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La Femme Nikita: Opening Night Jitters

Michael: "If she dies, they die."

He tried to do it. He intended to do it. But as soon as Michael actually had trouble saying, "They've asked me to p...poison Elena," I knew he wouldn't go through with it. Does he love her? He may. He may not. But he certainly cares for her, and she's the mother of his son.

In fact, this episode had Michael showing emotion all over the place. (Okay, restrained emotion, but still.) He looked distracted and upset during the dinner where he was supposed to poison Elena. He looked fragile during the interview in Madeline's office afterward. ("Michael, Operations was very disappointed." We can almost hear the silent Michael thinking something obscene in return.) While he was talking to Vacek at the house, Michael's distress was so obviously genuine, even though he followed the mission parameters.

And during the father/daughter reunion at the end, Michael was actually crying. It wasn't the reunion, of course; he knew he was about to leave Elena forever. I thought the part where he told Vacek to say goodbye to Elena was particularly good, not because of what was said, but because of what was not. Vacek picked up on it immediately, and knew he was about to die.

Nikita's role was mostly supportive. She was there to support Michael operationally, but she did her best to provide quiet emotional support as well. She was ready to help him do anything, including betray Section by getting information on the drug in order to save Elena's life. She also got an explanation from Birkoff for the extreme extreme-ness of Michael's assignment with Elena. Blood cover? So Michael was ordered to get her pregnant.

In other news, it appears we're in for ongoing comic relief in the form of the irrepressible Mick Shtoppel, who has moved into Carla's old apartment. We also discovered that Mick is a human being, when he told Nikita that if he'd known they were going to blow up the car, he wouldn't have let the girl go along.

Bits and pieces:

— I thought Elena would end up dead, but that would have been too predictable. I'm pleased for Michael's and Adam's sake that she's still alive. She'll probably need psychotherapy for the rest of her life, though.

— There was a French flag at the "Hopital Centrale."

— For the first time, Operations had a pleasant phone call with George. And now, Operations thinks the time is right for Madeline to put forth the proposal for level nine, whatever that is.

— Mick did a "tour" of Nikita's apartment, and we got a good look at the art work.

— Little Adam had several complex scenes to do, and did very well for such a small child. I particularly loved the one where Michael "carded" him.

— The Devos made a house call. Remote interrogation. It was a new venue for Madeline.

— I'm growing accustomed to Roy's new haircut. At least it's still mussed. Looks like they held him down and manicured his nails, too.

— Cancelled scene: The DVD deleted scene showed Mick having an argument in the hallway with a woman, and asking Nikita to pose for a photographer in some very progressive underwear.


Nikita: "Section ever done this before?"
Birkoff: "Develop a blood cover? No. Vacek's a special case. I've never come up against anyone this insulated."

Beckman: "Salla Vacek. He has brown hair. I am afraid of him. I once noticed his shoes."

Mick: "You are looking very Dolce Gabbana."
Dolce Gabbana? I looked it up; it's a line of Italian clothing. I know nothing about fashion.

Elena: "Congrats on the job and the apartment. And now all we have to do is find you a boyfriend."
Well, Nikita will probably be getting Michael back now.

Four stars, of course,

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


  1. One of the top three episodes of season three: I was glued to the screen the entire time, since the story packs a wicked emotional punch, exponentially increasing audience sympathy for the character of Michael while showcasing Dupuis’ phenomenal range and talent. Though light on action sequences, the episode does not suffer for it because the drama is so flawlessly structured and brilliantly realized. Right from the teaser, the audience is gripped by the heart and ushered through an emotional roller-coaster ride until the episode culminates in the most heart-breaking climax of the season, if not the entire series. I recommend having a Kleenex box close by before watching this episode – you’ll be needing it!

    Spoilers follow...

    The teaser shows Nikita learning the reasons for Michael’s “blood cover” assignment, as Birkoff explains that Vacek is such an elusive target that extraordinary measures are (perhaps) warranted. But when Michael tells her that he has been ordered to poison his wife in order to flush out her father, audience tension spikes immediately as we fear the consequences of this depraved plan.

    At dinner, Michael’s distress is palpable – particularly effective is the slight echo during Elena’s dialogue, the details of Michael’s family life haunting him as he steels himself to obey Section’s orders. The audience cheers (and Nikita also approves with a covert smile) when Michael sabotages his sole attempt to poison his wife, but now we are filled with dread anticipating Section’s reaction to this defiance.

