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La Femme Nikita: End Game

Operations: "I don't have to justify anything to you."
Nikita: "Today you do. Section is on trial. Defend it."

This episode was like graduation day for Nikita. She finally came into her own, and she wasn't afraid any more.

The first time I watched this episode, I honestly did not see the end coming. Although perhaps I should have. Nikita was so cool and professional, showing tremendous sangfroid during her sojourns through unauthorized areas of Section. The fact that she was doing it for Operations explained her lack of nerves to some extent. But did she kick ass in that final scene, or what? All of them – Operations, Madeline, and Adrian – were forced to defer to Nikita. I think Peta Wilson did a marvelous job here; it was one of the best scenes in the series.

Nikita deceived everybody, even Michael. Michael knew she was lying, but not why. Even though he was in the dark about what was happening, he did his level best to save her from making what he thought was a terrible mistake. And he was even silent and supportive in that big final scene. All of these things were a reversal of their previous roles, a sign that their relationship had changed.

I had two favorite Michael moments. The first was when he handed her the gun and told her to run. ("Outside you have a very small chance. Back at Section, you have none.") The second was that final scene when she apologized for lying to him, and he said, with grief in his voice, "They'll cancel you," and kissed her cheek. Showing emotion like that, in Section, gave it weight. He really does care deeply for her.

Adrian was a very likable character. We wanted to believe her, while all the time hoping she was wrong. She was even able to forgive Nikita for betraying her, even though it meant her own death. The whole Gemstone file with the future scenarios concerning Saddam Hussein and his role in keeping the Middle East stabilized was just eerie, considering what has happened since this episode aired. I just hope that the rest of Operations' simulation wasn't on target.

And now, Operations and Madeline want Nikita dead, but they won't cancel her for fear of fomenting rebellion among the other operatives. They plan to increase her mission frequency, and hope for the best. Looks like Nikita will be in even more danger than usual next season. Like that's possible.

Bits and pieces:

— Operations now has a full name: Paul Wolfe. Sort of fits, if you consider the meaning of the word "pall." And for that matter, the word "wolf."

— When Nikita was doing her clandestine surveillance in forbidden areas of section and trying to get into Michael's personnel file, the monitors were labeled "Plague Scenarios" and "Invasion of Canada." :)

— Michael said that Nikita was a level two operative. Has that been explicitly stated before? I don't think so.

— The security on level five operatives appeared to be high, since no one would give Nikita Michael's home address.

— We can add flower arranging to the growing list of What Nikita Does At Home.

— Cancelled scene: If you're a new viewer and haven't seen it yet, do not watch this cancelled scene! Trust me on this one. I'll mention what it is in my review of the season three opener, "Looking for Michael."


Nikita: "What's up with Ames?"
Birkoff: "I don't know. He's with Madeline, though. My guess is he's not having fun."

Nikita: "The Section sent you."
Michael: "Yes, they did. But they don't control me."

Definitely four stars,

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


  1. A dramatic and emotionally draining conclusion to the two-part season finale. On the plus side: Nikita’s suspenseful forays as a double-agent in Section, a poignant dilemma for Michael, two excellent plot reversals in the last act, and the completely authentic evolution of Nikita’s character. However, Adrian’s plan is far too simple for someone with an intelligence that supposedly rivals a Cray supercomputer, and therefore is far too easily countered by Section. Very anticlimactic. Also, there is minimal action in this episode, culminating in a final act is that is essentially a static and talky courtroom drama. At least the episode ends logically, with the promise of even more risks for Nikita next season.

    Spoilers follow...

    Nikita continues to invade the deeper levels of Section to give Adrian access to classified files. She is lucky the first time, since Walter chooses not to report her. But the next time she triggers an alarm, and only escapes with Adrian’s help by zapping one operative (with what looks like a Star Trek forcefield) and framing another. I found Nikita’s willingness to use Michael to penetrate Section security, and then sacrifice her fellow operatives to hide her unauthorized access, to be quite out of character. Of course, all this is explained later...

    Though Nikita keeps her cool, Michael is not convinced. When a general inquiry is ordered, Nikita electrocutes herself (Wilson does a very convincing job here) to foil the “IT” test, but she is still a suspect. Consequently, Operations tasks Michael with finding the mole. Michael then has to make an impossible choice: he knows that Nikita is the traitor, but also knows that she will be cancelled if he turns her in. Their confrontation in Nikita’s apartment is one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the entire series.

    When Adrian and Nikita are captured and brought to Section, I was completely surprised by the revelation that Nikita was working for Operations all along. All I could think was: poor Michael! He thought he was sentencing Nikita to death by reporting her. My next thought was: how cruel! Operations must have been testing Michael all along to see if he would report Nikita.

