La Femme Nikita - Charity (S01E04) (Recap)

In this episode, Nikita is sent on her first "Valentine Operation" and Section shows its ugly, manipulative (true) self. So does Michael, at least partially ... but I cannot be angry with him for long. He is just too beautiful. And too conflicted. And we know he really is one of the good guys ... or is he not? This is also the episode that, once reached, has sealed your faith: you will now watch this show to the end. For Michael. And for Michael and Nikita. 
Charity 1x04

Nikita is somewhere outside in the city, letting red balloons fly. Two shy kids watch and approach her ... she hands the rest of her balloons to them. A guy (guest starring: Simon MacCorkindale) steps out of a hotel, looks over to her - their eyes meet. He smiles at her briefly before he steps out onto the street. Tires screech, a car approaches at high speed ... the guy isn't aware of the danger he is in until Nikita tackles him to the ground, rolling out of harms way. She lands quasi on top of him (baring her sexy leg with stockings and a garter belt) and their lips meet "by accident". A guy snatches her bag and runs away. He asks her whether she is fine, she says "I'm fine" and gets up, helping him to his feet.
She notices the loss of her bag and is annoyed ... the guy she just saved says "serves you right, next time, you mind your own business". Nikita gives him a dirty look, but he assures her he'll replace anything that's in it. She turns his offer down and starts to leave, but he grabs her arm (wrist grab!). "Dinner, then?" he asks, but she doesn't want that either. "At least tell me your name", he says, "I am Alec Chandler".
"Nice to meet you, Alec Chandler" is what she says, as she shakes off his hand and walks away.
"Find out who she is", says Chandler to his lackey.
Cut to Section. It's been 8 hours, Birkhoff remarks while blinking his tired eyes - why hasn't he called? Michael (looking mighty fine with his curly hair) also doesn't get it: the setup worked perfectly. But why didn't she accept his invitation? What if he doesn't call? Of course he will call, says Nikita, chewing gum in that specific and annoying way of hers. Just then, the phone rings ... and Nikita smiles like a winner.
Nikita and Alec are on his yacht. Nikita asks him what he does for a living, and he says some investment, some charity work. He works with street kids ... shelters, homes, no big deal. Nikita is impressed. Alec says he grew up on the streets himself, and it's taught him a lot. A butler enters with champagne ... and while they drink, Nikita says she would love to see one of these shelters.
And of course, Alec takes her. It's one of the first shelters he ever set up ... he goes there often, so that he doesn't forget where he comes from. And so he doesn't end up back there again. She thinks that's unlikely, but he says if you don't keep moving up, you slide back down. Alec chats amiably with the  kids.

