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La Femme Nikita: Slipping Into Darkness

"Something's not right. Operations is cold and ruthless, but he's not irrational."

Section is scary. Section with a madman at the helm is a lot scarier.

Michael is brilliant at this type of work. He carried off a complex, dangerous undercover operation, an operation on which his boss's life depended, and he did it alone without so much as breaking a sweat. Of course, Operations did break a sweat. Gold acting stars to Eugene Robert Glazer; he was fabulous channeling Captain Queeg.

My favorite scene, or favorite Michael moment as it were, was when everyone backed up Michael as Operations was screaming, "Cancel them all!" Finally seeing solidarity among the "prisoners" of Section was outright satisfying. They all know Michael is sane and fair. He's a powerful man, and Operations' heir apparent as well.

Can you imagine Michael truly running Section, with Nikita as his second? (Michael certainly knows Nikita much better than Petrosian did, and how best to utilize her talents.) If it ever happened, would Section change in a fundamental way? Or is Michael, deep down, as brutal and ruthless as Operations? This is one of the frustrating things about Michael as a character. I like to think Michael is the better man that he sometimes appears to be, that his feelings for Nikita, for Adam and Elena, are proof that there's a real human being in there. But we don't really know.

And to continue with the same theme... as good as this episode was, what it lacked was insight into what Michael was thinking. (Like that's new.) Come on. Wasn't Michael just a little bit tempted to let Operations die? Wouldn't it have been cool if he'd seriously considered it, perhaps talked with Nikita about it in some oblique way?

Whenever I see episodes like this one, I ponder exactly when and how the unseen conversations took place. Certainly, it was obvious that Operations, Madeline and Michael met secretly before the action started to set up the sting on Philo. But when did Michael tell Nikita? Were they acting in the car, right before he "shot" her? If they were under surveillance by Philo, how did Michael let her know? Sign language? Did he whisper in her ear?

Bits and pieces:

— Madeline's distress as Operations deteriorated was subtle but visible, especially in that scene where Michael took command.

— The footage of the attack on Pogue's safe house was the same as the attack on David Fanning's compound in "Obsessed." Maybe, with the helicopter and the natives and all, the episode was getting too expensive and/or taking too long.

— Even Philo's front man knew that Michael and Nikita were an item.

— Everyone in Section wore black, or dark colors. Nikita came in wearing a white coat.

— In this week's hair report, Walter's hair was loose instead of in a ponytail. That was a first.


The irrepressible Mick Schtoppel was back, and hitting up Nikita for condoms at the crack of dawn. "Come on, doll. I'm sure you and Michael practice safe sex." Well, yeah. In the sense of not having sex at all.

Walter: "It doesn't make any sense. One day he's normal. The next day he's Dante, leading us down the nine circles of Hell."

Nikita: "He might die."
Michael: "That's the point."
Now, see? Couldn't they have talked obliquely about Operations dying, right there?

Operations: "He might just have what it takes to do this job."
Madeline: "Your successor? I don't think he has the ambition."
Operations: "Oh, he's got it. He just doesn't know it yet."

Classic twisty episode. Three out of four stars,

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


  1. this is a definite completely twisty episode. i feel for nikita here. poor girl's out of the loop.

  2. A fantastic episode, showcasing an exceedingly clever, multi-layered plot full of suspense, conflict, and surprising reversals. As Operations’ descent into madness ratchets up the jeopardy for all of our Section regulars, both Michael and Nikita demonstrate exceptional courage and leadership potential, though in very different ways that are unique to their characters. One of the top three episodes of Season Three.

    Spoilers follow...

    It all begins in the teaser with Michael acquiring the toxin, shot in a beautiful outdoor location and accompanied by a haunting score featuring a solo vocalist. This score will be repeated twice more in the episode, signifying Michael’s “coming of age”, so to speak, as he demonstrates his ability to handle the reins of power.

    Though at first I was reluctant to believe that Michael would collude with the enemy, I had to admit that there is a certain justice and symmetry to poisoning Operations in retaliation for the poisoning of Elena. In short order, I was grudgingly convinced that Operations’ and Madeline’s actions in “Opening Night Jitters” had been the last straw for Michael, and since then he had been planning to remove them from power. Soon, however, I was so caught up in the mounting danger for the characters (especially Birkoff and Nikita), that I found I was rooting for Michael to oust Operations, even though I knew he had caused the man’s condition in the first place!