    Then in one final plot twist, Nikita risks her life to put Section “on trial”, which is marvellously true to her character (see “Mercy”). In the previous episode, Adrian said to her “The only coping mechanism you have intact is your belief that Section protects the innocent.” When the data in the Gemstone file seems to contradict this (“We’re supposed to be fighting these people, not helping them!”), it makes perfect sense that Nikita needs to be sure that all the evil deeds that Section perpetrates really are for the greater good.

    The episode ends with a plausible reason to delay cancelling Nikita, though we know that Operations’ promise (“... you’ll regret this”) is still hanging over her head.

    Favourite Scene:
    Michael confronting Nikita in her apartment: his repeated offers to help, his obvious pain when she continues to lie to him, his plea that this is their “last chance”. All of these heartfelt gestures make the audience sympathize with him even though he rats on her to Operations. Wilson and Dupuis are fantastic in this mesmerizing scene.

    Continuity Issues:
    Nikita should not be wearing noisy high-heeled shoes when sneaking around Section!

  2. Oh, such a great season-ender! Both your reviews are spot on and I couldn't add anything else.

    But I do have to add that I agree with:

    Billie -

    1.) This episode is where Nikita came into her own.
    2.) Your favorite Michael moments are my favorites, too.

    Serena -

    Favorite scene: The confrontation between Michael and Nikita in her apartment is one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the entire series. It was gloriously acted by Roy Dupuis and Peta Wilson. It made me cry.

  3. Oh man, you guys are absolutely right...the scene with Michael holding Nikita against the wall and brushing her hair from her face, and pleading with her to not betray Section is probably the top moment of the series, except for maybe Michael's awesome "death" scene with Elena's father in the hospital. Such superb scene craftmanship all around.

    Another word on Roy...I cannot think of a single acting performance on another TV as brilliantly done as Dupuis' Michael...it is utterly astonishing as nearly every movement the guy makes, no matter how subtle, conveys deep meaning. And as a completely straight male, I am not taken in by his looks, so this is stated with a subjective appraisal. =)

  4. The best moment for me was when Nikita told Operations that Section was on trial. The look that Michael gives him told me a lot about what was going on in his head. A close second was that kiss on the cheek. Incredibly moving.

    One thing really bothered me. If Operations and Madeline knew what Nikita was up to, why did they send Michael on a mole hunt? Was it to test him to see if he would turn Nikita in?

    I was so proud of Nikita during that scene in her apartment. Michael has manipulated her so many times in the past by bringing up their relationship. When she didn't fall for it, I cheered for her.

  5. One thing that I quickly came to accept about La Femme Nikita was that it's best not to think too much about the plots. They often unravel a bit too easily, but it doesn't matter too much because the missions aren't really the point of the show in the first place.

    In this case, though, I found the plot holes to be more annoying than usual, because this time they were created and exploited by the writers in order to inject artificial drama. The most frustrating thing about this is that the story was already compelling on its own merits and the writers didn't need to hedge their bets with cheap tricks.

    The most obvious problem was the setup to the kidnapping. All of it was clearly unnecessary and irrelevant. Carla didn't need to get access to Nikita's apartment. She didn't need to have an accomplice. She didn't need the gun. Drugging Nikita would have been trivially easy for her. But we can chase this even deeper. Carla herself wasn't even needed. Nikita has minimal personal security. Any number of simple scenarios could have been devised to allow Nikita to be captured by strangers. Beyond the act of the kidnapping itself, Nikita's relationship with Carla played no role in anything that happened. Of course, it's obvious why the writers did it their way: the extended foreplay served as convenient fodder for cliffhangers and contrived suspense.

    Removing Carla from the story entirely would resolve another obvious problem with the story, which is the implausibility of Nikita moving into an apartment next to a competing operative. This surely couldn't be a coincidence, so how did it happen? Are we supposed to think that Adrian had deep enough access to know in advance where Section operatives would be housed? Would Section be sloppy enough to reuse the same residences after the loss of an operative? We actually have reason to think that this could be the case, since Section did not dispose of Nikita's apartment during the time in which she was thought to be dead. However, this explanation doesn't withstand scrutiny: If Section were known to reuse the apartments, then wouldn't Carla have stayed in her apartment and waited for the next Section agent to move in next door? Some sort of explanation could be invented to cover all of this, but they don't even bother trying and it ends up being an unnecessary distraction hanging over the entire story arc.