Nikita is back at Section and stepping up to Walter, who is working on some electronics. He says: "When I start something, I can't stop, even if it takes days. That's how it would be with you and me. Nonstop sweat." Awwww, she's now so much more comfortable with his flirting, and she actually kisses him on the cheek.
It's debrief time: Nikita meets up with Michael, Operations, and Madeline (I missed her!). They want to know how it went, Nikita thinks it went fine - Chandler seems to be into her. But Nikita wants to know from them who that guy actually is! Michael answers that he launders money. Her job is to get close to him and to identify his key contacts. What, that's it? Nikita asks, not quite believing what she is hearing, he just launders money? Operations finishes the debrief by dismissing her - no more questions allowed.
Once she's gone, Michael says: "Maybe we should tell her." But Operations is against it.
"She likes him", Madeline remarks, overly pleased with herself ... and Operations replies "Oh yes" in a really gross kind of way - and looks at Michael. Who ... well. Isn't pleased. 
Nikita is at a shopping center. She is being followed .... so she shakes her tail. She stomps to Chandler's boat next, switching on some device she has in her watch before she busts open the door, interrupting a business meeting that Chandler is in. She kicks the other guy out and approaches Chandler, putting her hand on his desk. Her watch is a camera and she is now taking pictures of his computer screen, which shows some numbers, while she angrily demands to know why he is having her followed. He may be used to owning things - but that is not how it works with her. If he wants to keep seeing her, he better stop behaving like this.
She opens the door, he implores her to stay. But she says she is going home, to bed, because it's late. He wants to know whether she will go to bed alone, but she says it's none of his business and leaves. He is a bit agitated and amused at the same time, when the door opens again and it's her. She says, with a sexy smile: "But yes. Alone".
The pictures she took are crap, though. Birkhoff is annoyed, because he can't see anything. He is complaining about how she should have held her wrist more still, but Nikita tells him to do it himself next time. Then she asks whether Madeline is in ... Birkhoff wants to know why, and Nikita says that she needs a dress. Michael gives her a brief, but quite meaningful look. The boy is jealous! Awwwwwwwww. Birkhoff asks whether she didn't just go shopping? But Nikita says she didn't find anything. "Uh-oh .... she is hot for the guy", taunts Birkhoff, which gets him an "up yours" from Nikita. "Anytime, babe, my number is in the book", Birkhoff replies and then mumbles on "the guy must be a stud" and Michael just looks more and more annoyed. Or is it worried?
The mood is very flirtatious on the boat. Nikita - looking gorgeous! - takes off her boots. And then they dance. Michael is in Section, listening in on everything together with Birkhoff ... he repeats "the trip, ask him about the trip" while pacing back and forth. But Nikita will not be rushed. They dance, and then, Chandler tells her they are having a fundraiser for the shelters tomorrow night. He wants her to come. She says of course ... if he comes to hockey with her on Saturday.
He laughs and says "unfortunately, I am out of town over the weekend". But when she asks whether it's a business trip, he is evasive. They dance more, Michael paces more. What is she thinking? Chandler wants to know, and Nikita says she is thinking about the street he grew up in ... she doesn't like the one she grew up in. And he says he knows .... it shows a little, in her eyes. And they continue their slow dance, comfortable in their silence and enjoying each other's company, while Michael is agonizing over each and every breath and giggle from her.
When Nikita gets home to her place, a little tipsy, Michael is sitting there, in the dark. A little cat runs to Nikita, and she picks it up, kissing it ... and then she sees Michael. She freezes for a moment, but then continues her leisurely stroll through her apartment, moving quite sexily, I might add. Michael says that she seems to be having quite a good time with Chandler, but Nikita just looks at him and doesn't answer. Michael wants to know why she didn't push him about the trip, but Nikita knows that he wouldn't have told her. Nikita takes milk out of the fridge and starts drinking from the carton (she is soooo cooooool!), once again asking what Chandler has done that's so evil.
She steps over to her stereo and switches it on, while starting to unzip her tight dress. Michael steps over and switches the loud music back off. He says: "You don't have to like the job, you just have to do it". He will also be at the party tomorrow - his security is very good, so they have to work from the inside.
Michael: "And ... get rid of the cat. It's a distraction. It's the first thing you noticed when you walked in. If I were an enemy, you would be dead now".
Nikita: "Sometimes I think you are the enemy".
And she closes the door behind him.
Michael is in Madeline's office (i.e. clothing gallery) next, with her and Operations. And we finally hear that Chandler isn't just laundering money - he has links to all sorts of terrorists. They need leverage - in other words, they need to catch him in the act, and alive. Nikita is the key, says Operations. He wants to know from Michael how she is doing. Michael is rather curt about it, but assures them that all is going well. Operations wants to know whether Nikita is sleeping with Chandler. Michael says he doesn't think so, but Operations, picking up on Michael's sullenness says, threateningly: "Whatever it takes, you hear me?"
At the fundraiser! Michael is there, wearing a ruffled shirt and a red jacket. Oh my god, he looks ridiculous; in a good way. Alec excuses himself from Nikita, he has some urgent business to take care off. And she says that's perfect, she'll just go powder her nose. As she walks out, she passes by Michael, who hands her a plastic device. Nikita goes into the toilet and starts undressing immediately. Nice muscles there, Peta. Another woman knocks on the door, asking whether she will be long ... "just a minute!", Nikita answers. And then, she leaves the toilet through the window! And jumps into the water. Michael is keeping watch on the railing, while Nikita plants the device on the ship's hull.
Chandler is in his office, doing some money transfer. And Birkhoff sees it all. Chandler's crony types in a password, it is GRAYSTONE. Madeline immediately contacts Michael and tells him what the password is.

