Nikita (character)

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Nikita Mears
Nikita character
250px-Nikita bmholzberg CW NK103a 0004r (1).jpg
Maggie Q as Nikita
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Cancelled"
Created by Craig Silverstein
Portrayed by Maggie Q
Information
Nickname(s) Nikki
Nik
The Gun Lady
Aliases Josephine Besson
Malia Watson
Roxanne Barnes
Ellen Connor
Anna Harcourt
Emma Jordyn
Susan Mason
Occupation Spy and assassin
Field agent
Division director
Family Gary and Caroline Mears
(Foster parents; Deceased)
Pham Anh
(Biological mother; Deceased)
Spouse(s) Michael
(husband)
Significant other(s) Daniel Monroe
(Fiance; Deceased)
Nationality Vietnamese American

Nikita Mears is the primary protagonist and eponymous character of Nikita, an American action and drama television series, which debuted in September 2010 on The CW Television Network. She is played by American actress Maggie Q. The series follows Nikita's efforts in bringing down Division, a secret agency that trained her into becoming an agent and assassin, and then betrayed her by killing a man she fell in love with, civilian Daniel Monroe. She recruits Alexandra Udinov (Lyndsy Fonseca) into helping her destroy Division from within.

Q was in talks to appear on the series as the title character in February 2010, and it was her first time working on a television series. She was chosen for the role because series creator Craig Silverstein believed Q had qualities that would fit the character; "beautiful, who could fight," and be believable with a gun. The actress meanwhile was intrigued by the original Nikita film and Luc Besson's creation of a flawed female character. Q performs her own stunts of the series. The series also deals with Nikita and Michael's romantic tension, then relationship, described by the fans as "Mikita." The character and Q's portrayal garnered mostly positive reactions from critics.

Character arc[edit]

Background[edit]

An orphan, Nikita was once a felonious drug addicted teenager. At sixteen years old, she ran away from her foster parents and found Carla Bennett (Erica Gimpel), who ran a halfway house and got Nikita clean. When she relapsed she murdered a police officer, and as a result was arrested and sentenced to death.[1] However, instead of being executed, Nikita was brought in by Division, a secret American agency, who faked her death and agent Michael (Shane West) started training her to be an assassin.[2] Nikita's first kill assignment was Victor Han (Russell Wong). However, unknown to her at the time Han contacted Division to fake his death to cover up his involvement with a triad gang.[3] In another assignment she was part of a strike team to assassinate the Udinov family. Nikita killed the father, but defied Division by saving the life and faking the death of a thirteen year-old Alexandra.[4] Towards the end of her past Division career, Nikita began a relationship with civilian Daniel Monroe (Sebastien Roberts). Because this was against Division's policy—Division could not allow Nikita to be distracted with emotional entanglements—they killed him.[2][5] Seeking revenge, Nikita went rogue and would spend the next three years working on a plan to bring down Division.[2] Nikita recruits Alexandra Udinov (Lyndsy Fonseca) after saving her from drug dealers, and started training her to bring down Division from the inside.[6]

Season one[edit]

In the pilot episode, Nikita and Alex gets Division's attention by setting up a robbery where Alex would be arrested for the murder of a man Division was after. From there, Alex would assist Nikita by warning her of several Division operations so that Nikita can sabotage them.[2] In "The Guardian" Nikita reluctantly takes Owen Elliot (Devon Sawa), Monroe's killer, as an ally; Elliot is a guardian to one of seven black boxes, hard drives with information on Division's past assignments.[7][8] She would later plan on finding all of Division's black boxes to destroy them.[9] In "Phoenix" Nikita is offered a position in Gogol, a terrorist organization who also wish to destroy Division, but she declines.[10] In "One Way" she aids a reluctant Michael in killing Kasim Tariq (Haaz Sleiman) in Uzbekistan, a terrorist responsible for killing Michael's family. Nikita is helping him because it is an unofficial assignment, and she would disappear after it is done. However Division soon learns of her involvement and sabotages it.[11] In "Dark Matter" Nikita finds another ally; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean), whom she saved after Division framed him for murdering a Chilean presidential candidate when Owen leaked the candidate's death from the black box to the press;[9] Fletcher and Nikita would occasionally cross paths in helping each other in stopping Division.[12][13] In the midseason finale "All the Way" the shell program which Nikita uses to communicate with Alex is discovered by computer programmer Seymour Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford). She is also captured by Division, though Alex would detonate several bombs as a distraction to allow Nikita to escape.[5]

