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La Femme Nikita: Gray

"Your relationship with us is the only real relationship you'll ever have."

This episode was supposedly all about the stolen Directory, which contained the identity and cover of everyone in Section. But actually, it was more about Nikita finding a boyfriend.

Callum Keith Rennie is a talented, good-looking character actor who also looks like he could be a psycho. He was pretty much perfect casting as Gray, because throughout, we were never sure if Gray was as good as he seemed. We still weren't sure by the end of the episode. Operations got angry – again – because Nikita attempted to protect Gray ("Why are we still at this point with her?") Indeed, if Gray was the good person he appeared to be, then it was completely despicable of Section to put a widowed father of a three-year-old in such danger.

Nikita started to put the button to her exploding necklace in Michael's hand, and then changed her mind and kept it. This was symbolic of her emotional withdrawal from him; perhaps she was subconsciously punishing him for manipulating her in the previous episode?

My favorite Michael moment was when he out-colded Benko in the conference room in Prague. Benko pushed a head-sized box toward Michael and said, "I took the opportunity of returning Mr. Lange. What's left of him." Michael, with an almost amused expression, said, "Thank you" as if it were actually a gift.

Michael was completely calm and impassive in the scenes with Benko, when his life and the lives of everyone in Section were at stake... and then he showed impatience when Nikita was in danger of having her head blown off. We may think that Madeline was projecting too much when she counseled Michael about handling the fact that Nikita was forming an attachment to another man... and then we were left at the end with calm, impassive Michael standing in the street, staring at Nikita going into Gray's apartment. How about that.

Bits and pieces:

— This episode was notable for the introduction of Carlo Rota as continuing character Mick Shtoppel, acting as a go-between for Section and Benko.

— It looked very cold in those outdoor scenes.

— Nikita asked Madeline where she went at night. Madeline didn't tell her.

— Michael's silent bid on the Directory was thirty million U.S. dollars. American again.

— "Gray Wellman" was such a metaphorically loaded name.

— There was a lot of "city" in this one. Which city was it? There was discussion of going to "City," going to "Poly," and of "City Centre Park."

— The Directory is still out there. Where?

— This week's hot look: Nikita in a grey jacket and black fedora. Very nice.

— Operations: "So what do you think?" Birkoff: "I think he's an architect who likes to ride the bus."

— Cancelled scene: Nikita finds the Directory chip on the floor of Gray's apartment.

Two out of four stars,

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


  1. Another solid episode: strong characterizations across the board, plus an excellent plot driven by serious jeopardy and spiced with bold bluffs and unexpected twists. Rocco Matteo does his usual amazing job of finding locations in Toronto for the many outdoor scenes (Prague, the church, the loading dock, the courtyard), and Sean Callery’s score heightens the illusion (notice the Russian themes during the Prague scene).

    Spoilers follow...

    This episode’s storyline is particularly strong. Right from the start, the scene depicting how the Directory is stolen is convincingly real (at least to someone as computer illiterate as myself ;-), and the threat of exposure is immediately apparent by the deaths of two Section operatives. The ensuing auction is marvellously tense, and then the elaborate efforts to mitigate the damage show off Nikita’s talents as an operative. She establishes her cover with ease, threatens the middleman effectively, doesn’t panic when things go wrong and a bomb is attached to her neck (excellent use of Section technology to counter this, by the way), and then outbluffs Benko at the end. And, while saving Section’s bacon, she still manages to protect the innocent civilian they used as a pawn. Well done!

    In addition, the writers effectively embedded character moments into a heavily plot-driven script. Walter has a cute exchange with Nikita, and Madelaine awards praise to both Nikita (“It usually takes the new ones several years to ask me that question.”) and Michael (“You’ve done a good job with Nikita”) to balance Operations’ harshness. Even Birkoff gets to demonstrate his expertise to counter the surveillance on Nikita’s necklace.

    Most prominently, the character of Michael is very well served in this episode: he gets to show off his unflappable demeanour with a darkly humourous “Thank-you”; he wins the unusual auction by precisely gauging the psyches of both his opponent and the seller; and his strategic abilities outshine both Operations and Madelaine as he comes up with a way to salvage the situation (“If we can’t get the Directory, let’s at least bring down Benko.”). Oh, and he wipes out Benko’s henchmen in spite of the fact that he is armed only with a handgun while they are using Uzis. No wonder he is Operations’ right-hand man!

    The weakest part of the episode for me was the character of Gray. As much as I like Callum Keith Rennie in other roles, I thought the writers made Gray rather bland and boring, perhaps assuming that his “widower with a young daughter” status would garner sufficient audience sympathy. The main problem is that he has very little chemistry with Peta Wilson, which makes Gray a poor love interest for Nikita in comparison to Michael. In order to make up for this, the writers should have given him some endearing qualities that would have convinced me that Nikita could be attracted to him as an individual. Instead, it looks merely as if she is attracted to the concept of a “normal” life, and Gray is her door into that existence.

    There is one plot point that I haven’t been able to figure out, though: just how did Benko find Harding before the exchange when all of Section’s resource couldn’t? And why would Harding personally deliver the disk? Still, on the whole I found this episode to be a solid entry in the Season One roster.

