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La Femme Nikita: Brainwash

Michael: "I'll get you through this, Nikita. But we can't do it now."

Yes, it's Manchurian Candidate time. Does every spy drama eventually do The Manchurian Candidate?

So Section used Nikita as a guinea pig to test an enemy brainwashing device, and they didn't even once consider that a powerful, addictive program might actually work on her. Wouldn't that be an obvious connection to make?

Despite the predictability of the plot, there was some fun to be had. After a session in the shell, Nikita acted like she'd just had extremely satisfying sex. "You should try this thing. It's amazing." (I kept thinking of the orgasmatron in Sleeper.) My favorite Nikita moment was her rage when she smashed the shell with a crowbar at the end. Nikita does not like to be used, and she certainly can't express her rage toward Section.

What I liked most about this one was that, despite the fact that he was his usual cold and unemotional self, Michael was strongly supportive of Nikita. For that matter, so was Walter; Walter actually went to Michael first with his concerns about Nikita, and didn't pass them on any further. (This was no small thing, since keeping things from Section is an extremely dangerous thing to do.) My favorite Michael moment was when he kicked her door down. Shades of Rhett Butler. Go, baby, go.

Bits and pieces:

— A couple small bits of Nikita's past: she was picked on as a child, and her mother had at least one abusive boyfriend.

— The scene with the Chinese premier was in San Francisco, and they took a plane. So I deduce that Section was not in San Francisco.

— As well as screwing with her head, this experience also caused serious damage to Nikita's apartment.

— Park: "It lets the subject control its past. Chase away the dark memories. To feel at peace." Madeline: "So does psychotherapy."

Could have been better. Two out of four stars,

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


  1. A decent episode, in spite of the fact that both “brainwashing” and “addiction” tend to be overused plot devices. At least the writers provided a novel way for the shell to produce an emotional “high”, and there are many good scenes depicting the expertise of our various Section regulars, plus a convincing showdown between Michael and Nikita as he forces her to battle her addiction to save the mission.

    Spoilers follow...

    Favourite Scenes:

    Michael’s lethal efficiency on the De Lure mission: snapping a technician’s neck and then carrying the scientist out over one shoulder.

    Michael barging into Nikita’s apartment and applying the “tough love” approach, revealing how much he cares for and protects her.

    Once again, Michael walks straight towards Nikita’s gun (see “Charity”) and trusts that she will not shoot him.

    Continuity issues:
    Michael’s and Walter’s initial actions lead us to assume that Section would likely cancel a compromised operative, even when the effects could probably be reversed. Yet after Section becomes aware of Nikita’s condition and she almost ruins the mission, Michael assures her that “We’ll take care of you”. So which is it? This inconsistency plagues the series in general, with operatives that have had considerable time and expense invested in their training considered as disposable as Kleenex in one instant, and then considered too valuable to replace in the next.

  2. This inconsistency plagues the series in general, with operatives that have had considerable time and expense invested in their training considered as disposable as Kleenex in one instant, and then considered too valuable to replace in the next. I absolutely agree, Serena. This inconsistency really bothered me throughout the series.

  3. It really is annoying, isn’t it? I find it difficult to buy into a character’s jeopardy if the rules of the game keep changing from episode to episode – or worse, in the very same episode! If only the writers and producers of LFN could have known during the run of the show just how frustrated the fans were by these inconsistencies... Oh, wait! On the DVD commentaries, they admitted to regularly downloading fan comments from the internet. So what’s the excuse? Grrr....

  4. You are perfectly right about these inconsistencies, dear Billie and Serena! They will become almost unbearable during the 4th season: I think they want us to believe that we are going “beyond the invisible”; or maybe that it is quite normal to have this perception in Section 1’s world, where “nothing is what it looks like etc.’…
    (I have to say: I am watching the series for the second time on a TV channel in Romania and I feel madly addicted to it. I don't know what it is, maybe the middle age crisis..., because I didn't feel like this the first time I watched it. I am very happy I found your reviews, which are deep and really bright. Otherwise, I am like a lovesick person who is ashamed to speak with strangers about his tormenting passion... :)

  5. I kept thinking of the orgasmatron in "Sleeper." OMG! Great minds, my friend. I was thinking exactly the same thing. LOL

    I liked this one, not for the story which has been done, but for the scenes between Michael and Nikita. When he kicks down her door and then cradles her head as she cries, I was so happy.

    I must admit I kept waiting for him to pull away from her at the end of the episode -- as he has done every other time he has gotten close to her. When he didn't, when he took her hand and gently led her away, my shipper heart just swelled. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for these two...

  6. I loved the kicking in the door thing too! And honestly...if Roy Dupuis appeared on our doorstep asking to come in, I don't think any of us woud be strong enough to say "It's not a good time". :)

    I really appreciate Peta Wilson's depth of emotion in this episode. Actresses are told not to make certain faces on film - Jessica Alba famously said a director of a big budget movie told her to "cry pretty" and he'd add the CGI tears in later. Peta Wilson makes basically all of those forbidden faces in this episode, and it fits in beautifully with the character of Nikita. It makes this episode better than it would have otherwise been.


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