(#60) An enemy agent infiltrates Section One and transmits its coordinates to Glass Curtain. Operations orders the evacuation of Section and then sets out with Nikita to track down the man responsible.
Glass Curtain -- the eccentric (to say the least) duo of Errol Sparks and Siobhan -- is back with a vengeance, as they send a very resourceful fellow by the name of Boris Tyco into Section as a prisoner. Tyco escapes the White Room and manages to transmit coded Section data to Siobhan, including coordinates that reveal Section's location. (One has to wonder why Tyco didn't kill Madeline when he had the chance; he killed another Section operative moments later.) So at last we learn that Section One is located in Paris. We learn this moments before Section One is destroyed, by Operations' order. It's revealed that there are four other compounds strategically placed around the world (and a fifth being built), and apparently they are all virtually identical. We also learn that Operations has been with Section for 24 years, Michael for nine. We glimpse the true commitment of Operations to Section, and it should come as no surprise that without Section Operations is nothing because he has sacrificed everything (re: "Missing" and "Love and Country") to be at its head. This episode is one of the rare times we see Operations in the field, and he is paired with Nikita, a dynamic duo if ever there was one. The two clash constantly, since Nikita (naturally) tries to protect innocents while Operations is perfectly willing to kill one or two to save Section. The return of Sparks is problematic, and no one -- not even Michael -- does much speculating on how he survived the ending of "Simone." (And if he survived, couldn't Simone have survived, as well?) The scenes detailing the evacuation of Section One are well done and illustrate the vulnerability of the Section -- a vulnerability that adds suspense to the organization's never-ending battle against terrorism. It's interesting to note that, as unpleasant a place as Section can be, and as much as many of its denizens complain about it, they all act like fish out of water when the compound no longer exists. They are naked, exposed, and arguably less effective without the sheltering cocoon it provides.
OPERATIONS (chastising Nikita for what he views as a waste of precious Section resources):
"You're not here to think. You're not here to plan strategy. You're here to do whatever I tell you to do. The Section runs simply. The people who are trained to think, think. The people who are trained to fight, fight. Why am I always having to remind you where you stand?"
Written by Michael Loceff
Directed by Terry Ingram
Original airdate: July 17, 1999
September 20, 2001 (France); July 16, 2002 (UK)
Julian Richings (Errol Sparks)
Ingrid Veninger (Siobhan)
Carlo Rota (Mick Schtoppel)
Vincent Corazza (Boris)
Deborah Odell (Ellen)
Frank Pellegrino (Mattao)
"Recitative," Christoph William Gluck
Czech title: "Vzpominka na Pariz"
French title: "Au revoir Paris"
German title: "Die Evakuierung"
Italian title: "Ricordo Parigi"
Portuguese title: "Eu recordo Paris"
Spanish title: "Me acuerdo de Paris"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Just when we learn where Section is -- it isn't!
For some unknown reason writer Michael Loceff brings back Errol Sparks and his sidekick Siobhan (of first season's "Simone"). Awkward exposition by Walter and Nikita in the final act is just not enough to explain the return of Glass Curtain's dynamic duo. A host of unanswered questions arises. Why doesn't Michael react when he learns of Sparks' resurrection, and why is Simone's possible survival never addressed? Sparks' charm is traded in for a few cheesy one-liners and an inside reference to the series' staff writers' addiction to peppermint patties.
Speaking of comic relief, Mick Schtoppel is back, proving himself useful this time (however annoying his exaggerated face-making is as Michael tortures Freddie Allan) not only to Section, but to Nikita herself (sparing her Operations' wrath). One wonders when the other shoe will drop with this character. At least his presence affords Nikita a new foil and provokes Wilson to throw in an ad-libbed "Aussie-ism" as Nikita hurries Michael along with "Snap!"
Nikita is either underfoot or at loose ends throughout the episode, raising the question: just what is Nikita's place in Section? Operations certainly has an opinion on that one: thinking and plotting strategy don't mix with killing and field work. He tells Nikita "you are not here to think," but thinking seems to be her sole responsibility when she and Operations enter the field in a rare and dynamic pairing. Just how is Operations planning to impart his feelings about the work done at Section?
Despite the shocking effect of the opener, as Boris gets the jump on the super-human Madeline (employing the same neck hold Madeline applied to Jan in the previous episode), Loceff's script stretches credulity a little too far. The plant of the signal tracker on Boris is much the same ploy Nikita and Adrian used on Michael in order to gain deeper access to Section security -- another one of those holes they really should do something about. And Boris seems to gain access to all of Section's files with relative ease. It took Adrian, Section's architect, several tries to find one file, but this guy grabs them all in minutes.
Still, the premise of the incineration of Section is a bold one and it affords the cast an opportunity to exhibit their trademark cooler-than-cool attitude. When Birkoff laments the move from Paris Walter tells him he can always "visit." Operations and Michael barely acknowledge the upheaval as they depart their home of 24 and nine years respectively. The sentiment is left for the viewer. After the beautifully edited and frenetic evacuation sequence, director Terry Ingram gives the audience a classic sci-fi moment as the camera lingers over Section's final seconds. The camera work and Sean Callery's grand, monumental, and sentimental score pay homage to La Femme Nikita's seventh character: production designer Rocco Matteo's Section One. Anyone anticipating a new Matteo creation after Operations gives the order to incinerate were quickly disabused of the notion. It turns out that Section compounds, like their inhabitants, are designed to be interchangeable.
La Femme Peta, pp 234-37