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La Femme Nikita: Noise

"I can't live, knowing that I could die."

Fun Nikita and Birkoff bonding episode.

Nikita has practically no life. Hard to believe, but Birkoff has even less. He's not a field agent after all; he really is just a computer geek, the kid that he appears to be. They actually keep him in Section like a pet. And he didn't kill his sister, after all. What the hell is he doing in Section? How did he get there? Birkoff may understand what Section is on an intellectual basis, but he's never grasped the implications on a gut level. If he had, he wouldn't have been so surprised by what happened when he failed them for the first time.

This was the first time Nikita "ran a team," and she did just fine. Maybe Michael was right about her, all along. She was also right about Birkoff, making her a better judge of character than Operations. Of course, just about anyone is a better judge of character than Operations.

This episode was notable for the first real appearance of the Torture Geeks, the nerdy-looking couple who are brought in to "ready" people for interrogation by Madeline. What's in the orange suitcases? What are those two lines under the victim's eyes? It's actual comic relief, an excellent standing gag that creates a dramatic short-cut to the action, because hey, we don't have to wade through a torture scene every week. I'm down with that.

Bits and pieces:

— The opening bar scene with the guy trying to pick up Nikita was a lot of fun. This show is often too serious, if you know what I mean.

— At one point, Nikita told Michael, who was going on assignment, to be careful. He looked at her as if she were nuts.

— Birkoff has a crush on Nikita. Not a surprise.

— Seven years in Section. How old is Birkoff?

— Nikita's little coaching session in the bar had an effect, since Birkoff started dating cute little Gail.

— The painted naked people illustrated (so to speak) a theme of this show: extreme dehumanization, people as objects.

— More gorgeous nightclub clothes for Nikita. And she wore them so well. I noticed that both Nikita and Birkoff wore colorful clothes in Section this time, symbolic of the fact that Birkoff doesn't really belong in Section, either.

— Birkoff was placed in abeyance and nearly cancelled. Old linear thinker Simon screwed up big time, and wasn't. I wonder why?

— It looked like Roy Dupuis actually picked up and carried the guy who played Simon.


Bad guy to Torture Geeks: "Look who they sent in now to spook me. Who are you guys? A couple of accountants?"

Nikita: "Seymour."
Birkoff: "Don't tell anybody, okay?"

I like Birkoff, and this was a good episode. I just have to face the fact that not every episode can be about Michael and Nikita, or Roy and Peta would have collapsed with exhaustion long before the end of each season.

Two out of four stars,

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

1 comment:

  1. An excellent episode: anchored by a solid plot, we get fantastical club sets, suspenseful missions gone wrong, a rite of passage for the rather sheltered character of Birkoff, and a significant milestone in Nikita’s assimilation into Section. In spite of Birkoff being uniquely gifted, the viewer can strongly identify with his emotional journey, as most of us would react the same way to a real threat to our lives. In addition, Nikita’s compassion and heroism are displayed once more, as she fights to protect Birkoff both from the enemy and from Section’s ruthlessness. This is a turning point for Nikita, as she admits to Madelaine that she really has begun to think of Section (or at least the people who are part of her team) as her “family”. She demonstrates true leadership potential as she empowers Birkoff to function again, and leads a team to rescue the downed operatives.

    Spoilers follow...

    We begin the episode with a business-as-usual Birkoff: confident and teasing as he runs the mission to tag the missiles. Then, once he realizes that communications have been breached and he is now a target, Birkoff’s fear and panic are completely shared by the audience. I know myself that I’d be just like Birkoff: too freaked out to figure out which end of the clip goes in the gun! In spite of successfully surviving this encounter, Birkoff now has to deal with the fear associated with risking his life on missions, just like every other operative. As his mistakes accumulate, and the threat of abeyance looms, I found myself feeling both sorry for him, and wanting to shake him. Nikita acts as the audience’s proxy here, beginning with sympathy, and ending by shocking Birkoff into “growing up”. (“Death's easy... It’s life you have to face.”) Having experienced his character's journey, the audience is proud and relieved when Birkoff shows his mettle on the rescue mission, risking his life to protect Nikita.

    Favourite Scenes:
    Dark humour with Madelaine, the White Room, and the Torture Twins: “Shouldn’t take long.”

    At the club: “What about you?” Poor Birkoff! As cute as he is, he doesn’t stand a chance in competition with Michael for Nikita’s affections.

    Birkoff saving the day: “The frequency domain delta is way too large for the bandwidth.” Love the techno-speak ;-)

    Continuity issues:
    I, too, found it odd that Section would put Birkoff in abeyance, but not Simon, who was less than useless. Surely Section has analysed their success rates, and know that Birkoff is extremely valuable. So why would they consider “cancelling” him at the first sign of faltering? I think the clue is when Madelaine says to Nikita: “We’ve known Mr. Birkoff longer than you have... We know what he is and is not capable of.” She also knows what Nikita is and is not capable of. In fact, I think that Madealine, master psychologist that she is, has determined that all Birkoff needs is some tough love from a friend in order to quickly find his courage. So she and Operations motivate both Nikita and Birkoff to fix the problem by letting them believe he’ll be cancelled if he doesn’t conquer his fears in short order. The last scene of Operations and Madelaine looking down from the perch at Birkoff and Nikita makes me think that this was their plan all along.


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