    And, finally, the surprising reveal at the end was able to be as surprising as it was only because Section was complicit in fooling the audience. With a good plot twist, you can look back afterwards and see that the appropriate hints were there, and that everything makes sense in context of the twist. Here, it does not. Most obviously, we have the fact that Nikita is handcuffed at the end, after the mission is over. There's no reason for this to happen and there's no precedent for it. Backing up a bit, we wonder why Michael wasn't in on it before the end. Clearly he wasn't, as per the scene where he is asked whether he thinks that Nikita is the mole. There are halfway plausible explanations available here, but it leaves a sour note that this and other aspects of the sting weren't addressed at all. How was it that Section even knew that Adrian would make a move on Nikita? It's okay for a story to leave the audience with some unanswered questions, but only after answering enough of them to sell the act. With this large of a buildup, it's important to make sure the twist is believable, and the cheap ploy with the handcuffs at the end puts the story at a credibility deficit.

    Despite my lengthy critique, I enjoyed the two episodes quite a bit. I just wish that they could have put it together without cutting corners.

  6. As an ex-Army officer, this episode was stunning for Operations' monologue on Saddam Hussein and why Section One didn't remove him from power. It was utterly prophetic when you consider what happened after we did remove Hussein from power. By the way, there really are people at the Pentagon who run scenarios on "what ifs" and then they wargame them to prepare for how to respond to them. They have actually war-gamed Armageddon. And having Michael kiss Nikita out in the open, in Section, proved how deeply he loved her and how grieved he was that he might lose her. I am always blown away by how tender Michael can be. He rarely drops his shields, but when he does in this episode you can feel his despair.

    1. Lt Kean Enjoyed your discussion of the Pentagon war gaming. My favorite on future planning is when I learned they use a "zombie apocalypse" scenario in training cadets on future casting. They also had a group of scientists and science fiction writers (David Brin etc) developing scenarios for them. Totally plausible military planning.

  7. Lt Kean, I'm enjoying your comments. And I often thought about that prophetic bit about Saddam Hussein while Bush was in office.

  8. I'm writing chronologically here as I watch (don't worry, I pause, wouldn't want to miss one look).

    Does Nikita's apartment door have a proper lock? I honestly don't see one. I mean I have no idea if they imagined something like RFID, but this kind of bothers me now. Even that takes some installation and there is nothing next to the door or on it. Just a door handle. Why bother with the screen, knocking and so on when you can simply walk right in? Not exactly the way I would secure my home if I was a field operative.

    "For which year did Operations predict the plague?" I sit here wondering while binge watching during social distancing.

    Other than that (and I know how it's going to continue, I've seen the series before years and years ago), I'm going to bed for today with a tear in my eye (the romantic side of me), wondering why similar (without the whole gun drawing action side of it) yet basically unspoken declarations of love happen so seldomly.

    Equally puzzling: why not act on it? Michael said it, they have at least six hours. There must be a bed available somewhere in the camp part of Section (yes, I know the big reveal in season three, but let's not talk about that yet) or put the scramble thing on and do it in Michael's office...or don't scramble if you think you only have a few hours left to live, whatever floats your boat. But do something. Anything really.

  9. I thought Nikita made the wrong choice and she should not have destroyed the file copy or even told them about it. She really doesn't know how to play these power and dominance games. Destroying the Gemstone file copy after admitting she had it? She was just asking for what came next and all of the politically astute players from Adrian and Operations to Michael and Madeline knew she made several potentially lethal mistakes and gave up all of her leverage. That kind of continuing naivety bothers me now that she is playing at a higher level of politics.

  10. I’m sorry, but this episode pissed me off. Michael continually investigates Nikita and then betrays her to the Section. Following that, he says she’s going to be cancelled, gives her the kiss of death, then walks away to go to his happy home. I’d be giving up on Section’s errand boy after all that. Nikita should have given him what for and go to hell. She’s got Birkhoff and Walter to help remedy future problems. Sorry to offend anyone, but where’s the man who said, “I never realized how much I needed you”? Cry me a river, Michael.

  11. Interesting thoughts in the review and the comments :)
    I'd like just to add, I partially agree with Deb here, he emotionally abused her so many times, that it gets a bit annoying. But I actually liked what Michael did in this episode. He tried to help her. In the ending scene there wasn't much that he could do, other than to show that he cares. Which he did, in his own way.

  12. It’s been probably 25 years since I’ve watched this show when I was a pre-teen. I remember scenes here or there, even have some songs downloaded that I remembered (Is Jesus Your Pal by Gus Gus from season 3) but this is one of the few episodes I remember significant pieces of. Yet, watching it now as an adult, wow, sooooo well acted and poignant.


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