26 December 2013


La Femme Nikita - Simone (S01E03) (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on December 26, 2013
This is an episode in which we get a glimpse into Michael's past. We learn that he once loved deeply - and that he might love again. Maybe. At least we now know that he is indeed capable of emotions. Nikita is the strong one, for once, and their bond grows much deeper. This is a mixed bag of an episode - there are some awesome Nikita-Michael scenes, but there also is a lot of questionable writing.
Simone 1x03

A small plane is approaching an airport. The pilot and the tower communicate... all is in order. But what is that? A gaunt, fanatic looking man is asking a girl at a computer how far apart they are ... she says 1 mile. He orders the classical music to be turned up louder, and he stares at the ceiling, almost ecstatic. The plane flies into a bank of clouds and the pilot tells the tower that his visibility is reduced. The thin fanatic man asks the girl how much longer, and she says: "Any second now". The pilot of the small plane tells the tower that the field is visible now and that he is going to land. Two red blips get closer and closer on the girl's computer screen. There's more people there, staring into her screen. The pilot looks up and ... there's another airplane! Right in front of him! His eyes widen in shock and then ... impact. A huge explosion. The people in that other computer room cheer - the creepy man slowly says "it begins".
Nikita is at home, listening to some music and making another wire fish. Somebody knocks at the door. It's Carla ... oh dear, she has been dumped by a man, who is now going to get married to his ex girlfriend. Etc. etc. Nikita listens, but they are interrupted by a phone call. Oh yes ... a Josephine phone call. Man, Michael says it so ... juicy.
Section time! Operations is explaining how they constantly monitor the Internet (back then already? Wow) to detect bad stuff. And they have: they came across the recruitment attempts of a group they already know, named Glass Curtain. Michael's head jerks around. Woah. That's quite a reaction there, Mr. Stoic! So this group is not inactive, but quite the opposite. They have struck again (as we have seen). The leader of the group is Errol Sparks and he is a cyber-terrorist.
Michael is very agitated - Nikita steals sideways glances at him. Operations goes on and on about the group members, but Michael rudely interrupts him: give them the necessary details and lets get going. Operations says "the last time I checked on protocol for briefings it didn't include disruptive behavior", and gives Michael a long and dirty look. He continues to say that Birkhoff is monitoring the situation and they are all staying in until the mission begins. And Operations gives some other operatives instructions what to do.
Michael jumps up and demands to be in the lead for this one - but Operations will not have it. He thinks Michael is too emotionally vested. Michael insists, but Operations warns him again to be quiet. Nikita is watching it all with great interest. After they leave the briefing section, she asks Michael what Glass Curtain is and whether he knows Sparks, but Michael isn't forthcoming with information. Like: not at all.
They go to see Birkhoff, who is just monitoring an IRC. I do like his definition of what it is: "It's a chat room, a place where social misfits log onto the Internet and argue with each other". Anyway, there's a guy named "Hester" who definitely is Glass Curtain - but they can't get to him directly. If they want access to the group (and therefore get to Hester), they need a sponsor who would give them a specific password. They want to get that password from another dude called "JB".

Michael, Nikita and Birkhoff are in the middle of nowhere in a van ... there seems to be a computer something somewhere. Birkhoff has done something to JB's machine and the screen will flash red so that they can identify him, when they wear special glasses. Nikita and Michael move out.

Alright, there's a building there in the middle of nowhere, with a weird spacey game arcade inside (downstairs?). Nikita loves it and goes "Wow". Michael is totally NOT happy and very much in a hurry. They walk around, trying to find JB ... and Nikita finally does, upstairs, on a gallery. Birkhoff sends him an FBI Internet Security Violation warning (ah, we are in the US, then?) and JB runs. When he sees Michael blocking his exit, he turns around and flees to some kind of backroom. There's more Section operatives blocking his path there and they finally apprehend him.

