La Femme Nikita - Innocent (S01E12) (Recap)

On the one hand, this episode has a strong 24 feel with regards to it's main terrorist plot and the often shown timer racing towards zero. On the other hand, there are a lot of funny moments, when Section's über-serious guys (Michael and, to a lesser degree, Operations) keep clashing with a man-child, who is key to stopping a nuclear detonation. Most importantly, we are reminded again (after "Treason") that Nikita’s "weakness" (aka her humanity) isn't only an annoyance, lowering her efficiency, but can in fact be highly valuable for resolving certain cases.
Innocent 1x12

It's late at night, Nikita returns some weapons and then strolls through Section, homeward bound. The only other person still there is Birkhoff. He is doing geek-stuff. Very advanced geek-stuff that helps flag suspicious details in satellite imagery.
Nikita: "How did you get into Section?"
Birkoff: "I killed my entire family" (Pause) "I'm kidding. Just my sister."
What the hell, Birkhoff?? 
There is a plane on his screen, flagged as suspicious by his AI program. Nikita is about to leave, when Birkhoff makes a scary discovery while digging deeper: a live nuclear warhead is about to be brought into the country.
The plane is approaching. Shooting it down cannot be done: it's over metropolitan areas already. And it's currently unclear where it's going to land. 
"Assuming they intend to land the plane", Michael adds. Birkhoff and Operations look at him apprehensively. That was 1997. 
But then, it is finally starting to descend. Birkhoff will be able to calculate where within 10 minutes
And it lands. Men are deboarding, the weapon is unloaded.
An old car is approaching. It's a pizza delivery! The driver (Rudy - played by Maury Chaykin) is lost. And not for the first time, we learn! He seems to be a friendly simpleton who has never harmed a hair on anybody's head.
However, he thinks he's now at the right place - and rings a bell at a (clearly empty) house. All around him, the crime is unfolding. Two guys meet in front a the truck and a device changes hands. Pizza delivery man runs towards them, desperate to deliver his pizza, shouting from the top of his lungs. Lucky for him, the guys do not see him. But he sees them - especially the device (which is, as we find out later, the activator). The bad guys drive off.
Frustrated, he walks a few steps backwards ... and stumbles over the dead bodies of some security guards. He drops his pizza delivery and screams again, this time in horror. A chopper appears above him, bathing him in bright light. It's Section.

They brought Rudy to one of the White Rooms. Michael is interrogating him. Or rather: trying to interrogate him. Rudy doesn't get what is happening to him, and all he says sounds crazy as hell.
Michael leaves, unsuccessful and frustrated. Newly in charge: Nikita. Of course, she is much more successful. She finds out that Rudy has seen the faces of two men. That might well be their only lead, cause otherwise, they have nothing ...

... apart from a video message one of the terrorists has sent them: He says he has hidden the 20 Megaton warhead in a city. It will detonate it in 24 hours. And he is the only one who knows where it is. The man takes out a gun - and kills himself.
Rudy is very anxious about his sister who has Down Syndrome, and whom he needs to call every night. Nikita tries to get Michael to allow the phone call, but ... "forget it", he says.
She thinks it would help his state of mind, but he says: "He's a class one collateral in a defcom scenario. We incubate. You know the rules." (I do hope at least some of your colleagues understand your mumbo-jumbo!)
She does know them: but she thinks they should be rewritten. 
He says she may be right about his sister: "Go back in there and calm him down".
"That's a VERY good idea, Michael", she says as sarcastically as one can get. 
Nikita walks Rudy through Section and he goes: "Wow! I've never seen a police station like this before."
She is leading him to a meeting with Operations and Michael. Poor intimidated Rudy tells them he remembers numbers really well. So he remembered the license plates of the cars he saw at the airport. He also identifies the guy that committed suicide earlier and he should be able to identify the other. He also tells them he saw "a fancy phone". We know what that is. Section doesn't. 
"Wait a minute", Rudy suddenly says, "this isn't a police station, is it!"
And Operations tells him exactly what they are. Nikita's face grows dark. She knows what that means.
 She confronts Michael in his office about it. They will kill Rudy?
"Why", she exclaims, "Rudy is like a child - he is innocent!"
She believes nobody will believe anything he says anyway, but Michael says they cannot take that chance.
"Don't forget what's at stake here!", he barks at her.
"Oh, I'm sorry Michael, just a temporary lapse in humanity ... I'll get over it".
Just then, he receives a phone call: they have traced the number plates. It's an embassy. Luckily, there is a dinner party on that night and they can go and see whether the guy Rudy saw at the airport is there. 
They take Rudy ... as a Dr. Firestein. Nikita is posing as his wife. Rudy is behaving like a big child, it's very entertaining. Of course, he immediately needs to go to the bathroom (kids always need to go in the worst moments) so Michael has to take him. When he walks out, him bumps into a man, spilling his water all over him. It's our terrorist! But Rudy doesn't recognize him.
Once back from the bathroom, Nikita drags him to a different room, to check more people. Rudy is worried that they might not let him go. His sister depends on him. Can Nikita promise him that he will be alright? Yes, she says, she promises. Just then, he identifies the guy.
Section people move and tell the guy he pointed out to come with them ... but it's the wrong person! They don't know that though, but we do. When Nikita turns around - Rudy is gone!