    Dupuis does a remarkable job communicating Michael’s vulnerability while being reprimanded in Madeline’s office, using only his eyes, his stance, and the single word of dialogue he is given (“No.”). The mission sequence that follows is both interesting and unusual enough to accomplish its purpose: to distract Michael (and the audience) from the fact that he knows better than to believe that Section would just let this go. When the mission proves to be fruitless, Michael finally registers that he has been played, and rushes home to find Elena seemingly lifeless on the couch. Quickly reassured that she has just been sleeping, Dupuis portrays such genuine relief that it brought tears to my eyes. Of course, this reprieve is short-lived, as Michael’s worst fears are realized when Elena becomes violently ill in the middle of the night.

    When Nikita arrives at the hospital, Michael decides to trust her with his life, allowing his hatred of Section to surface for the first time ever (“If she dies, they die.”) When Vacek kidnaps him, Michael turns his desperation into a stellar performance of a sincere, grief-stricken husband. Unable to convince Vacek to return with him, Michael pleads for Elena’s life (“The symptoms are killing her.”) only to receive Madeline’s flat refusal (“That’s a chance we’ll have to take.”)

    In the end, Madeline is proven correct, but both she and Operations have descended to a new low on the humanity scale. Dupuis again shines as Michael forces himself to complete the mission, knowing he will be separated from his family forever. Elena’s silent screams multiply the horror of watching her father and (seemingly) her husband shot to death before her eyes.

    Afterwards, Operations is crowing over the success of the mission, and recommends that Madeline apply for level nine status. Their condescension while speaking of “personal sacrifice” is deplorable as Michael, hollowed out by grief, can barely manage to stand before them. While Nikita shows her empathy for her friend by crying into her wine glass in her apartment, the audience is left with the tragic image of Michael wandering aimlessly through the streets, alone and utterly bereft.

  2. I bow to you both - your reviews exactly match how I saw this episode.

    I felt devastated afterward. But I know that it couldn't compare to how Michael had to be feeling.

  3. ****SPOILERS****

    Absolutely amazing scene with Michael, Elena, and Vacek in the hospital...Michael knowing this was the end of his life with Elena and his son, and coming to grips with the fact that he and her father were going to be brutally wrenched from her in the most horrifying way possible.

    I mentioned that before that this may be one of the top two scenes in the entire series, and Dupuis delivers another incredible performance. "Speechless" is an apt desciption for myself after Michael and Vacek locked gazes and he said "Say goodbye to your father".

    Credit to the actor who played Vacek---he did a "Roy Dupuis" in the way he showed the audience with just a minor facial expression that he understood immediately he had been drawn out to be killed.

  4. Although I am enjoying this series a great deal, I have not connected with either Nikita or Michael the way i have with others. Sydney/Vaughn and Mulder/Scully are two examples of couples I fell in love with immediately and experienced their feelings with them.

    Which is why this episode caught me so off guard. Watching Michael mourn his family and Nikita weep into her wine made me cry, an emotion I never expected this show to engender. Both Dupuis and Wilson are to be commended for their performances. It would have been easy to take this to a silly level. Their restraint was a sight to see.

  5. This is one of those shows that I really watch. No doing anything else. Almost not blinking because I might miss something, especially with the subtle way Roy Dupuis uses those gorgeous green eyes and facial muscles to jet you know what's going on with Michael. Blink and you miss something. But I love when I miss something because multiple viewings means I understand or see something I missed before.

    Case in point - Nikita touches the screen by her door when it's Michael in the hall. I love that gesture. How in the world did I miss what she did when she first arrived at the hospital? Michael is leaning against the glass divider in the hallway and Nikita touches what would be his back if there weren't glass separating them. It's a theme Billie has pointed out. In this case with the writing I thought it was odd for Michael to ask Nikita what she was doing there and in a rather surly tone. Madeline did send her but it would be completely in character for Nikita to support him, plus she knew Elena and had actually lived with them. Love this episode and love the whole arc. After watching the entire series I realized how this arc affects several main characters' destinies. Great episode.

  6. I think at the end its the first time we can see Michael out of section and no mission involved, sad that it was sooo damn hard :,(


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