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La Femme Nikita: Double Date

Nikita: "A psychotic killer and a sadistic wife beater?"
Operations: "Most operatives start out flawed in one way or another."

It's one year later, and David and Lisa Fanning are back. Fanning is now a Section operative, desperate to get out. And he's figured out Michael's weakness.

Douglas O'Keeffe, who played David Fanning, was such a hoot in this episode. The opener where he needled Michael and Nikita about their relationship was just hilarious. ("When you guys go on a mission or you're on standby, how often do you have sex?") Nikita was mad enough to spit nails, while Michael just got even more expressionless, if such a thing was possible. The Fanning/Nikita part of the "double date" was just as interesting as the Michael/Lisa debacle. Fanning treated Nikita like a guy when he wasn't treating her like Michael's possession. I think it was because Nikita refused to cringe before him.

But this episode was mostly about Michael, who showed a streak of utter ruthlessness that was just stunning. Michael knew how fragile Lisa was, and how much she had loved him. He knew that Lisa was more afraid of David Fanning than anything else on earth. And he didn't hesitate for a moment to seduce Lisa again, and sacrifice her to Fanning for Nikita. Yes, he also gave her the means of freeing herself, but if that isotope hadn't been so handy, what would he have done? Given her a stiletto to hide in her boot?

Lisa did change during the past year, but not enough. She knew all along that Michael was up to something, but she still couldn't resist another taste, could she? My favorite Michael moment was when he finally reverted to type and injected Lisa – checkmate. It was partially because we knew he'd been stringing her along and we were just waiting for it to happen. And partially because she just had him beaten and it didn't feel like such a mondo betrayal at that point. But it was mostly because Michael is such a freaking contradiction. Yes, he was cruel, but he's doing it to save Nikita, after all.

The Birkoff scenes were also a lot of fun. He deceived Operations, and I never get tired of that. And we got another great example of Michael doing Section terse, with Birkoff, in the cafe:

Michael: "Security's been breached. Kusco's still alive."
Birkoff: "That's impossible. Satellite intel picked up the explosion and our sources confirmed..."
Michael (pointedly): "Security's been breached. Kusco's still alive."

Bits and pieces:

— David and Lisa Fanning were in the season one episode, "Obsessed." "Double Date" even started with the same music they used in "Obsessed." ("I will die for you.")

— Fanning said that it was common knowledge in Section that Michael and Nikita were a couple. Funny how this keeps happening, despite the fact that Michael has tried very hard to make it clear that he and Nikita are not a couple.

— One of the "twins" was in the internet/game cafe, sitting at one of the computers. I thought they were following Michael or Nikita, but it appeared they were also shadowing Birkoff.

— During the Michael/Lisa love scene, Lisa was wearing some seriously extreme red undies. Speaking of love scenes, it's a lot harder for a guy to fake it. Michael must be able to compartmentalize pretty damned well.

— Did Michael really walk into a bar and order milk?

— We don't get to see David's horrible death, but we can certainly imagine it. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Michael's version of marriage counseling might very well work; at least Lisa won't need bodyguards any more.

— Would a million bucks be enough to pay ten full-time bodyguards, ad infinitum?


Fanning: "Request permission to take a leak."
Nikita: "Permission denied."

Birkoff: "You can trust me."
Michael: "If you betray me, I'll kill you."
Birkoff: "That's why you can trust me."

Nikita: "You know, you're either insane, or the cruelest man who ever lived."

I loved the fun bit with Lisa's seven foot tall bodyguard.
Michael: "There's something in it for you."
Bodyguard: "What's that?"
Michael: "I'll give you back your gun."
Bodyguard: "You don't have my gun."
Michael takes his gun.

It's always a good time when Michael seduces someone. Four stars,

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


  1. Another hugely entertaining episode, one of the top three of Season Two. This story is smaller in scale, but still delivers in spades as a return of two favourite guest stars from Season One provides the impetus for a tale of abduction and revenge on a personal level. The parallel stories of Nikita matching wits with Fanning, and Michael deceiving both Section and Lisa, are full of conflict, suspense, action, and even humour. Plus there’s several scenes providing a bit of guilty pleasure for the female audience as well ;-)

    Spoilers follow...

    Nikita is revolted to discover that she has to work with Fanning, and accurately anticipates that the man is out for revenge. The actual Section mission is over and done with (off screen, even) before the end of the first act, but here is where the fun begins. In no time, Fanning has killed two Section operatives (and one of them was supposed to be watching him – for shame ;-), and grabs Nikita at gunpoint. Michael then has 48 hours to fool Section, and find Fanning’s wife, Lisa, to trade for Nikita.

    Nikita is dragged in handcuffs to a cabin in the woods, and chained to the floor like a dog. She has to face off with the bullying, wife-beating Fanning, and rises to the occasion admirably by carefully gauging his psychotic personality. She craftily wins concessions and small victories that enable her to launch an almost-successful attack on Fanning, then later escape her chains.