There is a long queue outside the toilet by now... and Nikita is just climbing back in. She hurriedly starts drying herself. Chandler, all done with his "business", is passing by and a woman tells him that his girlfriend is in there and might not be feeling well. He knocks, once, twice, three times, but then, Nikita comes back out, feigning that she was unwell. Her hair? It's damp because she splashed water on it. They go back to the party together.
Michael on the other hand is getting busy in Chandler's office: he is logging onto the computer and starts sending data back to Section. But ... oh no! Chandler has a device there that recognizes an unauthorized receiver. Birkhoff tells Michael to get out immediately and yes, the security guards are receiving notification that something is not right. But Michael isn't stopping ... he is now saving data on a disk. Nikita worriedly looks on as the guards are leaving the room. And Birkhoff gets the name of the middle man that is going to do the deal: Skyler.
Michael is out! But he doesn't get far ... the guards ask him what he is doing there, this part of the boat is off limits. Michael feigns a drunk guy in search of the toilet (old, but effective trick!) and quickly puts the disk into one of the guards pockets while passing by him. Ah! That's why he did it!
Chandler is having everybody checked as they leave the boat. Including Michael. Who is having the time of his life. He tells the guys searching him, "I'm giving you guys twenty minutes to cut that out."
He leaves, and then Chandler says: "You take someone in, you trust them, and then they betray you". Guys push against Nikita and she has a small fright ... but it wasn't about her. It's the guard that Michael planted to disk on. He denies everything, even implicating the drunk guy that maybe wasn't drunk. And he claims Nikita knows him, because he saw very well how they looked at each other at the party. "Mr. Chandler, she is setting you up", he says. But Mr. Chandler doesn't believe him. He tells him how sad he is about the betrayal ... and to get him out of here. Nikita seems to feel genuinely sorry for Chandler as she kisses him goodbye.
Nikita is pleased with herself, thinking the mission is over. But Michael tells her "not quite".
Nikita looks at him and says: "Ah. Because we haven't caused him enough pain. Because he is still standing."
M: "You've become quite fond of him".
N: "What's it to you?"
Before he can answer, Madeline walks in ... they've found Skyler. And he is ready to talk. Nikita wants to follow Michael out, but he doesn't want her there. But she insists ... if it concerns Alec, it concerns her. So Michael lets her.
We're in one of the white rooms - Skyler is being interrogated by Michael. He talks about a "shipment of kids". Nikita goes "What kids???" and "are we talking about the shelters?". The contact man just laughs bitterly and then starts pleading for his life. Nikita gets very angry, and finally, the guy talks: the kids? Big business. They work hard, they don't fight back ... and then, there is the perverts.
And finally, Michael drops the bomb: "Alec Chandler is a slaver. The shelters are a perfect front". He so wanted her to find out! And Nikita goes ballistic.
Outside, Nikita is super angry at Michael, because he told her Chandler launders money. Which he does, says Michael. And why didn't he tell her about the other stuff? She had to like him, get close to him. She had to make him care for her, and vice versa. If she had known the truth, she couldn't have done that. 
Nikita: "It's not enough to lie to them. We've got to lie to each other, too."
And now the really tough job ... she has to go back to him. She needs to go on the weekend trip with him.
On the boat, Chandler is getting ready to leave. And one of his guys runs up to him and shows him the device they found on the hull. Chandler realizes immediately that he has been spied on - and he also realizes that someone must have planted the device on the night of the party. At this moment, Nikita approaches, in flaming red. She says she wanted to surprise him - who cares whether it's a business trip or not. She wants to make this trip special - and he agrees. Yes, very special. I do not like the look in his eyes ...
They are downstairs, he is pouring some drinks. She refuses to drink, but he tells her to drink: She is going to need it. She opens the door to leave, but two guards are outside, pointing their guns at her. She has been found out! Chandler turns around his chair, and there is the body of the young guard he had killed because of her. Nikita looses it and screams that he is scum, selling children ... and he says oh no, he doesn't sell them all. Some are gifts. Customer relations ... they die early anyway.
He starts hitting her, trying to find out whom she works for. Of course she doesn't tell him. He says never mind, that can wait. He has told her how he feels about betrayal. And what she has done to him is much, much worse. To get even, he will sell her, because there is a "market in mature flesh". The first thing her new owners will do is turn her into an addict. And she will do anything to get her next fix. And there is plenty of things her owners will want of her. Once they tier of her, they will sell her to a whore house in Asia, where she will die within a year ... wishing she were dead a long time before that.
He tries to kiss her, but she rams her heel into his foot. He promises she will pay for that when he gets back ... she can consider it training for her new life. He leaves, leaving her at the mercy of two guards. Nikita asks them for a cigarette, baring her thighs (garter belt again!!), then asks for a light ... and then overpowers the two guys and finding out where Chandler keeps the kids.

