(#36) Hitman David Fanning is back and working for Section -- or so Nikita thinks, until Fanning holds her hostage, forcing Michael to find and deliver his errant wife, Lisa, a woman Michael has betrayed once before.
David and Lisa Fanning (O'Keeffe and Scio) are back. They were introduced in "Obsessed" and Nikita thought the wife-beating hitman was dead and Lisa safe. Turns out she's wrong. All male LFN fans are happy to see Scio back, I'm sure. Michael demonstrates that he's as good as any "valentine op" on the Section payroll as he seduces Lisa again. (That was his assignment in "Obsessed.") His willingness to expose Lisa to danger once more is an indication of just how cold-blooded Michael can be -- but he redeems himself in the end by providing Lisa with the isotope which she can use to poison Fanning. Lisa claims she's not the naive girl he fooled before, and has her goons work Michael over just to underscore the point, but in fact she proves to be pretty naive when she buys Michael's line that one of her security men is in league with Fanning. To give credit where credit is due, it must be said that Fanning treats Nikita pretty well while she's his prisoner. And Birkoff really outdoes himself when he uses a computer at a cybercafe to find out where Lisa is, per Michael's request. (Now we know what Birkoff does on his off-time - surprise, surprise.) We also note that Michael orders milk at the restaurant's bar - albeit not in a dirty glass. Operations sure is a pushover when Birkoff aids and abets Michael in his 48 hours of AWOL; it's just a good thing that the head of Section One is, at best, computer semi-literate. The Goatee Man appears in the cybercafe. Once again an episode ends ambiguously -- it's becoming an LFN trademark. We see the empty vial of poison in Lisa's hand, and we see Fanning drink the water, and we assume she has added the poison to it, but we don't actually see the hitman die. Just goes to show that very little is certain in the LFN universe, and you shouldn't take too much for granted. Some particularly good music in this episode, including "#1 Crush" by Garbage in the opening scene, and Fluke's "Absurd" near the end.
In the cybercafe, as Michael prevails upon Birkoff to help him...
MICHAEL: "You'll have to cover for me with Operations."
BIRKOFF: "Until when?"
M: "Until I get back."
B: "You can trust me."
M: "If you betray me I'll kill you."
B: "That's why you can trust me."
Written by Robert Cochran
Directed by Jon Cassar
Original airdate: June 28, 1998 (USA)
March 22, 2001 (France); January 14, 2000 (UK)
Yvonne Scio (Lisa Fanning)
Douglas O'Keeffe (David Fanning)
Reuben Thompson (Heyman)
Michael Chan (Glik)
"# 1 Crush," Garbage
"Take California," Propellerheads
"Life In Mono," Mono
Czech title: "Dvojita schuzka"
French title: "Chantage affectif"
German title: "Ausgleichende Gerechtigkeit"
Italian title: "Lisa"
Portuguese title: "Encontro Duplo"
Spanish title: "Cita doble"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Robert Cochran resurrects David Fanning, one of the more memorable villains from the first season, and Fanning's return is another one of those nasty little surprises Section enjoys springing on Nikita. Douglas O'Keeffe is powerful as the psychotic hit man and savage wife beater and plays him with glee. Jon Cassar's camera-work adds to his power, especially in the opening sequence, where Fanning is shot in the foreground or from a low angle to make him appear larger than life.
It is no big surprise that Fanning is out of revenge, but that he has been able to pass Section's psychological screenings is a little hard to believe, particularly as he taunts Michael the first chance he gets with the little tidbits he's picked up in the Section rumor mill. He's a twisted soul who really gets off on the violence, the game, and the challenge Nikita presents. Just to prove it, he rewards Nikita for her attack by feeding her.
Lisa, the woman scorned in this scenario, has done some maturing after the trials of her betrayal and a life on the run. After taking whatever pleasure she might from Michael, she has him beaten. Michael, for his part, submits to the beating, hoping to turn it to his advantage (and, one imagines, partially because he deserves it). Is that regret or resignation on his face as he drugs and abducts Lisa? About to make a killer out of her, he gives her the vial containing the poisonous isotope, her "way out," but one feels a momentary chill at the possible double meaning: is it a weapon or a means of suicide?
We rarely see Michael and Birkoff together, so the scene in the cyber cafe is enjoyable on several levels. Cochran has written a deadly serious scene but placed it in a charming setting designed to evoke incidental humor. Birkoff's one-hour escape to play mindlessly violent computer games is a kick, and so, too, is his prowess on the low-tech PC. His back may be against the wall, but it is a monumental leap of faith for Michael to trust Birkoff to cover for him and Nikita with Operations. Birkoff blossoms under the responsibility. Of course, there is the small point of Michael's threat!
The last two scenes seem oddly out of order, and the episode drifts to an end. The issue of fooling Operations and getting away with it closes the show, and the question of office politics remains in the fore, laying the groundwork for the rest of the season.
La Femme Peta, pp 183-185
Joel Surnow's POV
A follow-up to "Obsessed" from the first season, an actor we really liked, Douglas O'Keefe, who's got a great quality. Bob Cochrane wrote a great script that just highlighted all of his strengths. A really solid show. Nothing to do with our series in general, but a good middle of the road show.
La Femme Nikita Episode Guide
Edward Gross, Retrovision # 6 (1999)