Later, Michael discovers the location of Nikita's safe house and discovers that Alex is her mole in stopping Division. In "Covenants" he forces her into finding and killing Tariq, who later turns out to be a former Division agent. After this is completed, Michael and Nikita begin a romantic relationship.[14] In the season finale "Pandora", Nikita's access to Division has been damaged. Firstly, Alex is discovered to be the mole. After she is released, she no longer wishes to help Nikita because of her role in her family's murder. Secondly, Amanda takes control of part of Oversight, and Michael is no longer able to retain his cover at Division when he tries to kill Percy for organising the death of his family. However, Birkhoff has helped Nikita hack into one of the black boxes, saying he will "cross [his fingers] behind [his] back" to help her. By the end of the first season, Michael and Nikita then end up on the run together to find the remaining black boxes.[15]

Season two[edit]

Nikita and Michael use their black box to continue their effort into sabotaging Division's operation. The two team up with Birkhoff, who also escaped–and made himself millions of dollars–fearing for his life now that psychologist Amanda (Melinda Clarke) is now running Division after arresting Percy. They use Birkhoff's wealth in stopping Division.[16] In "343 Walnut Lane" Nikita comes across Richard Ellison (David Keith), whom she believes to be her father. However, it is revealed that he is a Division operative ordered to retrieve their black box; Nikita kills Ellison.[17] In "Clawback", Nikita fails to save Ryan Fletcher's life in prison, but unknown to her, Amanda faked his death,[18] and Nikita is unaware of this until his release in "Doublecross".[19] In the meantime, throughout the first half of the season, Alex works against Nikita because of her desire to kill Sergei Semak (Peter J. Lucas), who paid Division to kill the Udinovs, and Division wants her to take back the black box, which gets destroyed in "Fair Trade".[16][20] After Alex finds out her mother (Sarah Clarke) is still alive, and escaping her childhood home with Nikita, the two decide to work together again.[21][22] After Alex publicly announces she is an Udinov,[1] she becomes wealthy and becomes a new source for funding after Birkhoff lost his money.[23]

Throughout much of the season, Nikita's relationship with Michael is strained after they work alongside Cassandra Ovechkin (Helena Mattsson), one of Michael's old flames while he was in Division, and unknown to him, he is the father of Cassandra's son Max.[24] Michael desired to have a family again since the death of his a decade before. After the couple help Cassandra–revealed to be an MI6 agent–again in London, and realizing Max is his son, Michael briefly stays behind to look after Max.[25][26] Their relationship appears to strengthen after they help Cassandra and Max fake their deaths after being outed as a Gogol mole within MI6.[27] "Wrath" explores Nikita's dark side when she is captured and tortured by Nicholas Brandt, an arms dealer Nikita tortured during her days in Division. Nikita confesses to Michael that "there is evil" in her, but Michael assures her it is only a part of her. After the two are rescued, the ordeal brings Michael and Nikita closer than ever.[28] Percy in the meantime, manages to gain control of Division again after proving to everyone that Amanda has been colluding with Gogol.[29] Nikita and her entourage then work to fight Percy, who has a nuclear bomb built, which he plans to use against the United States. Nikita, having decided that she is "not running anymore," breaks into Division with Michael and kills Percy. Ryan takes over Division, and Nikita returns to work on field missions.[30][31]

Season three[edit]

Interviews have confirmed that, while Ryan would do the office work, Nikita would be the true person running Division.

Characterization[edit]

Creation and casting[edit]

Maggie Q plays the series' eponymous character.

