La Femme Nikita - Rescue (S01E11) (Recap)

Michael is shot during a mission and promptly abandoned by Section. Bastards. He struggles to stay alive in a desolate Eastern European country, managing to do so with the help of a kind and brave soul. When all seems lost, two women come to get him after all: Nikita and Madeline. But are they really here for him or something else? This superb episode shows us, once again, how little Section cares about its operatives; but it also shows us a different Michael. One that is far less composed and far more compassionate: Somewhere beneath that cold exterior, a kind heart seems to be beating. 
Rescue 1x11

A mission in the middle of the night: Section operatives are infiltrating a heavily guarded chemical plant somewhere in Easter Europe (Klodno ... that would be Poland, but this is a fictional country). Nikita cuts the wire fence, runs through; several operatives follow. Artfully dodging the powerful beam of a hand operated floodlight, the operatives (Nikita takes point) move closer and closer to the facility. The guard operating the light is taken down - Nikita takes his place. Michael puts a charge onto a tank and orders everybody to move out. But then, one of them is spotted! Everybody starts shooting ... but we do not hear the shots. "Beyond the Invisible," by Enigma is the only sound accompanying the assault.
Nikita illuminates guards so that her Section colleagues can eliminate them - until another guard shoots the light. She rappels down from her position while constantly firing. They retreat - they're out! Michael rips off his mask. Oh no ... trouble! He presses the button on his remote, but there is no explosion. He runs back in, shooting to the left and right of him, manually setting the bomb. Shots ... he goes down, but manages to press the button; finally, there is the explosion.
Already wounded, he gets up and tries to run away. A guard comes up behind him and starts shooting, almost hitting him, before Michael takes him out. But there are more - and he is hit again, this time in the shoulder. Nikita looks at it all wide-eyed and helpless, shouting his name, while the rest of the team drag her away into the van and drive off ... leaving Michael behind on enemy territory.
Operations congratulates them on a successful mission; the chemical weapons plant was completely destroyed.
"What about Michael", Nikita bursts out.
Birkhoff has done an analysis: 1 chance in 3 that he is alive. And if he is, 1 chance in 10 of bringing him out.
"He'll be missed", says Operations, turning away.
Nikita can't believe what she is hearing: "That's it??"
Yes ... that's it, Operations repeats. Nikita jumps up. She doesn't care about the odds, she wants to go back!
Operations, with a tiny bit of regret in his voice: "I wish I could send you".
Nikita is furious. She goes over to Birkhoff and kicks his chair. What was he thinking when he gave Operations the 10 to 1 odds!? Couldn't he have fudged the sim? This is Michael they are talking about!
Oh, but he did, Birkhoff says ... objectively, it's 100 to 1, even 150. "Sorry, Nikita ... Michael is on his own".

A nurse exits the hospital in Klodno, walking to her car. She sits down and takes off her scarf, when a bloody hand reaches for the lock knob - and a shaking, weak Michael tells her to start the car, while pointing his gun at her head. She does, now shaking herself from fear. She realizes he is hurt and says he needs a doctor - a nurse is close enough, he says. And he orders her to drive to her place, no tricks.
Two members of the Secret Police (a Mr. Petrosian and a Mr. Frankel) are discussing the completely destroyed chemical plant. And they know they left behind an agent - they are searching for him. Petrosian (the head of the Secret Police) tells Frankel to create a leak, so that the enemy knows the agent is still alive and is being hunted down. Frankel gives him a puzzled look, so Petrosian says: "Have you ever hear of Rambo? If you understand Rambo, you understand the West. They believe in heroes."
Now, Frankel gets it: they are trying to provoke a rescue attempt? Exactly. Cause then, they will have the agent and the rescue team both. And because they need the agent first for this plan to work, Petrosian will now take charge of this operation. Watch and learn, Frankel.
At Section, Operations and Madeline call Nikita. All of a sudden, Operations "accepts her offer" to get Michael out. Nikita is suspicious (and so am I): Why the chance of heart?
Because they received information that he is still alive and alluded capture. The odds have changed. Not that they are good - just better. 
So what has changed his mind? Nikita still wants to know.
Operations: "I want Michael back too, Nikita. I am human."
Nikita, very sarcastically: "Of course you are."
Going with her is Madeline (haha, she keeps smiling excitedly at Nikita in the background), mission details to follow.
The nurse and Michael have arrived at her modest apartment. Michael can barely stand. The woman attacks him, but fails in her attempt to snatch his gun away. He promises he will not hurt her if she does what he tells her. If not - he will kill her. He orders her to sit and then ties her hands behind her back. With shaking hands, he takes orange juice from the fridge and drinks. Then, he sits down himself. He has a hard time not passing out.
The nurse starts talking to him. Who is he? Why is he here? He tells her to shut up. She offers help in treating his wounds. "Later", he says ... and seems to pass out for a bit. 
"Cosmetics?" Nikita asks in disbelief.
Oh yes, Madeline says, "they may be expecting a rescue attempt, but not by two women selling makeup."
As to where Michael is: most likely in the hospital near the chemical plant, or not far from it; cause he is badly hurt.

