Monsters We Are, Lest Monsters We Become
OK — please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that I am better writer or show-runner than the people who make the shows I like, nor is this an attempt to infringe on anyone else’s copyrights. I’m merely saying that I would have written the series differently.
With the series Nikita — there’s a lot going on. A Russian mafia princess, out of wedlock children, dead spouses to contend with on a weekly basis. That’s more than enough conflict to go around, not even adding Percy’s manuerving and Oversight’s interference.
I ask you this — what’s the real story? Is it Nikita trying to single handedly (sorta) taking down Division to avenge the death of her fiancee? Could it be the awkward attraction that Michael still has for his agent? Perhaps it’s Alex coming into her own power with GOGOL.
Let me posit this: it should be none of these. It should Nikita looking into the bathroom mirror everyday and telling herself: I am not like Division. I don’t have assets. I have people. However, we know that every day she says that, and every day she sends her moles Alex and other moles (split up into cells outside and inside of Division, further making everything dangerous) to try to undermind Percy at every turn. Nikitia puts people into harm’s way every day in every way imaginable — but she tells herself that she’s not Percy. She cares for every agent and when Division is dust, she’ll let every one go with some money and a new ID. She treats them like people. She tells herself that every day. She is not nor will she ever be Percy. Percy is a cold, emotionless socipath after all. The only difference between Nikita and Percy is that Percy did all of this willingly. After all, this is what Nikita tells her recruits (and us by proxy). Why should she lie to us? She checks up on her charges, tries to train them… she’s a little hard on them, but she’s going up against the evil Division! Whatever doesn’t kill them and all that.
The day she has to sacrifice a pawn to try to trap the King, we’re going to see the beginning of the long graceful slide to Percy-ville, population now 2. That will be the crux of the episodes: Nikita trying to balance the greater good (dismantling Division brick by blood and mortar affixed brick) verses her own desires (everyone comes home alive). This is what would make our heroine even more approachable: how far is she going to go? When the first of her moles gets cut down trying to throw a monkey wrench in Percy’s well-oiled murder machine, how is Nikita going to react? More importantly, how is everyone else going to react to Nikita’s reaction? The first agent: a tragedy for sure; a much needed sacrifice for the greater good. The fifth or sixth agent? A statistic to have words muttered over a polite grave and a handful of dirt tossed in for good measure. Now the others should be starting to think that Nikita’s goal is a little quixotic for them. Not all of them, obviously — Alex should be the sole hold out until the end of the series.
Enough about Nikita — what about Division? Division should be a monolith. A bright, steel and chrome building not unlike a modern office building after all, Division is a business. Daycare center, fully staffed cafeteria — the audience should question Nikita’s judgement for the first few epsidoes. Save revelations for the now popular mid-season break, but make sure that they’re not huge, game-changing revelations — even if we’re all familiar with the Nikita Mythology, we need to be shocked at how quickly we get seduced to agreeing with the company’s 401K policy over cheesecake and coffee.
There are only three people that we need to care about in Division: Percy, Michael and Alex. Everyone else is a pretty face in a nice suit with folders in their arms and a smile on their lips. Any horrible information we get initally about Division should always be from Nikita only. She needs to be the funhouse mirror that Division reflects off of durning the epsiodes in which we deal with the company exclusively — and sparingly. Division-centric episodes should be very, very few but jam packed with enough double-talk to confuse William Casey. When we see Division, our thoughts should go to: How much of this is political intrigue… and how much of this is a woman gone mad with grief? The answer: a little from column A and a little from column B.
As far as the people we see in Division, it’s not the Big Three of Percy, Michael and Alex. It’s the Dynamic Duo and Alex. Michael is a painfully straight arrow. No dead wife or daughter, no secret son — just a man trying to make a buck. Percy? Nikita likens him to the Devil with a good tailor. When we see him in Division, he’s crafty but somewhat overworked bureaucrat. He’s got HR, Acquisions and Logistics clamoring for his attention and he only has 24 hours in his day. What of our lovely little mole Alex? At first, Percy sends her out on a lot of low-risk ‘assignments’ — over-glorifed coffee runs that she knows are pointless and even Nikita acknowledges that. What everyone else knows is that Alex is being groomed for ‘upper management’. When Percy retires (not “retires”), he knows that Michael is going to need someone who can do the dirty jobs, or at least assign them to people that she knows can get it done. Percy also knows that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer… especially if they’re a step away from that crazy widow Nikita. Nikita pushes Alex (very hard) to get Percy’s trust. Percy politely requests Alex (very, very politely) to make contact with Nikita and get into her inner circle. Whenever we see Alex, we should start to wonder if this is the episode that she cracks under Nikita’s pressure and runs scream to Percy… understanding, gentle and considerate Percy who has never done so much as raised his voice, always visited her in the hospital. A few seasons of this and the audience will find themselves trying to keep some sense of support for our Nikita… just like everyone else in the series.
Ultimately — the conflict is not Nikita (imperfect puppetmaster) vs. Alex (resentful marionette), it’s not Nikita (single soldier) vs. Division (looming corporate Juggernaut). The ultimate conflict is between Nikita (revenge driven widow) vs. Nikita (friendless and tired loner).
But… then again — what do I know?