La Femme Nikita - Gray (S01E09) (Recap)

In this episode (Part 1 of 2), something extremely valuable gets stolen from Section. In an attempt to get it back, Nikita gets a taste of normal, boring life - and falls in love with it immediately. Madeline utters a warning, but Nikita doesn't listen. Michael on the other hand is suddenly confronted with the possibility that Nikita might fall in love with another man - and doesn't seem to like it too much. It's hard to tell though. You know: poker face.
Gray 1x09

Nikita is returning from an (unsuccessful) mission - her target never showed. On her way out, she runs into Madeline.
"Where do you go when you leave here?" Nikita asks her.
"Very good", is the answer, "It usually takes the new ones several years to ask me that question.”
And how many years does it take to get an answer?
Madeline doesn't know ... she hasn't ever given it yet.
Interrupting the girls' chit-chat is a pained "no" from Birkhoff. It's a system's breach!
And the lights go out. Uh-oh ... 
And they come back on. Everybody is wondering whether they're okay ... Birkhoff thinks it was a "runaway process" - it's contained. Operations tells Nikita to call the Agency to asks whether they had similar problems. She dials and ... "Nikita, don't!" Birkhoff yells all of a sudden, but it's too late. While the phone is ringing, data starts flashing by on the screen.
"Oh no", says Birkhoff. It was a drone program. It collected data unnoticed, and when Nikita dialed out, it used the digital telephone to send. The only way to get data out of their otherwise disconnected system.
Operations: "Send what..."
Birkhoff: "The Directory ...."
Operations: "Oh my god..."

The Directory, we learn, is a file containing the identity and cover of everyone in Section. Each one of them is an unprotected target now. Bringing everyone (who is out) in, isn't an option - jobs need to be done, Operations makes known.
Madeline says they have been able to contact everybody but two of their operatives ... whereabouts unknown, involvement a possibility.
Whoever broke in knew Section's system really well, Birkhoff reports. Somebody they've communicated with in the past. And he even left a message ... "THANKS. I'll be in touch".
And in touch he gets, the culprit. His name is "Harding". He exploited a vulnerability in their system and has already broken the encryption on the file. Operations asks for proof, and proof is delivered: the two missing operatives? One dead, the body can be found on the bottom of the canal - the other in the hands of Ilia Benko, one of the most vicious terrorists on the planet. Why? Because Benko would also want proof. Harding on the other hand wants an auction - between Section and Benko. In Prague. And if Section tries to sabotage him in any way, the Directory will go straight to Benko.
Alright, Michael is to leave for Prague tonight.
How much is he authorized to bid? he asks.
"Whatever it takes, Michael", Operations replies.
In Prague. (Or rather a location that looks a lot like Prague, near Toronto. Rocco Matteo is the guy who does such a great job with locations in this show. And while we're at it, Sean Callery's "dramatic underscore" is also one of a kind; just superb). Michael enters a building. Inside, he speaks Czech with a bodyguard. I am impressed, cause it sounds legit. Apparently, it was about giving up his gun - which he finally does.
Upstairs, there is more security - and more weapons' confiscation. And there, waiting already, is the infamous Benko. He says he went through the trouble of bringing Michael a present: Benko pushes a foil-wrapped box toward Michael and says, "I took the opportunity of returning Mr. Lange. What's left of him."
And Michael, in his priceless stoic way, says, with a small glance towards his "present": "Thank you". It takes a little more than a head in a box to shake this guy, Benko! 
The auction begins. Michael and Benko are to write a figure on the sheet in front of them. The bigger offer wins. Michael thinks for a second: then he writes $30,000,000. The despicable Harding looks at both sheets of paper and then declares that there is a winner - but he will not tell them now. He will be in touch. 
Everybody back at Section is on needles ... but finally, the call comes in: they have won. Harding wants the money wired to several accounts and will hand over the Directory (which he ensures has not been copied) directly.

