Nikita Season 4 Review “Pay-Off”

Pay-Off

Far too many shows seems to completely lose the plot in their final seasons – wasting time on new characters and pointless romances before rushing through their final hour and completely short-changing their loyal audience – but Nikita is definitely not one of those shows. The series has been the little show that could since it began – first derided because of both its remake status and it’s casting of Maggie Q, and then it’s dismal ratings ever since – and it’s both a shame and a triumph that, right at the end of its life, it might actually be delivering it’s best stuff ever.

This episode, the ‘Pay-Off’ to last week’s ‘Set-Up’, started off fairly slow before hurtling towards a finale that could well have been served as the series ender. There were missiles, near-deaths, doubles and the resolution to both the impending war with Pakistan and Nikita’s fugitive status. Of course, she’s still an escaped death row inmate who now has the most recognisable face in the world, but no one thinks she killed the president anymore. The aborted world war was a magnificent fake-out with both the characters and the audience, and now we can presumably look forward to a more intimate final two-parter.

By intimate, of course, I don’t mean small. We got a small taste of what a final showdown between Nikita and Amanda would look like in this episode, and that just means that whatever the writers actually have in store will be far bigger. While the show started off as a story about Nikita and Alex, Nikita has been more about her rivalry with Amanda for some time now. While I’m still a bit miffed that Alex has been sidelined this year and kept entirely separate from the rest of the cast (bar Sam/Owen), a proper resolution to Nikita’s dynamic with Amanda is now the only priority.

The fact that the choice of relationships to focus on is between three women shouldn’t be ignored, and Nikita’s uniquely female perspective has never been more apparent than in her confrontation with Amanda. Calling her Helen and appealing to the little girl she saw in her nemesis’ mind last year was obviously a hasty last resort for Nikita, rather than something she thought might actually work, and I wonder what kind of reaction she would have gotten had she been talking to the real Amanda. The show has played that card now, however, and it’s probably the last mention of Helen that we’ll see.

And that’s what made this episode so exciting – there was so much great stuff that we know probably won’t be reused for the actual finale, and that just means that what we have in store will probably be stuff we never expected. ‘Pay-Off’ would have been a serviceable finale for a show experiencing its last gasp, but I suppose the writers for this show have never really been happy with mere serviceability. With the president free, Nikita and Michael back together, Birkoff reunited with his father and the team apparently safe and content for the first time in years, the last two episodes can get down to the nitty gritty straight away.

Jones’ master plan was a success – Nikita and her friends can go about their business without any sort of war to wage and, no matter how loud her instincts start screaming foul on the whole situation, she will ignore them in search of a normal and happy life. Does this mean we can finally see her and Michael tie the knot? I don’t expect all six members of the team to make it to the end, so anyone who wants a happy moment should probably get on and do so. Let the calm before the storm commence!

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