Nikita episode 8 review: Phoenix

Nikita's latest episode spends half the time being silly, and half the time being far more interesting...

This review contains spoilers.

6. Phoenix

An attractive woman bringing in her shopping after dark. A hooded ne’er-do-well lurking in the shrubbery. An irritating, yappy little dog with a face like a startled scrotum. If these images seem familiar for some reason (besides that of the the ballbag, hopefully), it is because the opening scene of this week’s episode whizzed by as one slasher movie cliché strung after another, intercut with a leatherclad MS Q. hurtling valiantly to the inevitable rescue atop her snarling two-wheeled steed.

Yet, as Anna Harcourt laid dead in her kitchen, leaving the previously infallible Nikita dealing with the bitter realisation that she was seconds away from saving her, and with Thom revealed as the contrite but merciless assailant, by the time the prologue was over we were set up admirably for what eventually became a top-notch hour of television. Well, a top- notch half-hour, anyway.

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For a show only in its eighth episode, it would be worrying, indeed, if a plot at this early stage could seem par for the course, but for the first half-hour, this is exactly what it was. We had the corrupt public official buying Division’s services in order to erase the evidence of an affair with a subordinate, as well as the pregnancy that arose as a result, with Nikita seeking to expose the truth to a, no doubt, aghast public, thus bringing shame on the Government and further woes to dear old Percy.

Nikita’s investigation into Anna also repeatedly kicked us in the face with cliché, introducing us to the oblivious boyfriend with a heart of gold, taking us to the least secure ‘Secure’ meeting place ever ripped straight out of True Lies (allowing Nikita to break in and eavesdrop on incriminating conversations between a senator and a shady government agent really quite easily), and also Anna’s Federal workplace, accessed via stolen keycard and populated by some of the least perceptive and most abominably stupid individuals ever to figure out how to walk bipedally.

Seriously, if you work for the government and don’t notice an extraordinarily beautiful woman accessing your colleague’s computer, using her phone, and lifting other people’s possessions right from their desks, then you should just empty your desk out and go and stand in the nearest dole queue.

The episode, in fairness, did seem to know exactly how silly it was being at times. Nikita’s method of speaking in any Eastern Bloc language seems to be exactly that which is utilised by fat, drunken stag weekenders that venture to these same countries to have sex with local prostitutes. That is, take a word, and add ‘ski’ on the end. Brillski. Indeedski. Enoughski nowski.

At almost exactly the halfway point, however, things suddenly got a lot more interesting.

Anna’s parents’ serene, depressed house became the setting for the best fight sequence of the series thus far, reminiscent of the Eastern martial arts films it was unashamedly influenced by, where any household item was a potential weapon. We had vases, tables and even a vacuum cleaner being utilised for purposes to which they are unaccustomed, and the close-quarters quick-cut nature of the bout accentuated the brutality of the eventual death that occurred (which reminded me a lot of Ghost. (You know, err, in a cool, manly way. Shut up.)

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By far the most interesting point raised by this great scene is that so far we have been led to believe Nikita is nigh on invincible. But here she is beaten and, not only that, forced to operate against her will for people she doesn’t like one bit, with an injection that liquefies the stomach in twelve hours unless an antidote is administered? That is nasty, dawg.

The fact that the antidote could be found in only one other place (the medical wing at Division) is about as deus ex machina as it is possible to get, but this is forgivable, and it did at least provide Alex with something useful to do. Alex was very much in a supporting role this week after a couple of episodes in the limelight, and a bruised wrist and her underhand seduction of the whimpering Thom was almost all we got to see of her.

This is because the show wisely kept focus on the main story thread. The revelation that Anna was not the victim she appeared to be lent the second half of the show momentum the first sorely lacked. Not only did we find out that Division was involved in a seemingly justified assassination, we were also introduced to an intriguing organisation called Gogol, headed up by the brilliantly smarmy Ari Tasarov.

Tasarov appears to be a character we will get to see much more of. This is very good news. He secretes the arrogance and cold charm that you sometimes wish Percy had, but in the introduction of Tasarov it seems Percy’s comparative benignity is intentional, as they are opposite faces of the same evil coin. His admission of his knowledge of Percy’s black boxes and his offer of allegiance with Nikita paint him out to be a major player in future episodes, and while there’s no doubt at all that the any of your enemy is most certainly not your friend, his relationship with Nikita will be an interesting one.

So, while the episode wrapped up its own plot quite nicely, with the senator exposed, Thom unconscious and Michael pouting down the barrel of a gun he is once again not firing at Nikita, it left Division with a whole heap of new problems to add to all the old ones.

Very much an episode of two halves, the sloppiness of the first was very much undone by the pace and plotting of the second.

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Questions we are left with:

  • Where is Jayden?
  • Will Thom ever complete a mission conscious?
  • Is a dog licking a person’s face, like, gross, or what?
  • Will Nikita play Devil’s advocate with Gogol?
  • When will Michael eventually just give it up and switch sides?
  • Will Owen and the other rogue agents side with Gogol?

Read our prior review, Resistance, here.

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