Episode Title: "Coup de Grace"
Writer: Albert Kim
Director: Nathan Hope
Previously on "Nikita":
Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) was promoted to a full agent at Division after killing Thom (Ashton Holmes) and framing him as Nikita’s (Maggie Q) mole within the agency. Although Alex was finally set up with an apartment and cover outside of Division, Nikita became concerned about a kill chip implanted in Alex’s neck and strong-armed her CIA ally, Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) to snatch Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) in order to get his codes for Division’s security system.
Nikita was eventually able to trick Birkhoff into giving up the codes and sent a recruitment video to Division to mask her real activities. She then successfully hacked Alex’s kill chip. Nikita also eluded Michael (Shane West), but Division leader Percy (Xander Berkeley) retaliated by having Ryan heavily demoted at the CIA. Later, Nikita promised Ryan that he would soon have an even higher clearance as she continued to string him along.
At Division, Alex is added to a team planning to assassinate the visiting Prince of Georgia at a museum reception. Once again, she sneaks the mission briefing out to Nikita, who infiltrates the event ahead of Division’s arrival. Nikita’s first move is to approach Princess Kristina (Beatrice Rosen). Nikita is seemingly able to win her trust by showing her plans that indicate the assassination attempt was an inside job. But Kristina has one of her guards taser Nikita before contacting Division to ask who Nikita is. Percy tells Kristina that if she kills Nikita, he’ll cut his price for the hit in half.
But in the basement, Kristina’s man botches the job and Nikita escapes. Alex’s team is informed that Nikita is on site and down, leading her to say that Nikita must have hacked their plans during her last cyber incursion. The Division team storms the reception just as it had practiced for, but Nikita reaches Prince Erik (James Gilbert) first and manages to drag him to safety. When they are confronted by two Division agents in the museum, Nikita takes them out with a sword and she is slightly injured in the process. While Erik treats her wounds, she tells him that his wife is behind the attempt on his life.
However, Erik isn’t surprised and explains that he intends to abdicate the throne in order to be with his mistress, Lela, who is also Kristina’s assistant. He told his wife of his intentions and this plot is her way of hanging on to the relative power she has. As the police arrive, she tries to get Erik to go, but he won’t leave without Lela. Alex also tries to get her team leader to order a retreat, but he refuses as well. Shortly thereafter, Michael arrives with a Division team posing as the FBI. Before they pretend to storm the building, he gives the team leader a chance to take out Nikita.
Using Lela as a go between, Nikita is able to openly contact Alex, who conveys critical info to Nikita while maintaining her cover. Eventually, Princess Kristina has enough of the cat and mouse game and lets the team leader know that Lela is the woman that Erik really loves. Nikita has to physically restrain him from answering a message when Lela’s life is threatened over the speakers, but Alex improvises and breaks Lela’s finger to get Nikita to respond. This allows her to get one last bit of info to Nikita and free Lela when the other members leave the room.
Michael finally does storm the museum and mock arrests Alex and the other remaining Division members. He also hunts Nikita in the basement, but she evades him again. Later, Nikita and Alex watch a television report that says Kristina was arrested for her part in the plot and Erik apparently decided to stay in power. Michael then calls Alex and commends her for staying calm in the bad situation. He asks her what Nikita said to her and Alex lies about the specifics. Unfortunately, Michael is looking at the security feed of Alex’s conversation with Nikita and her body language and her lips don’t match the story she just told.
I don’t think that "Nikita" is ever going to break out of its "Alias-lite" status and become a truly compelling series. Some parts of it work, but it’s still held back by a wildly miscast lead and some incredibly clunky dialog.
But let’s start off with the positive. Michael’s sudden suspicion of Alex is actually an interesting way to go. And if he can read her lips, then he knows for sure that she’s lying and working with Nikita. In the few episodes of "Nikita" that I’ve managed to sit through, the Michael and Alex relationship has been the most interesting one on the show, because he clearly loves her. Shane West was actually on the interview circuit this week to deny that Michael and Alex would ever hook up without cheapening his feelings for Nikita or looking like a creep.
West can claim that Michael has a brother/sister relationship or fatherly love towards Alex all he likes, but that’s not how it plays on the screen. Because Lyndsy Fonseca is not an "anatomically correct doll" — which I can’t rule out about Maggie Q — she automatically has more chemistry with West than her costar does. And if the show’s creators and writers don’t choose to act upon that, then it’s just another reason why "Nikita" will never be half the hit that "Alias" or even the last "Nikita" TV series were.
I actually did like the basic plot of the episode. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with "Die Hard in a Museum." And Nikita actually had the best action moment of the night when she took out two agents with a sword. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with Maggie Q. and she can handle the action fairly well. But then she opens her mouth for such memorable lines as "Some prince, huh?" or "Way to think on your feet, girl!"
Well… Let’s just say that The CW’s shows have never been known for great acting, but Maggie Q. takes it to a new level of woodenness.
Even Fonseca wasn’t at the top of her game this week, though she remains the most interesting performer in this ensemble. Part of the problem is that Fonseca is so small and young, even the hostages were practically calling Alex out for not fitting in with the so-called mercenary terrorists. And at some point, Division has to succeed at a mission, or at least realize that none of their operations work when Alex is around.
Long term, I can’t see the current premise of the show lasting beyond this season, if it gets picked up for year two. There’s only so many places it can go at this point. I could see maybe Nikita forced to return to Division or both Alex and Nikita on the run. Both of those ideas might have dramatic potential. Of course, my preference would be for them to kill off Nikita and make Alex the star of the show…
But that’s not gonna happen.
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.