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La Femme Nikita: Off Profile

Birkoff: "Nothing gets to her. Nothing and nobody."

The first time I saw this episode, I was completely in the dark about what Michael was doing. (I kept saying out loud, "What is he doing? What is he doing?") On second viewing, I noticed the early hints that Andrea was a sociopath. Early in the episode, she said that shooting real people was just like a simulation. She was almost machine-like on her very first mission. And most telling of all was, she actually liked Section. ("Most people hate Section, or pretend to, but I like it.") Scary.

It had to be extremely painful for Nikita to watch Michael seduce another woman right in front of her. Nikita had no idea what was going on, and it must have appeared very real to her. And yet, Nikita never lashed out at either Michael or Andrea. She even warned Michael about the danger he was in, and saved his life. Nikita good.

And Michael bad. Michael's cruelty toward Andrea was just jaw-dropping. And it was also exceptionally cruel of Michael not to tell Nikita what he was doing. Nikita makes excuses for him because she loves him, but there's something seriously wrong with a man who can do something like this, even under orders. (It's a tribute to Roy Dupuis as an actor that we can watch him do things like this and still be utterly fascinated with Michael.)

Perhaps he was instructed not to tell Nikita. And perhaps Madeline hoped that seeing him with another woman would dampen Nikita's feelings for Michael. Madeline's little speech to Nikita about it being better for Michael to have a relationship with Andrea had an unspoken message: that sex is okay between operatives, but love is not.

In this week's B plot, Walter again showed his fatalistic streak as well as significant balls, risking death and/or torture by refusing to lie for Operations. Giving Walter a hologram of Belinda was evil – it was like Belinda was a thing, not a person. It pleased me that Nikita convinced Walter to live, and that she didn't hesitate to lie for him. Lying. It's like the Section code.

Finally, Operations gave Nikita yet another pat on the back. But he was wrong; she was still not one of them. I haven't seen the entire series yet, but I don't think Nikita will ever truly be "one of them," and capable of doing what Michael does.

Bits and pieces:

— Andrea was played by Roy Dupuis' long-time real-life honey, Celine Bonnier. They looked like a couple, too; I thought there was some serious chemistry in the dance scene. Or maybe it was just the way he was looking at her. Roy Dupuis could probably generate heat looking at a tossed salad.

— Catch Nikita's face when she hears Michael asking Andrea out to dinner for the first time; it's like she literally doesn't believe her ears. Peta Wilson was terrific here.

— This time, George actually showed up in Section... behind the scenes, and we still didn't see him.

— One of the "twins" was at the party.

— Nikita and Birkoff both wore blue in Section. I noticed that Andrea wore black, black, black.

— In this week's hair report, spiky magenta do? Now, that was a bold personal statement.


Operations: "Besides, nobody asked him to marry someone with a weak performance record."

Birkoff: "Most of these scientists are pretty lame. I'm an exception."

Andrea: "One minute, everything was wonderful. The next, he was cold."
Was that an understatement or what?

As I've said before, it's always a good time when Michael seduces someone. This episode was a lot of fun to watch. Three stars? How about three and a half?

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


  1. A highly entertaining episode that combines innovative and suspenseful action sequences with particularly cruel manipulations of Walter, Nikita, and a new profiler, Andrea. In addition to a well-structured plot and strong contributions from all of our Section regulars, Wilson does a wonderful job portraying a shocked and hurt Nikita trying to figure out Michael’s uncharacteristic behaviour. On the downside: an over-the-top final plot “twist” that undermines the entire premise of the main story arc.

    Spoilers follow...

    The teaser plunges us right into the aftermath of a failed mission, and assigning fault pits Michael against a new profiler, Andrea. It is quite amusing to watch them “argue” by trading completely emotionless statements, emphasizing how similar they are in their impassive machine-like efficiency. When Operations agrees that field experience would be a good idea, Andrea is assigned to Michael’s team to help design and execute the next missions.

    The first mission to capture Korda begins with the iconic image of three Section operatives striding down the hallway in formation, dressed in long black coats, leather gloves, and sunglasses (The Matrix completely “borrowed” this look). The poor security guard doesn’t stand a chance! The use of a taser was a delightful surprise, and so was Michael’s ingenious move of pinning one of the bodyguards behind a door and then shooting him THROUGH it! When Andrea proves to be completely calm and efficient her first time under fire, Michael is apparently so impressed with her that he begins to pursue her romantically, much to Nikita’s dismay.

    Though Andrea resists his advances at first, on their next undercover mission, Michael arranges the mission profile so he can dance with her. As Nikita discovered in “Escape”, dancing with Michael can be a very dangerous thing, and Andrea quickly succumbs to his seduction. Just a soon as she does, however, Michael abruptly severs the relationship.

    When Andrea boldly demands an explanation for his behaviour at the next mission briefing, Michael admits that he was merely “investigating” her on behalf of Section. Nikita, who has been deceived by both Michael and Madeline at this point, still rises above her own feelings of betrayal to warn Michael of the danger Andrea poses.

    The final mission to infiltrate and destroy the lab is a masterful piece of visual storytelling. The sequence when the failsafe is reactivated and Michael is trapped is particularly suspenseful, as Nikita has to scramble to find a way to trigger the unique locking mechanism. After Nikita saves Michael’s life, she asks the chilling question, “What if she tries again?”

    Favourite Scenes:
    All of the mission sequences in this episode are fantastic: cinematic visuals, evocative soundtracks, sharp editing that ratchets up the tension, and clever and highly original action moves.

    Michael and Andrea dancing while a hurt and envious Nikita looks on: the soundtrack in this scene is incredibly sensual, and Dupuis projects enough smoldering sexuality to light a bonfire from fifty paces.