The CW was looking to create a female-driven action series. Creator Craig Silverstein discussed with Warner Bros. about the previous incarnations of Nikita (the original 1990 film, and La Femme Nikita) and wished to make the current television series look fresh. Silverstein wanted to follow Nikita after she left the agency, as that chapter was yet to be told in the previous incarnations. He also believed it would have done the original story justice. Also, he wanted to include a highlight of Nikita's original story in the pilot to earn the title, and then move on from there. Silverstein described Nikita's transition in a Collider interview; "It's a dark fairytale. This girl is taken from one life, her identity is erased, she's put in another life and she's transformed. It's like Alice in Wonderland. She's told, "Eat this, drink that, steal this, kill that," and she's not told why. And, she begins to find her own identity through that. It's just a great story."[32]

On February 2010 it was announced that Maggie Q was in talks to play the title character of Nikita. Q's casting would mark the highest-profile series role for an Asian actress on a broadcast drama series.[33] Q was drawn to the series because she was intrigued by the original film and Luc Besson's creation of an incredibly flawed female. According to the actress the process of her casting took about four to five days.[34] In describing Q's casting, Silverstein stated;

Appearing on Nikita would be Q's first television role. During an interview with IGN, Q explained that she previously was not on television "not because I didn't want to. I just never thought about it," adding "When this came up, everything just felt right. I knew McG and when Wonderland came on he was like, 'This is you, we're not doing this without you.' and I went 'That's very sweet!' So it felt right."[35]

Development[edit]

Because the CW is a fashion-orientated network, there were times Nikita had to be dressed in a certain way to get her noticed by her targets. Q liked the idea, but at the same time wanted Nikita's dress sense to be "toned down a bit" because she is an assassin. In one scene in particular Q had to wear a red bikini in the pilot, which "mortified" her. She added "that red bikini was the bane of my existence. You're not going to see me in a bikini again, that's for sure. [...] I was like, 'Danny, can you put me in a one-piece?,' and he gave me that red bikini. I was like, 'That's not a one-piece. That's a two-piece with a string.'"[36] However, Q did not have to cover her tattoos like she had to in the films, as it was in keeping with who the character is; a hardcore, street kid.[36]

Q performs her own stunts in the series.[37] The actress liked to have her character "be able to do her own thing," as it is an action series where females play lead roles; during her film career, she noted "but in movies, alongside big action men, we've always got to take a step back and let the men shine. And in this, it's about the women who know what they're doing."[35] At some point Q set up a three-week long training period for the rest of the cast to make their fight scenes in the series believable; she had her partner, an action director, bring his stunt team to train them. In filming the stunts she was already used to working in an environment where filming in television would be faster than in American films, because of her time starring in films in Asia, which usually took two to six weeks.[36]

One of the more prominent aspects of Nikita's character development since the beginning of the series is her relationship with Michael,[38] and has been dubbed by fans as "Mikita".[39] Unlike other works on film and television, Silverstein did not play the traditional "Will They/Won't They?" game between the two characters.[39] Co-star Shane West stated "It's not hard to bring Michael and Nikita together," but it is "really hard to keep them apart...We're barely into the season yet, so why not keep teasing?"[38] When the first season started airing, West also expected that their romance would come, citing Michael and Nikita's past relationship while she was working with Division.[40] Now that the two are together by the end of the first season, in the second season Craig Silverstein wanted something to happen to get in their way, saying that no new tension would make the relationship boring, adding "I don't think you can just have them happy and in love, kicking ass together forever."[39]

Reception[edit]

"Q gives the impression of trying to get things over in a businesslike fashion. In the action scenes, this is quite effective. In all other scenes, this is merely effective. It's as if she has made a choice to play the character with a pronounced detachment. Or perhaps, deciding to keep her bad acting low key, she has arrived at a decent approximation of bare competence, which is one way to do it, but what am I prattling about? As ubiquitous bus-shelter ads attest, Q looks confident holding a gun and is not averse to wearing either leather or lace, thus meeting the maximum requirements for the job."

Troy Patterson of Slate magazine[41]

