28 December 2013

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La Femme Nikita - Mother (S01E05) (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on December 28, 2013
Episode 5 is another undercover episode, again with an intriguing pair of baddies, and more parallels to Nikita's old life as a (quasi) motherless street child. Her relationship with Michael remains complicated as sacrifices need to be made - and Section doesn't care who lives and who dies. 
Mother 1x05

A mission is going out ... Nikita runs after the operatives, bringing the leader (Chuck) his gear. He is sorry she is not joining them, she flirts back that they probably thought they had too much fun together last time. Michael interrupts them abruptly, reminding them that their absolute priority is "the trigger". Chuck winks at Nikita as he disappears through those special mission doors (I really wonder where they lead to).
Soon afterwards, the operatives are on site - they think they have the trigger. But ... oh no! They have been fooled! They are sitting there with a life bomb. They are trying to defuse it, but it will not work: the wires are dummy wires.
Inside a house, a completely normal looking couple (Helen and John Wick) sit in front of a fire. John Wick presses a few buttons on a mobile phone - and actives the bomb. Michael tells his operatives to evacuate, but it's too late: The bomb detonates, Chuck and the rest of his team are dead.
"Bring in everyone", Madeline says, "this is now priority one".
Nikita stays behind, staring at the screen on which the calamity was broadcasted, grieving for the lost colleagues. 
***
Mission briefing: Operations tells them who the Wicks are. Long-time arms dealers, small fish until recently. But now, they are believed to be in the possession of a nuclear trigger, a highly valuable, classified device. They trust nobody but each other and are tough nuts to crack - but Section believes they have found a weakness. And Operations looks straight at Nikita. Uh-oh.
At a shelter for the homeless: Nikita is there, in street gear - acting as someone she no longer is. She signs up for food and shelter, answering a few questions for the guy in charge.
At the Wick mansion: A guy is sitting in their living room. He has just brought the trigger into the country and hands the Wicks a key for a locker at the airport, where the trigger is. Wick promises to wire him the money, "as usual", and then they see him off. When the guy happily gets into the white limo parked for him outside the house, John Wick nods his head to the chauffeur and the trigger-deliverer is shot dead from behind.

Back inside, Helen Wick is getting a phone call; it's a private detective and he says: "I'm pretty sure I've found her". In a surprised daze, she tells him to pick her up and bring here to the house.
At the shelter, Nikita bolts as soon as she sees the guy who tries to "pick her up", but she is apprehended almost immediately, dragged to a car and brought to the Wick mansion. Helen comes down the stairs, in riding gear ... and she starts asking Nikita questions, like: who gave her that name, does she have family, and "are you a prostitute?" Nikita: "No. Are you?"
Helen sends the men away and invites Nikita in. When she gets cheeky with her, she slaps her ... and then wants to know when she was born, and where. Nikita says the day, the date, and finally, ashamed, that she was born in jail. Helen breathes heavily, seeming a bit faint, and she sits down next to Nikita on the sofa, calling her "my poor girl"... she believes she is Nikita's mother. 
She serves Nikita scones next (Nikita claims she has never seen anything like it before), which are then eaten with gusto, topped with loads of cream and jam. Let's just say it's messy :) Helen is telling Nikita in a shaky, emotional voice that she never gave her up - they took her from her, as was the law. When she got out, she wanted to know where her baby was, but they refused to tell her. And she has been looking for Nikita ever since. Finding her changes everything in her life.
John gets home - Helen introduces him (Nikita, sullen: "Is he my father?") and there clearly is no love between the non-father and the (non-)daughter. John doesn't trust Nikita at all; he finds it weird that she popped up all of a sudden. He wants his wife to come with him to a meeting, but she wants to stay with her "daughter" - this is so important to her. He warns her again, and tells her not to get too invested until she is certain this is really her daughter. Helen just knows it's her, though, and ... suddenly, they hear the door and see that Nikita is trying to run away. She doesn't get far with all the security on the ground - but she manages to place a tracking device on the Wick's car. Helen pleads with her to stay a bit longer and give her a chance - and Nikita follows her back in, while John watches grimly from one of the windows. 
Helen leads Nikita into a gorgeous bedroom and Nikita agrees to stay "a few days - no promises". Helen is very happy and takes Nikita to the garden next. At about the same time, Section is delivering a "package" to Nikita - a plane is dropping it inside the Wick's property. Unfortunately, it lands about 100 feet from the target - and is now in plain sight. Nikita spots it immediately as she comes out of the house and manages to distract Helen by linking arms with her suddenly, so that it goes undiscovered.