Harding is walking in the cold (I guess he is no longer in Prague?), I guess on his way to deliver the Directory. All of a sudden, a van stops ... and Benko and his men start pouring out. Harding manages to jump on a bus that conveniently comes along ... AND takes him right to where Michael is waiting. Oh, but Benko is also there! He shoots Harding in the back (good riddance) and Michael takes cover - bang, bang, bang, they are shooting at each other. Both sides try to get to Harding's body first. Section wins, Benko runs.
But the search of Harding's body reveals ... no Directory. They know (not quite sure how) that Harding had the disk when he called, then rode a bus, and then no longer had it, so they assume he gave it to somebody on the bus. There were 18 passengers and Section's best bet is that Harding planted to disk on one of them. So: each of those passengers will be worked "covertly".

Cut to a guy called Gray Wellman (Callum Keith Rennie). One of the Section operatives, dressed as a police officer, asks him to come to the station with him. Where Madeline is waiting (posing as Detective M. Frayn), to ask him "a few questions" about the bus ride. Monitoring the interrogation from somewhere else are Operations and Birkhoff.
While he is "at the station", Michael, Nikita, and a few other operatives enter his apartment. Michael tells them they have an hour, and to search carefully.

At "the station", they are getting somewhere. Gray remembers that the guy the police is interested in (Harding) brushed against him.
Madeline has one last, tricky question: Why does he ride the bus? He is a successful man (occupation: architect; marital status: widower, 1 daughter). He says it gives him a chance to look at old building. 
Operations: "So what do you think?"
Birkoff: "I think he's an architect who likes to ride the bus."
Operations: "Great". 

At Gray's apartment, which is a complete disaster by now, Michael gets a phone call. He tells his team to put stuff back together - the man is coming home. Nikita asks: "How much time have we got"? and Michael says: "Fifteen minutes". And leaves, without even bothering to help. Haha. 
Still no Directory. But it seems Gray Wellman is the only person on the bus that had any direct contact with Harding. The problem: it is almost certain Benko knows the same by now. Michael says: Let him think that Wellman has it indeed, lure him in by using a middle-man he trusts, because: "If we can’t get the Directory, let’s at least bring down Benko." Hm, such a smart man.

Benko talks to a guy called Mick Shtoppel (Carlo Rota, a recurring character), who tells him he got a phone call from a woman who a) knows Gray Wellman - and b) has the Directory. She wants to meet Benko in person.

Our Nikita is on a new Valentine Operation ... she "bumps" into Wellman at the library, pretending to be a student, and they bond immediately over architecture books. Later, she and Wellman are looking at a church in the city. She even links arms with him later.
She asks to be walked home a bit, and there, in a dark corner waiting, is Mick Shtoppel. Nikita pretends he is a good friend of hers and runs over, telling Wellman to wait. Shtoppel isn't very friendly and even pulls a gun to intimidate her, but Michael is also there, on a roof, shooting at and deliberately missing Shtoppel's head (Wellman must be deaf or dumb or both not to hear it!). Nikita makes it clear to Shtoppel: it's either meet Benko in person, or it's off. She gives him a phone number.

