(#42) Nikita discovers that the trusted associate of a terrorist financier is a Section operative left out in the cold nine years ago. He also happens to be Madeline's husband -- which is why Operations wants Nikita to kill him.
We have two examples of just how ruthless Madeline can be in this episode. First she lets Marzio have his revenge on the Section operative who killed his brother, in exchange for intel on Abel Goellner. And at the conclusion of this entry she kills her husband Charles Sand (aka Karil Giraldi). She justifies this act as something of a mercy killing, since Sand could not be left out in the cold, nor could he be brought back into Section. We also learn the lengths to which Operations will go to have Madeline all to himself; he's been intercepting Sand's communiques (pleas for help) for years. Operations visits Nikita at her apartment -- one of the few times he's seen out of Section ("Missing," "Innocent," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Three Eyed Turtle"). The "Goatee Twins" make their 10th appearance in Season Two; this time one of them is introduced to Nikita as Steven, Carla's boyfriend. In the final scene Carla calls "Steven" and tells her she's "in" -- leaving viewers to assume there's more to Nikita's best friend outside Section than meets the eye. (It's gutwrenching that apparently Nikita will be betrayed by the one person she considers a friend outside the Section.) Director Scanlon uses out-of-kilter camera angles and shadowy scenes to enhance a moody script and the nightmarish quality of not only Sand's life in limbo but also Nikita's dangerous dilemma -- she finds herself ordered by Operations to kill Sand while Madeline wants him brought in alive. Caught in the middle between those two is the last place a sane person would want to be. If you didn't already know, this episode will convince you that life is awfully precarious in the shadow world of Section One.
NIKITA: "Has Operations ever asked you to do something outside mission parameters?"
N: "What did you do?"
M: "What do you want to know, Nikita? What will happen to you if you don't obey him?"
N: "I don't know why I came here. I don't have a choice. I've got to do what he wants."
M: "Think it through. But more importantly, you'll have to stop coming to me. I'm no longer your mentor."
Written by Michael Loceff
Directed by J. Scanlon
Original airdate: August 16, 1998 (USA)
April 26, 2001 (France); February 25, 2000 (UK)
Steven Berkoff (Carlo Giraldi / Charles Sand)
Alan Peterson (Abel Goellner)
Damon D'Oliveira (Sarris)
Anais Granofsky (Carla)
Geoff Murrin (Steven)
Barna Moricz (Ellis)
"Refractions In The Plastic Pulse," Stereolab
Czech title: "Uprostred"
French title: "Entre deux feux"
German title: "Der Nebenbuhler"
Italian title: "Esule"
Portuguese title: "Fogo Cruzado"
Spanish title: "En medio"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Nikita is caught between Operations and Madeline in one of the best episodes of the series. The ever classy Stephen [sic] Berkoff guest stars as Charles Sand, Madeline's long lost husband. Believing Sand died nine years earlier, Madeline is at first unaware that Operations is responsible for his disappearance and subsequent inability to contact Section. But it speaks to the powerful alliances within Section's political structure that she eventually closes ranks, sides with Operations, and executes her own husband.
Nikita's attempt tp hold the separate confidences of her two superiors makes for a significant change in her relationship with Michael. She has to lie to him and gets an upgrade in her status (to a class-two operative) causing a crucial shift in their mentor-protege relationship. "You'll have to stop coming to me," he tells her as he advises her to think through her dilemma. Nikita is ready for this transition even if Michael is not (as subsequent events will show).
Alan Peterson has great fun as Abel Gelner [sic], an ex-Red Cell agent who enjoys setting Nikita and Michael against one another almost as much as Operations does. Anais Gronofsky's welcome return as Carla presents the single most unexpected plot twist to date.
La Femme Peta, pp 189-190
Joel Surnow's POV
I'd put this one in the list of top-five episodes so far. Loved it. Classy looking, great acting. You've got these big things at stake: this is Madeline's husband, a guy who's been out of Section for nine years; it plays out this relationship between Operations and Madeline; fantastic guest stars. For some reason, it had a Wiseguy vibe to me, just these whacked out loosey, goosey criminals.
La Femme Nikita Episode Guide
Edward Gross, Retrovision # 6 (1999)