Nikita and Maggie Q's portrayal of the character was met with generally positive reactions from television critics. Nikita was included in TV Guide's lists of "TV's Sexiest Crime Fighters" and "TV's Toughest Ladies".[42][43] Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times felt that Q was suited for the role, stating "she has a solemn, exotic beauty and hauteur that echo the heroine's self-possession and cool relentlessness," adding "Nikita is noticeably more hard-boiled and less girlish than the undercover agent played by Jennifer Garner on Alias, or the C.I.A. rookie that Piper Perabo plays on Covert Affairs."[44] Troy Patterson of Slate felt that "Ms. Q's Nikita is only half so crush-worthy as Bionic Woman's Jaime Sommers or Dollhouse's what's-her-name, but her predicament is no less tasty."[41] Robert Bianco of USA Today believed Q's performance was "a fairly sizable incentive" to watch the show, adding she "combines stunt-fighting chops and lithe beauty with an unusual-for-the-genre air of somber intelligence. Her Nikita is not above cracking a joke, but it's clear from Q's eyes and bearing that she has suffered at the hands of evil men, and she's not going to take it anymore."[45] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix believed that Q "carries herself in a way that makes it believable she could be a hard-core killer, and she has the requisite dramatic chops and charisma for the part."[46] Maureen Ryan of AOL TV said "Maggie Q, has real charisma and presence; she invests Nikita's drive to bring down the secretive Division with potent energy. You have to believe that Nikita would devote her life to wreaking vengeance on the people she views as her former captors, and you also have to buy her as a butt-kicking, gun-toting action heroine who also looks great in a cocktail gown. Maggie Q makes all those things look easy."[47]

Some other critics however, did not react so warmly towards Q's Nikita. Chris Conaton of PopMatters felt that Q "seems to be a good choice for the title role," but noted that the pilot did not call attention to the character's background. That said Conaton stated "it's still something of a novelty to build a TV series around an Asian American lead—though plenty of recent ensemble and reality TV shows have featured prominent cast members of Asian descent."[48] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe felt that Q was "too much of a sad sack," adding "Q doesn't seem able to layer any other emotions over her cold resolve," and compares the character to "a little bit like [Saturday Night Live character] Debbie Downer."[49] Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times believed that while Nikita "provides some sizzle," her emotions "run that famous distance from A to B, as do virtually [every other character]."[50]

