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312. "Threshold of Pain"

        
(#56) When Mark, a Section operative, breaks under torture and reveals the identity of a sub-station to Black March, Nikita tries to protect him -- only to face cancellation when Mark accuses her of being the one who broke.
lfnforever briefing

best dialogue
OPERATIONS: "Hello, Walter. How’s everything?"
WALTER: "Fine."
O: "I want to let you know how much we, Madeline and I, appreciate your hard work. And so does Oversight. We’ve commended you to them many times."
W: (suspiciously) "What’s this about?"
O: "I just wanted to say thank you for the good work."
W: "Don’t patronize me. All of sudden, out of the clear blue sky, you come down here to say thanks for the good work. What do want me to do? Wag my tail? If you want something from me, just come out and say it."
O: (curtly) "Look, I just stopped by to give you… give you a pat on the back."
W: "I don’t need a pat on the back! I’ve been doing this job since before you came to Section, and I can probably do your job too."
O: "Really."  
W: "Really."
O: "One of these days you’re going to carry this cranky old man act a little too far."
Written by Michael Sloan
Directed by Terry Ingram
Original airdate: June 6, 1999
September 6, 2001 (France); June 18, 2002 (UK)

guest stars
Adam Ant (Simon Crachek)
Karen Glave (Angela)
Vincent Corazza (Prisoner)
Trent McMullen (Mark)
Guylaine St. Onge (Caroline

music
"Can't Forget You," Moa

locations
--


Czech title: "Mira bolesti"
French title: "Seuil de douleur"
German title: "Schmerzgrenze"
Italian title: "Amare e tradire"
Portuguese title: "Inicio de sofrimento"
Spanish title: "Umbral de dolor"


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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Michael Sloan's first script for La Femme Nikita pairs off most of the cast and guest actors to offer an examination of the variety of personal relationships inside (and outside) Section, and to build the argument behind Madeline and Operations' determination to keep Nikita and Michael apart. The episode is something of a morality tale warning of the dangers of love. For Nikita and Michael, Angela and Mark, and even Simon and Caroline, no good can come of it.
Larger-than-life villains Simon and Caroline Craychek encompass many of the combinations in one couple: partners in crime and in sadism, lovers and siblings. Played by Adam Ant -- 80s pop-rocker turned actor -- Simon embodies Section's apparent profile of perfection: a sadist who is literally devoid of feeling. What a surprise when he doesn't measure up for a place in the organization! Caroline, played by the elegant Guylaine St. Onge, is unfortunately dispatched early without enough screen time.
The union of Mark and Angela raises the issue of just what is the big deal for the powers that be with Michael and Nikita's pairing? Of course the question is no sooner asked than answered as Mark breaks position to rescue Angela and Michael breaks protocol and bullies Birkoff into locating Nikita so that he might rescue her in knightly fashion. The obvious identification between these couples is further emphasized by the implication that Michael empathizes with Mark and Angela's situation and that he feels for Mark's loss and pain. Although Michael stretches his emotional muslces he drastically misreads Nikita's guilt/innocence. Worse yet, in Nikita's eyes his actions (an unconditional offer of help) indicate that he places more value on her survival than her word. The emotional tussle leads to an oddly strained moment between the two. In the end, for Nikita, it seems a trick saves her life, not trust, friendship, or loyalty.
Other pairings include Birkoff and Walter, in a cooler-than-cool scene, who don't let a little thing like a near detonation spoil their appetites for lunch. But all is not what it seems even for this pair: Walter has a crisis of faith and Birkoff, despite the cool facade, further confirms his emerging role as chief rule quoter and by-the-book guy. Not once but twice (for Nikita's rescue and Craychek's capture) he cites Section regulations -- and it is more likely that fear rather than loyalty motivates his deference to Michael's unsanctioned rule bending. And then there is the original odd couple: Operations and Walter in one of the series' most hilarious moments as Operations fumbles about trying to comfort and praise an insecure Walter. Madeline's cleverly orchestrated moment gives the two actors plenty of fuel for comedy and brilliantly sets up the parallel scene in "Beyond the Pale."
Madeline, "inclined to believe Nikita" despite the superhuman lies of Mark, once again proves herself an astute -- and therefore potentially deadly -- judge of character. And despite Nikita's serious miscalculation (putting her own value system ahead of a knowledge of Mark's character), she forgives Mark, turns the other cheek, and further establishes herself as the compassionate, forgiving martyr.
La Femme Peta, pp 223-225