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La Femme Nikita: Imitation of Death

Walter: "You can't just walk up to someone and kill them. Even in here."

Poor Birkoff. Working with murderers has its drawbacks.

The child suicide bombers and cloning plot felt a lot like 1984 crossed with Brave New World. And the cages in Chernov's compound strongly resembled Section. Deliberate, I'm sure, because the message was that Chernov's operation and what Section does to its operatives is at heart the same.

Nikita's compassion for innocents and love of children actually helped her save the day. I was totally creeped out by the threat of medical experimentation, that Chernov could have sterilized Nikita, and even worse – that Section wouldn't have stopped him. No wonder Nikita destroyed the materials in the lab. When Chernov said to Nikita, "You're ovulating," I actually shuddered. Of course, was sterilization really a threat if Nikita can never have children anyway?

Are there really a slew of young Michael and Nikita clones on level eight being raised to be perfect future Section operatives? (I thought at least one of the kids looked like Birkoff, too.) Where can they go with a plot line like this? In another twenty or thirty years, will there be another Michael and Nikita, imprisoned in Section and in love with each other?

I liked the B plot about Felix the abeyance operative trying to kill Birkoff more than the A plot. Birkoff's utter paranoia that Madeline was somehow testing him with Felix was totally justified. I don't think she was, but it was impossible to tell for sure. Birkoff looked especially young to me here, heightening the comparison to, say, Milan. Birkoff has more free will than Chernov's children, but it doesn't amount to much.

Michael was pretty much his taciturn self again. Loved this particular exchange, mostly for Michael's matter-of-factness and deadpan expression:

Michael: "What's the problem?"
Birkoff: "He threatened to kill me. What do you think I should do?"
Michael: "Don't let him."

Bits and pieces:

— "Imitation of Death" might be a take-off of a classic old book and movie called Imitation of Life. The plots are dissimilar, though, since Imitation of Life was about racism.

— This is not the first time I've seen similarities to 1984. The world of Section is very Orwellian, in fact.

— This episode might have worked better for me without the constant, annoying background score of children singing nursery rhymes off-key.

— There was actually a comic moment, when Birkoff turned the corner, leveled his gun on Operations, and yelled, "Die, bastard!"

— Chernov: "Nikita. A good Russian name, though usually given to a man." Which brings up something I've noticed but haven't written about. Why do Michael and Nikita almost always use their own names while undercover?

Complex and interesting, but distasteful. Two out of four stars,

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


  1. What could have been an interesting exploration of training children as soldiers sadly devolves into a ludicrous science fiction premise. In addition, though Nikita acts both courageously and compassionately, the episode is so poorly plotted that it is completely unexciting and oddly unengaging. I think there was an attempt to create an atmosphere of creepy and ominous horror, but I can’t be sure, because all I felt was irritated and bored. In fact, there is more suspense in the “B” story with Felix threatening Birkoff’s life than in the “A” story. My recommendation: keep your finger on the fast-forward button.

    Favourite Scenes:
    The cathedral scene where Michael and Nikita meet Chernov: the location is lovely, and Wilson does a great job as Nikita first wipes the floor with Chernov’s guard, then acts believably betrayed as an undercover Michael “sells” her to Chernov.

    Birkoff approaching Michael for help: clearly, and humourously, Michael believes people should learn to fight their own battles (perhaps he really did think he was doing Lisa a favour in “Double Date”). Except whenever Nikita is in trouble, of course.

    Logic Flaws:
    While it is believable that children could be abducted and brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers (though 6 years old is still too young to be useful), it is utterly ridiculous that Chernov would consider producing and raising genetically-engineered babies for this purpose, as it would be neither time- nor cost-effective: functional humans cannot be grown like plants!

    Continuity Issues:
    The “light-show scan” that Chernov uses on Nikita is way too “Star Trek” for the near future world of LFN, and so is the Section cloning bit. I believe this last plot device was meant to be a shocking “twist” ending, but instead proves to be an eye-rolling clunker that completely shatters the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.