Before the show started airing, Q posed for several billboard posters. However, they were met with some controversy for being revealing, and several locations across the United States, including in areas of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, refused to allow them to be put up, as they were located near churches and schools. Rick Haskins, the marketing executive for the CW stated "we've been down this road a few times with some of our campaigns."[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael Robison (director); Albert Kim (writer) (February 17, 2012). "Origins". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 15. The CW Television Network.
  2. ^ a b c d Danny Cannon (director); Craig Silverstein (writer) (September 9, 2010). "Pilot". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 1. The CW Television Network.
  3. ^ Nick Copus (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (September 30, 2010). "Rough Trade". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 4. The CW Television Network.
  4. ^ Eagle Egilsson (director); Andrew Colville (writer) (May 5, 2011). "Betrayals". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 21. The CW Television Network.
  5. ^ a b Terrence O'Hara (director); Craig Silverstein (writer) (December 9, 2010). "All the Way". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 11. The CW Television Network.
  6. ^ Danny Cannon (director); David Levinson & Craig Silverstein (writer) (September 16, 2010). "2.0". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 2. The CW Television Network.
  7. ^ David Solomon (director); Albert Kim (writer) (October 7, 2010). "The Guardian". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 5. The CW Television Network.
  8. ^ Guy Ferland (director); Kalinda Vasquez (writer) (October 21, 2010). "Resistance". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 6. The CW Television Network.
  9. ^ a b Danny Cannon (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (December 2, 2010). "Dark Matter". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 10. The CW Television Network.
  10. ^ David M. Barrett (director); Jim Barnes (writer) (November 4, 2010). "Phoenix". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 8. The CW Television Network.
  11. ^ Ken Fink (director); Albert Kim (writer) (November 11, 2010). "One Way". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 9. The CW Television Network.
  12. ^ Jonathan Glassner (director); Kalinda Vasquez (writer) (January 27, 2011). "Free". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 12. The CW Television Network.
  13. ^ David Solomon (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (February 10, 2011). "The Next Seduction". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 14. The CW Television Network.
  14. ^ Eagle Egilsson (director); Jim Barnes (writer) (April 7, 2011). "Covenants". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 17. The CW Television Network.
  15. ^ Ken Fink (director); Craig Silverstein (writer) (May 12, 2011). "Pandora". Nikita. Season 1. Episode 22. The CW Television Network.
  16. ^ a b Danny Cannon (director); Craig Silverman (writer) (September 23, 2011). "Game Changer". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 1. The CW Television Network.
  17. ^ Nick Copus (director); Andrew Colville (writer) (October 28, 2011). "343 Walnut Lane". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 6. The CW Television Network.
  18. ^ Eagle Egilsson (director); Michael Brandon Guercio (writer) (November 4, 2011). "Clawback". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 7. The CW Television Network.
  19. ^ Eagle Egilsson (director); Kristin Reidel (writer) (March 16, 2012). "Doublecross". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 16. The CW Television Network.
  20. ^ Nick Copus (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (November 18, 2011). "Fair Trade". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 9. The CW Television Network.
  21. ^ Deran Sarafian (director); Kristin Reidel (writer) (January 6, 2012). "Pale Fire". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 11. The CW Television Network.
  22. ^ Steven A. Adelson (director); Andrew Colville (writer) (January 13, 2012). "Sanctuary". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 12. The CW Television Network.
  23. ^ Nick Copus (director); Kristin Reidel (writer) (April 27, 2012). "Shadow Walker". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 20. The CW Television Network.
  24. ^ Ken Girotti (director); Albert Kim (writer) (October 21, 2011). "Looking Glass". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 5. The CW Television Network.
  25. ^ Jeffrey Hunt (director); Kalinda Vazquez (writer) (November 11, 2011). "London Calling". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 8. The CW Television Network.
  26. ^ Dwight Little (director); Albert Kim (writer) (December 2, 2011). "Guardians". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 10. The CW Television Network.
  27. ^ Karen Gaviola (director); Andrew Colville (writer) (March 23, 2012). "Arising". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 17. The CW Television Network.
  28. ^ Jeffrey Hunt (director); Albert Kim (writer) (April 20, 2012). "Wrath". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 19. The CW Television Network.
  29. ^ Chris Peppe (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (March 30, 2012). "Power". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 18. The CW Television Network.
  30. ^ Danny Cannon (director); Andrew Colville (writer) (May 11, 2012). "Crossbow". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 22. The CW Television Network.
  31. ^ Eagle Egilsson (director); Carlos Coto (writer) (May 18, 2012). "Homecoming". Nikita. Season 2. Episode 23. The CW Television Network.
  32. ^ a b Radish, Christina (August 30, 2010). "Executive Producer Craig Silverstein Interview NIKITA". Collider. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  33. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 19, 2010). "Maggie Q to star as CW's "Nikita" remake". Reuters. The Thomson Corporation. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  34. ^ Stack, Tim (September 18, 2010). "'Nikita' star Maggie Q talks her new hit series, kicking butt, and being a Jackie Chan protege". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  35. ^ a b Goldman, Eric (June 24, 2010). "Nikita is Ready to Kill". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  36. ^ a b c Radish, Christina (August 26, 2010). "Maggie Q Interview NIKITA". Collider. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  37. ^ Jeffrey, Morgan (August 23, 2010). "Maggie Q 'performs own Nikita stunts'". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  38. ^ a b Heldman, Breanne L. (October 21, 2010). "Can Romance Ever Really Blossom on Nikita?". E! Online. NBCUniversal. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  39. ^ a b c Masters, Megan (May 12, 2011). "Exclusive: Nikita Boss Solves Finale Mysteries, Shares (Probable) Season 2 Scoop". TVLine. PMC. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  40. ^ Wightman, Catriona (September 17, 2010). "Shane West expects 'Nikita' romance". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  41. ^ a b Patterson, Troy (September 10, 2010). "The post-racial America of Hellcats; the posters of Nikita". Slate. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  42. ^ "TV's Sexiest Crime Fighters". TV Guide. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Maggie Q Pictures,Nikita Photos - Photo Gallery: TV's Toughest Ladies". TV Guide. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  44. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (September 7, 2010). "Lethal Woman With Weapons Is Out for Covert Vengeance". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  45. ^ Bianco, Robert (September 9, 2010). "'Nikita' star Maggie Q brings killer looks to killer role". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  46. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (September 8, 2010). "Review: 'Nikita' on the CW". HitFix. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  47. ^ Ryan, Maureen (September 9, 2010). "'Nikita' Premiere Review". AOL TV. AOL. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  48. ^ Conaton, Chris (September 9, 2010). "'Nikita': Spies Like Them". PopMatters. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  49. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (September 9, 2010). "A mysterious assassin — minus the mystery". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  50. ^ McNamara, Mary (September 8, 2010). "Television Review: 'Hellcats' and 'Nikita' on the CW". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  51. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (August 20, 2010). "'Nikita' campaign causes controversy". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved June 27, 2011.