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La Femme Nikita: Any Means Necessary

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 cliché. 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 Liberté" 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,

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


  1. This cringe-worthy episode is so painfully slow and boring that it makes watching paint dry seem like a pleasant alternative. It is no surprise that Hertzog is the writer, as there is nothing at all clever about this script: the plot is lame, the dialogue is flat, the action is lacklustre, and Operations is depicted completely out of character. In addition, the whole cult premise is predictable, standard stuff that audiences have seen many times before on other shows, and done a lot better, I might add (has Hertzog ever had an original idea in his life?). I feel sorry for the cast and crew, forced to enact this dull and derivative story. Throw in Hillinger, and this episode contains absolutely everything I detest. I recommend skipping it entirely.

    Spoilers follow...

    Continuity Issues:
    Exactly how does it make sense to put an operative with Birkoff’s extensive knowledge of Section systems into the field where he has an 80% chance of failure? If Operations wants to replace Birkoff, why wouldn’t he just demote him? In several previous episodes, Operations has recognized Birkoff’s value (“Inside Out”, “Open Heart”, “Looking for Michael”), and clearly Section employs more than one computer expert, so why throw away a valuable resource? Oh, wait – it’s Hertzog writing this episode, so don’t expect anything resembling logic.

    Also, don’t expect anything resembling character continuity: Operations, as a chess player, would never sacrifice a valuable piece for so little return and so great a risk. Except apparently, Operations doesn’t act rationally anymore, and so decides to risk Section security as a way to kill Birkoff over the trivial reason of a lost comm signal. Thank-you, Hertzog, for yet another ridiculous premise.

  2. Wow, I took the completely opposite view on this episode. Yeah, the silly "cult" was a little unbelievable, but I really did get the feeling at the end that Birkoff indeed went over to the other side, and had those backdoor hacks in place to bail himself out should he be re-taken by Section.

    I actually (like Operations, and of course Hillinger) wasnt buying that Birkoff had been loyal the whole time. And Michael being basically unstoppable as the "bad guy sent to kill Birkoff" was an awesome change of pace for our resident hero---you didnt want him to succeed, and you felt Birkoff's fear as the unstoppable, familiar killing force approached.

  3. Agreed that the pacing was off, the Terrorist of the Week's methodology and ideology were vague, and Operations' decision to risk Birkoff's life over a trivial mistake (and on such a low-yield mission) was nonsensical.

    That said, the premise could've worked had the enemy been Red Cell themselves, and Birkoff defected after Hillinger is promoted to Head of Comm., ending with LFN's signature twist - it was all a ruse, and everyone but Nikita knew it. Making stronger parallels between Section and Red Cell, elaborating on the series' "greater good" argument as it pertains to Section's methods and Birkoff's lifelong imprisonment despite being an innocent, would have made the potential for his real betrayal more convincing. A last-minute twist of Red Cell anticipating the plan could've led directly into the hunt for the Cardinal next episode.

    As underwhelming as this episode is, I do have to commend the cheap but effective tactic of having Michael sent in to kill Birkoff. I nearly had a heart attack, in the best of ways. Juxtaposing two main characters' goals in such a high-stakes scenario is something this series does so well, and that sequence was a great example. I wish there'd been even more like it.

    1. Good analysis. Love the comment about everyone knew as usual except Nikita.
      I did have some severe concern when Michael was sent in to kill Birkoff. It was touch and go there for a moment and totally dependent on Michael's judgment in the field.

    2. "Juxtaposing two main characters' goals in such a high-stakes scenario is something this series does so well"
      I'm honestly glad that it's not that "usual" ruse case, I feel like they've used this twist a bit too much.

  4. I actually needed a little pause in the middle of Romeo and Juliet drama, and Birkoff-centered episode was a great idea. Unfortunately, the implementation wasn't so.
    Rousseau seemed quite naive for the leader of a terrorists cult. And didn't he listen to Birkoff's conversation with Nikita? It was clear that he was sent there to infiltrate. Even if he believed Birkoff switched sides afterwards, why not to use this opportunity, instead of attacking one agent?
    Operations might have been frustrated by the failure and thought it's useful for Birkoff to get some firsthand field experience. But deliberately risking one of the most rare and valuable specialists, along with the inside info he possesses? I've even considered for a moment some sophisticated scheme in order to bind Birkoff to Section even more - as we saw, he's a wanted man now, so he'll probably stick with them for protection. But it makes no sense, Section itself is enough of a threat to keep people loyal.
    Birkoff's statement about how he would never do anything to hurt Nikita is a bit overestimated. He almost got her killed (probably both of them would have died in that case). But maybe he's right by Section standards.
    Oh, and guessing a password, really? So when they ask him, "how did you break into our system", he'd be like "nah, I just googled it"?
    I liked was the confrontation in the Perch: Nikita saying she was just doing what was best for Section (learning how to play those games), Operations being relentless but still showing some understanding, Michael's terse, but sad reaction.
    Another interesting detail is how they mirrored the "surrender your post" scene: Birkoff is forced to pass his seat to Hillinger, and later he is the one who takes over someone's place.


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