    As for using real names on missions: first names won’t lead anyone to uncovering the real identity of a Section operative (remember, they are officially dead) though I’m sure last names are changed. There are definite advantages to using real names, as operatives are less likely to make mistakes (also, it is less confusing for the first-time viewer ;-). As far as I recall, the tendency is to assign different first names only when impersonating someone else (as in “Simone” and “Love”).

  2. 2019 and I still am utterly in love with this show. I have started watching from the beginning all over again (in case I missed or forgot episodes as a kid) and yeah, lots of unanswered questions.

    One question I keep wondering above the rest, per episode... does Michael really love Nikita? If so, how much? How does one man love three women? Surely he must love one more than the other (Simone, Elana, Nikita)?

    How does Michael not show emotion when Nikita is involved but has shown pleanty for the loss of Simone, his son Adam and wife Elana?

    1. I think Michael has made it clear he deeply loves Nikita. I doubt he was much more emotive with Simone though he obviously let himself be closer to her. He is, or was, the master of compartmentalizing his emotions.

      Regarding Elena, I suspect his feelings for her are rooted in affection rather then love. She appears to be a lovely person who mothered his child. I didn't interpret it as romantic love. I think being separated from his son and this normal life, as manufacturered as it was, broke him. Nikita was the only thing that could bring him back.

      Anyway, thank you to this site for these wonderful reviews. I'm rewatching the series for the first time in 10 years and I love having a 'companion' as I watch.

    2. Good answer. I too sometimes question how much he loves her, but I got the impression by his reaction to the loss of his son that he cared about Elena because she was the mother of his son. Not because he was in love with her. It was more of caring rather than being in love.

  3. bellona6356, thanks so much, and welcome to the site! LFN is one of the first few shows I reviewed, and I always love seeing LFN comments.

  4. Wow, the nursery songs annoy me before the opening credits even showed. Those are some amazingly unnerving tones.

    The main story, well, it's there. Is it any good? Not too much.

    The side story, yes, that one is more interesting, with Birkoff getting really really nervous.

    One question is open for me though - how long has Nikita been in Section now? Her clone is what age? Even if they took her DNA sometime during training (let's assume she showed such great potential that they went through with it), how does this work out timewise?

  5. My first and probably last comment as regular posters are so prolific and insightful - thank you! I hail from Colorado and am streaming
    LFM for the second time during COVID. I was a huge fan when the series originally aired and have found revisiting the show a joyful distraction this past year. Thanks to all of you, the third time around has been even more enjoyable. Each time I viewed this episode I believed I had insight to where future seasons would go with twists and turns. SPOILER ALERTS...I didn’t believe that Nikita’s ovum was destroyed. Instead, given Section One’s lack of truth and consorting with the enemy du jour, I believed Nikita’s egg was of considerable value to Section. Given the “surreal” scene with “cloned” children on sight, my conjectures were reinforced. Surely Section would like to produce an uber operative - Michael and Nikita’s offspring unbeknownst to our uber couple. Alas, my deductions were never realized in future episodes or seasons. Had I surmised correctly, what a compelling reason to reunite Michael after their tragic parting of ways. Adam is now grown, Nikita has trained a successor for Section, and a biological child of our separated couple arrives on the scene.

  6. I really like LFN but there are chapters with some misconceptions. Cloning is a very complex process that is not handled with a Star Trek-style laser. This chapter came out in 1998 and the big event of `` Dolly the sheep (the clone) '' had been published in 1997. Well there for the producers to take this issue quickly. It sounds logical that if Section One is 20 years ahead, they should have technology about this already developed. Nerd data in order to understand the misconception: Dolly (the clone sheep) died prematurely. Why? because the internal age of the clone was more advanced than her own lifespan indicated. They are still currently on this topic (yes, scary. The only good thing about this chapter is that they put into discussion a topic as delicate as this.


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