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'Nikita' recap and review: The 'Bubble' bursts as a main character dies

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There are just two more episodes of Nikita left, so there's no time to waste. Unless you're us, and this week's episode was preempted a day for The CW's coverage of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. But never fear, because we're still recapping it anyway. Especially because that long-teased death has finally happened.

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Our heroes are now unwillingly residing in nice houses on a military base in Virginia, while not-dead Amanda visits her apparent boss (Vincent Ventresca, The Invisible Man) in the middle of his tennis game, and is warned that she cannot incite any "grudge matches" with her longtime rival, and Alex has tracked Sam to France. She's telling him that she duped him just as he's jumped by thugs working for the loan shark that he still owes money to. Oh, and Ryan is still paranoid. Maybe because there are still clones.

While various nameless high-ranking officials watch on monitors, the whole of Team Nikita is debriefed not just on recent events, but everything going back to their days with Division. (Birkhoff has clearly had too much coffee.) The guys in suits are understandably not thrilled with what they hear, and afterward, a Senator insists that he needs Nikita to sell the story to the public, no matter how much she wants to move on.

When Nikita eventually agrees to go along with this idea, she finds out that Ryan has requested a meeting with Amanda's old business partner Mr. Jones, and asking him about that leads her to discover that he's still obsessing, possibly moreso than before. The next day, as she formally testifies, Alex rescues Sam and then makes out with him, while Amanda is doing more creepy scientific stuff, because she's really become the ultimate mad scientist.

Ryan eventually gets that meeting with Jones, and essentially tells him that he's figured out the entire master plan, which is a bit like telling the killer in a movie that you're going to turn them in to the cops. It's no surprise at all that Ryan promptly takes a needle to the neck, or that the show follows this up with a sappy moment between Nikita and Michael (who finally gets a last name, Bishop) and an obviously post-sex Alex and Sam, because we need a parade to be rained on later. Cut back to Amanda with Ryan on her table, although we probably shouldn't snicker when she uses the phrase "a beautiful mind."

Our favorite perfectly coiffed former CIA analyst isn't going down without a fight, though, and he puts up a hell of one before deciding he'd rather jump out a window to his death before ending up in Amanda's clutches. It's a shame that Noah Bean gets his best scene in the entire series as he's being killed off. Ryan sticks around long enough for Nikita to emote in the local ER, and then flatlines, never to return.

Alex is notified of Ryan's death and seeks comfort in Sam, while a now messed-up Amanda has to answer to her boss for his demise, and Nikita tells her new friend the Senator that Amanda is still alive and that bad things are still very much in the works. The Senator tells her to keep quiet for the time being, lest she start a national panic, and so Nikita quietly gets her medal - which she leaves with Ryan's body - while looking really unhappy about it. As Birkhoff awesomely breaks Michael's TV, and Sam turns up to say hello, Nikita and Alex decide they're going to handle business by themselves, although that's not really likely since it would mean everyone else has nothing to do but shop for another TV. And we go on...

Usually, penultimate episodes are full of buzzworthy stuff, because it's their function to build up hype to the finale. There's certainly a lot to talk about here, but not all of it is good. "Bubble" clearly puts the cards on the table for the real final showdown between Nikita and Amanda (and various associates, but really, it's Amanda), including finally wising up the world to all the stuff that you'd think somebody would've noticed by now. The idea of Nikita and Alex starting the show the same way they came in is a nice thematic nod, if nothing else. And hey, Michael has a last name now!

With this being the next-to-last episode of the series, it feels almost wrong to critique it, but unfortunately, we have to. There are quite a few things here that just ring hollow, for a variety of reasons. We brought this up when Alex and Sam's hookup was foreshadowed episodes ago, but now that it's happened we'll revisit the issue: the subplot of Alex and an ill-fated love interest has been done four times now (remember Thom, Nathan and Sean?). Especially since it's the last season, it's disappointing to see the same tired subplot again.

The only thing it really does is serve as evidence of Sam's redemption, though we think that would've been more meaningful if he'd ultimately come to that on his own, rather than because of Alex. We are, however, thrilled to see Devon Sawa back on the right side of the line. Somebody needs to sign this guy to another action series immediately, because he's showed us over four seasons that he can really bring something dynamic to the table.

Then there's the matter of Ryan's death. This thing is so mixed up we're not really sure how to feel about it. On one hand, the sequence leading up to his demise is the best scene that he's ever had, and the fact that he went out on his own terms rather than just being killed off is a nice twist. However, having him meet with Jones was such obvious foreshadowing that it was laughable. As smart as Ryan is, you'd think he'd know not to tip his entire hand, especially when he's aware that the terrorist "group" is still very much out there.

We've known since the beginning of Season 5 that a major character was going to die, and the fact that it's Ryan is not really a surprise. He's expendable because he's not one of the original team, and honestly, aside from being shot last season and brief moments here and there, he's pretty much been relegated to delivering exposition. Which is what sticks in our craw about this, too. Noah Bean's a wonderful actor, and we've been pleading since he became a regular for him to be given more to do. Killing Ryan off just cements his status as the most wasted character on the show.

(But mark our words: more people are going to die. Finales of any kind love to kill people off, and if somebody doesn't at least get rid of Amanda by the end of the show, it's going to make our heroes look like dopes.)

"Bubble" is a fair episode in that it moves people into place for the finale, and while we may not agree with the plot developments that happen, at least they're done reasonably well. Having said that, it also exposes the fact that Nikita has run these particular storylines about as far as they can go. With that in mind, it looks like the perfect time for the show to go out - and let's hope it finishes like the great, underrated series we love it for being.

The Nikita series finale - appropriately titled "Canceled" - airs next Friday, December 27 at 9 PM ET/PT on The CW. Photos from the final episode can be viewed in the slideshow included with this article. You can click here to check out all of our coverage, including cast and crew interviews.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

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