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La Femme Nikita: Old Habits

Michael: "The relationship between Formitz and Nikita is not without difficulties."

And we're back to the numbers game, the needs of the many, and so on. "It's simple arithmetic. We sacrifice a few lives to save hundreds." When does it become wrong? When does the death ratio tip the scales? Ten lives for a hundred? Fifty? Seventy-five?

The photos on the wall of the disembodied eyes and noses, etc., were a big clue that Formitz was the serial killer, but discovering what he was was still an omigod moment. I sort of expected him to try for Nikita for the rest of the episode, and was a bit surprised that he didn't. Since Formitz's victims were all good-looking young women, why did Section give Nikita this particular assignment? Or at the very least, why didn't they re-assign her when the situation became clear? Under the circumstances, wouldn't it make more sense to send a man? Were they even possibly thinking of giving Nikita to Formitz as a gift?

Michael acted as a sort of intermediary between Nikita and Section, continuing to enforce Section policies while giving Nikita support at the same time. Did Section give Danielle to Formitz in the end? Probably. Did Michael know about it, and lie to Nikita? For me, this was the most interesting part of the episode; I had to think about it for awhile. I finally decided that since Michael hasn't hidden the more brutal side of his nature from Nikita, he was telling her the truth: he didn't know about Danielle. At least, I hope that he didn't. I think Nikita lied to Michael about giving Formitz up, though. I can totally see her justifying that lie to herself, because morally, it was the right thing to do.

This week's B plot was also about unnecessary sacrifices, because like Danielle, Belinda should not have died. And having her die on her wedding day added unbearable insult to grievous injury. Would it have been easier if she had died before they got married? And how like Operations to make the situation worse by dumping a boatload of totally bogus sympathy on Walter. No wonder Walter was ready to take Operations out, no matter what the consequences would have been to himself. Poor guy.

Bits and pieces:

— The bit about Madeline and the prisoner who could lead them to Halir had Nikita all rah-rah, let's torture her, and giving Madeline torture tips. I thought that was pretty funny, in a grim kind of way.

— All this time, and Belinda was still in abeyance? I guess there aren't that many suicide missions in Section.

— One of the "twins" was sitting at the bar during the initial Nikita/Formitz meet.

— Even Formitz thought that Nikita and Michael were a couple. "Your boyfriend?"

— Belinda went out with class. "It's not such a bad thing to die on the happiest day of your life."

Uncomfortable and distasteful, not an episode I enjoyed. Two out of four stars,

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


  1. This episode is very difficult to watch for someone as squeamish as myself. In Season One, we had a “Hannibal Lector” character in “Gambit”. Now in Season Two, we have a “Jack the Ripper” character, except this time, Section is co-operating with him. Fortunately, the horror is mostly left to the imagination, and there is very little in the way of gory or graphic visuals. Unfortunately, the plot is still disturbing enough for me that I have no desire to ever view it again. Even the “B” story offers no relief, as it left me in tears over Walter’s grief. Objectively, this episode is well-structured, as the severity of the threat escalates and the depravity of Formitz’ “habit” is gradually revealed. As well, the moral dilemma of weighing the horrible sacrifice of some people in order to save others is so compelling that even Nikita is willing to attempt extreme torture of a captive in order to avoid the expedient option. I just would need a stronger constitution in order to appreciate the merits of this episode without being traumatized by the content.

    Spoilers follow...

    The jeopardy is very real and very difficult to counter: suicide bombers “targeting innocent people in public places – anytime, anywhere.” The audience witnesses the failed mission to stop a suicide bomber from detonating a bus depot, and we are convinced that Section has to take extreme measures of its own to counter that threat.

    Until Nikita pieces together the truth about Formitz, of course. Then we share in Nikita’s shock and horror, and are equally convinced that Section has gone too far with its “simple arithmetic” mandate. We also share in Nikita’s feelings of betrayal that Michael cooperates with Section’s methods, even if he doesn’t condone or perpetrate Danielle’s abduction himself (though we can’t be sure of the extent of his prior knowledge – he is especially unreadable during this confrontation with Nikita). It is extremely satisfying for the viewer when Nikita manages to arrange for at least some form of justice in the end.

    Continuity issues:
    Why was Nikita chosen to be liaison, when Section knows full well that she would not react well to the truth? Though it is not explicitly stated, from the way Formitz acts around Nikita, especially the one time Michael joins them, I have to assume that Formitz requested a beautiful female contact. Madeline had to choose someone who would meet Formitz’ specifications, but still be strong and intimidating enough so that he would hesitate to betray Section.

    Belinda’s abeyance mission was postponed because Birkoff tampered with her rating in “Open Heart”.

    Favourite Scenes:
    First, Belinda’s noble farewell to Birkoff, and then Nikita’s plea for Walter to stay alive – marvellous performances that made me scramble for the Kleenex.

    Cool Michael move: shooting two handguns simultaneously to take out both of Halir’s guards.

    Nikita lying to Michael at the end in the exact same way he had lied to her earlier. Her gesture of “washing her hands” afterwards leaves no doubt in the viewer’s mind that she betrayed Formitz to Bright Star, beating Section at its own game.

  2. Since yours and Serena's reviews are mostly similar, I have nothing to add except to say that I continue to find them enjoyable to read.

    My favorite scenes of the episode coincides with Serena's: "First, Belinda’s noble farewell to Birkoff, and then Nikita’s plea for Walter to stay alive – marvellous performances that made me scramble for the Kleenex." It left me crying, too.

  3. I was glad they didn’t show us a body, the assumption of what he’d done to her was awful enough…

    I don’t think Section was planning on giving Nikita to Formitz as a gift. I agree that he probably simply requested a female, Section had no way of knowing she would meet these girls and invest into their situation. Plus Nikita was ordered not to go to his house, as Birkoff said. So maybe Section thought they could get through this without her ever finding out.

    As far as Danielle I think it is entirely possible she left the hotel herself, since she didn't seem to understand the severity of her situation. Because somehow I don't think Michael lied to Nikita at the end, though she definitely lied to him.


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