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La Femme Nikita: Abort, Fail, Retry, Terminate

Walter: "It's going to be okay, sugar."
Nikita: "No, Walter. It's never going to be okay."

Maybe this one should have been called, "Ego, Superego, Id, Kaboom." Omigod, did I hate it. I hated it even before Birkoff died.

This episode went right over the line into science fiction, and it wasn't even good science fiction. A couple of the scenes were direct rip-offs of 2001. "Would you like to play a game?" was right out of War Games. Outwitting an evil computer that unexpectedly took over the place is a bad Star Trek plot. At one point, Michael was even in something that looked a lot like a Jeffries tube.

The artificial intelligence Birkoff created took him up on the mountain (metaphorically) and tempted him, offering him freedom and Nikita. Birkoff showed what he was made of by rejecting that offer. He again proved himself to be a superior human being, just as he did in the previous episode. The scene where he died to save his friends was quite moving. (And by friends, I mean Nikita, Michael, and Walter. Since Operations and Madeline were prepared to put Birkoff to a horrible death in the previous episode, I can't imagine that they were all that broken up about it.)

But a strong death scene wasn't enough. This episode was so hard to take seriously that it lessened the impact of Birkoff's death, and that pissed me off. Knowing Birkoff has a twin out there also made it less tragic, since we know we're going to see the actor again. Bad writers. No biscuit.

Bits and pieces:

— Birkoff got two months off for catching the Cardinal. It was a shame he didn't get to take it.

— Walter gave Birkoff a compass. ("I just wanted to be sure you could find your way home.") Perhaps Birkoff could use it to find his way around in the afterlife.

— Operations and Madeline are level nine, Michael is level five, and Nikita level two. Why the big gap between levels? Birkoff made the accurate observation that Nikita deserves a promotion. Shouldn't she be level five by this time? What happens at level three and four?

— The elevator doors opening on a half-naked Nikita made me laugh out loud. Now, why couldn't they have trapped Michael in there with her?


Computer: "I imagine you would provide stimulating conversation, and look quite attractive in a bathing suit."

Operations: "Are we secure?"
Computer: "Self-destruct activated."
I'd say no.

Walter: "I'm just a little shaken, a little stirred. I'll be okay."

I hated that Birkoff's goodbye was like this. "Line in the Sand" was a much better tribute to him.

One star,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. My initial reaction: “What the [censored]?!?” Followed by: white-hot fury. The idiotic and derivative over-the-top AI story is bad enough to suffer through, but to kill Birkoff? That is idiocy of the highest order!

    Let’s be blunt: thanks to the new showrunners, the quality of LFN scripts has plummeted to embarrassing lows, plus the characters of Operations and Madeline have devolved into cartoon villains. The ONLY reason loyal fans are still watching is because they care about the four remaining characters: Michael, Nikita (who has been acting out of character for most of the season), Birkoff, and Walter.

    Except now there are only three remaining characters for the audience to care about.

    With so little left for viewers to enjoy, killing Birkoff cannot be justified as a “dramatic” or “creative” decision – it amounts to completely disrespecting the audience. Fans now have even less reason to stick with the show, as, unlike Walter, Birkoff’s function was an essential part of each mission, and so his absence will be constantly felt in every future episode.

    I can’t blame the cast and crew of LFN for feeling so frustrated as Season Four wore on.

  2. Actually the only reason I kept watching was because I still loved Operations and Madeline the most. :) They were always the most interesting.

  3. I don't agree with your review of Abort, Fail, Retry, Terminate. I loved the episode, and I wished that Birkoff hadn't died, because I didn't like his brother. If there were similarities between this episode and some other show, I didn't really care, because it was different. To me, it showed how intelligent Birkoff was. Unfortunately, he created the AI computer a little too well, because it ended up taking over. Operations and Madeline were upset, which was not unexpected. But, everyone else that they brought to replace Birkoff, I never cared about. I agree with some of the previous comments, the only people that I cared about were Michael, Nikita, Walter and Birkoff. By the end of season 4, I hated Davenport.
    I think that they were trying to wrap things up. This is similar to Alias, where they kill off some of the main characters.

  4. If S4 couldn't be aggravating enough, they REALLY made it aggravating with this obnoxious, poorly written, dreadfully lame main character death ever (at the time) ... what a rip off of Max Headroom's A7 as well as the rip offs you noted above.

    Regarding the actors' frustration, Inside Section One delves into this a great deal, and USA really mishandled this show and the actors as did Warner Bros... horrible... which never ever made any sense to me given the popularity of the show.

  5. in the final scene when Nikita tries to comfort Michael on the fresh loss of his family
    No, she's sorry she did not protect the family better.

  6. Yes, he died as a hero but it´s very sad that it was because he failed in a fight against something he had created. He was a perfectionist and did not deserve to die failing in his task.

  7. I liked it more than some of you. Although I do agree Birkoff did not need to die :(
    Very well acted episode.

    In a strange way its more LFN than all of S4 put together thus far.

    Even Operations and Madelines reaction with the pragmatic stoicism reaction, that hides a considerable emotion, at the end reminded me more of their real selves from S1-S2 than their evil politician versions from S3-S4...

  8. Very sad to see Birkoff go. It'll be hard to watch the remaining episodes as he was so essential. I do feel that he was often on the fence about how he truly felt about the others. There was an episode or two where he seemed to be selfish and uncaring. I think he himself felt torn since he wanted so badly to leave. I liked the complex character. It made him seem more real. Although I didn't cry, he will be sorely missed...


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