It's that time of the year again.
TV Fanatic is looking back on some of this past season's most talked about shows, grading and evaluating their performances. We've already awarded an A- to The Vampire Diaries and now we're moving on to its Thursday night counterpart: Nikita.
Best Character: Nikita, of course. At once powered by a sense of duty, a desire for revenge and a need for penance over her past sins, Nikita proved to be well-written, multi-dimensional character. You simply couldn't take your eyes off her. Maggie Q's performance was fantastic, enhanced by her skill as an action heroine. On any other network, she would be a shoo-in for an Emmy nomination.
Most Useless Character: Jaden. No reflection on the actress Tiffany Hines, but the character of Jaden never really caught fire; not until just before she was killed, that is. She spent the bulk of the season as an annoyingly malignant thorn in Alex's side, without any real explanation as to why, but when we finally gained a bit of insight into why she seemed so invidiously angry all the time - not to mention a viable agent and frenemy to Alex - they killed her off. The only thing she really accomplished was outing Alex to Amanda, post-mortem. Such a waste of a talented actress, but at least her loss helps streamline the cast and story for the upcoming sophomore season, which promises to be huge.
Best Episode: In a season that started off slowly but gradually and consistently improved in both story and payoff, "All The Way" is the episode that stands out the most, primarily due to Nikita's capture by Division and grand escape sequence which had her tearing through Division headquarters like an unforgiving hurricane. It also shocked us with Thom's death at the hands of Alex, and set up the second half of the season with Alex working as a full agent outside the walls of her claustrophobic training ground.
The Arvin Sloane Award for Most Villanous Head of a Rogue Intelligence Agency: No bones about it, Percy is pure evil. Not really one for mincing words, Percy's bark and his bite function on equal ground. We aren't exactly sure what his role moving forward will be, given the fallout from the finale, but whatever season two holds for Percy, expect a great deal of ego-maniacal menace.
The Enigma Wrapped In A Riddle Shrouded in Mystery Award: Amanda was first introduced as Division's "Miss Manners" of sorts, and was soon revealed to be the agency's secret interrogation weapon with methods so graphic they could only be referenced in passing. Sadly, her on-screen inquiries mostly reached the distress level of an intense job interview, despite her intimidating stilettos and signature pursed lips and eye-brow raises. The shocking cliffhanger, however, placed Amanda squarely in a position that should prove to deliver more juice to her character, as well as some scenery-chewing scenes for Melinda Clarke to play.
Best Guest Star Who Should Be Promoted to Series Regular: This one is a no-brainer. Devon Sawa's appearance as Owen the Guardian in episode five lit a fire under the fledgling series and proved to be the character that helped to steady the series' rocky start. Sawa and Maggie Q had instant chemistry and for a time threatened the fabric of the Mikita "shipper" movement. Sawa outshined most of the series regulars, demonstrating a screen presence exceeded only by that of Ms. Q herself, and in just a handful of appearances showed himself deserving of an expanded role in season two. Let's hope the powers that be can make something happen.
Hopes for 2011-2012: Fewer distractions, for one, (*cough* Jaden) with a streamlined cast and a more defined story structure. That said, I wouldn't object to Devon Sawa's Owen coming on board full time, or at least having a larger role in the second season. It seems we're already set to have Alex and Nikita at odds, which should be an interesting new dynamic, but we would also like see a more aggressive Amanda and witness a bit of her rumored skills when it comes to interrogation and overall combat proficiency. I'd also like to see Alex and Birkhoff work more closely together. That's a "ship" we'd like to see sail.
Overall Grade: B+. Nikita plays like a summer movie blockbuster every week, and would have received an A had it kicked off the season with the same zeal that brought it to a mind-blowing conclusion. Hats off to the writers for not playing it safe by killing off not one, but two series regulars, as well as ending the year throwing the entire playbook out the window and starting over.
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.