La Femme Nikita - Nikita (S01E01) (Recap)
There is one show that I return to again and again, at least every two years. It is the cult classic La Femme Nikita (1997-2001). I am deeply in love with this show, have been ever since I first watched it, and will be until my last dying breath. On my current re-watch - brought on by my severe disappointment over most of 2013's KDrama - I have realized that nobody seems to have ever properly recapped this drama. Meaning: with screencaps and gifs and a whole lot of squees. But oh man, does this show deserve to be recapped (even though or really because it isn't KDrama)! And oh man, I will so do it. Let's see how far I'll get!
Nikita (Pilot) 1x01
A young, dishevelled, seemingly homeless woman (Nikita) wanders the streets, sometimes eating (i.e. a pizza three times the size of her head), sometimes stealing, sometimes begging. In a dark alley, she happens across a crime ... a man is holding up a bloody knife that he has just stuck into his victim, a policeman, who is lying on the ground. The criminal runs, the woman tackles him, they fight ... she ends up holding the bloody knife. At that moment, the police arrive and arrest her. We hear a distorted voice reading the conviction: I am sentencing you to life in prison without the possibility for parole. The woman screams and shouts: I didn't kill anyone!
***After the opening credits, we get the first tour of Section One's underground facility. We will spend a lot of time here together, folks, so take a good look! Michael is taking Nikita to see Madeline (Alberta Watson), her "new mother", as he puts it. "So what are you", Nikita retors, "my father?" Michael smiles. Now, La Femme Nikita experts know that Michael hardly ever smiles. So ... this smile is either a Pilot-"mistake" (i.e., characters are not yet fully developed) or Michael just plays charming. You never know with him.
Operations shows Michael a video clip of a man he instantly recognizes: Van Vactor. He is a bad guy, a terrorist, who is trying to forge an alliance of terrorists against Section One. Operations orders Michael to steal an itinerary so that they known where to intercept the guy.
Michael is already leaving, but Operations has another thing to say: that woman Nikita? He has been watching her. She "lacks discipline". Michael seems slightly uncomfortable at this remark, and he says: she needs a little more time. But Operations will not have it: It has been two years, and he know the rules. "We start making exceptions, we're no better than the CIA - cancel her". Michael thinks that would be a mistake, but Operations just says "It would be a mistake to become emotionally attached to the material." And he tells Michael (who denies anything of the sort, of course) that her failure will be his failure. He just linked Nikita's faith to Michael's.
Michael simply starts telling her what to do in a low voice: there's a man behind him who has a PDA in a briefcase. She is to get it. And he tells her how to get out (through the window in the toilet). There, in the alley, she will be met by a car. But she only has 5 minutes. If she takes longer, the car will be gone ... and she will be stranded. She is starting to freak out, but he just takes a last sip of wine, repeats "5 minutes" and adds to wait until he is gone, if she doesn't mind. Oh man, he is such a bastard.
Nikita: "You're sick. You don't want a person. You want a machine. I can't do that."
Michael: "You just did."
Nikita: "I am not a killer".Yeah, shit. Believe me when I say this woman is constantly on the verge of being cancelled, from here on out.
Michael: "The moment I believe that, Nikita .... you are cancelled".
Nikita and another (nameless) Operative follow. Michael and Birkhoff (Matthew Ferguson), Section One's head of Comm, loose contact with them because they are too far underground. It's pretty spooky down there... Nikita's buddy is grabbed by one of Van Vactor's men. She drops her gun and is seized as well. Van Vactor is surprised to see a new face. And because he is a total dick, he shoots the man operative twice, looking for a reaction in Nikita. But the only reaction he gets is a smile and a super charming "Go to hell".
The pilot really isn't indicative for the awesomeness this show delivers in almost every episode. The trademark Nikita-feel isn't quite there yet - though the music rocked from minute one and the cinematography is dark and gritty - be it because the pilot follows the original movie for quite a bit (leaving less creative room for the writers), or because the actors weren't entirely in character yet. Nikita is a bit too vulnerable and dumbfounded in the restaurant scene and Michael isn't quite stonefaced enough yet. Those are minor quibbles, though.