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La Femme Nikita: Nikita

"It would be a mistake to become emotionally attached to the material."

I love this show with a passion. But let's face it, the pilot episode sort of blows; it doesn't give us any indication of how good this show can be. The episodes slowly improve as the series progresses, accumulating quality as well as weight and characterization. So I forgive them.

Peta Wilson's Nikita is almost too vulnerable, despite her exceptional looks and stature. Quirky and likable, she appears to be emotionally immature, more than ready to lean on Michael and let him make it all better. Transparently thrilled when he took her out of dinner, she was more upset about his betrayal than the danger she was in. Fortunately, Nikita turned out to be stronger than she appeared; she rallied, told the bad guy to go to hell, and even killed for the very first time... to save Michael, which was certainly an interesting way to launch the series.

I like the character of Nikita just fine, but the reason I decided to write these reviews was my fascination with the character of Michael, played by Roy Dupuis. Michael is a master manipulator and he certainly started out that way here – charming her in the restaurant, and then freezing her out and throwing her to the wolves. Roy Dupuis wasn't completely into his Michael bag yet, here; there were a couple un-Michael-like smiles in this episode, plus in the office scene he paced and yelled at her, which just seems odd when you've seen later episodes. (By the way, I won't put spoilers in these reviews; this is as spoilery as I get.)

So today's question is, why did Michael decide to save Nikita's life? Is he just the protective type? Well, no. He liked her, and/or he was hot for her, or why take the trouble to defy his keepers? Was he just averse to losing the two years of training he had personally just invested in her? Of course, he got a little instant karma, because she almost immediately saved his life in return.

Bits and pieces:

— How old is Nikita? It just feels off somehow that a young woman as striking as she is would still be in rags and living on the street. Drugs? Nikita doesn't feel like an addictive personality. Probably youthful angst caused by Nikita's mother, who sounded like a stone bitch.

— They made Nikita's framing, prison sentence, and two years of training mercifully brief. Let's cut to the chase, shall we? We shall.

— Where is Section One? It's, like, geographically null. The license plates look sort of North American in some scenes, and Section One appears to be American, which is interesting because our two stars are not. Roy Dupuis' English is almost perfect, but there is occasionally a trace of an accent. And Peta Wilson is obviously Australian.

— The final screen in the opening credits said that Nikita was five eleven, 120 lbs, blood type O negative, hair blonde, and eyes green. I don't know; Peta Wilson's eyes look blue to me. Dupuis' are green.

— I liked that honking huge wedge of pizza Nikita was eating in the teaser. It looked bigger than she was.

— Sunglasses. Interesting decorating accessory.

— Nikita's neighbor across the hall was introduced: Carla the carpenter, who came over with a coffee plant. A little alliteration there.

— Nikita's code name is Josephine. I like the way Roy Dupuis says it.

— Peta Wilson and Roy Dupuis are exceptionally beautiful people, and they're even more beautiful in extreme close-up. I noticed several extreme close-ups in this episode. They do it a lot in this series.

— Having Nikita undress in front of everyone jumped out at me. It was dehumanizing.

— I don't care much for the jagged opening credits, although I do like the music.

— Okay, silly hair. Those bangs during the dinner scene. And braids on a mission? What was she thinking?

— Cancelled scenes: There's a funny scene with Birkoff training Nikita ("You wanna turn the volume down on the gum?"), and an out-of-character bit with Michael pleading with Madeline not to cancel Nikita for blowing her first real mission.


Operations: "We start making exceptions, we're no better than the CIA."

Nikita: "You're sick. You don't want a person. You want a machine. I can't do that."
Michael: "You just did."

I don't usually rate pilots, so I'll just say at this point that it gets a lot better and leave it at that,

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


  1. In this pilot, they have already perfected the stylishness of the series: stunning visuals, edgy music, distinctive sets, clever dialogue, and fascinating, darkly complex characters.

