Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Nikita - Season 2

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong character, great action, suspenseful stories
Cons: None for me since I really like the show
The Bottom Line
The strong characters
And the suspenseful stories
Draw you in again

"You Give New Meaning to the Phrase Insult to Injury."

I found the first season of the CW’s spy thriller Nikita addicting.  With the upheaval they left things in at the end of season 1, I couldn’t wait to see where they’d go with season 2.  Frankly, I didn’t see where they’d next, but the writers didn’t seem to have that problem because they packed season two with just as much excitement and twists and turns as season one.

The show is loosely based on ideas from the previous movie and TV series and focuses on Nikita, a young woman with a criminal past who is recruited by Division, a secret shadowy part of theUSgovernment.  Trained to be an assassin, she eventually grows disillusioned with her new life and leaves, vowing to take Division down.

As season two opens, Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) are on the run.  Aided by computer whiz Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford), they are trying to track down and destroy the secret containing black boxes so that Division can be destroyed once and for all.

Meanwhile, back at Division, a disillusioned Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) has turned her back on her former mentor, Nikita, and joined forces with Amanda (Melinda Clarke), the new leader of the shadowy agency.  They are now working together to get the black boxes and take down Nikita, but Alex also wants to get back her family legacy.  And Percy (Xander Berkeley)?  He’s still at Division, just in a prison cell deep under the underground base.  And if you count him out as a result, you’d be absolutely crazy.

As you can see, there are lots of characters and lots happening.  There are some stand along episodes, but many feed into bigger story arcs that last over several episodes if not half the season.  About the mid-way point, they start in on some new story arcs that are just as addicting.

And how addicting is this show?  Even when I know what has to happen in an episode, I am often glued to the screen trying to figure out how the characters will get out of their current predicament.  The suspense is amazing.  Plus, the writers are wonderful at turning minor things into major, believable storylines.  Everything that happened this season felt like a natural outflow of what had come before, even new back story for some of the characters.  I’m used to overlooking conflicting back story, but I have yet to find that here.  Even a part of Alex’s back story I didn’t like last year because a piece of the puzzle I enjoyed this season.

Of course, a show is not that exciting if you don’t have characters you love or love to hate.  Nikita and her allies are strong heroes, and we really got to see more of Nikita’s human side this season.  I love her and Michael together.  Birkhoff is a lovable goof who often provides some much needed comic moments.  Alex is struggling to find her way, and you just have to root for her.  And Amanda and Percy?  They are the villains you love to hate.  You get why they are behaving the way they do, so they are believable, but that just makes it easier to root against them.

Naturally, to pull this off, the acting has to be top notch.  I have no complaints in that department.  No matter what the writers throw at them, the actors shine as they bring their characters to life from week to week.

And they have to cover quite a bit of ground.  There are emotional moments as well as plenty of action and stunts, emphasis on the action.  No, this isn’t movie quality stuff, but given the limited budget, I enjoy what they provide even if it isn't action movie epic.

There were 23 episodes in this season, and all of them are here in wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a featurette on the strong female characters as well as one with Maggie Q.  Plus the creators do an audio commentary on the season finale and the are the usual deleted scenes and gag reel.

So if you’ve missed this gem because it is on the CW, fix that today.  To fully appreciate season 2, you’ll need to watch season 1.  That won’t be an issue because you’ll be hooked on Nikita before you know it.   

Season Two Episodes:
1. Game Change
2. Falling Ash
3. Knightfall
4. Partners
5. Looking Glass
6.343 Walnut Lane
7. Clawback
9. Fair Trade
10. Guardians
11. Pale Fire
12. Sanctuary
13. Clean Sweep
14. Rogue
15. Origins
16. Doublecross
17. Arising
18. Power
19. Wrath
20. Shadow Walker
21. Dead Drop
22. Crossbow
23. Homecoming

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