A Killer 4th Season for La Femme Nikita
Reviewed by Beth Hannan Rimmels
I dont know how much longer the writers and producers of La Femme Nikita can continue to raise the stakes without the show exploding, but so far so good.
During the latter part of last season, Section One leaders Operations (Eugene Robert Glazer) and Madeline (Alberta Watson) were becoming increasingly intent upon breaking up the love affair between operatives Michael (Roy Dupuis) and Nikita (Peta Wilson). In addition to lowering mission effectiveness, it was feared that as a team, Michael and Nikita could perhaps take their places as the masters of Section One. When every effort failed, they launched one final, extreme plan to avoid terminating one or both of the lovers: Nikita was diverted during a mission and Madeline used an experimental technique to brainwash her and eliminate her feelings for Michael.
The double-episode season premiere on Sunday (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT January 9 on USA Network) picks up in the days thereafter. Not only has the treatment destroyed Nikitas feelings for Michael, but it has also stopped her from forming emotional attachments to anyone, practically turning her into the robot Operations always wanted.
Michael, of course, knows that this sudden change cant be normal and is determined to not only find out what happened but use his knowledge of Section One to find a way to undo the damage lest the process be used on all of them. His efforts will be dealt with in a four-episode story arc that begins with these two episodes.
The initial investigation covers the sort of ground regular Nikita viewers would expect. Its in the second episode that we learn a secret Operations and Madeline want to conceal at all costs, even if it means terminating Michael. The twist is too good to spoil, but I cant figure out how this arc can resolved while allowing Michael to return to Section.
Simultaneously, the subplot involving Oversights increasing scrutiny of Section One and Operations continues to develop, also picking up from last season. As the season goes on, that subplot will continue to grow until it verges on full-scale war between George and Operations.
Other future episodes will have Madeline confronting her Red Cell counterpart and more information on the man who saved Operation's life when he was in a Vietnamese POW camp. Nikita will also learn more about why she was framed and recruited by Section One. A teaser from USA Network also hints that Operations will also use the "mysterious abilities of a very unusual operative from another Section," which begs the question, how many other Sections are there? And how exactly do they interconnect? Does each Section have its own specialty, which might explain why this other group has such a mysterious operative?
My main complaint about Nikita over the years is that the show often rushes its story arcs too much. I certainly dont want stories to drag on forever, but some plots, such as the Jurgen story arc, were resolved so quickly that it felt unnatural. A fast-paced show doesnt have to skip the details fans love.
On the other hand, the writers have done an excellent job of bringing back characters from earlier episodes, such as Nick, and tying together the various plot twists over the years. Wilson has improved as an actress since her first season and the rest of the cast has always been good. Walter (Don Francks) and Birkoff (Matthew Ferguson) in particular have grown from minor supporting characters to essential components of the addictive show.
If you havent watched La Femme Nikita before, you might be pleasantly surprised. While flashier and a bit more explosive than the superb In the Company of Spies, Nikita is a well-crafted action series that doesnt neglect the cat-and-mouse aspect of espionage and counterterrorism.
Review © 2000 Beth Hannan Rimmels. La Femme Nikita © USA Networks/Fireworks Entertainment Productions. Accompanying photographs © David Drebin/USA Networks/Fireworks Entertainment Productions.