409. "Down A Crooked Path"

 (# 75) When Section is infected with a viral contagion, George sends in a biotech team. But the team has a secret agenda -- to perform a neural scrape that leaves the minds of all Section personnel wiped clean.
lfnforever briefing
The internecine conflict between Operations/Section One and George/Oversight continues in what might be called the "Flashback" Episode. In a gas attack reminiscent of what occurred in "Inside Out", George infects Section One personnel with a virus and then sends in a biotech team (composed of two exceedingly creepy characters) to perform a "neural scrape" on Section's top people. This procedure steals the subject's memories, learned skills and, essentially, everything else, leaving a human vegetable. George can then "reprogram" the Section personnel into his own personal robots. Operations is quick to comprehend the scheme -- and why shouldn't he? He's tried to do the same thing to Nikita with the Gelman Process -- and gives Michael the task of foiling George's plan. During the "neural scraping" process we're subjected to extensive flashbacks, crucial moments in previous episodes, for Operations, Madeline, Nikita, Walter and Birkoff. As a plot device, this probably worked well during the first run, as it had been years since many fans had seen those previous episodes; but in syndication, and at a time when most fans have the series on tape, it becomes less interesting. There isn't much tension in this episode, either, since few could doubt that Michael would save the day. In fact, it's a bit odd that George would order the "neural scraping" started with the likes of Walter and Nikita rather than Michael, whom he must have known was a far more dangerous adversary. A minor continuity goof occurs as Michael is subjected to the process and the "blocker" he's injected begins to reverse it, which in turn runs his memories in reverse: we catch a glimpse of his leaping through a window (from "Friend"), which was not his memory but Nikita's. All in all, this is one of those episodes -- like "Last Night" and "Abort, Retry, Fail, Terminate" -- that venture a little too far over the line into science fiction.

best dialogue
[Walter is summoned by the biotech team...]
TECH 1: "Walter."
WALTER: "Yeah, it's me. Fit as a fiddle."
T1: "Come in."
W: "Why don't you just give me a couple of aspirin and I'll call myself in the morning."
T1: "Lie down."
W: "What's that stuff?"
T1: "It's a sedative."
W: "Any particular reason why I need that?"
TECH 2: "Our bio-probe requires the subject to be asleep."
W: "Bio-probe?"
T2: "You may feel lightheaded, may even hallucinate."
W: "Haven't done that in years!"
Written by Peter M. Lenkov
Directed by Terry Ingram
Original airdate: March 19, 2000 (USA)
February 14, 2002 (France); December 12, 2002 (UK)

guest stars
David Hemblen (George)

Original score by Sean Callery


Czech title: "Navsteva ze ctyrky"
French title: ""Une operation malhonnete" / "Un coup tres tordu"
Italian title: "Un sentiero accidentato"
Portuguese title: "Sob um curvo caminho"

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