Nikita: The Complete Second Season
The pedigree and history of Nikita
's birth and development are easily researched elsewhere--see the season-one review for backstory and exposition. And for lucky fans of the show, season two continues the exceptional storytelling and movie-like feel of new installments about the rogue government spy organization known as Division. Maggie Q stars in the title role, a former Division agent now bent on destroying its evil reign by flipping her legs and firing her weapons at her avowed enemy, with a couple of devastating hair tosses and mega-toned body blows thrown in for good measure. There's the equally beguiling Lyndsy Fonseca as Nikita's mole Alex, Shane West as her former Division rival Michael, and Aaron Stanford as Birkhoff, Division's geeky yet sinister tech whiz. Xander Berkeley is still spiraling down into evil and power-madness as the deposed Division chief, and Melinda Clarke's Amanda is taking a more proactive run at practicing treachery as Division's wicked sorceress.
Season two picks up and complicates multiple story threads that were gradually revealed in season one. First among the intersecting stories is the continued quest to hack into and reveal the secrets of so-called black boxes that will expose the diabolical activities of Division, especially the self-serving puppet-master manipulations of Percy. Michael is now working with Nikita to bring down Division from the inside, and Alex appears to have turned from a mole to a loyal Division operative diligently working to destroy Nikita. But as with any good spy saga, things are not always as they seem. As episodes unfold, allegiances falter back and forth with shifting goals as Division continues to run its nefarious games, and both Nikita and Alex also keep focus on discovering the secrets of their own pasts. The black boxes progressively dole out information while other plot threads weave through the arc of the season. There's a constant ratcheting up of some pretty nasty doings orchestrated by the villainous Percy and his increasingly unhinged attempts toward personal domination, including an obsession with gaining control of a nuclear device. In addition to the top-line cast there are several recurring characters who make nifty allies and thugs. Owen Elliot (Devon Sawa), Division contractor and keeper of black-box secrets, pops up frequently as both consort and conspirator. Roan (Rob Stewart), Percy's personal button man, makes mission life difficult for both Nikita and Alex, and Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) proves to be both a pawn and wily collaborator for Nikita. All this cloak-and-dagger and martial arts combat stuff unfolds against an international backdrop that the show fakes with creditable flair. Nikita kicks out the jams in locations that include Istanbul, Minsk, London, Basel, and the jungles of Colombia, not to mention the sinister high-tech underground lair that is Division headquarters. It's highly produced and excellently designed material that gives each episode a distinctively cinematic sense of panache. The cast and crew are pros in the reality of making glossy entertainment about pros of a fantastical but equally fast-paced vocation. There are only a few extras in the five-disc set, but they include nicely executed pieces of documentary film in themselves. One is titled "What If? Writing the Fate of Division," which delves into the brainy process creator Craig Silverstein and his writing staff go through to give Nikita its strong verisimilitude. The other, "Living the Life: Maggie Q," is a glamorous, unpuffy featurette about the on-set life of the star. There are also the usual deleted scenes and a commentary track from Silverstein for the season finale. Best of all is the promise of seeing season three of a show that's edgy, sexy, exciting, and dangerous, words that also describe the pretty faces and outlandishly irresistible situations that highlight every episode. --Ted Fry