    I agree that some characterizations were still evolving (as you mentioned, Michael is more emotional here than in later episodes), but I thought the pilot did a good job of showing how desperately Nikita wanted to be loved and appreciated. Having been a neglected child kicked out by her mother, she was so eager to gain Michael's approval that she actually felt "happy" when she thought he was rewarding her for "graduating" in her training. And again when Michael shows her the apartment, she is ready to forgive him completely -- until he reminds her that his interest in her is strictly business by giving her the "Josephine" code name. Her vulnerability completely allows the viewer to identify with her, faced with such a menacing environment and ruthless people.

    As the series progresses, those ruthless people become more and more fascinating, but I digress...

  2. I wish Serena would post more comments. I actually like the NIkita pilot and a big part of that was the scenes between Nikita and Michael. He comes off a little arrogant and she comes off a little too vulnerable. Those qualities are the basis good entertainment. The music's good too.
    They give us tidbits of Nikita's past later on and they match her behavior in this episode. she was abandoned when she was 15 by a drunk mother and I think the reason she attaches herself to Michael is because he becomes her everything:friend, mother, father, etc. She even calls him out on the father part when she says, "Who are you, my father?"

  3. Serena and Sarah,

    Thank you both for your comments and I hope you'll continue. I welcome anything either of you have to say. Or anyone else who cares to comment. My Nikita reviews were only in HTML and unavailable for comment until very recently, and I wasn't a fan when it was airing, so I've gotten very few comments (mostly in the form of private emails). But there are several hundred hits a month on the Nikita reviews, so I know someone is reading them!

  4. I remember when La Femme Nikita caught my attention back in 1997. The first time I saw the preview, I knew I'd love the show - I just didn't realize how much. Now after 10 years and counting, I'm still loving it!

    The pilot brought me intriguing characters, unique style, cutting-edge sets and music I'd forever identify with the show. Watching it was so addictive, it was excruciating to wait for the beginning of every season. This was the show that introduced me to the world of fandoms and the power of the internet with regards to it. So far, I haven't discovered a show with the same impact that La Femme Nikita had.

    Thank you for the write-ups and reviews because they bring me back to a time most beloved in my TV viewing history. They are much appreciated. Billie, you rock!

  5. Thanks so much for your kind comment, 1eclecticviewer. LFN fandom is remarkably strong, and I got so much encouragement and great comments when I was reviewing the series. It's still very special to me.

  6. For me seeing Michael for the first time in that pilot episode - sealed my fate

    it was just the way he looks,speaks, his flowing movements, even when he tucks his hair! - he's an impregnable fortress!

    and i JUST LOVE the way he says "Nikita" i could listen to it over and over and over and never get tired it...

    i'm just rambling away here, but thank you Billie for your reviews it gives us LFN fans an avenue to discuss our beloved series and we can see clearly that LFN is really special because even until now, 15 years later, we're still spellbound.

    1. I agree! I love how he says her name - he pronounces each syllable so distinctly. His movements are always graceful. I especially love how he strolls through Section. The hair tucking comment cracked me up - so true! Watching Roy Dupuis' subtle acting has made me really focus on and enjoy each episode.

  7. Being mildly frustrated with new Nikita series lately I decided I need some quality time with Roy Dupuis . So I dug up my tapes of La femme Nikita and marathoned through first season in a matter of days. God, it’s been awhile, but I seem to remember everything, some episodes less, some more. I really enjoyed the pilot this time around, because I completely forgot what Michael was like in the beginning. It was so much fun to watch.

    And of course many years ago I didn’t know about this site and didn’t read any reviews, so this time around I do so the viewing experience is complete because reading your reviews it’s like – as with many other shows – a part 2 of an episode. Thanks again.

    p.s. maybe it's a common knowledge but I noticed it only now going through LFN page tons of times: all of s1 episodes have one word in the title, of s2 - two words? s3 - 3 words etc. - funny how things go by unnoticed ...

  8. Quality time with Roy Dupuis is always a good thing, Olga. :) I rewatched the series recently myself, and I still love it.

    The thing with the episode titles is cute, but what if they'd gone to six seasons? Or even harder, seven? I guess from a practical standpoint, they could have decided to start over with one word titles for season six, or just let the whole tradition go. Too bad we never found out.

