Dark, mature, and complex, while also still keeping a decent sense of humor, Nikita revolves around the existence of Division, a secret government-funded organization who recruits young people from prison or the street, faking their deaths and training them to be spies and assassins. Originally founded by a group called Oversight for black ops missions, its first director Percy (Xander Berkeley) corrupted its purpose. He turned it into an under-the-table anything-for-hire enterprise and keeps information as leverage on hard drives scattered across the world called Black Boxes. A power struggle for control over the direction of Division is one of the over-arching plot points that takes place over much of the series, with ruthless in-house psychologist and master manipulator Amanda (Melinda Clarke) pulling a coup at the end of the first season.
Sharing quite a few story beats with Alias, the series’ focus is on one operative in particular, Nikita (Maggie Q). She goes rogue and embarks on a mission to take Division down after growing doubts over what they have been tasking her with doing. Her breaking point comes when they kill a civilian because of her relationship with them. She endeavors to thwart their missions at every turn by hunting down and using the information in Percy’s black boxes. Nikita recruits, trains, and deploys a young woman named Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) to infiltrate Division and be her internal spy. She carries out her self-appointed purpose across the four seasons while navigating her sister/mentor-like relationship with Alex, and soul mate romance with her Division recruiter and trainer Michael (Shane West). Along the way she finds allies in Owen (Devon Sawa) a fellow operative whose love Division killed, Ryan (Noah Bean) a CIA agent, Division’s top tech genius Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford), a lovable and snarky individual who also serves as the main comic relief, and Sean (Dillon Casey), as well as makes mortal enemies of villains Percy, Amanda, and Gogol (a Russian agency).
The daughter of a Russian crime lord Nikita killed as part of a Division mission, Alex is a complex individual who goes through her own journey of strength and growth as she battles addiction, the weight of her father’s criminal legacy, and wanting vengeance for the death of her family. Troubled, intelligent, loyal, and tough, she finds her rough edges smoothed a bit when she falls in love with Sean. A Navy SEAL, and the son of a member of Oversight initially brought in to monitor things after Percy gets ousted, Sean is one of the most pure hearted, dedicated, decent characters on the show.
The central love story between Michael and Nikita is on another level entirely, and one of the main reasons why I adore this show. Michael isn’t just a love interest or only there to further Nikita’s story; he has his own character arc, personal demons, and back-story. Having lost his wife and child years ago to a bomb meant for him, which he discovers Division set up (who then used his grief to recruit him), his broken heart and anger kept him emotionally distant and closed off from almost everyone… except Nikita, his recruit and the first person to break through his walls. The tension and connection they share is electric and palpable right from the start.
When Michael is on an undercover assignment in his early years with Division, he becomes involved with the wife of the man he is targeting: Cassandra. Pretending to be someone else, someone who hasn’t lost everything that mattered to him, made him realize he couldn’t completely be with a woman until he got closure on his past. By the time of his and Nikita’s first overseas mission together, he was already so emotionally involved with her he didn’t want to take that next step unless or until he could give her everything. While they play a cat-and-mouse game as she disrupts Division’s missions, and he attempts to capture and stop her, they take turns saving each other’s lives. When he finds out the truth behind the deaths of his family, he finally gives in to the emotions between them and instigates a romantic relationship, while officially joining her in her cause.
Two of the swooniest statements he makes that beautifully illustrate the hope and light she has brought back into his dark existence include:
“I can make plans for the worst-case scenario, no problem. But when it comes to planning ahead for positive outcomes, I’m just not used to that. It does not mean I don’t want one. It’s just… It has been a long time since anything as good as you has happened to my life.”
“Cassandra, remember when you were talking about Max being the thing that gets you through life no matter how hard it gets or how tough it gets. I knew what you were saying… because I have someone like that too. There’s no way I’m gonna leave her.”
I love the words chosen by Nikita in several scenes when talking about or to Michael; you get the strong feeling that he is it for her. She set her heart on him long, long ago, and is not expecting to get it back, doesn’t want it back; she has an unshakable certainty that no matter how rough it gets, how many enemies they have, or how long they take turns in pushing each other away, she would love no one else the way she does Michael, and they will eventually be together. This is most clearly seen in lines such as “Like hoping one day you and I could be together,” and “I finally get Michael” like he’s this indescribable gift she hoped against impossible hope she’d be able to receive. “I will never move on from you,” and “I’m dead without him” also convey her ride-or-die devotion for the man who brought into her life a love she didn’t trust she would one day be worthy enough to be blessed with, a steadfast partner who lights up her world with his belief, support, and the comfort of a home she never thought she’d have.
When he’s amid his lowest point in going on a suicide mission to avenge the deaths of his family, she pleads with him not to throw his life away, saying “Listen, listen to me, Michael. You think you don’t have anything to live for? You do. You have me.” In another scene, she tells Ryan that while she was fully prepared and maybe even expected to die when she first started on her mission to take down Division, now that Michael is part of the equation, he’s her someone to live for as well.
The strength of Michael and Nikita’s protective natures towards each other, those they give their loyalty to, and those who can’t fight for themselves, is deeply ingrained in who they are. Watching their love story unfold amid the unique challenges and situations they encounter as they work together to save the world and simultaneously ease one other’s emotional burdens is a delight. The addition of such characters as Alex, Birkhoff, Sean, and the deliciously evil Amanda is the icing on the cake that is this fun, exciting, and intense show!
Nikita: I did. And now I have doubts.
Michael: About us?
Nikita: No. No, never. It’s about this crusade to make things right. I mean, what it could cost us. I can’t lose you. I won’t lose you. And if that seems selfish to you, then, well, I never said I was perfect, so
Michael: You’re not gonna lose me. And you’re right. You never said you were perfect. I did.
Michael: You think I can’t be selfish? This is the most selfish thing I’ve ever done. I did this because I had to see you one last time even if I was killed. I did this…because I love you.
Birkhoff (after making it VERY clear he doesn’t want Division to know he is helping Nikita and Michael): You guys think you were badass, huh? You are nothing. You’re air. It takes a whole squadron of you rejects to even get close to me, and I want you to die knowing that.
Michael: By the way, Birkhoff is not working with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hopeless romantic, fervent bibliophile, and aspiring word-smith, Kirsty Pearce also has a deep love for fantasy, fairy tales, & history. With a wide range of TV obsessions from Outlander, Bitten, & Grimm, to Dancing With The Stars, Nikita, & Horrible Histories, she enjoys watching as many Hallmark films as possible, knitting, baking, and sharing all her fan-girl thoughts on her blog.