Michael takes off his glasses and looks really crazy. Oh dear. He wants to know who his contact at Glass Curtain is and starts hitting the boy almost immediately after, asking him again. When he still doesn't answer, Michael pulls his gun. But Nikita jumps on his arm, pushes the gun aside and stops him, even shielding the boy with her body.
She keeps asking Michael what's going on with him. And after a moment of struggle with himself, Michael says: "Glass Curtain killed Simone". Nikita wants to know who Simone is and Michael says: "My wife". Oh. Well. That's ... WUT?? he was married??!
Back at Section, Michael and Nikita are waiting for the next step: 24 hours have passed. There's a group of people outside his office, visible through the window, doing Tai Chi. That doesn't look weird at all... Anyway, Nikita asks Michael whether he wants her there and he replies "Whatever you want". Dude. Seriously. She closes the door and sits down opposite of him. Did Simone work for the section? she asks. He remains silent, but she insists: he cannot tell her he had a wife and just drop it like that and go back to business as if nothing had happened.
Finally, he says yes, Simone was an operative and worked for Section. It was supposed to be a "cold" mission, intelligence gathering about Glass Curtain. She asked for a backup team before she left. Michael turned her request down, thinking it wasn't necessary. But he was very wrong ... tt was an ambush.
Nikita, looking at him with sad eyes, says: "It still hurts, doesn't it".
And Michael says: "Listen Nikita, you asked me what happened ... and I told you".
She gets a little closer to him and replies: "You told me the facts. Michael, I want to know how you feel. Sometimes, you have to let yourself trust someone. I'm right here."
Ah. So beautiful. He just opens his mouth when somebody knocks and enters ... it's Walter. Hester has finally logged in - and it seems JB has something they want. An electrical layout to Orly airport (oh, what, France now?). JB stole it from his father who is an electrical engineer. JB is to meet Hester in three hours. And it is Nikita who is to pose as JB ... Operations thinks she is much more believable as disaffected youth than Michael.
All dressed up as "disaffected youth", Nikita is waiting at the meeting point. She is repeating things about JB, i.e. favorite writer (Bakunin). We hear the sound of a helicopter. Hm, Glass Curtain seems to have assets! It lands and Nikita gets on. The pilot hands her a set of headphones, they take off and suddenly, Nikita has Sparks' voice in her ears. He starts asking her all sorts of questions about JB, while we see a familiar green computer screen with two red dots getting closer and closer to each other. It's quite nerve wracking, but in the end, Sparks is satisfied and the crash with a jumbo jet is averted at the very last moment.
Nikita is now inside Glass Curtain's fortress underground: An abandoned military installation. The guy I assume is Hector asks: "What does J.B. stand for? Juicy Bod?" before he rips out one of his hairs that he holds on a DNA scanner, in order to be able to enter. They get to the command center where Sparks is ... who is a totally scary nutcase. He still doesn't entirely trust "JB", it seems; but Nikita delivers the plans and is allowed to leave afterwards.
Hester is leading her to the accommodations, when she suddenly hears screams ... and stops to ask what this is. Hester answers: "That? That's Simone". Oh! She's alive! In the room with the bunk beds, Hester says he is available for fun and Nikita immediately starts kissing him ... just to slam his head against some metal, rip out some hair of his and contact Section. 
Nikita is on the loose, locating Simone in a tiny cell. Her fingers are all bandaged (from scratching the walls?) and she is unresponsive until Nikita mentions Michael ... and that he still loves her. But then, Nikita hears a door and runs away quickly.
Glass Curtain is preparing to down some other planes. Nikita is talking to Michael, who is getting closer in a helicopter. Nikita says: "There's something else ... there's an innocent down here". Michael asks whether it's a hostage and Nikita confirms. But Operations, the snake, says not to care for collateral, just proceed. And Michael passes on the order, they are ready to launch (I guess a missile), but Nikita says: "No! You can't! It's Simone!" Operations obviously doesn't want Michael to do anything that's not in the mission profile, but he doesn't care. He tells Nikita to meet him at the exit point - he will need her.
They parachute down and Nikita meets up with them, filling them in on the strength of the enemy and the overall layout of the underground place. Michael and the others follow her in (she has Hester's hair). At the door, Michael asks "How is she?" and Nikita answers "Not good, Michael". This is not going to end well, right?
They get in and start shooting. Nikita tells Michael where Simone is, and proceeds to the main command room. But it is empty. The only thing that is still there is the screen with the two red dots, counting down fast. Nikita asks Birkhoff what to do and with his help and her video transmitting glasses (while there is shooting, because some Glass Curtain people have reappeared), she stops the program and they can avert the next disaster of colliding planes.
Michael has found Simone. He shoots the lock, Simone freaks and backs up. But Michael talks to her slowly, approaches her carefully and finally hugs her. Her body is full of scars, her face looks terrible (also because of the not-so-well-done make-up). Nikita gets there in hurry, but when she sees the two hugging, she turns away, giving them privacy. Michael is crying, telling her he would never have stopped looking for her if he had known she was still alive .
Simone looks up at Nikita and suddenly, her eyes widen - Nikita whisks around and shoots the guy who crept up behind her. Michael realizes they need to get out and tries to get Simone to follow him. She doesn't want to, until Nikita says that she cannot find Sparks. Simone claims to know where he is ... I am not sure Michael believes her, but he helps her out. She points them in a specific direction and Michael deposits her underneath some stairs, telling her not to move, to stay there. He caresses her face, and then turns around to Nikita, his face full of hate: "He is mine". And he kisses his wife before he runs up the stairs.
The room she indicated to them is empty, but suddenly, they hear the screams of a man ... and Michael runs out as fast as he can, screaming "Simoooooooone!". She is no longer under the stairs. They follow the sounds of the voice, it is Sparks. Simone is holding him at gun point in a locked room, his hands tied somewhere above him. She screams at Michael - who frantically tries to open the door - to get out and then says: "It's too late, Michael. I'm already dead."
She flips some switches and steam (gas?) starts pouring into the room. Michael is pleading with her, screaming at her to get out, but no. She sets off a self-destruct mechanism ... 30 seconds until the building will destruct. "This is not a drill. Please evacuate". A charming computer voice starts counting down the seconds, but Michael doesn't hear ... he is still screaming for Simone. Nikita finally gets through to him and he tells everybody to evacuate. The make it out just in time. Lying on the grass, Michael looks at the destroyed building with utter despair. 
Back at Section, Nikita is giving back some gear to Walter. He tells her that Michael shut himself off when Simone "died" three years ago. "He didn't talk to anyone until you came along, sugar - let's hope it's not so bad this time."

