Nikita Season 2 Episode 1 – Recap and Review

BY ANTHONY MEDINA

**This episode originally aired in September 2011. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Remember this, I did this because I care.”  Nikita

Season two of Nikita dives back into the game one month after last season’s explosive finale and all the players are back for more. But the lines have been blurred and the aptly titled “Game Change” sets off to pin our heroes against each other in a flurry of pretty people and kung-fu awesomeness.

We open on our new crime fighting duo Michael (Shane West) and Nikita (Maggie Q.) securing some funds for their continuing campaign of destruction against Division. And the key to taking them down, is the Blackbox, which contains all the naughty secrets of the rogue government agency.

However, hot on their trail is Nikita’s former partner Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), who has switched sides and is now helping Division track her down. Alex has made a deal with Division’s new leader, the ice queen herself, Amanda (Melinda Clarke). They will offer all their resources to Alex as she pursues the men who ordered her father’s death and in exchange she will use her unique insight into Nikita to help them recover the Blackbox.

Adding an extra layer of prettyboy to the equation is Sean Pierce (Dillon Casey), an Oversight representative assigned to Division to keep them in line. After all they don’t want a repeat of Percy’s (Xander Berkeley) attempted coup d’etat.

When Alex finally tracks down Nikita, Pierce sends in the troops and our heroes are pinned down with no hope of escape…

After they escape, with the help off Birkhoff’s (Aaron Stanford) remote control next level fighter drones, they enlist the help of their old friend and continue their crusade of justice.

Magneto Percy makes an appearance and we learn that he is now being held in a plastic prison in the basement of Division. From the ever present smirk on his face as he speaks to both Amanda and Alex, it’s clear he has his own plans in motion and won’t be a prisoner for long.

As the episode concludes we get a final showdown between Alex and Nikita. The two sexy spies go at it in a bare-knuckle brawl and Nikita takes the young blood to school, leaving her with a broken arm and a bullet hole in her leg. Nikita ain’t nothing to f**k with.

A great start to season two. It’s going to be interesting watching these characters in their new roles. And from the looks of it so far, season two should be filled with much of the same creative storytelling and intense action that season one brought to the table.

Thinking Man Rating: 16 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**

Particle Physics and Reality TV

by Robin Reed

Physicists say that you can’t observe an atom or subatomic particle without changing it. I have begun to wonder, in the cable reality TV shows that I watch, how TV changes its subjects. Is a fur trapper in Alaska in danger when his plane won’t start? What if he has a TV crew with him? Surely they have their own plane and can give him a ride.

The Ghost Hunters were plumbers when the show started, but they haven’t mentioned that for a while. How much does the show pay? Do the American Pickers really need the small profits from each item or is the TV show paying more than their original business ever could?

These shows are low budget and probably start out paying little or nothing, but when one is a hit, they must start paying pretty well. The Cake Boss is building a factory and is going to sell cakes in grocery stores. Did he get the money for that from his show? Or was he able to get a loan because the show made his cakes famous? Either way his business was changed by TV.

I have thought of trying to buy storage units and selling what I find, but is that business really viable or does it just look good on TV?

I have a friend who recently visited the Pawn Stars shop. She said it’s smaller than it looks on TV, and the now-famous cast are only there when the show is being shot. Does the production company pick the customers for the show because they have the most interesting items or look interesting? Does it have to get signed releases from everyone in the store?

Are some of these reality stars now really actors, who pretend to be in their original business, then get in expensive cars and drive home to mansions? I can’t imagine that a reality show doesn’t pay at all, no one would put up with having the cameras there unless they expected to benefit. Sharon Osbourne pushed her way into celebritydom via the reality show about her family.

Do any of these people have agents? Managers? Do they refuse to do the next season unless they get more money? Does someone who wrestles snapping turtles and has several teeth missing have a contract that says he can’t get his teeth fixed while the show is running?

I do wonder about these things. But I keep watching the shows.

Silliness Makes DOCTOR WHO Go ‘Round

Can it be? Do people criticize The Doctor for being silly? When that’s what makes him bearable to some, and lovable to so many? Silly critics.

This isn’t silly. It’s smut, I tell you. Smut!

Doctor Who: a celebration of silliness – by Andrew Blair

*This article contains Doctor Who spoilers (and one about the result of the Trojan War).*

“Doctor, as I remember telling you at the Academy, you will never amount to anything so long as you retain your capacity for vulgar facetiousness.” – Cardinal Borusa, The Deadly Assassin (1977).

Borusa is, of course, dead wrong. It is said propensity that makes the Doctor who he is.

Mention silliness in the context of Doctor Who and there is a danger of incurring wrath. Burping wheelie bins, having the loyhargil, Tom Baker yelping “My arms! My legs! My everything!” all leap to mind. Occasionally, the programme can go too far, and the result? Bewildered viewers.

Sometimes you have to explain to a child that the concrete paving slab and the man are just kissing. Sometimes you have to explain that, even if the Doctor has just done it, it is best not to blow into any stray phallic appendages you may find on other lifeforms (reactions in such circumstances vary). In extreme cases, you might have to explain that reading slash fiction – “Turlough eased open the roundel, and watched…” – is not the sort of thing you gave your offspring permission to use your forum account for…

If you aren’t used to it, Doctor Who can seem silly, but that’s missing the bigger picture. That scene in Love & Monsters is simultaneously an insight into the narrator’s character, a fun moment of silliness, and a meta-reference aimed straight at the people who dismiss it as idiotic. If you don’t like one, there are two more options to choose from.

It’s entirely worth having the occasional moment of excess silliness so that we can revel in the rest of the ridiculousness. You’re allowed to have fun and take Doctor Who seriously. Indeed, that is rather the whole point, which seems as good a time as any to end with this quote from The Time Warrior.

