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320. "Playing With Fire"

        
 (#66) When Operations discovers that Nikita and Michael are stealing time during missions in order to secretly rendezvous, he fears they are planning a coup, and sends out a team to bring them back -- dead or alive.
lfnforever briefing

best dialogue
[Operations and Davenport prior to the mission to trap Nikita and Michael]
OPERATIONS:" Walter gave us the rendezvous point. The locationís been prepped. Stay one layer out until we give you the signal."
DAVENPORT: "Sir, Nikita and Michael will resist capture."
O: "Youíre cleared for extreme force."
D: "Iím sorry, sir. Iíll need you to be more explicit."
O: "They are not to escape. Kill them if necessary."
Written by Peter Lenkov
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan
Original airdate: August 22, 1999
November 8, 2001 (France); August 21, 2002 (UK)

guest stars
Lawrence Bayne (Davenport)
Carlo Rota (Mick Schtoppel)

music
"Thalheim," David Sylvian

locations
The bridge where Michael shakes surveillance by Daveport is on Unwin Avenue; the boat where Davenport and team lay in wait for Michael and Nikita was located at the Toronto docks.


Czech title: "Hra s ohnem"
French title: "Un jeu dangereux"
German title: "Spiel mit dem Feuer"
Italian title: "Glocare del fuoco"
Portuguese title: "Jogando com fogo"
Spanish title: "Jugando con fuego"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
Writer Peter Lenkov helms the two-part season finale which brings together Nikita and Michael only to have them torn apart in the cruelest of fashions. The heat between the lovers is finally more evident as Lenkov sets one of their trysts on the barge that was the scene of their first union. They play out the events of their second season reunion with Michael controlling the foreplay and Nikita (off-camera) submitting to another beating to cover their deception. Later, director of photography David Perrault bathes the duo in blue light creating an eyes-only visual feast for the pair. Although this is a beautiful sequence, set to the strains of David Sylvian's haunting voice, it goes on a little too long, giving it a disconcerting MTV touch.
Fresh from the fight of his life, Birkoff makes the understandable but still shocking move of ratting on Nikita and Michael and turning in Walter. Ferguson works hard to humanize the act with anger, discomfort, and regret but not even a concerned squeeze from Nikita's hand can dissuade him from self-preservation. Lawrence Bayne also returns as Davenport, whose membership in Walter's 5% club may be in question! Once again he is assigned the unpleasant task of bringing Michael down and his discomfort levels are apparent as he asks Operations to spell out just how far he is to go. The jury is still out on this character, who will be returning in the fourth season.
In a moment's reprieve from the claustrophobic ection, Mick Schtoppel (Carlo Rota) solicits Nikita's aid in impressing his mother with the lies of a marriage and a successful oral surgery practice. All dressed up with nowhere to go, Mick gets the last minute blow-off from his mother, and we finally learn what all the needy kibitzing has been about. The scene establishes a nicely played connection between Nikita and her charge and even softened this viewer's hard heart.
In one of those "yes" moments Nikita, Michael, and Walter avoid the trap set by Operations and complete the Navaro mission. In a brilliant sequence, Madeline is the still center of a waiting game as Operations paces, Birkoff is worried and guilty, and Walter is disgusted. When the day is won, Birkoff and Walter exchange a flicker of pleasure and Don Francks shoots a classic Walter-styled "up yours" look to the aerie. Unfortunately, the victory will be short-lived.
Out from under the George-imposed magnifying glass it's business as usual with Operations and Madeline, who set about to determine and combat the level of threat Nikita and Michael's connection implies. The "hard wedge" has moved the relationship underground and added the allure of the forbidden, with stolen moments in back hallways and short but intense rendezvous. Once again Madeline and Operations create a self-fulfilling prophecy. By forbidding the relationship they drive it underground where it becomes covert and therefore more suspect. For it to continue, Nikita and Michael seek and receive help from Walter, thus involving other operatives. The entire dynamic feeds their paranoia, be it a concern for security holes in the system or the fear of a power play by a duo that so far hasn't even conceived of such an act. It's Section in a nutshell and a view of the world through a self-reflecting lens.
La Femme Peta, pp 249-51