Oh yes, he is. But he has managed to undress. He looks at his ammunition: two rounds left. He takes them out of the clip: He wants to cauterize his wounds. Using pliers, he tries to get the cap off the first bullet, but his hand is shaking too badly. So he gets up, painfully and slowly, and cuts the nurse loose. While she holds the bullet, he breaks off the cap. She talks to him again ... she knows there has been an attack on the chemical plant last night. But he isn't responding: He just tells her to put the powder into a folded paper.
Angie: "You are French? American?"
He pours the gun powder onto his wounds, lights a match and ... ouch. And he passes out. Almost.
The nurse jumps up and grabs the phone. She asks for the police.
"Don't", Michael groans, "please".
She looks at the mess that is Michael, sighs, and hangs up. She grabs a kit from a cupboard and has a look at the wound in his back. Can he at least tell her his name? Her name is Angie.
"You can call me Michael", he says.

Nikita and Madeline just landed. First, they need to get a permission to sell their cosmetics. Suddenly, Madeline stops, clutching her chest. It's a heart attack! An ambulance!! Also at the hospital are Petrosian and Frankel. The former lectures the latter on the certainty that a hurt man needs medical attention - therefore, they should concentrate their search on the hospitals; right as Madeline is wheeled past them on a stretcher, a worried Nikita right behind.

Michael is recovered enough to eat something. Angie is tying up the last knot on his bandage. He thanks her ... and he tells her that she is very brave to help him. She talks about her government, who pretends to move to democracy, just to get aid from the West. Nothing has changed for the people though: a nail that stands out still gets hammered. Her father was such a nail: standing up for freedom, justice, dignity.
So: if he is what she thinks he is, it is for her father's sake that she helps him.
Is she willing to help him again? Michael asks. He needs a laptop computer. And a phone: a cellular. Does he know how dangerous that is?!
"It's not fair", she says, softly.
"I know it isn't", he replies.

At the hospital, Nikita is still very worried, but Madeline isn't doing too badly. What has Nikita found out? Michael isn't in the hospital - and the soldiers are going from room to room. Madeline says she'll deal with it; Nikita has to go and search the records. Suddenly, it dawns on Nikita ... this .... was deliberate! Madeline took something to give herself a heart attack. A real one. Crazy woman.
Nikita goes out to the nurse's station (where there is a computer). Madeline rings for attention. The sole nurse leaves, Nikita starts looking through the computer. She identifies Angie immediately, writing down her address (how and why? I am not sure). The brave Angie is also at the hospital right now, stealing a laptop and an (ancient) cellular for Michael. Nikita almost bumps into her in a doorway.
Uplinking through a DoD satellite, Michael manages to send a message to Birkhoff. They now know where he is, and all they need to do is send a message to Madeline. Oh, but she is a bit busy at the moment ... with Mr. Frankel. He is checking her papers and then her sample case. Western decadence, he says. And refuses her samples (and to touch her smooth skin).
He steps out of the room and at that exact time, the message comes in ... there is a ringing sound. That's not very smart, Section! Madeline reaches for the sample case, when Mr. Frankel comes back in, saying something about his wife's skin. He immediately realizes something is wrong when he ehars the ringing from underneath the bed and rips apart the case ... baring the communication device. One, two hard kicks and it's silent. When he is about to pull a gun on Madeline, Nikita sneaks up to him and bashes him unconscious. But! Petrosian is approaching, calling for Mr. Frankel to "come in". Nikita and Madeline flee. Shortly after, a soldier discovers Mr. Frankel and the nurse in a cupboard, gagged and bound. 
Nikita tells Madeline about the nurse she discovered, who is absent unexplained. Wouldn't Michael rather take a nurse hostage than enter a hospital? Smart thinking, girl.