  9. :) or they could go backwards - from 5 to 1.... Yes, too bad we'll never know :(

  10. Oh, I dunno, I think it would have been hilarious to see six, seven, or eight word titles. Rather ridiculous, but can you imagine? Hehe.

    Billie, I recently pulled out my DVDs to rewatch a couple episodes of La Femme Nikita, got curious about the fandom, and found your reviews. I've read all of them (and rewatched 90% of the show!) and they're very fun! I'm so glad to get others' thoughts on the show, and wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed revisiting a show I've loved since '97 with a clever reviewer like you.

    I think I'll always have a soft spot for this episode, honestly. It's flawed, deeply in some ways, but I remember sitting cross-legged in front of the TV totally rapt the night it premiered. Ah, Roy Dupuis. There is no one like you.

  11. This show has been on my list for a long time, but I always pushed it to watch something else -- like the reboot which eventually wore itself out.

    It came up in conversation the other evening and I listened to three people absolutely raving about it. When I confessed that I had never seen this version, that I watched the reboot, and that I am crazy about Alias, they made me promise to watch.

    I try to keep my promises, so I watched the pilot. I'm not as impressed as I was with the Alias pilot, but I have to agree with all the comments about Roy Dupuis. He is very, very easy on the eyes and, well, do I need to repeat my frequent gushes over the bad boys???

  12. Thanks Billie for the awesome LFN reviews! I love the photo stills and quotes. I watched only a few episodes of all five seasons when it originally aired (didn't have cable), so as a result saw the first episode and last without seeing many In the middle. I've seen all now online and thought I'd contribute with some new (hopefully) perspectives. When I rave to my friends about this show, I tell them it reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which we all love) in terms of the themes. Sacrifice, friendship, love, evil, hope, redemption... I don't think they're with me yet, but I'm still trying! Also, it has the best music - original soundtrack and pop- on a TV series. Thanks Billie!!!

  13. Hi, RM -- you're very welcome! and I'm looking forward to reading any comments you'd like to make.

  14. Hi Billie- Wow! Your response just made my day! You'll be hearing from me for sure.

  15. Let's just start with saying that I am obsessed with this show like I have never been before. I watched it all through for the first time a few years ago and when I finished I was just a tangle of emotions and had no one who would understand until I found this site. It was just what I needed. Thank-you a million times Billie because I was feeling so alone in my frustrated fandom before I found your site and your lovely reviews.
    I've been thinking for a while that i would be really super fun to re-watch the series and read the reviews as I go a long and comment and finally get all the feels off of my chest (especially for the finale). I'm not sure how good I'll be a keeping up with this nor how long it will take me because I'm not really much of a reviewer nor writer but I'm going to try.
    Starting with the first episode with Nikita god awful bangs which did not get any more stylish since I last saw them. I agree with what has previously been said about how the characters aren't completely fleshed out yet. I especially noticed with Micheal where his feelings for Nikita seemed to come and go. The look on his face when Nikita is opening her gift just kills me. He looks a little pleased with himself and there's a tiny little lip twitch smile thing happening. For my piece of mind I am going to chalk it up to him being happy that Nikita is happy because otherwise it's a total dick move.
    I've also been wondering about Nikita's age myself a lot. From the way she acts I would thinking her something like 15-16 or so but she's clearly older. It just doesn't fit with her intelligence and determination and seems painfully like some parent mocking how they think their kid acts. I just don't believe that a character as smart and strong as Nikita would still be punking around on the streets like that for years and years. The only explanation I can imagine is her using this act to her advantage and enjoying the freedom of living without a home (she does seem to be having a good time in the beginning). Although that theory doesn't stand up too well when you see how happy she is with getting her own place.
    Ultimately though I think this is because this is a pilot episode and later on the the characters are much more developed and steady.
    Last comment - the nudity of Nikita when getting ready for a mission bothered me because of how much it didn't affect Nikita. She doesn't blink an eye at all and it wasn't just her faking being comfortable. It makes me wonder at what kind of training she must have received to so blandly take orders that disregard her body and feelings.

