209. "Open Heart"

 (#31) Red Cell has created a human time bomb, and to defuse it Nikita must first gain the trust of Jenna, a Red Cell operative held in a foreign prison, and then engineer a daring escape so that Section can interrogate her.
lfnforever briefing

best dialogue
NIKITA: "How much would you pay to be free? I want to make you an offer. I can get us out of here."
JENNA: "How?"
N: "Underground tunnels, dozens of them. One of them goes right under that wall."
J: "There are no tunnels. It's a rumor."
N: "No. I can prove it."
J: "Then you don't need me."
N: "Ah, but you know the guards. Their schedules, habits.You can get us past the guards. I can get us through the tunnels."
J: "Why trust me? I tried to have you killed this afternoon."
N: "Only a lunatic would pass on a chance to get out of here. You're a bitch, but you're not crazy."
Written by Elliot Stern
Directed by Rene Bonniere
Original airdate: April 5, 1998 (USA)
February 8, 2001 (France); November 26, 1999 (UK)

guest stars
 Gina Torres (Jenna Vogler)
Jill Dyck (Belinda)
David Collin
(Dr. Kerlock)
Vince Guerriero (Stanko)
Alice Poon (Adrian)

Original score by Sean Callery


Czech title: "Otevrene srdce"
French title: "A couer ouvert"
German title: "Die lebende Bombe"
Italian title: "La bomba"
Polish title: "Otwarte Serce"
Portuguese title: "Coracao abierto"
Spanish title: "Corazon abierto"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Well, they had to do it eventually: a chicks-in-prison episode. Peta Wilson has fun with the tough-girl action scenes, getting in a few head kicks, killing a guard, and kicking out a wall. Along with guest star Gina Torres and director Rene Bonniere, Wilson keeps the intimate scenes tender but sexually charged. But poor Nikita: even when she's making it with a girl, violence and abuse partner with sex, as the beating Nikita gets from the guards affords Jenna the opportunity to get close. Just in case the audience misses the salacious point of the make-out scene in the prison, we get the psychologically intimate equivalent in the interrogation room (for the titillation of Section's male population). Operations is amused, and Birkoff's jaw drops ever so slightly; at least Michael (more conscious of the price Nikita is paying) has the grace to look uncomfortable as Jenna's accusation that Nikita is a whore hits the mark.
You have to love Red Cell, though; they come up with the most ingenious plans to destroy Section. This time it's a bomb with a "bio-trigger," planted in the woman who is supposed to be a witness to the operation that placed the bomb in a man. Knowing full well operatives will bring their prisoner back to Section, Red Cell sits and waits for Section to become the unwitting accomplices in their own demise. Elliot Stern's clever premise has an equally inventive resolution as Michael, ever the shrewd strategist, deduces it is Jenna's reflection that holds the truth of the bomber's identity. It is brilliant in its simplicity. And after all is said and done, it's business as usual in Section. The thud of Jenna's explosion doesn't even interrupt the comings and goings of Section life.
La Femme Peta, pp 168-170
Joel Surnow's POV
Our women-in-prison episode. On USA you've got to have one of those. I liked the episode. It was another attempt at going a little bigger and a little more into the real world, and I thought it had a really strong fourth act. It's a real Nikita moment when you hear the woman blow herself up in the Section, the camera shakes and people just keep talking. Those are my favorite moments in the show, when it seems like horrible things are happening and people are moving on as if nothing is going on. The episode also had the kiss between Nikita and the other woman. Unfortunately, it wasn't promoted big enough, because the women-in-prison episodes on Silk Stalkings and Pacific Blue on our network got huge numbers and had a huge promotion. It wasn't one of my favorite episodes, but it had its moments.
La Femme Nikita Episode Guide
Edward Gross, Retrovision # 6 (1999)