    Meanwhile, Michael’s adventures are especially fun for the viewer. First, in a hilarious scene at an internet cafe, he bullies Birkoff into helping him locate Lisa and cover for him at Section. Then he humourously deflates one of Lisa’s hulking bodyguards between sips of milk at a hotel bar. Best of all is when Michael turns on full seduction mode, and we get another beautifully scored and filmed love scene reminiscent of that in “Obsessed”. Having Lisa turn the tables on Michael afterwards is a surprising and effective plot twist, plus it is always fun to see Michael deck some more of the hulking bodyguards (Not very skilled, are they? Or did Lisa just rent them from a local football team?). Once again, the audience is astounded at Michael’s resilience: after being badly beaten, he still manages to gain Lisa’s trust and doesn’t even show a hint of pain as he drugs her and transports her to the exchange site.

    I had to think about the ending a bit, because it didn’t really make sense to me at first that Michael would allow Fanning to live when he could have easily shot him. Fanning is still a potential future threat: all Fanning would have to do is let Section know he is alive in order to get Michael and Nikita cancelled for lying. I have to conclude that Michael really believes that Lisa needs to kill Fanning herself in order to be free of her fear, and Michael feels enough compassion for her to risk allowing Fanning to walk away.

    Continuity Issues:
    I can’t for the life of me figure out why Michael didn’t just backtrack and follow Fanning into the woods after Fanning abducted Nikita. Wouldn’t it be easier to track Fanning down and pick him off through a cabin window with a sniper rifle than to locate and kidnap Lisa and bring her back to trade? But I guess the episode would be less fun that way...

    It is almost impossible to explode the gunpowder in a bullet by smashing it with a rock, as Nikita is shown to do. The impact has to be quite precise for this to happen.

    In “Mandatory Refusal”, the rule was: no contact after security was breached until the job was completed. That was only what, eight episodes ago? Well, we can throw that rule out in this episode. Apparently the writers and producers need to watch their own show a little more carefully... Unfortunately, this becomes more and more of a problem as the seasons progress.

  2. This episode was definitely entertaining! It was a game of one-upmanship between characters. Of course, there was never any doubt that Michael would succeed with his objective - he plays to win. Another favorite episode from Season 2.

    This brings to mind a well-written and extremely enjoyable fan fiction about this whole episode off a rumors challenge (where everybody thinks Michael and Nikita are a couple - I think you'd find it a hoot, Billie) called "Fanning's Way" by Beldin.

  3. I find Michael hilarious quite often! I don't know if this is due his lines, Dupuis' delivery of them or my strange sense of humor. Probably all three. I also found Fanning funny, because...

    ... Fanning isn't a stone-faced, laconic villain - he's sarcastic and has a sense of humor no matter how disgusting he is. In season one he told Nikita he didn't bother women with guns. A moment of honesty from a bully.

    As far as Lisa goes, talk about obsession! I totally understand it :) In season one Michael did the best he could to make up for his deception by giving her the money and advising her to live a happy, free life which he and Nikita couldn't. I'm sure this gesture was due to Nikita's comments in that episode. Lisa was upset but she made sure she had fun first in this current episode. I totally understand that too. I think she'll take "care" of her husband, but I was wondering how she's getting home from the woods?

  4. Did anybody else notice, the sex with Michael was so good, Lisa's hair curled up again? Hell, I'm envious.

  5. Hi. Just discovered your work. Love your humor. It made me laugh out loud a few times. I do believe there is an oops though in a quote. I went back and listened again. I believe it is "coolest" not "cruelist". Nikita: "You know, you're either insane, or the cruelest man who ever lived."
    That would be more apropos I think.

  6. Unknown, thanks so much. Coolest? Cruelest? Hard to tell. :)

  7. So glad I discovered this sight! I became a fan on day one when the series originally aired! A buddy fan told me it was on TUBI, so I obsessed again this summer while a shoulder injury healed. Just two things this episode:

    1). Why can't Nikita wear underwear like this instead of section issue tidy whities?
    2). Michael must have dressed Lisa in travel clothes after he drugged her!

    Thank you so much for your insight!

  8. Thank you for your dedicated recaps. LFN after Buffy, was my favorite show growing up. I was between 12 and 13 when both of these shows started and I remember vividly the date and time in which they did and how I was so excited when they were announced in the TV Guide. Sunday Nights on USA was my favorite line up. You had Big Easy, Silk Stalkings and LFN. SMG and then Pita really kicked off the bad ass girl power era of television.

    Anyway, this is such a great episode and the fact that we got a wonderful repeat of the song #1 Crush from one of the most epic bands of the time, Garbage (also side note, this song is also on the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack) as well as (at the time) what would be come one of the most ubiquitous songs of the year, Life in Mono, by Mono (also featured on a movie soundtrack Great Expectations), was just the cherry on top of an already delicious cake.


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