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La Femme Nikita: Hand to Hand

Sandra: "How can you be so calm?"
Nikita: "Because I come from a place not unlike this."

Killer prostitutes and fighting fish. I wasn't sure if this was a good episode or a really bad one. It was certainly different.

On the compassion scale, we have Nikita on one end, Section on the other, and Michael hovering somewhere in the middle. Michael couldn't talk Nikita into leaving the victimized women (personified by Nikita's "bitch," the weak and frightened Sandra) but I don't think he tried all that hard. And he was ready to throw the mission away if Nikita hadn't won the fight.

I think they missed a good opportunity here for a quick, undercover tumble, though. I was sort of anticipating one when Michael took Nikita off the floor and to his room. That room looked so open, too. Why weren't they worried about observers, or recording devices? Couldn't they have had a passionate pas de deux while whispering intel into each other's ears?

This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was very obvious: the women and the fish, both trapped, both forced to fight. Nikita and Aurora in the tank with their long, flowing costumes, interwoven with shots of the fighting fish, was beautiful as well as scary and immediate. The grate coming down to drown Nikita freaked me out just a bit, too. (I noticed that Michael was choking Meyer at the same time Nikita was "drowning.") It was satisfying to see Aurora kill Amagar in the end. Nikita won this time.

The prostitution theme was oddly echoed in the disintegrating relationship between Operations and Madeline. It's been so long since they dropped the harassment plot thread that I was surprised when they picked it up again. Operations showed uncharacteristic joviality as he reduced Madeline to a plaything. Can you imagine the two of them splitting apart in a big way? I'd love to see that happen. War in the corridors of Section. News at eleven.

The final scene with Nikita and Walter in her apartment was my favorite. It was poignant. The unwilling prostitutes were freed, but no one is going to come along and free the prisoners of Section.

Bits and pieces:

— This episode had something new: Nikita had a premonition dream about drowning in the pit. How did she not drown, by the way? They never did quite explain that one.

— Renee was in Section for last year's peer review. I don't remember last year's peer review. Renee was lucky to get out of Section alive. Would I want to be Madeline's rival? I think not.

— Operations gave Renee three rules: no public displays of affection, she must come immediately when he calls, and work always comes first. How romantic.

— The pain collar was just a bit too Star Trek for me.

— Roy Dupuis got to do a French accent, and he wore a gorgeous suit.

— In this week's hair report, Nikita wore an extra long fall that accentuated her nonexistent resemblance to a fighting fish.


Nikita: "And the girls?"
Madeline: "They're not our concern."
Why the hell not, Madeline? What about helping innocent people?

Nikita: "How do you do it? How do you stay sane? What's the secret?"
Walter: "Knowing when to lie and when to tell the truth."
Nikita: "To them?"
Walter: "To yourself."

This episode was unsettling, and somewhat bizarre. It could have been a lot better. Two out of four stars,

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


  1. i am going through your episode reviews one by one and i really liked this episode for some reason. maybe because Nikita's soft spot for the helpless helped her win big time. she helped all those women trapped in a living hell, much like her. She won this time, and i'm glad Michael saw that. You really can't tell where his mind is at in this one, he's so hard to read. But Nikita is very predictible, like I knew she was going to help the girls early on during her meeting with madeleine, who oddly enough wouldn't tell her much. its usually the things madelene doesn't say that worry me, and that was certainly true in this case. all in all, everyone was in character and Nikita actually won this time. yeah girl!!!

  2. I agree, Anonymous, that the plot was actually a good one, and so were Nikita's motivations. I thought it was the execution that didn't work for me.

  3. This episode is the result of pressure from the USA network to cast wrestlers as guest stars on LFN (wrestling was USA’s only other big draw at the time). The producers of LFN complied in a gesture of goodwill, only to have the intended guest star refuse the role. After the subsequent scramble to recast and rewrite, what emerges is a strangely hollow episode. The cast and crew bravely do the best they can, but there is really no way to rescue this predictable, formulaic material. Unfortunately, the “B” story is just as unappealing, as Operations is depicted in an unpleasantly sleazy fashion.

    At least the lighting, sets, costumes, and camera angles are visually interesting, and Nikita’s character is true to form in that she is determined to rescue the other trapped women who are considered expendable. Her line, that she “[comes] from a place not unlike like this”, reminds us how well Nikita has adapted and survived in the inhuman world of Section. In the end, though, the most compelling scene is actually the final one, where Walter visits Nikita’s apartment, and he advises her to consider training for another speciality since field operatives have such a short life expectancy. Her response to this advice is admirable, and again very true to her character.

  4. Billie, I find it very interesting that you THINK that Michael loves Nikita yet are unable to SEE that clearly Madeleine is in love with Operations. It's in her eyes. She certainly is a much better actress than Roy Dupuis can ever hope to be. Have you forgotten when she threatened the doctors with a bullet "four corpse or 4 men alive"? So there's no harassment going on. Madeleine wants to be robotic, she is fighting against her own feelings and Operations doing his darnedest to make her jealous.

    Shocker: how huge are Peta Wilson's feet! (Close up, apt. final scene).

    Also Nikita did not drown because she figured out that to get them to lift the crusher cover she had to hold her breath and pretend to have drowned. They needed the pit open for the next fight, so she figured they'd call housekeeping right away. Good move.

    I found the name Kristin Booth (Sandra) recently but can't quite place her. I saw she got an obvious nose job and cheekbone implants in recent pix. Pity, she was pretty in her natural state.

  5. One more: I agree that they missed the opportunity to sex up the episode. This could have been a throwback to "Love" where Michael is forced to sleep with Nikita because of monitoring cameras (the bad guys upping the ante in both perversion and blackmail on their clients) and Nikita has to pretend not to like it. Would have gotten the ratings way up with a good 'in next week's episode' promo, for sure.

    All in all, I'm surprise you both didn't care for the episode. It was intense. Then again, you keep comparing to Star Trek: I wish you wouldn't do that, or at least provide links, story excerpt and screen caps of ST because I'm not familiar at all with that show! It's not like comparing Alias to LFN, which is a direct rip off.

    I thought it was a very good episode for the final scene where Nikita hands the bad woman the gun. I guess you two didn't like it for the missed shipping opportunity?

  6. The Operations/Madeline scene was so creepy - especially coming on the back of what we've just seen.

  7. a good choreography, a game of light and colors ... costumes, symbolism, volter's lesson about (our false lives) and expression in the eyes, not when spoke character, but Don Francks
    Operation / Madeline, nothing is what it seems to be ...
    considering the message of this episode, and the circumstances where the characters are,
    "shipping opportunity" nikita / Michael is inappropriate
    Michael decided to help ... has a sister
    and nikita had learned the basics of diving

  8. Well done review as always! (been reading them as I watch the series lately)

    One thing that I ve noticed and was curious about:
    I am perplexed about how constantly you use the word harassment when talking about the Madeline / Operations romance.

    While not an example of a healthy relationship (thats an understatement given the psycho-profiles of the characters involved) its clearly portrayed as consensual.

  9. I liked almost everything about this episode. My only objection is to the final escape scene. I'd expect more "guests" in such place, and much more armed guards. Nikita would not have much of a chance being exposed in the middle of that room, even with fire support from Michael.
    Honestly I find her decision to stay shortsighted (maybe she hoped that Michael would intervene?). Most likely she would have ended up A) killing someone in that pool or B) dead in that pool.
    But that's why we like Nikita, she was ready to fight, but also to go with option B, if need be.
    So glad to see everything worked out :)

  10. The beta fish costumes were unique. I'm going to suggest this to the mermaids at Weekie Wachee. Just not the "till the death" part 😁


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