At Angie's place, Michael now has word that help is near. He tells her that he will be gone soon. She seems ... sad. Michael notices and wonders why she would be disappointed. Hasn't this been an inconvenience? "Sometimes, a little inconvenience is not such a bad thing", Angie says. She is in her 40s, all alone. He made her all confused, worried, scared ... but she has lived more in the last 24hours than she has in seven years. Since her father died. So her helping him isn't only for her father's sake. It is also for her own. So, when he goes: life will go with him (*sniff*)
Petrosian is in charge at the hospital and very serious: he wants to hospital turned upside down, and anything slightly amiss must be reported. Missing supplies, absentee employees. Oh, says the nurse on duty that was so neatly packaged with Mr Frankel before, a nurse is missing since yesterday. Oups.
Michael seems a bit worried, looking through the blinds, checking for his rescue. She asks whether he is hungry; he is not. But there is something else on his mind: the authorities will trace him to her eventually, when he is gone.
"I'll deal with it", she says confidently.
"You don't have to", he replies, "come with me".
She can be a nurse; he will help her. But she must decide quickly - time is running out.
It is! The Secret Police is there, banging at the door. Michael hides in one of the rooms, she opens the door. The interrogation begins: why did she not go to work? (she was ill) Why did she not call in sick? (she had a fever and was delirious) She lives alone? (Yes) Did she have any visitors lately? (No). Petrosian gives the order to search the apartment.

Outside, Nikita and Madeline arrive in a car they've stolen. But they see that they are too late: the police is already there. Nikita pulls the car into an alley.
Inside, the search is on. Man, this secret police isn't very thorough: haven't they learned to check behind the door? Oh, but then, Frankel discovers two cups on the table. Didn't she say she was alone? Well, she had two coups of tea. Petrosian is also looking now ... and notices the toilet seat. It's up. He goes over to Angie and slaps her hard. "A man has been here!", he says menacingly, "where is he".

Here he is! He grabs Petrosian, who screams "shoot! shoot!", while Frankel tells his man not to. Finally, one of the soliders does, and Michael and Angie (who has grabbed a coat and the computer) run for their lives.
As soon as they reach the street however, Michael puts his arm around her so that they look like a pair of lovers - but the guards outside don't fall for it. They yell at them to stop. And stop they do ... in the middle of the street. But here comes Nikita:
Both she and Michael grab the machine guns from the street, he shoots the tires of the army trucks, and then at Petrosian and his guys, who are coming out of the house. Off they go! Petrosian says they won't get far: they will be able to monitor their communications with an uplink monitor.

The fugitives have take refuge at an (possibly abandoned) airstrip, inside a tent-like house. Michael is setting up the laptop again, Nikita is monitoring the perimeter from the small window. After briefly exchanging a few friendly words with Angie (they both realize they have met at the hospital), Nikita goes over to Michael, who is trying to establish a connection.
"How are you feeling?" she asks quietly.
"I'll be fine", he answers, not looking up. He doesn't look fine at all, but he sure is a tough one.
She nods and then says: "I was worried."
He finally looks up and says: "I'm glad you came back."
Watching them are Angie and Madeline and while Madeline is all impassive, looking ill, Angie realizes something at that very moment, leaving her deep in thought.
Michael has established contact. Birkhoff tells Operations where they are; they will be picked up. Listening in on everything are your Secret Police buddies.

At the airfield, they expect pick-up in 4 minutes. But Nikita spots the approaching vehicle. They are going to be upon them before the chopper does.
"We need a diversion", she says, "I'll draw them away".
But Michael holds her back: "It's suicide".
Nikita: "It's the only chance we've got".
But Madeline wants no sacrifices: try to reach the chopper, fix a new rendezvous-point. The chopper cannot be reached though (on radio blackout) and Nikita states calmly that a new site won't help them, it's impossible to outrun the bad guys. Nikita wants to go out again, but Michael will not let her. They will all fight. When he turns around to get a machine gun, the door is open, and Angie is gone. Oh no ........

