Operations: "I'm sending you out."
Birkoff: "In the field?"
I love Birkoff. Really, I do. And I realize that by this time in a season, our principal actors are exhausted and need a break. But that was still no excuse for such a weak episode.
What worked for me was Birkoff thinking his way out of the undercover trap that Operations put him in. Birkoff is compelling and likable, smart and resourceful, nerdy without being a stereotype, and he can be formidable. He outwitted Operations, Hillinger, and the bad guys, and gave Section a direct link to Red Cell. (Of course, one could also consider Operations and Hillinger to be bad guys.)
What didn't work for me was "Honor! Integrity! Strength! Power!" Yes, we can make the obvious parallels between what Rousseau did to his kids and what Section did to Birkoff, but it still all felt like a bad cliche. We had scene after scene of Birkoff alone, looking depressed. Staggering firewalls and flirting with the Red Cell girl just wasn't enough to make it interesting. And there was a total lack of suspense, because I never believed for one moment that Birkoff would change sides. I was much more interested in what was going on at Section with Hillinger. And I don't even like Hillinger.
Nikita was her usual compassionate self, just for less screen time. What was different was Birkoff using her the way he did, and Nikita actually having trouble forgiving him. Michael, who was in the episode for maybe ten minutes, was used pretty much as a threat to Birkoff (you'd better behave, or Michael's gonna get you). An episode with so little Michael/Nikita goodness needed more than they gave us here.
Bits and pieces:
-- There was that geographical strangeness again. Where did the undercover action take place? Rousseau spoke French at the end; were they all supposedly speaking French throughout?
-- Birkoff got his turn (briefly) in The Chair.
-- Wouldn't it have been fun if Operations had given the assignment to Hillinger instead, and Hillinger had died a horrible death while undercover?
-- Eugene Robert Glazer is a good actor, but his pronunciation of "Soldats de la Liberte" made me cringe.
-- One scene of Michael showed him just from the back. It didn't look like Roy Dupuis to me. That's happened before, mostly in mission sequences.
-- In Section, everyone wore black or dark colors. Nikita wore an ugly pale grey suit. And we saw her at home in an Asian kind of robe, eating with chopsticks.
-- In this week's hair report, Madeline's was different again.
Nikita: "He doesn't like Hillinger."
Birkoff: "Operations likes anyone who spins the world in his direction."
Perceptive, and true.
Michael: "People survive these things."
Nikita: "He's not you."
This was filler. And not very good filler. One out of four stars,
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