the government that doesn’t officially exist with a political assassination, Percy and his contact in the CIA (part of yet another shady group called Oversight) framed a wet behind the ears analyst named Ryan Fletcher for the crime. It was here that Percy uttered the line, “I’m just a tool”, and if it was only me that sniggered like a spotty teen, then I call you all liars.

Fletcher, who resembles the biologically unlikely product of a drunken and experimental night betwixt Clark Kent and John Barrowman, got kidnapped and received a mighty kicking for his trouble, and it was up to NikOwen to rescue him. What? Portmanteaus are cool.

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It has to be said, the episode did feel from the off as if it had benefited from something of an increase in budget and scope. The opening scene was accompanied by a haunting choral version of Radiohead’s Exit Music (For A Film), giving the scene gravitas that, admittedly, the events themselves did not actually require. But the effect was still atmospherically positive. The quick cuts of news footage and the Langley corridor scenes that followed were also accompanied by a terse, urgent orchestral score that ramped up the production values, and hinted of a director who really knew how to create some narrative tension.

This theme continued throughout the episode ,as frames seemed to be constructed with an envious eye on the big screen, with several key scenes benefiting hugely from this change in approach. A shootout in the forest and a daring parachute escape from thirty thousand feet were particular highlights.

Scenes of hand-to-hand combat (showing Owen to be as equally capable at dishing out agony and unconsciousness as Nikita) were also imbued with the welcome effect of actually being able to see what the hell was going on, drawing comparisons with the brilliant bout involving a vacuum cleaner from a couple of weeks ago.

It is quality like this, of which the show is clearly more than capable, that make some of the more sluggish scenes of previous episodes all the more irritating.

As ever, though, there are a few minor niggles. Nothing major. Just the odd event that made you question why characters were, in fact, doing what it was they were doing, instead of something more logical and productive.

For example, when the asphyxiating Fletcher was trussed up in the middle of a shootout between NikOwen and the rebels, why didn’t the rebel leader, if he was so hell-bent on killing Fletcher, just take the time to pop a single solitary cap in his cranium, instead of spraying the entire stratosphere with bullets and hoping Fletcher would die at his own leisurely pace?

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Alex’s activities were also accompanied by the odd annoyance. Ignoring the fact that her sneaky activities are always accompanied by an extremely conspicuous and shifty glance from left to right, just to let everyone within twenty feet know she is up to no good, she also used the same air vent to sneak around that Jaden, bitch of all she surveys, found her in just last week. Hardly a complete shock when Jaden threw a spanner in the works, was it?

And while we’re on the subject of Jaden, her sole shtick now seems to be to make an insufferable pest of herself, which, unfortunately, fulfils a prediction made from the second episode’s review, thus hinting that the show is more predictable than we’d hoped it would be. If Jaden really wanted to catch Alex in the act, why doesn’t she just mention to the powers that be that, if Division installed even a rudimentary CCTV system, it would solve all its problems in one bafflingly simple step?

There was a ‘no waaaay!’ shock moment this week, and it came, quite literally, at the hands of Percy. His offing of a new and likeable character did arrive completely out of the blue, but it just seemed unnecessary, in a way, as if it only happened in order to provide that shock and nothing else.

The Engineer’s interactions with the underused Berkhoff were a joy though, and I can’t have been the only person who was disappointed there would be no more, as Berkhoff is now the promoted, de facto engineer.  We saw Birkhoff’s vulnerable side, and learned that he is in no way working for Division through his own free will, hinting at unexplored depth with yet another character. A flashback-heavy, Birkhoff-centric episode, anyone?

We also discovered Percy’s foolproof system for preventing his own assassination, with the black boxes set to broadcast their muddy contents if Percy happens to kick the bucket. This does explain why Nikita can’t just kill him, as she has to ‘remove the cancer without killing the patient’, and this development did explain a lot of events from previous episodes in a refreshingly logical way.

As mentioned, all niggles were minor, and they did not prevent this from being another cracking episode of a show which is quickly racking up a reassuringly high batting average.

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Owen is out on his own again, Nikita has another ally on the inside in the form of Fletcher, and Alex has a Jaden problem that will, hopefully, be solved with some extreme and gratuitous violence. Consider me one person who is looking forward to next week’s episode with great interest.

General wonderings:

  • Who or what is Oversight?
  • Portmanteaus are rubbish, aren’t they?
  • Will Alex be forced to kill Jaden?
  • Or will she (as a result of her weekly idiocy) be caught?
  • How do Oversight, Gogol and Division all fit together?
  • Has Michael still got, as we say in Yorkshire, ‘the monk on’?
  • Who is Percy’s bad-ass bespectacled Cleaner?

 

Read our review of episode 9, One Way, here.

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