    - Sorry I wrote so much! I have no one else to talk to about this show. Thanks again for your reviews!

    1. I am a big bigger & biggest fan of the show. I’ve not seen another like it. I love her apartment, her sense of style! The first time I laid eyes on her I felt my blood rush from bottom to my top! Most of it was jealousy but I had to study my reaction & pin point why I was jealous. I’m sure I’m not alone here but my imperfections made me want to slide down a hole. I’ve never been happy with my looks & she looked like the most beautiful female woman I’ve ever seen! I know now as I did then that I have not one thing that looks as good as she does but then when I caught sight of Michael, I was just as blown away with as I was with PETA. When I got to see them together I was so amazed at how well she & Michael looked together! I’ve never seen her as a teen age girl. I feel she is all woman. And the music was great as were the entire cast. I have every issue on DVD BUT IM WAITING FOR A GOOD Time when I can watch it straight true with no interruptions. Now I’ve some of the comments here & I mean no disrespect if I’m not agreeable with everything I’ve read. But my thoughts on her appearance out on the street is so she blends in & is not recognized for her inside role. When I read a book, if I don’t get lost in the story & picture myself there then it takes away my interest. But I couldn’t find 1 person who couldn’t make me feel that way. I wish it was still on & in this time of year but that’s not up to me. And yes I believe they both are the most beautiful actors I’ve seen & wanted to see them together. I think they could be a great deal to each other in more ways than one. So without going on & on, I’ll stop now but I’ll be back again!

  16. Janessa, thanks so much! and don't apologize for writing a lot because you love a show that I also love. :) I'm looking forward to more of your comments.

  17. Rewatching LFN while reading your reviews. Having great time! Still love the show and all the actors

  18. This show just seems / feels SO significant to me, you know? In some ways it completely defined a younger time in my life; right before I met my husband and then in my early married years. We would watch this together; I remember being riveted to the TV. Michael and Nikita spoke to me so deeply... there was just something about them. Even now, nearly 20 years later, I long for them to do a "reunion special" so we can just see that FINALLY our beloved couple got together and got their HEA.

    How Roy said "Ni-ki-ta" and "Jo-se-phine" in that husky voice... Peta's open vulnerability which so beautifully portrayed Nikita's eagerness to please... their incredible chemistry. I find myself wondering if Roy or Peta ever go back and look at old clips of the show and remember each other with fondness? To be that physically close to someone routinely and interacting with them closely on a daily basis - has to affect you somehow. Or is it more like just an old work buddy you no longer think about? Why do I long for them to still be friends?

    Did they realize at the time how incredibly their chemistry came across? How their portrayal of these two hurting souls deeply affected a generation of people? I wish they did... I wish I could say thanks.

    Funny thing. I've got the music from the opener as my phone ring tone. Just because... just because it takes me back; makes me feel a slight bit of what I felt then when watching.

  19. What a thoughtful and interesting comment, DC. The chemistry between the leads was most definitely what propelled this series. They did seem to be fond of each other in real life, too. Or it certainly appeared that way.

  20. D.C. I totally understand how you feel. You put it beautifully. The show was very haunting to me and I can't explain why but there is going to be a LFN RE CON in Toronto May 26th -28.The organizers are not sure if any stars will be attending, though they are trying to get Roy Dupuis who has come before. I'm going because it sounds fun to meet others to talk about the show and any other subject that comes up
    If your interested I will get you the web site. Reading Billie's review has made watching LFN and other shows great fun!


  21. Sounds fun, Judy, I wish I could! Another thing I was wishing - wouldn't it be cool if they produced like a 3 minute scene of "where they are now" that wraps up the entire thing? As an example, I was huge into a soap opera couple on Days of Our Lives, EJ and Sami. Well, they "killed off" EJ, then Sami left the show. The actors at one point got together (John Oliver got them together for a Syrian refugee, actually) and they did this little 3 minute scene where he knocks on the door... enters, they reunite... he explains rapidly how he did NOT die... and they pretty much then walked into the proverbial sunset. (It wasn't done by the network that DOOL was on, but WHO CARES? It was FABULOUS. The actors really GOT and appreciated and wanted to reward their fan base!)