    As Operations deteriorates, real crisis situations are ignored, innocents are endangered, and operatives are summarily executed. Nikita, of course, is the only one with the courage to talk of mutiny. Clearly, she has developed quite a reputation as a trustworthy leader amongst her fellow operatives, since a number of them put their lives in her hands to secretly discuss treason. Then she disobeys an order to murder innocents, and is immediately sentenced to cancellation. First I was shocked when Michael helps capture her, and then I was shocked again when Madeline lets Nikita go, admitting that Operations has been compromised but they must continue with “business as usual” to flush out the mole. The scene when Nikita tells Michael of this, and he carefully pretends ignorance while probing for information about how much Madeline knows, is particularly brilliant – there are just so many layers of strategy and deceit!

    Then Michael and Operations have their rivetting final showdown, in which Michael allows Operations to strike him twice, but not three times. This scene made me want to cheer! When Michael ascends to the perch, we once again hear the haunting score from the teaser: Michael has “come of age” and usurped Operations’ position.

    I finally caught on that something was up when Michael “shoots” Nikita. And only Nikita would be able to follow Michael and succeed with a frontal attack on the guards all by herself. They are indeed a formidable team, in spite of the fact that Nikita is kept in the dark half the time!

    In the final scene, Operations and Madeline discuss Michael’s “impressive skills”, and we hear that haunting score for the third time as we watch Michael walk away in slow motion. The implication is clear: now that Michael has tasted power, will he be content to remain Operations’ right-hand man?

    Continuity Issues:
    While first watching this episode, I was convinced that Nikita did not know the truth when Michael took her to meet with Red Cell (her tears of betrayal were so convincing!). In retrospect, he must have told her en route, and they were just acting in the car when they arrived at the rendezvous in case they were under observation. This is the only way I can reconcile the fact that Nikita convincingly pretended to die when Michael “shot” her, but then was immediately able to recover and follow him to the meeting with Philo.

    Yes, the tiny budget limited this episode. In fact, only one of the helicopeter was real -- the other was digitally copied to save money.

  3. Agreed that this was a twisty, multi-layered episode and excellently acted by Eugene Robert Glazer.

    Roy Dupuis was fantastic, too.

    The mutiny scene was certainly satisfactory especially after Operations strikes Michael twice (but not a third time, ha)!

    I also wonder what Section would be like with Michael at the helm and Nikita as his second? For sure, I would rather work for them than Operations and Madeline.

  4. I like this episode but it lacked something for me since I never believed Michael would act against Section in this way - certainly not to support someone else's agenda. If you can't believe that from the start then you're just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    I don't think that Nikita was ever informed of the deceit. I think she simply acted as Nikita would - not trusting Michael but hoping for the best and unwilling to take him out. I think her reference to her 'predictability' to Michael at the end confirms this. I don't think it's a stretch that she would 'play dead' after being shot in the kevlar, but it would have been nice to have one or other of them mention afterwards that it's standard procedure to wear it. I think realising Michael would know that would lead her to suspect a mission, and either way if she lived she would go after him.

    I think the crucial exchange between Operations and Michael, where Michael takes command, reveals what Nikita hinted at in 'New Regime': Michael genuinely does respect Operations and even has some affection for him. Hence the repeated use of the term 'sir', the fact that he allows himself to be struck twice and does not injure Operations to neutralise him.

  5. I don't think that Nikita was ever informed of the deceit.
    She realized after she was hit.

  6. I believe I have an answer to when did Michael tell Nikita the truth about the plot. After he takes over he has her up in the perch and says they need to go up to "Committee" to get approval from "Oversight"for her being his second.That area would not have the bad guy's bugs in it so he could tell her before they got in the car, before he "killed" her in the garage.

  7. Does anyone know what the music is called in the beginning of the episode when Michael is calling on the payphone? The same song is sung at the end of the episode when Michael walks away in slow motion.


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