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La Femme Nikita: Love and Country

Madeline: "You have to admit it looks like you're going after Markali for personal reasons."

Gee, Madeline. You think?

You know what I think? I think Operations just used Section to victimize two completely innocent people. Having Markali turn out to be dirty in the end just didn't ring true for me. After all, if Operations could torture a lie out of that poor guy in the teaser, he could certainly construct convincing evidence to make Markali look bad. I wonder what poor Corinne did that was so terrible? Was it that she didn't mourn Operations forever?

Okay, counterpoint. Markali was too good to be true. Intelligent, distinguished, thoughtful, faithful, in other words, nothing like the typical politician. We could, of course, choose to believe that Operations did all of this persecution reluctantly, and Markali really was bad... no. I just don't believe it.

Madeline is no fool. She had to know that Operations was lying; she even questioned him about it. Why did she let it happen? Maybe she was just relieved that Operations hasn't been sexually harassing her lately. I did love seeing Madeline as Corinne's shrink, with glasses, doing very convincing shrink-speak, although I felt terrible for poor Corinne. Speaking from her heart, confiding in a health care professional, the absolute height of vulnerability. If you can't trust your shrink, who can you trust?

This time, it was Nikita's turn to give her all for Section... except that she got a reprieve because Markali was determined to be faithful to his wife. Madeline expressed disappointment that Nikita didn't try hard enough with Markali, but come on, Madeline. A woman who looks like Nikita? Most men would have her on her back in two seconds with the absolute minimum of encouragement from her.

Bits and pieces:

— I assume Operations is American. Corinne sounded British. What was Markali? What country were they in? Corinne also mentioned diplomats, so that kind of makes sense. But how close were they to Section, if Nikita could so easily return and report?

— What about Steven Wolfe? In "Missing," Steven said that his mother died of a broken heart. Wasn't Operations supposedly married to Steven's mother when he "died" in Vietnam? And hey, for that matter, did Operations divorce Corinne, and/or Steven's mother? Is he a bigamist, like Michael?

— Cherie Lunghi, who played Corinne, deserves a gold acting star. She did a fabulous job with an extremely difficult role.

— Nikita wore red and gray in Section. Loved her pseudo-intellectual look: glasses, long braid, gray sweater, very little make-up, very Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago. Of course, Peta is gorgeous, no matter what she wears.

— Cancelled scene: There is an extended version of the scene where Operations was watching clips of Corinne talking to Madeline. Operations fantasizes that Corinne comes into his office and hugs him, he tells her he is sorry, and she forgives him.


Nikita: "I wonder what kind of woman would be married to Operations."
Good question.

Michael: "I'm sorry."
Corinne: "What are you sorry for? Are you cheating on your wife, too?"
Well, technically, since he can never divorce Elena, yeah.

It's hard to rate this one. The story was clever and the acting was great, but it ticked me off. Two and a half stars?

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


  1. And here is where the fan’s Continuity Nightmare officially begins. Joel Surnow, co-creator of LFN, made the inexplicable decision NOT to create a series bible that script writers could use for reference. By the third season, much of Surnow’s time was devoted to developing other television shows, and because of his divided attention he allowed (and even perpetrated) some of the worst continuity errors ever filmed. The writer, Lawrence Hertzog, begins his career with LFN with this distasteful episode, and sadly plummets to ever-increasing depths as he continues to contribute scripts that defy all logic, and reveal his fundamental lack of understanding of the characters and concepts of LFN.

    I can only imagine the consternation amongst the LFN cast and crew in Toronto, forced to enact the contradictory storylines and character assassinations sent down to them from California. In this episode, it is Glazer who suffers the most from Surnow’s negligence and Hertzog’s inept writing, as Operations’ backstory from Season One is completely negated, and his character is reduced to a vindictive and petty despot.

    I would advise fans of LFN to pretend that this horrid episode is merely a bad dream, and proceed as if the events depicted never happened. Better yet, just don’t watch it at all.

    Logic Flaws:
    Accepting the premise that Markali is actually dirty and has to be killed in a way that discredits him, wouldn’t it be easier for Section to have the “jilted lover” (a Section operative) of the “scandalous affair” (already manufactured by Section) murder him? It seems that the only reason to manipulate his wife into killing Markali is to make her suffer for the rest of her life in a mental institution. Operations is not that unjustifiably evil (see Continuity Issues).

    Continuity Issues:
    In “Missing”, Operations’ son clearly states that his mother died of a broken heart because of his father’s MIA status. Yet here, Operations’ ex-wife is alive and well decades later, having been married to Markali for 21 years. Since this episode revolves entirely around her character, this continuity gaffe is impossible to ignore. So why was this script ever allowed to be developed? Only Surnow knows.

    On to the character assassination of Operations. In this episode, Operations forces a captive to lie to implicate Markali, and then it is implied that he manufactures the final damning evidence against the man (he specifically tells Birkoff to send the decrypted accounts to him first), all to justify his persecution of Markali and Corinne. This makes Operations seem purely vindictive, which is entirely out of character.

    What has made Operations so fascinating as a character is that, by the end of many episodes, the viewer would often have to reluctantly agree that his immoral approach was actually effective, that the end really does justify the means when dealing with extreme terrorism. This moral ambiguity is one of the defining features of the Section “universe”, and is a huge component in making the series so engrossing. In Seasons One and Two, Operations’ ruthlessness has been depicted as resulting out of necessity in dedication to a higher purpose (personal sacrifice for the “greater good”). However, Operations is now being portrayed with alarming frequency as a one-dimensional evil power monger. This dilutes what used to be a complex, three-dimensional character, and effectively reduces audience involvement in the story and belief in the world of Section. Sadly, this is only the beginning of the numerous ways that Hertzog massacres the characters and world of Section One.

