(#61) When Michael is placed in temporary command of Section, George pressures him to track down a money launderer named Bergomi -- which is exactly what Operations has ordered him not to do.
A pivotal episode in the grand, overarching saga of Nikita/Michael and Operations/Madeline. Operations has been called away from Section temporarily, and turns command over to Michael with instructions not to expend Section resources on catching terrorist financier Luigi Bergomi. But no sooner is Operations gone then George begins pressuring Michael to do exactly that. There have been previous indications that Michael is ambitious, but one needs to look at this episode in the context of others; ever since the first multi-story arc of Season 3, when Michael had to give up his wife and son, he has ceased to be Section's loyal soldier. Then, too, one can sense that he tires of being patient where his relationship with Nikita is concerned. Here is an opportunity to prove himself to Oversight and at least set the stage for removing the obstacles to his professional and personal lives presented by Operations. So Michael risks everything -- including Nikita's life, as it turns out -- to catch Bergomi. His success in doing so may be seen as something of a Phyrric victory; in the final scene, Operations and Madeline come to the realization that Michael is a threat, and Michael with Nikita is an even bigger threat. In the next episode, they will try to drive a wedge between Michael and Nikita, and when that fails, they will resort to more desperate means -- as portrayed in the multi-story arc that opens Season 4. It's interesting to watch Michael in his new role as head of Section, and it might shock some to see that he can be as ruthless as Operations ever was. Nikita, on the other hand, while loyal to Michael, will not send team members on what amounts to a suicide mission, opting to go instead. One senses it's at that moment that Michael comes to suspect he has gone too far, and shown the woman he loves a side of himself she won't like.
MICHAEL, briefing Nikita and others: "Wallace, you’ll be team leader. Nikita, you’ll take over my responsibilities."
WALLACE: "Why her? I'm senior by two years."
M: "She's more qualified."
W: "For what? She should be leading the team. I should take over for you."
M: "You'll do as you're told. Keep your opinions to yourself. (to Nikita) You'll rotate through the secondary departments, starting with DRV."
NIKITA: "You're taking me out of the field?"
M: "For the time being. I want you to have a broader perspective."
N: "I suppose I should do as I'm told. Keep my opinions to myself."
M: "In Section, yes."
Written by Ed Horowitz
Directed by Terry Ingram
Original airdate: July 25, 1999
October 18, 2001 (France); July 23, 2002 (UK)
David Hemblen (George)
Sean Sullivan (Mintz)
Hakan Coskuner (Bergomi)
This Love," Craig Armstrong featuring Elizabeth Fraser
The Toronto docks near Polson Street provide the site for Nikita's pursuit of one of Lamaye's men.
Czech title: "Prilezitost"
French title: "Tout a une fin"
German title: "Gefahrliche Versuchung"
Italian title: "Scelte difficili"
Portuguese title: "Todas as coisas boas"
Spanish title: "Todas las cosas buenas"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Third season's closing arc picks up from the previous episode's dinner scene with the "morning after" (beautifully shot in the warm golden tones of daybreak) and runs to season's end, tracking the trials of the on-again relationship between Nikita and Michael. The tenderness and sleepy vulnerability of the sequence stands in sharp contrast to the S&M feel of the lovers' first encounter on the barge in the second season. The timing couldn't be worse, though. Just as Nikita and Michael seem to have reached a common ground and are finally moving in the same direction together (as equals), in steps workplace politics. The public displays of affection are eclipsed by the very public and formal change of command as Operations hands over control of Section to Michael while he is away at "Center" (yet another layer of administration and command?)
Michael's attempts to separate his public and private life is an extension of Operations' approach to human resources but it seems to be the only way in which Michael has conformed. He starts thinking rather ably (his layered-matrix solution) and independently (he takes on the Bergomi mission) despite Operations' parting instructions designed to maintain a long-distance control over Michael. The approach leads to conflict with Nikita ("do you want blind obedience or my honest opinion?") who sees her life as an organic whole, not a compartmentalized series of procedures. Their clash mid-mission, in which Nikita refuses his orders and retrieves the hard drive herself, illuminates Michael and Nikita's real strength and the perceived threat felt by Operations and Madeline. Michael's actions also lead inevitably to a stalemate with Operations (much like that of "Last Night"), who sees the Bergomi mission success as a political act of alliance with George. The significance of this perception will be evident by "Three Eyed Turtle."
Wilson and Dupuis do great work together when Michael, unbending in his pursuit of Bergomi, orders Madeline back to work and her face clouds over. Michael is quick to establish and exercise dominance and control over Madeline -- invoking the threat his knowledge of Adrian's death implies. When Madeline scuttles off to anemically push Nikita toward a choice between two options (convince Michael to give up the mission or sabotage it) Nikita's strength, as always, is that she believes there is a third choice -- thinking outside the box Madeline and Operations want to impose. The episode is also laced with humor: Nikita, suffering from a terminal case of monitor-head after her ten-hour stint in DRV with the over-caffeinated Mintz, is advised by Walter to yell at Michael and "get it out of her system." And there is a new set -- the Oversight board room in which the Section heads meet with an increasingly creepy George. His quip about controlling the world conjures an impression that he may be more dangerous than Operations.
Writer Ed Horowitz gives us an intriguing story that raises a lot of questions about Michael and about the importance of power to Michael, Nikita, Madeline, Operations, and even George. "All Good Things" sets up the issues that will be explored with equal enthusiasm by Michael Loceff in "Third Party Ripoff." Nikita's journey through these two episodes is more subtly explored than Michael's. Michael's loyalty is evident when he names her as his successor even before learning about the dangers of the Odessa mission, but Nikita values her prowess in the field and the loyalty of her fellow mission operatives. Tangled up with her abhorrence of Section's authoritarianism is a respect for Michael's abilities and an attraction to his power. Her place and future in Section remains unclear and a difficult issue for the humanist. One wonders if the bread crumb trail left by the writing team will lead anywhere next season.
La Femme Peta, pp 237-40