"Best Episodes During February Sweeps" Award Goes to CW's Nikita

February is a wonderful month. There is the Super Bowl for sports fans. The Grammy Award for music aficionados. The Oscars for film buffs. And sweeps season for TV fanatics. Sweeps, as it is commonly referred to, is a month when the Nielsen Company aggregates the viewing data for that particular month and sends it to the television networks, which then use the information to make decisions concerning advertising. The higher the show scores, the happier the network is which may improve the chances of a show being renewed. As a result, producers and writers will typically save their best stories and guest stars for sweeps month to lure in more viewers. Alternate universes are created, characters fall in love, and cliffhangers become the norm. Occasionally, some shows try to deliver too much oomph and inadvertently create an unpleasant mess. One show that is consistently delivering spectacular episodes this month is the CW's sophomore spy drama, Nikita. If I could give an award for best episodes during February sweeps, I would give it to the Nikita writers for creating enjoyable surprises while still treating the characters with reverence. Nikita's backstory and Roan are two examples I believe demonstrate the writers' mindfulness to the characters of the show and the world they inhabit.

The backstory
This month, fans were finally allowed passage into Nikita's past, an area many, myself include, have wanted to see since season one. The pilot episode provided the CliffNotes version but it was rarely mentioned thereafter. Fans sat on the couch with Gary, Nikita's foster father, and listened to her journey to Division in the first episode. She ran away from her abusive foster dad at sixteen, became a drug-addicted teenager, committed murder and was eventually recruited by the agency she is now determined to eliminate. That was it. The story ended there until the episode "Sanctuary" aired in January in which Nikita reveals a woman named Carla Bennett who helped her recover from drug addiction. Carla became a mentor and surrogate mother, much like Nikita has done with Alex. The writers finally introduced Carla last week and did not disappoint, treating fans to not one backstory but two! Carla created Division.
Just one episode in and this character has already secured her position as the season's most valuable player. She is pivotal to the general concept of the show since she is Division's architect, but on a granular level, she is essential to the development of each leader (Percy, Amanda, and Nikita). She is connected to all of these characters' pasts and will influence their future development. Her presence forces the leaders to examine themselves and their trajectories. For reasons not yet known, Amanda is threatened by Carla and wants her dead. Amanda must feel her power at Division jeopardized by Carla's resurgence, so as long as the creator is still alive, Amanda's actions will be influenced by how she can maintain her position. For Nikita, Carla's presence will force her to examine her own role as mentor to Alex. Nikita knows what it is like to be disappointed by a mentor and does not wish her protege experience that.

In addition to the incredible backstory this month, the writers have really shined in their use of secondary characters, particularly Roan. Roan mobilized the cleaners to break Percy out of prison and prevented Amanda from halting operation clean sweep. He was responsible for much of the action that transpired, which is why he is a perfect example of how attentive the writers are with all of the characters on the show. Roan is an enigma and easily one of the most fascinating individuals. The writers have wonderfully constructed his persona in minimal screen time and dialogue. Nothing is wasted on him. Everything he does advances him another increment on the frightening scale. He has no reservations in what he willing to do which makes him more intimidating than Percy in my opinion. Alex reminded everyone two weeks ago in "Clean Sweep" that no one escapes Roan; you just survive him. Perhaps "I survived Roan" t-shirts will be sold one day to Nikita fans. I would wear it. Roan is an intriguing character and one which I am excited to see outside Division working alongside Percy again.

The Nikita writers have made it clear that they take sweeps month seriously. February has been an exceptional month for the show, so there is no excuse for fans to miss Friday's new episode written by Albert Kim. It is appropriately titled "Origins" and explores the genesis of Division.