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117. "Noise"

        
(#16) Birkoff is nearly killed during a mission to recover a stockpile of Stinger missiles, an event that hinders his ability to function on future missions -- to the extent that he faces cancellation unless Nikita can help him overcome his fears.
lfnforever briefing

best dialogue
NIKITA, to Birkoff: "So you really do live in Section. Madeline showed me your file. Except for the van, seems you haven't been outside Section in seven years. That's not healthy." BIRKOFF: "You killed a cop in cold blood. Don't tell me what's healthy."
N: "Look, I don't understand the stuff you do but I just know you do it very well. You should be upstairs right now doing it. What happened?"
B: "You can't protect me. I thought I could just go on doing my work. You guys would always be around keeping me safe. Never occurred to me that anyone would get close enough to shoot me!"
N: "Oh. So you used to think you were safe. Now you know you're not. None of us are. Birkoff, it happens to everyone. It's called growing up. Doesn't mean you have to stop living."
B: "I can't live knowing that I could do."
N, putting her gun to Birkoff's temple and pulling the trigger -- but it's empty: "You will die. See? You just did."


Written by Michael Loceff
Directed by T.J. Scott
Original airdate: July 27, 1997
nd (France); January 2, 1998 (UK)

guest stars
Richard Waugh (Simon)
Vieslav Krystyan (Golden)
Jon Wildman (Lonnie)
Angela Vint (Ginger)
Tara Slone (Gail)
Steve Byers (Operative)
Lindsay Collins (Operative)
Dwayne Hill (Businessman)
Paul Noiles (Bouncer)

music
"Tape Loop," Morcheeba
"Inion/Daughter," Afro Celt Sound System

locations
Cherry Street near Commissioners Street was used in a scene where the mission van is enroute to assist Michael's team; The Toronto Dock Area near Unwimn Avenue was the site for the firefight during which Birkoff saves Nikita.


Czech title: "Hluk"
French title: "Remise en question"
German title: "Kein Harter Kampfer"
Polish title: "Halas"
Portuguese title: "Ruido"
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Dawn Connolly's commentary on this episode
This is the fifth episode that focuses on Wilson's cast members. Matthew Ferguson shines as agoraphobic cyber-geek and mission analyst Seymour Birkoff. He hides behind his monitor and digital readouts, and it has never occurred to him that the violence of the real world could reach him. His first mobile assignment becomes a trial by fire when an enemy agent shoots up the van from which he is directing a mission. Birkoff, we learn, has lied about killing his sister (both to Nikita and Section) -- but why? One has to wonder if any of the main characters fit the usual profile equired for entry into Section: that of a cold-blooded murderer. If he didn't kill anyone, just how did Birkoff end up in Section?
In addition to building the brother-sister relationship between Nikita and Birkoff, this episode reinforces the value of Birkoff's unique gifts by introducing Simon, a less-than-effective Birkoff wannabe. Tara Slone also joins the cast as Gail, a fellow computer geek and love interest for Seymour. Typically, Birkoff and Operations have the thankless task of delivering most of the exposition for the show. "Missing" and "Noise" (and "Gambit," in the case of Madeline) represents the first important steps in exploiting the complexities of these underused characters.
Costume Designer Laurie Drew outdoes herself with a funky pink outfit for Nikita in the opening sequence, an impossibly small red dress (made from one piece of material cut on the bias), a regal shirt coat, and the long lines of a pinstripe pantsuit. Set Designer Rocco Matteo's club sets have always been wonderful eye candy, and the art gallery with its body-art dancers is unforgettable. Birkoff's apartment deep in the heart of Section is a visual essay on pop culture, with its blow-up plastic furniture, Japanese anime artwork,. proliferation of computer and television monitors, and the "tulip chair," which will migrate from here to the observation room and later to Nikita's apartment. "Noise" garnered La Femme Nikita three nominations for Canadian Gemini Awards: Laurie Drew for costume design, Rocco Matteo for production design, and Matthew Ferguson for acting.
La Femme Peta, pp 133-135


Ted Edwards' "behind the scenes" look at this episode
Observed T.J. Scott, "A lot of these episodes are reallyt psychologically strong. In this one, Matthew Ferguson's character is afraid of going outside and we play with his phobia, and the fact that he's developed it by being in the Section so long. He's lost his contact with the outside world and is afraid to go out into it. I guess it was a psychological episode that [Matthew] really dug into. There were times when we'd be filming, I'd look up and he'd be crying his eyes out. He just got so into this character. I don't know what he was drawing on, but he certainly protrayed to us that his character had the fear of going out there."
In an online interview, Joel Surnow said of this episode, "The premise behind 'Noise' was, 'Let's see where Birkoff lives, what he does, who he is. Establish to a greater degree the sister/brother relationship Nikita plays in his life."
La Femme Nikita X-Posed, pp 80-81


Joel Surnow's POV

Again, an opportunity to expand the other characters around Nikita, this time focusing on Birkoff. Let's try and further develop the sister-brother relationship between Nikita and Birkoff.

La Femme Nikita Episode Guide
Edward Gross, Retrovision # 6 (1999)