He is at the docks, doing his dirty business, selling a truck full of kids - and complaining about the weather that plays havoc with his shoes. But ... what is that? Armed people approach. Section? They start shooting, Section wins. Michael steps out from the shadows and orders his people not to shoot Chandler ... who pretends to surrender. But then, he rolls a barrel of petrol with a hole in it towards to kids, threatening to torch them if they come closer.
Michael steps closer and closer, while Chandler utters demands. "No", says Michael.
"No???" screams Chandler, "That wasn't a request, little fella, that was an order! Unless you want to see the children die, of course."
But Michael keeps his cool and asks Chandler whether he doesn't want to know why he is still alive?
"I'm listening", says Chandler. But there is Nikita, who kicks the burning lighter out of his hand. It hits the floor and the gasoline starts burning immediately, racing towards the children. Michael jumps into the truck and drives it away. Everything explodes. Nikita stares into the flames.
Operations is lecturing Nikita about what she did wrong: she shouldn't have interfered. She says she didn't, she just went for the lighter. But Operations is very angry: they needed Chandler alive, he was the bridge to their next level. But Nikita thinks the lives of those children are worth a thousands of those next levels. At that, Operations grabs her viciously and tells her that THEY decide that. Not her.
She is back in her apartment, somebody knocks on her door. She doesn't open, but the person outside has a key ... it is Michael. He steps in and says, in his quiet way, that he came to apologize. She just laughs.
"You know ... you're becoming very predictable, Michael", she says. "You lie - and then you say you're sorry. You lie - and then you say you're sorry. Can you come up with something a little more interesting?"
M: "I do what I have to do. We all do. It's not what I would choose for myself. Or ... for us"
She laughs again, especially at the "us".
N: "Will you answer a question for me?"
M: "If I can."
N: "Why shouldn't I ..... just kill you", she says and suddenly points a gun at him, "Why shouldn't I just pull the trigger?"
He steps closer ... and closer. Until the gun rests against his throat. And he says: "I can't think of a single reason."
And he takes her hand with the gun in it, turns it slightly, and kisses her knuckles. And then he turns his back and leaves.
She keeps aiming until he has disappeared. Then, she disassembles the gun with a sigh and picks up her cat. She first looks at her hand, and then rubs her face against it, before she hugs the cat closely. 


What a good episode! Four episodes in, the characters are well developed and we get a lot of those wonderful character interactions that make this series what it is. The weekly Walter-Nikita interactions, Birkoff teasing Nikita about her "stud", Madeline and Operations playing caring parents, while being the meanest and most ruthless people alive, Nikita, still a bit naive and far too trusting, and the hotness that is Michael. 

Alec Chandler was an intriguing villain: He seemed so nice and genuine at first and it was fully believable that Nikita would fall for him. And then, all of a sudden, he was the worst of the worst. Really well played!

Michael seems jealous - but not only that. He also knew what kind of terrible person Chandler was, and he knew how much that would impact Nikita, once she found out. He wanted to tell her and I guess to protect her, but he couldn't (wouldn't) go against Section this time. So he was jealous and worrying at the same time, trying to give her hints, and finally letting her find out in the white room.

And then, of course, we get that last scene between Michael and Nikita: oh my goodness. This sizzling chemistry between the leads is what makes this series one of the best ever made. He is following orders because he has to, or thinks he has to - because he knows it will mean their deaths if they don't. But for the first time, he seems truly sincere with her, showing as much feelings for her as he can. Of course, he will be mean and brutal again soon ... but we, the audience, know that he cares. In his way.