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La Femme Nikita: Someone Else's Shadow

Elena: "I don't know what I'd do without Michael. He's such a good man."

It was so odd seeing Michael as a loving husband and father, and he played the part so well. Elena sees a completely different Michael than we do. Who is the real Michael? What was he feeling while all this was happening? He told Nikita that when the mission was over, he would never see Elena and Adam again. Was he sad about the possibility? Resigned? Angry? Does he love Elena? And how does he really feel about Nikita at this point, in a romantic sense? How does it make him feel, seeing his lover with his wife and child?

I bet Nikita was identifying with Simone, as Michael's – I'm groping for the appropriate term – Section amour? Michael said that he and Simone never talked about Elena, which raises some interesting questions about the Michael/Simone marriage. How is that even possible? Hey, honey, guess what? Section is making me commit bigamy with a total stranger. See you at work in a few days?

Nikita's pain as she watched Michael with his family was almost tangible, even though she was successful in keeping it hidden. She was Scarlett O'Hara, watching Ashley take Melanie off to bed, lying in front of the fire reliving scenes from "Escape" and "Hard Landing." Nikita deserves a lot of credit, because even with the pain she had to be feeling, she showed genuine affection for Elena and Adam. She was there for Michael, helping him, instead of making it worse, instead of lashing out. I bet that Michael has never had a friend as loyal as Nikita. Nikita may not realize it, but her relationship with Michael is the real one, and Elena's is temporary, as well as artificial.

Elena came out well here, too. Samia Shoaib, who played Elena, was tremendously appealing; we couldn't hate her. She seemed like such a sweet woman, so in love with her rat of an undercover husband. Interestingly enough, the Salla Vacek part of plot showed that Section's methodology, while despicable, was correct: Elena could have never faked such outrage, genuine anger, disappointment, and so on. I also liked that Elena picked up on Michael's attachment to Nikita, as everyone else seems to do, but wasn't threatened by it.

Bits and pieces:

— It appeared that Adam was the excuse Michael used to nudge Elena to find her father. So maybe Michael actually was ordered to get Elena pregnant. That's just disgusting.

— Operations had another acrimonious argument with George. At least now we can picture him on the other end of the line.

— Madeline was aware that Michael didn't plan to report Nikita's lapse in the previous episode. She let him know it, too. I doubt that Michael even cares at this point.

— Loved the scene where Nikita took out Vacek's friend by pushing him out the window, and following him down. And then calmly taking Michael's hand, getting off the air bag, and walking off.

— Nikita told Michael, "I understand this is something that you've been ordered to do. I don't know how you're able to live with it." Well, Elena is sweet as well as beautiful. It was probably easier than if he'd been ordered to marry, say, Joan Rivers.

— Michael and Elena met in Bordeaux. The envelope that Elena received had the word "France" at the bottom. (Elena Samuelle, 1205 rue de Richelieu?, Beauville? France 45007?) It stands to reason that Section is probably in France, too.

— Vacek's friend Mischa thought Michael was probably a powerful man. Good call.

— Why did Vacek give his grandson a phallic looking music box? It seemed like an odd gift for such a small boy.

— The bribe that Vacek's man gave the postal clerk (in Lisbon?) was in U.S. dollars.

— The Elena/Nikita henna scene was lovely. Was Elena's mother Indian?

— The Devos were back! I missed them.

— In the house scenes, Michael wore a wedding ring and a cross around his neck.

— Elena was wearing a sweatshirt with BKNY on it. Bank of New York?

— Williams had some good lines while he was in the chair. His evaluation of Madeline: "I'm sure I could find your name on a list of psychopaths if I looked hard enough." His evaluation of Section: "My best guess is you're some covert agency that no one has ever heard of. Run amuck, no doubt." And finally, as Madeline left, "I'll be here. Some tea would be nice."

— Someone has recently pointed out to me that the word "piggyback" shows up a lot in this series. (Thanks, Julie.) In this episode, it was Birkoff. "Maybe we can piggyback the server."

— Operations: "Any amount of collateral is acceptable if we hit the target." Then the scene changed to Adam playing in the front yard. The message was clear.

Another terrific episode. I love this arc. Three out of four stars,

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


  1. I love elaborate undercover missions, and this story arc is proving to be extremely powerful because of the tragic cost of this deceit to so many characters we have come to love. As Section’s intricate plan to flush out the elusive Vacek gradually unfolds, we get fabulous high rise stunts, darkly humourous Madeline interrogations, sage comfort from Walter, and scenes of aching poignancy for the ill-fated tangle involving Michael, Nikita, Elena, and Adam.

    Spoilers follow...