    Can you see it? Phone rings. Peta Wilson picks it up.

    "Jo-se-phine" on the other end in the husky voice. "Pier, one hour."

    So she meets him at the pier... he explains that Adam is now grown and he just can't live without her... she explains that she got out of Section and has been waiting for his call... they walk off down the beach into the sunset...

    Five minutes, tops. Sigh. Wouldn't that be awesome!

  22. While browsing the reviews I stumbled upon LFN, which prompted me beginning to re-watch it after too many years. Back then I stopped watching it somewhere in season 4 regulary.

    I loved Peta Wilson's and Roy Dupuis' chemistry, grim Section 1 and the action. It is a pity that Wilson's career kind of stopped. You believe her the vulnaribility of the character and the ability to kick ass. Which a lot of woman actors in similiar roles can't.

    But for me the show required ever more suspense of disbelief because of the ever bigger plot holes. Red Cell began to really bore me, and the Section politics plots began to resemble traps constructed by coyote Carl in the Roadrunner cartoons. Only with less sense. The writers couldn't sustain any internal logic on this, and every new organization level just made it more contrieved.

    Still I bought the DVDs which collected dust.

    The first third of the pilot is more or less a remake of the movies. With the exception of course making Nikita innocent and likable. Normally I can't stand this kind of taming things, but here it worked for once. It is remarkable how good this show held up in looks and style. Even without iPhones and the Magic Internet which I learned to hate because it makes writers soo lazy – prime examples are shows like 24 and Criminal Minds – it is still fresh. The early internet is actually quite funny watching. How things changed in so few years.

    The pilot is well done. I guess I am much more forgiving of the big plot holes the story admittedly has. For instance the 2 years living underground in Section never was translated to the screen. It is unbelievable that Nikita seemingly doesn't know what the stakes are when Michael takes her out to dinner.

    For a show with a low budget it was very well filmed though, and things like "Row 8, Plot 30" are still chilling. For me Nikita getting nude before the crew was absolutly in character with what these people are and do. These aren't cops or CSIs, who get paid and do this because they want it, this is a group of trained killers living with the threat of getting executed if they don't obey their boss. The mission comes first, there isn't anything sexual about the scene. Just professionals doing preparations for a job which can get them killed in a few minutes. I think it sells the concept of Section 1 more than a lot of exposition could.

  23. Only technology ~ absolutely no paper.

  24. I’ve recently found this show (2023) and I love it. Truth be told, I’ve binged the whole thing in the last few months, and I’m now watching it again (crazy, I know, but I’m one of those TV watchers who needs to know how things will end before I can savor the journey). The first time through, I read these reviews religiously and absolutely LOVED them! Thank you for writing them! This time around, I thought I’d add some comments of my own. :)

    Michael is so disarmingly handsome you really can’t blame Nikita for getting manipulated. Not to mention that there is an age gap between them—he’s probably leveraging her naïveté against her. Michael rescuing Nikita will never get old for me…

    Many details struck me as odd because they don’t really align with the LFN world we see later (forgivable given that it’s early in the 1st season), including:
    -Ops are supervised from the van and/or section itself, so prepping Nikita on site at the hotel, with Madeline and Walter there, seemed out of place;
    -Nikita is on team one in the second mission. Given her mistake earlier in the episode, and how early she is in her career at section, you’d think she’d be on the back-up team or another less advanced position.
    -When Nikita failed to kill a target, Michael yelled at her, but in later episodes/seasons, it’s Madeline/Operations who primarily do the disciplining/scolding.
    -Madeline seemed far too nice/caring to me here.

    1. Anonymous, welcome to the LFN club! Your comments are very welcome; I'm looking forward to them.

      Just one thing -- please be careful not to spoil future episodes for newbies. A lot of readers have told me that they like to read along when they're trying a new show, so we try not to spoil them.

  25. I know Peta is Australian, so Nikita is Australian...even though no one else is LOL

  26. I use to watch this show yrs ago..found it on the roku Channel..now I'm watching them all..I loved this show


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