In a white room. Madeline, in black, is interrogating a man who is the middle man between the Wicks and the buyers of the trigger. But Section doesn't know exactly what group it is.
"Do you think there's anything I won't do to get this information from you?", she asks in a dispassionate voice.
"I can't tell you anything I don't know", the prisoners retorts, "You can torture me all day and that won't change."
"It's a deal."
They are able to narrow it down to three potential group, but that's it. Specifics? They've got nothing. Operations has a fit and shouts at Madeline and Michael. What about Nikita? No word from her for the last six hours, Michael says, which is probably a good thing. And Madeline thinks that they will have leverage if Nikita forms a bond with Helen Wick. Operations repeats "if ... if?!". Ah, what a grumpy old man. He calls back Michael and tells him that he has no intention on failing this one ... Nikita may have "to sacrifice". If Helen Wick really believes that Nikita is her daughter, she may not be able to bear the pain they inflict upon her daughter.
It is night and Nikita sneaks outside to secure the package. There is heavy security on the perimeter. But the Section-trained Nikita manages to break into John Wick's office (which is in a separate house). She puts on special goggles and sees the laser beams crisscrossing the office with them. She manages to disable them and starts searching everywhere (not sure for what). She then takes pictures with a small camera (again not sure of what). John arrives outside in his car. Nikita hurriedly re-assembles the alarm ... but Wick is already in. 
He switches on the light and disables the alarm. He then goes to the safe, which is hidden in the bookcase (I guess she was looking for that!) - and puts the key to the locker in. Nikita, who is hiding underneath a small table, is taking pictures. 
Wick closes the safe and leaves ... but something appears not quite right to him. When he re-engages the alarm, he notices a missing screw; which is lying on the small table just underneath the alarm.the frown on his face deepens.
He hurries back to the house, quickly chats to his wife (no, she hasn't been to the office earlier - and Nikita is in the guest bedroom, after a very good day together) and then goes and checks on Nikita. He carefully approaches the bed and flips back the covers and ... there she is. Sleeping peacefully.
Michael enters Madeline's dungeon - he has news of the trigger. It's due to arrive in Tripoli in 52 hours. But Madeline is absolutely NOT happy with this (meager) information and Michael's suggestion to work backwards. Wick and his wife are the only ones who know the location of the trigger - and they will tell the buyers right before the deal. He? Not going to crack. She might.
"We're going to have to use Nikita", she says. "There's no way to avoid it. Prepare yourself, Michael".
Nikita is all dolled up, in a very pretty summer dress. Nikita tells Helen that she cannot call her mother just yet - she isn't ready. Helen is just happy to have her near, and she is ready to wait for Nikita's trust. Tea is served - and Nikita drugs Helen's tea when she turns her back. John Wick is downstairs in his office, realizing something is not quite right when he hears his middle-man hasn't come back yet. Nikita deposits the now unconscious Helen on the bed and has a moment of pity when she looks at her, even apologizing softly.
John Wick is trying to log onto the Internet, but the connection fails - because the modem is currently in use. Oh yes - Nikita is using it, to send the pictures she took (i.e. of the locker key) to Section. Birkhoff knows it's a fairly new key, but that's about it. It's another dead-end.