    Though Michael’s marriage to Elena is a mission to eliminate her estranged father, the truth is Michael actually cares for her a great deal, and adores their son, Adam. Nikita begins the episode disgusted by Michael’s duplicity, but gradually realizes that obedience to Section in this matter is tearing him apart. She says to Walter: “His son loves him so much. Michael feels it, too. It’s heartbreaking.” Heroically, she tries to put her own hurt and longing aside to support him as much as possible, while wrestling with her own guilt over the cruel manipulation of his sweet and innocent wife.

    It is fascinating to watch all the pieces of the puzzle come together as Section fabricates a plausible story with the goal of convincing Vacek to expose himself. And every small success Michael achieves seems to make matters worse for his tenuous family life. When he tries to cover Nikita’s security breach by including her in the mission as Elena’s confidante, it actually accelerates the process of contacting Vacek, which brings the end of the mission and the end of Michael’s presence in his family that much closer. And the success of achieving Section’s first “hard contact” with Vacek in over 14 years only seems to spur Operations and Madeline to push harder. The episode ends with their scheming to create “urgency” so Vacek will want to see his daughter, leaving us with the ominous words: “Michael will resist.”; “It won’t matter.”

    Favourite Scenes:
    The mission (designed by Michael) to capture Williams: Nikita uses a blow torch to covertly enter the basement, knocks out Williams’ secretary, then shatters the window and pushes the man out of a high rise building, only to follow by jumping herself! Fantastic stunt work here, and I was tickled that not a single passerby seemed to notice two people falling twenty stories and landing on a huge air bag in the middle of the street ;-)

    The poignant scene in the park: Elena happily reminiscing about Watson and Bordeaux, completely oblivious that she is in love with a man who doesn’t really exist, and unaware that the family she cherishes will soon be ripped apart for the “greater good”.

    Continuity Issues:
    It actually makes sense to me that Simone would not have wanted to talk about Elena with Michael. She knew the reality of being in Section – undoubtedly, both she and Michael would have been assigned “Valentine” missions even while married. They would have had only a limited amount of time to spend together, so to make the most of it, Simone probably decided to completely isolate their relationship from the painful situations they were forced to endure.

  2. I wanted to hate Elena, I really did. But you're right Billie, in the end I just couldn't. The actress WAS tremendously appealing. It's a testament to her acting that my hate withered as soon as it sprouted. Plus, Nikita came to like her. After that, I couldn't justify why I should continue to do so when she didn't.

    This episode made me go back and analyze previous episodes all the way back to Season 1. It made me wonder what kind of relationship Michael and Simone had. It made me conclude just how much Nikita had affected Michael. It made me realize just how fragmented Michael's life was... the break when it comes is going to be terribly painful.

    This is also where I had to admire Nikita for putting Michael's welfare ahead of her own. You're right Billie, I don't think Michael has had a friend as loyal as she. His trust is not misplaced.

    Excellent reviews again from the both of you. Your insights into characterizations and your breakdown of the storyline make for terrific reading.

  3. Great review, Billie. :)
    It mentions pretty much the same stuff I had in mind.
    I'm not sure though why Michael said that thing in the end, when Nikita said it's not so bad the whole operation is prolonged, for Adam's sake. I'd say, she really meant, for Michael's sake. And he said "Why?" or something like that. He finds it a torture or what? I thought that he was almost cheering nothing happens on the encounter with Elena's father, when only Misha came.

  4. The scene where Michael hugs his son goodbye, or at least thinks he is, was hard to watch. On one level, Michael knows that this is a mission. On another, this has been family for quite a while. I would be surprised if he doesn't care deeply for both.

  5. Billie Doux is in my brain & nailed this review. I have SO MANY QUESTIONS about Michael, about all the women, about Nikita's place with him.... ugh. I cant even explain the angst i have during this arc.

  6. I agree with you. I believe that Michael found in Nikita the only person who has ever seen inside him, despite all the mystery that surrounded him for two seasons.

    After these episodes (especially after episode 3.4, Gates of Hell) Michael's transformation will begin. He will start risking everything for Nikita. Michael will challenge Section 1 and show his indestructible love for Nikita, despite continuous obstacles. I'd say that even his feelings have proven to be more constant than hers, if we look at Nikita's behavior in seasons 4 and 5.

    Please excuse my mistakes but I am not a native English speaker. I am from Argentina

  7. LFN really becomes a compelling series in S2, and this twist in S3 really solidified this series complexity. Michael is also one of the only male characters to really be believable as a man that could charm any woman into falling in love with him. Even as despicable as he can be, it's still easy to rally for him and Nikita.


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