12 hours to go.

Back at Section, they realize they got the wrong guy pretty quickly. And Rudy is AWOL. He went to see his sister. They are playing on the floor, when Nikita and Michael rush in. I guess Nikita put two and two together? Rudy doesn't see them yet, but he is clearly preparing his sister for his absence, telling her he doesn't need to call her every night anymore, alright? She is a big girl now! Then he does become aware of their presence, and introduces his sister to Nikita. They take him away.
Operations is furious (of course), but he wants Rudy to look at all the people who were at the embassy dinner on tape. Alone with Michael and Nikita, Operations wants to know whether they will continue with Rudy or try something else: he has a meeting with the Agency in a few minutes and needs to tell them something. Michael thinks he's a waste of time. Nikita strongly disagrees. Operations gives them another hour. If he doesn't "produce" by then, he wants him cancelled.
Operations is at his video conference, while Rudy looks at videos of the party in the background. They are down to 9 hours until the detonation. Rudy comes up blank: no, not the man. This one? No, not the man. Suddenly, Rudy gets up and walks over to Operations. This is the man! He points at one of Operations' video conferencing buddies. He is part of their own government: head of an anti-terrorist task force.
Operations lures him out, under the pretense of a breach at Section. Operations waits in a dark alley, smoking a cigar. Snow is falling. Finally, Guy appears, still dressed up in dinner attire. Without much ado, Operations tasers him, but there are shooters on the roof. Still, our Section people manage to drag Guy into a car and bring him to a van.
Since he isn't exactly forthcoming with information, they start cutting off his fingers. One is enough: He blurts out that he doesn't know where the bomb is - but he knows where the other terrorist was transmitting from. "Sow my finger back on!!!"
8 minutes to go. Rudy is in a White Room. They tie his eyes.

Michael and Nikita find the body of the terrorist that committed suicide. The activator is there! They need a 16 digit code to deactivate the device. But Birkhoff's computer program needs two hours to run through all the possible combinations ...
"Rudy said he say a phone ... a fancy phone", Nikita says all of a sudden, realizing that must have been the activator, "where is he?"
Michael and Operations exchange glances. Idiots!

The two torturers (it's the two torture geeks! their first appearance) put something on Rudy's neck when suddenly, the phone rings. It's for him: Nikita. She asks him whether he remembers any numbers on the fancy phone. And he does: 9-2-4-4-3-1-0-9-0-2-6-7. No, 8! No, 7! Definitely! That's all he saw.
All he saw is good enough, because now, Birkhoff's computer only needs a few more seconds to complete the code. No detonation. The world is saved.
Back at Section, Operations wants to see Nikita. He says: "The most difficult decision we have to make is the incidental disposal of innocents."
Nikita: "Good euphemism for murder."
But Operations has a story to tell. A few years ago, they had a similar person like Rudy help them. They were able to save several hundred people with his help. Operations then let a young operative convince him to spare his life and sent him out of the country. However, their enemies tracked him down, tortured him and extracted information about one of their sub-stations. Everybody there died. Including "the innocent".
Nikita starts to argue with Operations, i.e. telling him that nobody ever saw Rudy, but he tells her to better stop: or he'll change his mind.
Huh! They've decided to let Rudy live. He has already been injected with a micro transmitter and they can monitor him easily.
There is only one thing: if anything goes wrong, Nikita will be the one to cancel him. She grudgingly agrees. And then, she goes and gets Rudy and walks him out of Section, holding his hand.


For a Michael-Nikita junkie like me, this episode isn't very satisfactory. He is a cold jerk again, all efficiency and performance-oriented. Nikita is great when she teases him about it - but he doesn't even get it. He needs to be smacked over the head, I think. Hard.

That aside, this is a somewhat special episode, in which character development isn't furthered, just deepened. Once again, this is about Nikita's "humanity". Oh yes, she performs well - but she still doesn't let Section take her compassion away from her. She is desperate to save Rudy's life, but she doesn't seem to truly believe it is possible, as soon as she hears how Operations reveals Section's true identity to him. Frankly, him walking out alive came as a surprise to me - and I do believe Operations acted out of character in that last scene.

There were quite a lot of Nikita-Operations interactions in this episode (no Madeline though) and it seems that Operations (grudgingly?) accepts her and her special people-skills now. He even asks Michael and her about Rudy and then listens to her, not him. With the years of experience he has, he knew that Rudy was key to finding the bomb, and that this key could only be turned by Nikita; definitely not Michael.

Finally, this is an episode with a lot of humor. Having this man-child clash with the cold efficiency that Section stands for was hugely entertaining. Michael's face when he needs to take him to the bathroom? Priceless. Birkhoff's desperate attempt to get Rudy to stop touching his computers? Oh man.