Sarah-Jane Smith: Are you serious?
The Doctor: About what I do, yes. Not necessarily the way I do it.

Read it all

EDITED BY LB TO ADD: It’s definitely worth going to the source of this article and reading the bits munchman and his minions edited out. The only thing the writer says that I don’t totally agree with is his analysis of Tom Baker. What I remember from my youth is that Baker’s Doctor drove me crazy because, yes, he looked silly as hell, but he acted, not silly, not even intense, but angry, regardless of what the writers had written.

And that, to me, is just silly.

Positively Our Last Post About THE NEWSROOM

We swear!

How HBO Made It Look Like Critics Liked ‘The Newsroom’, by Jeff Bercovici

Critical reception of “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series set in the TV news business, has been generally cool. On Metacritic.com, which averages out reviews from all over, its score is a distinctly mediocre 57. Even those critics who’ve embraced it have generally done so with considerable caveats.

You wouldn’t know that from ads HBO has been running to promote it, though. A two-pager that ran in last week’s edition of The Hollywood Reporter, among other places, quotes breathless-sounding praise from The New York Times, Time and Salon, among two dozen outlets. Yet all three of the reviews those blurbs were drawn from were distinctly negative.

The quote from the Times, bannered atop the full width of the spread, reads: “Wit, sophistication and manic energy…A magical way with words…a lot of charm.”

Times TV critical Alessandra Stanley did write those words. But she also wrote, “[A]t its worst, the show chokes on its own sanctimony,” said it “ suffers from the same flaw that it decries on real cable shows on MSNBC or Fox News” and called the show’s central structural conceit “probably a mistake.”

Time’s James Poniewozik, summarizing his views on “The Newsroom” for non-subscribers, flatly declared, “I was not a fan.” Yet the ad makes it sound like he was, burbling, “The pacing is electric…captures the excitement.”

Salon’s Willa Paskin is quoted in the ad calling “The Newsroom” “captivating, riveting, rousing.” Here’s what she actually wrote: “The results are a captivating, riveting, rousing, condescending, smug, infuriating mixture, a potent potion that advertises itself as intelligence-enhancing but is actually just crazy-making.”

Then there’s Paste’s Aaron Channon, who supposedly called the show “remarkable…intelligent.” Here’s a more representative sampling of his review: “Compared to the standard established during the past several years by HBO and AMC, early returns on The Newsroom are disappointing.”

A scandal this is not.  Movie studios have been doing this sort of thing, and getting called out for it, for decades. And, to be fair, a number of the reviews quoted in the ad are genuine raves.

But twisting slams to make them sound favorable is not something HBO has done much of in the past, or needed to, with most of its shows becoming instant critical darlings. The last new HBO series to fare this poorly with critics was the short-lived “John From Cincinnati,” which got a composite score of 51 on Metacritic.

Read it all

Aw, Jeff, you had the fish, but you let it off the hook. Why, baby, why? Remember what Alvin Sergeant and Lillian Hellman say in JULIA: “Be bold!”

The One Plot to Lead Them All

As if writers didn’t have enough to worry about, now we have this excellent analysis to ponder:

The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Dark Knight Rises All Have Strangely Similar Climaxes – by Kyle Buchanon (Vulture.Com)

The AvengersThe Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises have all offered distinctly different types of superhero thrills this summer: One’s a giant, crowd-pleasing mash-up of all of Marvel’s prior movies; one’s a rebooted origin story anchored by a tender teen romance; and one’s a dark, sprawling drama with Bat-trappings. So many different flavors to choose from … and yet, did you notice they all have weirdly similar third acts? What was that about?

Spoilers follow, obviously.

In The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spider-Man, the good guys are in possession of a scientific device, introduced early in the movie in a very conspicuous way, that the bad guys then co-opt to turn against the entire city (which is either New York City or its Gotham stand-in).

Even more specifically, in The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, the device is a clean-energy breakthrough … that can be used to destroy (or help destroy, in the case of Stark Tower) the world, if tweaked fairly easily. Whoops!

And in both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, the good guys haven’t even been using the device (too dangerous!), but still, they kept it around for years instead of dismantling it because … well, just because.

Ultimately, with the city facing a countdown to destruction, both Iron Man and Batman abscond with imminent nuclear threats and fly away as far as they can, a moving act of self-sacrifice that saves the city and foils the villain’s plan. The other heroes in the movie are impressed and sad as the explosion goes off in the distance.

But it turns out, the hero actually survived. Psych! And in the silent codas that ends The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, we find our selfless hero reunited with his lady love.

Now, obviously superhero movies are bound to have a couple things in common. But this many things, in movies that span three different studios? Were the producers all bitten by the exact same radioactive script doctor?

Next year, the summer season will produce three more high-profile superhero movies: Disney’s got Iron Man 3, Warner Bros. has Man of Steel, and Fox is putting out X-Men spinoff The Wolverine. Could the studio executives compare notes this time, just to make sure they’re not all on the same page? Surely there are some new ways to save the world, right?

For what it’s worth, we think the problem is a genre thing. As in, “Hey, guy, this is the plot structure that comic books have used the most since, oh, probably since WWII brought us all those stories about Hitler and his quest for great, big, universe-shattering, mythic weapons.

It isn’t a matter of plagiarism in any way. Nor even of like minds, or minds that in fact know each other, coming up with an idea that’s, oh, “in the wind.” The story structure of all three films is the most common of tropes in the most inbred of media: superhero books.

But, oh boy, yessir, it sure would be great to change that. Hats off to ya, Kyle, for spotting the Emperor’s…skin.

 

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