  2. "This makes Operations seem purely vindictive, which is entirely out of character." - Serena.

    I disagree here, Serena. Usually like yours & Billie's reviews but Operations *is* evil. I think you both project your ideals of men onto these 2 characters (Paul & Michael) and are blind to the truth of their ruthlessness. Both characters only care about themselves.

    Remember what Adrienne said? He wants power. Of course he does. He is at the top and no one to answer to, except Oversight and George to whom he regularly lies.

    I think the only character assassination is that of Michael in S3; having us believe that he cared about Nikita, and that he would put her above Section is asking to suspend too much disbelief for me. They also turned him into a simpering wimp a few episodes ago. Hard to believe this man would care about a kid he had with a woman he couldn't care less about: hello, she was "a mission". Then he says "if she dies, they die" when Section wants her poisoned? Please! Michael only cared about saving his bare naked ass. That's all.

    Yes, that actress was outstanding, very reminiscent of the one in Rescue. A boring episode, nevertheless, and I feel Peta Wilson was way too happy going along with Nikita's machinations: they also massacred her character but Peta used to show compassion and conflict ref. the mission. In this one she is all too happy to go tell the wife she's cheating with her husband. The scene outside the door wasn't good enough for me: what happened to her acting!? She was supposed to look devastated and she didn't even look the least bit bothered. Even when she had to kiss the guy, she looked like she was going to town and even wanted him to sleep with her, in spite of what Madeleine said. Her acting was way off for me here.

    I had no idea about the California Hertzgov bit. I did find S3 to S5, Nikita has changed from the rebellious newcomer to subservient to Section and very compliant. I remember liking the show back then but it's starting to go downhill fast for me here. S1 stood the test of time, and S2 mariginally as well. S3 is down the tubes and downhill from there!

  3. Wow the different opinions on this one fascinates me! Yes, the continuity error is atrocious - I assume this is meant to be Stephen's mother, Stephen is referenced only 2 episodes later, how or why is it that mother and son are supposedly completely estranged? And we can only ever argue that one if we ignore Stephen's 'dying of a broken heart' line.

    HOWEVER. I cannot agree that this behaviour is out of character for Operations, and while I like your reviews a great deal, Serena, I find your general belief that Section's actions are ultimately justified disturbing. I would think/hope that while moral complexity is a key part of what makes LFN great, the core message it is trying to impart is how wrong and appalling some of the means we choose to use to supposedly good ends are, how they destroy our humanity and bring us far too close to our enemies, and how corrupting unchecked power is. Regarding Operations himself, yes, in general he is rational and detached - though never so rational and detached as either Madelaine or Michael. When it comes to personal issues c.f. 'Mandatory Refusal' 'Inside Out' and 'In Between' we have seen him behave counter to the best interest of Section, vindictively and irrationally.

    In light of these prior episodes his actions here, horrific though they are, do not appear out of character to me at all. And in reference to the 'moral' issues above, I think part of the point of this agonising and disturbing episode is what Nikita says at the end - whether or not Markali was guilty, it is too much, too harsh, with appalling collateral. Another strategy could have, should have, been used.

    Friend anonymous - perhaps you are not watching the same show as everyone else? While I agree that our main reviewers above have a somewhat charitable outlook on Section in general and Michael in particular I cannot understand how it is possible to view Michael as completely self-serving in light of his behaviour in 'Simone', 'Rescue' and 'Darkness Visible', freeing Nikita in 'Mercy' and begging her to give up Adrian in 'End Game', as well as offering her the opportunity to run. There have also been half a dozen times he has genuinely covered for Nikita with Operations or Madelaine, and of course blackmailed them to save her life in 'Looking for Michael'. Now certainly you could argue that Nikita is his one great exception - the one person for whom he compromises his cold-blooded behaviour - but I think his attempted defiance of Section to protect his 'cover wife' negates that, and I find it somewhat sad that you would consider that season 3 arc as character assassination, when it is meant to provide the most forgiving insight to Michael we have ever had. Not to mention that Nikita's line that 'it explains a few things' and Madelaine's later that 'there's nothing to keep them apart now' indicates that his cover family was always a large part of why Michael eschewed a relationship with Nikita outside of Section.

    Anyway. I don't consider this a terrible episode, rather a telling episode. Though having watched it twice now I do resolve to never do so again. It is one of the three most disturbing Section-actions episodes in the series (with 'Old Habits' and 'Under the Influence') and the most emotionally distressing.

  4. While I Operation's hair before did seem blondish to me, in this episode it is just white. Well, maybe that fits well with the evil he is showing. And yes, I can totally see him act like he did in this episode. I don't like the episode, but this is not the main reason for it, the utter lack of Michael is (at least in large parts of the episodes).

    About the "died of a broken heart" thing... maybe he ment it as a figure of speech, that she wasn't the same ever again after Operations didn't come back? Although if only parts of his charming personality were present in the marriage as well, I would have assumed that a party was in order rather than anything else.

  5. Does it make me a bad person that I found this episode absolutely hilarious? Nikita telling Corinne that she's getting married to Markali "after he dumps you" had me rolling on the floor.


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