Nikita is ready to leave, but Michael calls her back. He says he wanted to thank her. She says that she is very sorry. Michael mumbles: "If it weren't for the Section, none of us would have a life. What right do I have to feel cheated?" And she replies, "You have a right to feel any way you want." Oh yes. And it seems he indeed does feel something. She turns to go, but hesitates. Then she asks: "You wanna have a cup of coffee?" and he almost whispers: "I'd love to". 
Finally, Nikita has time for Carla. And Carla has time for her. Carla wants to know why she can't say what happens when the phone rings. Watch it, girl...  There are some secrets you do not even want to think about. Nikita says she made some promises to keep certain things confidential. And Carla asks whether she always keeps her promises. "I try to", says Nikita.


Unfortunately, there are a few things not quite right with this episode. Most importantly, it seems strange to me that Michael would not have searched heaven and hell for his wife, since he didn't see her body and thus couldn't have certainty of her death. Unless Section lied to him and produced a false body. There's no indication of that at all though, so tha big, big hole in the plot remains. Overall, the whole Simone-thing leaves a weird aftertaste. We do not get to know anything about her life as a prisoner, and essentially, we do not understand why she would say that she is "already dead". Section operatives are damn tough - what have they done to her to break her? Why would she kill herself instead of trying to pull through and live again happily with Michael if there married life was so great as we are made to believe? They give us too little too early and that's a shame, really. I guess the episode serves the purpose of giving us more "Michael-is-human" feels, before ... you will see.

But then, there are also a few things very right. And as so often, these things involve Michael and Nikita. All their scenes together were very strong. The first meaningful one in his office, where he tells her "the facts" but cannot share his emotions, and where she tells him that he might just have to trust someone to get rid of his burdens ... and why not her. And then, the very last scenes, where he indeed shares his emotions, his bitterness and hurt, but at the same time suppresses them again because of the Section. It seems he is now trusting her indeed ... and more than that. We know from Walter that she is the reason he got out of his very deep hole after Simone's "death". At this moment, there is a sincere comraderie, even friendship between those two. It is very beautiful. 

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