At Section, she is waiting for him to call. Operations is pacing upstairs, casting dark glances in her direction again and again. Finally, the call comes in: and Benko tells her to come to the Park. And to bring "her friend". Nikita starts to say: "Leave him out of it!", but Benko hangs up mid-sentence.
That sentence of her doesn't go unnoticed with Section Management though. 
"Why are we still at this point with her?" a brusque Operations wants to know from Michael.
Because he's a civilian and has done nothing wrong, Michael says.
Operations smiles his mean smile and says: "That's completely irrelevant and you know it". No sentimentality on Nikita's side is to get into the way of this mission, "is that clear?!"
After Operations has left, Madeline tells Michael that he has done a good job with Nikita:"She still lacks perspective, that's all".
And after a short pause: "You don't think she has formed any attachment to Wellman?"
He thinks not, since they have only seen each other a couple of times. Good, Madeline says: "But sooner or later, she will." With Wellman, or somebody else. When that situation happens, will he be able to handle it?
Michael: "Why wouldn't I be?"
Madeline: "That's a question only you can answer".
Oh my god, is that a tiny tiny smile on his face?!
Gray and Nikita are taking a walk together outside. He tells her about the death of his wife, about how tough it was. But his daughter is fine now - she just misses her mother. Section people are all around them, checking the perimeter for Benko. And Michael is giving her instructions through an ear piece. But Benko is over an hour late ... it doesn't look like he will show up. So they're terminating the mission. Nikita tells Gray that she needs to head home to do homework - and he tells her he likes being with her. Right underneath where Michael is standing. And he seals it with a kiss ...
Michael has just given the order to leave, when Nikita sees another black van approaching. It's Benko! She hauls a cab. She ushers Wellman in, just in time ... Shtoppel has caught up to her. She puts her spy glasses back on, calling for Michael, but there is no Michael in reach.
Benko asks whether she has the Directory (she of course doesn't). He tells her her life is at stake: take him to the Directory now, or die. But she can't do that, she says: if she doesn't return to Wellman on her own, the Directory will be destroyed.
Benko is semi-impressed, drags Nikita into the van, and puts an explosive collar on her, equipped with a microphone. To demonstrate its destructive force, he shows her a statue, which is wearing the same necklace. If Benko doesn't like what Nikita is doing, if she tampers with it, etc. ... he presses as button and BANG. The head of the statue is pulverized in front of her eyes. She has 2 hours to get what he wants.

Nikita runs to Section, straight into Michael's office. She covers his mouth with her hand, signalling him to be quiet. She types into his computer that she has been wired by Benko and shows him the collar.
Michael comes up with a solution to trick Benko. They have Wellman's voice from the interrogation, so they can simulate a conversation with the help of genius Birkhoff. And they do - letting Benko believe that Wellman has the Directory in a drawer; and that Nikita has it now.
Benko and his men are at the meeting-point. They spot Nikita, waiting, and approach her. A man bumps into them, and a truck passes in front of them. When it has passed, Nikita is still sitting there, the same as before. When they're almost there, she explodes, downing Benko's men. They put a puppet there! Benko wants to back off and run, but there is Michael, levelling a gun at him. AND there is Nikita, hugging Benko closely to herself, challenging him to push the button.
"Nikita!", Michael says sharply. Is he nervous? Or just annoyed she did something unsanctioned again?
Nikita isn't afraid to die, that much is clear ... but Benko is. After a short moment of almost pushing the button he hands the remote control to her.
"I knew he didn't have the guts", she tells Michael, and starts to put the button to her exploding necklace in Michael's hand. She doesn't though, changing her mind, and walking away, giving him one of those teasing looks of her.
There is Nikita, putting make-up on, smiling ... and leaving Section. Madeline calls to her, from upstairs. She compliments Nikita on having lost her necklace. Nikita asks whether the Directory is still at large? It is indeed. So they will have to live with a sort of Damocles over their head.
And where is she going? Madeline wants to know.
"To dinner".
"With Mr. Wellman?"
"Yes ... is that a problem?"
"That depends. Is it about dinner, or something more?"
"I don't know yet".
"Your relationship with us is the only real relationship you'll ever have - if knowing that you still want to proceed, I just hope he's a good cook!"
When Nikita gets to Gray's apartment, a calm, impassive Michael watches them from the dark. When Gray closes the door, he turns and walks away.


Nikita never listens, does she? Gray Wellman is such a bland, almost boring, but so wonderfully normal guy. He is promising to be what she never ever had (family, warmth, normalcy) and she is drawn to him like a moth to the flame. Madeline's warning was clear enough - there cannot be any normal relationships for Section operatives. But Nikita's desire for a normal relationship is so huge, she will not stop - unless she is stopped.

Untouchable Michael is far away from her at the moment; plus, she surely hasn't forgiven him for what he did to her in "Escape". Her not giving the remote control to him was a show of strength: she no longer needs him. And, maybe, part of her dalliance with Gray is motivated by a desire to punish him. And it does seem to work - at least on some level. Though Michael will not acknowledge his attachment in front of Madeline, he does care enough to follow her around and watch them together.