309. "Slipping Into Darkness"

 (#53) Michael leads a mutiny in Section One when Operations is given a psychotropic drug, misuses Section resources looking for a dead man, and orders Nikita's cancellation when she refuses to kill innocent people.
lfnforever briefing

best dialogue
WALTER: "It doesn't make any sense. One day he's normal,. the next day he's Dante leading us down the nine circles of Hell."
OPERATIVE: "We have 100 percent of our resources looking for a dead man."
NIKITA: "Meanwhile, we're absentee on two Class 10 activities."
BIRKOFF: "Make that three. Iberia, Myanmar, Rwanda. All unanswered. This is not just an internal matter anymore."
N: "We have to go to Oversight."
W: "Whoa, Sugar. Not so fast."
N: "Do you have any better ideas?"
W: "No. All I'm saying is that we should put some thought into our next move. I was at a meeting like this thirty years ago. Talk of insurrection."
B: "What happened?"
W: "I didn't want any part of it. That's the only reason I'm here today."
N: "Well, the way I see it, we don't have any choice. Operations is out of control. You can go if you like, Walter. We understand."
W: "I'm in."
Written by Peter M. Lenkov
Directed by Rick Jacobson
Original airdate: April 11, 1999
August 23, 2001 (France); June 22, 2002 (UK)

guest stars
Brian Tree (Philo)
Michael Dyson (Black)
Carlo Rota (Mick Schtoppel)

Original score by Sean Callery

Michael acquires the psychotropic agent from Philo's man in front of Osgoode Hall; the Siberian mission occurs at the foot of Scarborough Bluffs.

Czech title: "Zatemnela mysl"
French title: "Gliseement vers le neant"
Italian title: "Scivolando nel buio"
Portuguese title: "Caindo na escuridao"
Spanish title: "Resbalando hacia la oscuridad"

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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Cinematographer David Perrault and director Rick Jacobson create an opening scene of surreal beauty that belies the ugly disintegration to come as a drugged and deranged Operations runs amok in Section, Peter Lenkov's well-constructed tale is a futuristic Caine Mutiny of sorts. With the characters performing for hidden Red Cell cameras, the writer employs a clever dramatic device that draws the audience into the story as a virtual participant. We are used to watching Nikita try to unravel the tangle of deceptions, but now we too are the puzzle solvers. There are no "tells" or winks to the audience this time and the camera no longer gives us hints about who knows what.
Section "performs" well for the cameras, offering some interesting psychological insights into the organization's power structure. Michael has a wonderful public "father-son" coming-of-age moment with Operations when he allows Operations to hit him twice, but no more. Madeline's face is a study as Michael orders her removal along with Operations'. Wilson and Dupuis create one of those blood-draining moments when Michael recaptures Nikita for "interrogation and cancellation" -- it seems like another in an escalating series of betrayals. The real joy here lies in watching the chaos of Operations' disintegration, the "safely" acted-out fantasy of his removal from power, and the puzzle of who really knows what and when.
The premise of Michael's betrayal is not easily swallowed by an audience attuned to watching the weekly Section "chess matches" -- although there is a certain symmetry to the act when one recalls how Operations ordered Michael to poison his wife's drink earlier this season. Eugene Robert Glazer does a marvelous job taking Operations through his paranoid delusions to the brink of madness. In particular, he shoots Nikita a look so crazed and hateful that it knocks her backwards from across the room. It is a grotesque cartoon of Adrian's picture of him as a power-hungry megalomaniac. Adding to the tension is the fact that Operations is a truly powerful individual whose orders are followed without question; given Operations' already evident dislike of Nikita, Madeline and Michael have taken a huge risk setting up Nikita as the voice of protest. Although rational dissuasion by Madeline has saved Nikita's life before, Michael remains wary throughout and accelerates the process when she is in imminent danger. Even Birkoff earns himself a swat (betraying, perhaps, Operations' growing animosity towards him).
Schtoppel's scene seems over the top and an odd note in this otherwise dark and suspenseful story. It is virtually pruposeless (as is the final expository scene between Nikita and Michael) except that we hear once again that Nikita and Michael's relationship is a topic of gossip outside Section. Even Milo's henchman refers to it. And as Nikita's "execution" is written into the plan, we can deduce that Section is also aware that this is a known quantity (leftover intel from "War"?). Regardless, it is no surprise that such a daring and convoluted plan is employed to snag a Red Cell agent. What a great nemesis that group has proven itself to be.
La Femme Peta, pp 215-216