    Continuity Issues:
    It strains credulity that an operative without field experience would be promoted to the tactical position of “profiler”.

    The final plot “twist” makes no sense to me. If I understand Operations correctly, Section deliberately set Michael up as a target, without even a backup contingency, in order to “test” Andrea. So effectively they risk losing a class-five operative just to determine whether or not to cancel a profiler? How exactly does this make sense as an efficient use of resources? And by the way, Andrea could have continued to function effectively if only Section hadn’t set her up in such a cruel fashion. Once again, the writers defy logic in order to provide a supposedly clever final plot twist. Bad trend.

  2. Billie, I kept asking the same question too, along with remarking, "It has to be something else. It just has to be."

    I also have to say I agree with your observations about Nikita - she was really good. It's one of Nikita's qualities that I really admire - to be able to rise above her pain and think of Michael's welfare. This is proven above and beyond when she discovers Michael's secret in Season 3.

    And Michael? He was ruthless. He had an objective and he got it. He is the uber spy. There's no one like him. Even if he was bad, I couldn't help but admire just how good he was at his job. I have to agree, he is utterly fascinating.

    Serena's description of the mission sequences were right on target. I agree, they were fantastically executed.

    And on the continuity issues, my hats off to you. You're right on the money. I know some people are bothered by them but somehow they never really stopped me from loving the show so much that it remains my all-time favorite TV series.

  3. Serena, I too think it's odd that someone without field experience can be a profiler, but then, what about Birkoff? His experience in the filed is very limited, yet he does it all the time and he's good at it... (Or so I think, english is not my first language, so sometimes when I wach I miss something, but it seems to me that Andrea's and Birkoff's work were quite similar)

  4. I very much enjoy both your reviews on each episode but I feel I have a different take on Nikita's attitude and behaviour towards Michael - perhaps on the relationship itself.

    In season one Nikita is repeatedly manipulated by Michael, who plays on her feelings for him in order to control and predict her actions. We can't even blame her (much) for falling for this over and over again, since there is an undeniable connection between them and on each occasion the manipulation comes from a different angle. Even when initially suspicious, Nikita comes to hope there is some truth in Michael's overtures.

    However, after the 'Hard Landing'/Jurgen arc of season 2, Nikita seems to work through her anger and completely resign herself to not trusting Michael (emotionally). You see this repeatedly throughout the season. She doesn't stop loving him and she doesn't stop caring about/prioritizing his well-being, and she's rueful about this, sometimes it seems like she's almost laughing at herself and the situation - most notably in conversation with Andrea in this episode and in conversation with Vescano in 'First Mission'(her 'I don't know' response to Vescano asking what it's like to be loved by Michael, and her 'oooookay' face when Andrea tells her to stay after the briefing 'This concerns you too'). Nikita's almost humourous double take at Michael first asking Andrea out is from shock, and a definite sense of 'oh christ - again?'. Thereafter, seeing them together, she just seems to sigh and ignore it. I don't get any sense of pain from her, except if it could be interpreted (again a common theme throughout this season) from her almost-angry reaction to Andrea's assumption that she and Michael are together.

    This behavioural change is also notable in Nikita's reaction to Michael's revelations in 'Half Life'. She responds with considerably less emotion than we might expect from her season 1 self, and her first question is simply, calmly, 'why are you telling me this?' Also, in the first half of the season whenever she is shot down by Michael she is able to brush past it with no more than a hint of rueful bitterness. For the second half of the season the situation never arises.

    In any case, it is strange that what I feel is a fundamental part in the development of Nikita's character and her relationship to Michael is not something either of you see. Like Nikita herself, I would be resigned to not trying to predict Michael, to not trusting his (emotional/personal) actions and to assuming any emotional/personal behaviour outside his cold norm was part of some larger plan or mission.

  5. It is interesting to watch the choices the writers make with Michael. Throughout his seduction of Andrea, I knew there had to be a reason behind it. I couldn't imagine the writers wanting the viewers to be so annoyed with him when he is part of the end game.

    The other clue was when Andrea asked him if he still loves Nikita. He didn't lie; he evaded. That's when I was sure there was some hidden agenda.

    Having said that, Michael's actions continue to annoy me. I want to believe in Nikita and him as a couple, but the vast majority of me thinks she can do better. Unless, of course, there is some reason for his actions of which I am yet unaware.

  6. I call it the "Michael Mojo".
    Possible spoilers!!!
    Let's see: one operative tried to kill herself because she was in love with Michael; another tries to kill him when dumped. While I thought she was cruel toward Michael when intentionally flirting with Jurgen in the beginning of season 2, all Nikita did then was act in an immature way when he put her off - I mean he was a little busy protecting her. Michael is so subtle (major understatement), that when he acts in an obvious way, I know to discount what it looks like he's doing. Still I felt for Nikita having to watch the Michael dance moves, but he wasn't acting this way to hurt her.
    Also, I love when everyone, including and especially the terrorists, thinks they're a couple! I think the writers did this to string along the audience. They're soulmates, even if Nikita doesn't seem to think that because he's hard to read. However, his actions and explanations (when he gives one and they are vague and cryptic) all point to caring for her above others. She hasn't been privy to everything the audience has seen that shows Michael's feelings for her.
    As far as Operations saying Nikita was one of them, I swear the look on her face screamed, "You take that back!" Fun episode!

  7. There something I have happily noticed. I've read somewhere that many filmmakers tend to have the woman on top when shooting sex scenes. Here I very happily and maybe with a bit of drool, noticed Michael tends to be on top... And I can only and with all my heart (I'm almost sure that's the correct body part) say: I much prefer that.


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