  2. I really look forward with anticipation to your comments every day. It makes me revisit the things I love about this show. Although I will add that we notice one of the prominent themes of this show coming up in escape and now Gray. Nikita wants to have a normal life; she even actively seeks to achieve what's missing in her life. However, when Michael presents himself to her, in the way he did in Escape, she chooses him over that chance of freedom; however misguided she was to think she would have it. Maybe she's extremely vulnerable at this point in her life, or maybe she's starting to think what she does is worth it- saving the world and all that. I think her reaction to Gray is normal for a young woman her age who works in the stressful environment that she does. Michael becomes untouchable once again and she responds very normally by seeking in Gray what she can't seem to get from Michael.
    Her early acclamation to section one seems to hinge on something she cares about more than she realizes-Michael. She seems to trust Michael's judgment and his efficiency on attaining the objectives of the mission while her personal objective becomes saving the innocent lives that might have become collateral. They seem to work together really well in that regard.
    Also, I agree that there really isn't much chemistry between Nikita and Callum Keith Rennie. Certainly not something that compares with her and Michael. Maybe that was intentional.
    I really like reading Billie’s comments and then reading yours and I hope you will continue to comment on some of my favorites.

  3. Thanks for the appreciation! It helps motivate me as I struggle with the darned Google Account (it used to be easier to post comments, wasn't it?) And it's always lots of fun to discuss LFN, so please keep adding your comments too!

    I think you're right -- Nikita really does respect and admire Michael, and that is one of the reasons why his approval is so important to her (as we saw right from the beginning in "Nikita"). Since Nikita never had the chance to do anything with her life, I agree that she is starting to buy into Section's "saving the world" manifesto. There is enormous appeal for someone who was neglected and dismissed to be given direction and purpose, and to excel at something and accomplish some good in the world.

    Poor Nikita is struggling with her attachment to Michael like a fish on a hook: she is thoroughly caught, but it is so humiliating to be so easily manipulated that she's fighting it as much as she can!

  4. Hi Serena,

    Yes, we just changed our commenting rules--we were getting spammed like crazy.

    I don't know why your name isn't appearing like it used to, though. You might want to try creating a Blogger profile. (I know: one more profile is the last thing anyone needs.) But you can make it private and un-viewable if you want, and it should make posting comments a bit easier.

  5. Thanks, Josie!

    I think I finally fixed this problem for new posts by creating a Blogger profile, like you suggested, but is there a way for me to go back and put my real name on the posts that are already up?
    Sorry to be so clueless ;-) I really appreciate your help.

  6. Serena -- No, I'm afraid you can't change your earlier comments, and we can't, either. You can delete them and repost them, but that might be more effort than you want to expend.

  7. Drat! Foiled again... Now I just have to live with the embarrassment ;-)

  8. "We may think that Madeline was projecting too much when she counseled Michael about handling the fact that Nikita was forming an attachment to another man... and then we were left at the end with calm, impassive Michael standing in the street, staring at Nikita going into Gray's apartment. How about that." - This scene tickled my senses.

    In the beginning, a friend of mine was always on the fence about Michael's feelings toward Nikita for which I don't blame her because talk about a poker face: Michael is THE master at it and ambiguity is his game. In contrast, I was never in doubt. Why, you ask? You can't trust Michael's actions because he's manipulated Nikita before. You can't trust his words because he's lied to her a number of times. One doesn't know what's in his thoughts and his heart because he keeps them close to the vest. He's such a private, secretive, introverted man. But it's his eyes that offer a glimpse to the truth, to his soul. It's in his eyes. Roy Dupuis is magnificent in acting with his eyes, bar none.

  9. Loved the scene where Behnko tells Michael he is returning what's left of their operative and Michael just says, "Thank you," Matter-of-factly. I don't think Nikita refused to give Michael the necklace fob back as punishment. I think she just wanted to show him that Section wasn't in complete control of her fate. If she chose to bush the button, it would have been her own choice and not something Section forced her to do.

  10. My favorite Michael moment was when he told the team they had 15 minutes to restore the disaster of Grey's house, and then left - leaving no doubt he was in charge and they were the lackeys!

    In response to Billie's comment, I don't think Michael was impatient with Nikita when she was in danger of losing her head (after her dummy explodes). I think he was actually afraid she was going to die. Nikita at this point is obviously alright with risking her life, and I don't think the possibility of dying actually phases her anymore. She is trapped in a world she isn't fully committed too and in love with an unobtainable man. Michael, however, is afraid to live without her. I think his sharp "Nikita!" was spoken out of his own fear.

    And yeah, I don't like Rennie in here either - he just doesn't have much. . . . pizzazz in this role. However, he would certainly offer Nikita some semblance of normalcy, which maybe why she is attracted to him. We probably just don't like him because he's not Michael!

  11. Two quick comments: I don't think Nikita was anywhere close to falling in love with Grey. She was either (as pointed out above) using him as a window into a normal life which is denied to her, or she simply fancies him and is going to have a little fun. When Madeline and Nikita talk about Grey's potential as a good cook, I really don't think they're talking about food!
    Secondly, nice though Nikita's suit and hat are at the episode's beginning, she looks amazing in her black outfit and choker at the end. It's such a shame that many of LFN's publicity photos of Peta Wilson were so often of her in tacky leather skirts.


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