Wick is entering the room behind Nikita, who is still busy uploading images, seemingly unaware of him. When he asks what she is doing, she whisks around - but plays all innocent. Helen allowed her to use the computer, she hopes that's not a problem. He asks what "that" is: a digital camera, of course, Nikita says and takes a picture of him.
"You're not Helen's daughter", he says slowly; and she confirms, in a calm voice.
What did she do to Helen? he demands to know. She'll be fine, Nikita says, if he behaves.
"Who are you?" he wants to know and she replies: "I'm a friend of Chuck's".
When he pulls a gun at her, she shoots him without blinking. "That's for Chuck". She's come a long way, this one ...

Later, she goes and wakes Helen, who is understandably disoriented. She asks where John is and Nikita says that he left a while ago. Helen is trying to reach him on the phone, because this isn't like him at all (they have a very important meeting). John doesn't pick up, but there is someone at the door. A "Detective".
He has bad news: John Wick lost control of his vehicle on the highway - he is dead. Helen has a break-down. The "Detective" is very sorry: she will have to come with him to identify the body.
A very distraught Helen and Nikita, who calls her "mother" for the first time, get into the police car (the number plates look French). But the car drops in the middle of nowhere. Michael orders them out of the car and several men drag the two struggling women into the woods. They tie Nikita to a tree.
Michael nods his head ... and the beating begins. Michael turns his head away ever so slightly, but that's the only emotion he shows. Helen Wick starts crying and asks them what they want.
"The trigger", Michael replies.
"You killed John because he didn't tell you", says Helen, breathing heavily, "do you think I will?"
"Continue", says Michael.
But Helen is not talking, even after much more brutality against her "daughter".
Michael hesitates for a moment and then says: "Kill the girl".
Oh fuck.
They start to drag Helen away, while one of the men cocks his gun, and then, finally, Helen breaks. She will tell him, she yells, Nikita is all she's got. And the two women give each other an absolutely heartbreaking look.
Nikita is hooked up to some serious machines. Madeline is standing there, looking at her. Michael comes in and asks how she is. "She'll be fine" says Madeline. Michael reports that they have the trigger, and that they picked up the buyers.
Nikita wakes up - her face is cut, bruised, swollen, and one of her eyes is completely bloodshot. Madeline smiles sweetly - and thanks Nikita for "doing her job". The snake leaves, but Michael stays.
"I'm sorry it had to come to that", he whispers.
"Don't be", says Nikita, "I'm getting used to how things are".
He gets confirmation from Michael that Helen is still alive ... "for now". She doesn't know that Nikita isn't her daughter. Nikita says: "You know, my real mother would have let them keep beating me. She would have let me die."
He gently touches her right brow and turns to leave.
"Get some rest", he says. 
"Michael ... however long she's got; let her believe", Nikita says before Michael is out the door. He looks back at her for a moment and leaves.

Comments

While the Nikita in Episode 4 was still naive and much too trusting of Section and everybody else around her, the Nikita in this episode accepts her new life; she accepts who she is now and she accepts her own pain and suffering as a means to accomplish the greater good. She even identifies with Section (or at least some people she likes in it) and takes revenge for a colleague operative who lost his life at the hands of this episode's friendly neighborhood terrorists.

Her interactions with Helen Wick are touching. Sure, the woman is a brutal terrorist - but we do not see that side of her. We only see her "weakness", which is the loss of a daughter. And Nikita, who has grown up without love, receives love from her. To her, Helen really becomes like a mother; a mother she never had, but always wanted. The two women truly bond - even if it is all a lie, Nikita's feelings for her are not. At the end, she asks for a last kindness towards her; to let her believe she has found and saved her daughter.  

In this episode, we also see how brutal Operations and Madeline can be - and how little they value life. They ordered to have Nikita brutally beaten and possibly killed in order to get the necessary information about the trigger. Operatives are "material" - they are expendable. They do acknowledge that Michael has some kind of special relationship with Nikita (telling him to prepare himself) but they also send him to order both the beating and the killing. We see Michael trying to prevent this "sacrifice" (i.e. by telling Madeline that they will find out in time, that they'll "tap into something"), but he isn't successful. We now realize that he is caught in the middle, always torn between his loyalty to Section and his feelings for Nikita - a dilemma, which doesn't seem to have an easy solution. 

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