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La Femme Nikita: Mother

"You know, my real mother would have let them keep beating me."

This was the second episode in a row with a focus on a complex situation with a bad guy (or bad mom, in this case), and again, there were parallels to Nikita's past life. John and Helen Wicke were creepy as your basic, friendly neighborhood terrorists. On first viewing, I even wondered if Helen Wicke was actually Nikita's real mother.

Even though Nikita connected with Helen, she kept it professional and showed maturity as an agent. Her sangfroid during the scene with John and the computer was surprising. "That's for Chuck."

Although Section showed concern over the death of its operatives, we are finally starting to see how brutal Operations and Madeline can be. Madeline wore black and conducted an interrogation for the first time ("You can torture me all day and that won't change." "It's a deal.") And we saw their willingness to have Nikita savagely beaten for real and possibly even killed in order to get the necessary information out of Helen.

Michael nodded to the goons in order to start the beating, and then looked away; that was the only emotion he showed. It was impossible to tell that he was ordering the beating of someone he cared about. The beating probably would have looked more gruesome, though, if we could have seen more of Nikita's face through all that hair.

Bits and pieces:

— The opening scene was so obviously a set-up for an untimely death that when Chuck was introduced, Dan said, "Well, Chuck's dead."

— Halifax was mentioned as the fake Nikita's birthplace; the license plates looked somewhat European. Where are they? Again, geographically null.

— Nikita looked very young, especially in that pretty sundress, but I'm not sure she looked young enough to be Helen's daughter.

— I liked what Peta Wilson did with the scones. Very cute, and in character.

— Helen: "Are you a prostitute?" Nikita: "No. Are you?"

— This week's wardrobe note: Michael rarely wears anything other than black. Here, he wore a gray-green shirt nearly the color of his eyes. Nice for a change.

Two stars?

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


  1. I really enjoy the undercover episodes, and the structure of this one is quite clever. The “weakness” that Section is trying to exploit is slowly revealed to the viewer as the undercover infiltration unfolds. Then, as the audience’s curiosity is satisfied, it is replaced by increasing suspense as to whether or not Nikita will be able to make Section’s risky strategy succeed. Sean Callery’s soundtrack is superb, creating even more tension and danger. Also, for someone as squeamish as myself, I appreciate that most of the violence is off camera (the door closing on the scream of the torture victim, the camera often cutting away during the shocking “sacrifice” scene). I found ‘Mother’ to be a solid, engrossing episode.

    Minor spoilers follow...

    Nikita was the perfect choice to play Helen’s daughter because of her own history as a basically parentless child surviving on the streets. Though Nikita very competently and confidently carried out her spy duties (she even took satisfaction in avenging fellow operative Chuck), Peta Wilson did a great job of portraying a wistfulness beneath the facade. This reminds us that Nikita was actually a good child who was never loved or appreciated, and may still wish for a mother who actually cares. Guest star Sherry Miller also did a fantastic job in convincing us that this hardened criminal would realistically unravel after finally finding her long-lost daughter.

    The scenes in Section are just as fascinating, as it becomes apparent that Madelaine (“Do you think there’s anything I won’t do to get this information from you?”) and Operations (“Nikita may have to sacrifice.”) are prepared to inflict whatever pain necessary to get the job done, and not just on the villains. I love the deceptively generic euphemisms that Section uses: this time, it’s Nikita having to “sacrifice” for the team. The audience sees Michael trying his best to circumvent this strategy (“We’ll tap into something”), but in the end he can’t prevent it, and Nikita only witnesses him instigating her beating. The more Michael is caught in the middle, the more the viewers sympathize with his dilemma.

    I was impressed with the realism of the final scene: Nikita’s face is cut, bruised, swollen, and one of her eyes is completely bloodshot. Too many TV shows pretend that human beings can be hit in the face without any consequence, which, in my view, completely undermines their credibility. Though it’s never mentioned, I have to assume that Section employs a fleet of plastic surgeons to make sure all of the people used for “Valentine operations” (another great euphemism for seduction scenarios) are not permanently scarred or disfigured ;-)

    Nikita does earn approval from Madelaine and tenderness from Michael as a reward for her “sacrifice”. More compelling, however, is Nikita’s brave acceptance of her own pain and suffering as a means to accomplish the greater good (“I’m getting used to how things are”), while still retaining sympathy for Helen (“However long she’s got, let her believe”). Both compassion and selflessness are the defining characteristics of Nikita’s heroism.

  2. This one was great. I was stunned when Nikita was actually beaten -- I thought there would be a way out. All of which made the final scene so much more moving. Through her pain, Nikita is concerned about Helen. Lovely character beat.

  3. I ran across your reviews by accident. I had not watched LFN dvds in years. Thanks to you, I am watching them again. I will read your reviews and others' comments then go and watch that episode. Once again I am enjoying the series. I tried to watch the Nikita series, starring Maggie Q...only watched one episode! I wish Roy Dupuis would do more American films, also something from Peta Wilson. I see that she is quite the business woman now. With Marlowe House and Wylie Wilson, I guess she does not have to make films anymore! I also wish they would make a made-for-TV movie for a final ending for the show, starring Peta and Roy. Ia there anything we as fans can do to make it happen?

  4. Anonymous, I think we were lucky to get season five! You're welcome! and I'll look forward to your comments.

  5. I’m rewatching the series, haven’t seen it in years, and am loving your reviews! Thanks for keeping the site up:)

  6. I said the same thing about Chuck, too - dead man walking! The last scene was very well done, both tender and emphasising the utter ruthlessness of The Section. "However long she's got, let her believe". Helen's not walking away from this.


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