She opens fire on the bad guys, hitting their truck, slowing them down. But then, she is hit herself - and falls, dead, into the snow. Michael, who came out to help her, is too late. And finally, the sound of an approaching helicopter. Which is packing some serious ammunition. Bang, the bad guys go up in flame. I like that.
But WHO comes strolling along as if he didn't have a care in the world?! It's frigging Petrosian!
"Michael! It's okay", Madeline says quickly, before Michael can shoot.
And while Michael and Nikita just stand there, dumbfounded, Madeline goes up to Petrosian. They greet each other, hug and kiss like old friends. Petrosian? A deep cover operative for Section for the last 17 years. I'll be damned.
It takes Nikita about 2, and Michael about 7 seconds to digest this. And when they finally take off, he looks at Angie's body lying in the snow as long as it is in sight. The man that so often looks completely impassive looks deeply troubled and very sad right now.
Back at Section, Nikita and Michael get a few more details about Petrosian. He was a highly valuable source of information. And he also helped plan the raid on the chemical plant. However, there were people that were becoming suspicious. High time to bring him out.
So, this was never about rescuing Michael, Nikita states.
Rescuing Michael was a convenient way to get Petrosian out without blowing his cover, Madeline says.
"But if it had come down to a choice, say between him and Michael?"
"Leave it alone, Nikita", Michael interjects.
That very moment, the door opens, and Operations and Petrosian stroll in, all smiles and laughs. They are there to ask Madeline to join them for lunch. Love it how Nikita and Michael both turn their backs on them.
Petrosian says: "By the way ... congratulations on your brilliant escape".
But Nikita won't have the praise: He wasn't really trying to catch them, after all.
"Oh, but I was", says he. He had little alternatives under the watchful eye of Major Frankel. He thanks her for her extraordinary performance.
Oh, and he should thank Michael too: His incompetence allowed the rescue mission to take place.
"Incompetence", Michael repeats.
"Yes", says Petrosian, "or was it part of the plan to get yourself shot?"
When Petrosian is out the door, Michael takes a few slow steps forward, but Nikita steps in front of him: "Michael, just leave it alone".
He listens to her and sits down on the edge of Madeline's desk with a small sigh. Nikita helps him take off his sling and then says: "I am sorry she died".
"So am I", Michael says ... "but I'm glad she lived".

A very strong episode. Also, a very different episode from the ten that came before: Not only is invincible-seeming Michael badly hurt (such a good performance by Roy Dupuis in this episode!!), he also is far from home, all alone, and shows a side of himself we have not seen so far. The man has emotions! He starts off by threatening Angie, but he soon realizes what kind of woman she is: and from that moment on, he treats her with the greatest respect and sincerity, never trying to manipulate her (we all know how well he does that). His offer to take her with him is genuine - the sadness he feels over her death too.

His emotions do not extend to his job environment though: Him being Michael, he doesn't seem to bear Section any grudge for leaving him behind. Not even being a pawn for another person seems to rattle his cage. That's how things are done in his world - it's standard protocol. He does need a while to wrap his head around the double-agent thing though ... and I guess that is connected to his emotional attachment to his rescuer Angie, who died in vain. And the only time he looks seriously pissed is when Petrosian (by the way, that's an anagram for Operations) calls him incompetent. Let me tell you at this point that Petrosian makes another appearance later in the series - and oh boy, do these two men not like each other.

Nikita gets to be the professional agent in this episode (and even gets to be protective of him at the end!). She shows some anger in the beginning when Operations lets Michael drop like he never meant anything to him - but she is highly efficient and surprisingly unemotional for the rest of the episode. That one sweet moment between her and Michael shows how careful she has become around him. Her face doesn't betray much of what is going on in her heart, even when she says that she was worried. This she could (and would) have said to any colleague. Quite different to what we are used from him, it is Michael that acknowledges an emotional need at that moment, when he admits that he is glad she came back. Sure, the "you" in that sentence doesn't necessarily mean Nikita - but the way he looks at her pretty much makes it a "you, Nikita".

That short scene is very powerful, but also very sad. Their exchange is ultra-brief, but the way they look at each other speaks volumes. Their deep connection becomes plainly visible for all to see (not good that Madeline witnessed it) and when she does see it, Angie seems sad. Has she fallen in love with Michael? A little bit? Did she have hopes of him being near her in the West? Oh yes: if he goes away, her life will go away, too ... In any case, seeing them like this, also watching them during the "I will not let you sacrifice your life" exchange that comes shortly after, makes her come to the conclusion that her life is best put to use by buying these people a few valuable seconds. To be honest, I don't fully understand why she had to die (they could have easily given her a happy ending, with all the bad guys blown up and Petrosian gone), but it sure gives this episode a sad, sad taste that I will not forget easily.