Case Number 07232

LA FEMME NIKITA: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

Warner Bros. // 1998 // 982 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // July 20th, 2005

The Charge

"I was falsely accused of a hideous crime and sentenced to life in prison. One night, I was taken from my cell to a place called Section One, the most convert, anti-terrorist group on the planet. Their ends are just, but their means are ruthless. If I don't play by their rules, I die." -- Nikita (Peta Wilson)

Opening Statement

In 1997, the USA Television network aired a series based on the Luc Besson masterpiece, Nikita (AKA La Femme Nikita). At its core, La Femme Nikita is about a woman trapped by circumstance and forced to prove herself time and again. Nikita, intricately played by Peta Wilson (The League of Extraordinary Gentleman), finds herself trying to save the planet and herself in La Femme Nikita: The Complete Second Season.

Facts of the Case

The Spy Game isn't a pleasant one. Nikita and fellow agent, Michael (Roy Dupuis, Bleeders), run the risk of death, deceit, and betrayal on a daily basis. Led by the calculating Operations (Eugene Robert Glazer, I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka), Section One runs one efficient, steely ship. Operations controls to his fullest extent what and who he can, often becoming protagonist and antagonist simultaneously. Throw in über-interrogator Madeline (Alberta Watson, 24), and the clandestine hub of espionage becomes a good deal scarier and darker.

This season picks up shortly after the first season, as Section One thinks Nikita died in the line of duty. One of their agents knows what really happened to Nikita, much to his own personal risk.

Spread out over six discs, the episodes included this season are:

* "Hard Landing"
Nikita is hiding out. Unfortunately, her whereabouts are brought to Section One's attention in the worst way: they think she might have sold them out.

* "Spec Ops"
Back in action, Nikita must adjust to her new gig.

* "Third Person"
A team of terrorists force Nikita back into the field.

* "Approaching Zero"
Nikita vs. more terrorists over a satellite.

* "New Regime"
Nikita gets a promotion. But is it in her best interests or someone else's?

* "Mandatory Refusal"
Section One chooses favorites when both Michael and Madeline's life are endangered.

* "Half Life"
Michael's forced to choose between friendship, love, and The Job.

* "Darkness Visible"
Nikita endangers a mission when her emotions get the better of her.

* "Open Heart"
Nikita and an enemy team up to save themselves. You know, it's that episode where the main character and her target have to put aside their differences for survival. Gina Torres (Firefly) guest stars.

* "First Mission"
Nikita's early lesson in leadership almost kills her.

* "Psychic Pilgrim"
An elaborate ruse takes an odd turn when Nikita is ordered to impersonate a medium.

* "Soul Sacrifice"
Watch Khandi Alexander (CSI: Miami) make Nikita choose between friendship and The Job. This is the second of two thematically similar episodes in this season.

* "Not Was"
Amnesia time for Section One, as Michael temporarily loses his memory.

* "Double Date"
An interesting episode, wherein Michael and Nikita participate in their own hostage exchange.

* "Fuzzy Logic"
Section One uses a mathematician to defeat an enemy, with mixed results.

* "Old Habits"
A lackluster episode, featuring Nikita involving herself with a sociopath.

* "Inside Out"
Section One vs. a virus.

* "Off Profile"
Michael's libido endangers Section One and his relationship with Nikita.

* "Last Night"
War Games (or Electric Love), Nikita style.

* "In Between"
Nikita is forced to choose between the conflicting agendas of Operations and Madeline to save the life of a man.

* "Adrian's Garden"
When chickens come home to destroy their roost, Nikita has to choose between The Job and Michael. This happens a lot this year.

* "End Game"
The best episode of the season pits Nikita against Michael, showing, once and for all, how thin the line is between love and hate.

The Evidence

The world of Nikita and Section One is fascinating, set in the near future. The technology in Nikita never quite seems more than a couple of years away. It is sophisticated and cold -- very much an ongoing element of the series. I enjoyed that the show was grounded in an approximate reality and didn't stray too far into the fantastic. I don't see holographic maps everyday, but I know they're coming.

The show is wonderfully cast -- with the exception of Roy Dupuis. Peta Wilson was a great choice to carry the show. She gets to act aloof as Nikita, with some room to stretch undercover. She manages to keep her emotions just on the brim, which works very well for her character. Operations is probably the best of the lot. I don't know how he does it, but Glazer manages to make himself one of the most riveting bastards on series on television. It's clear that he is his job.

The storylines get slightly repetitive, but the writers manage to give each episode its own spin on things. The best part of the season was how the writers managed to focus on Nikita, Michael, and their doomed relationship. While not entirely subtle, making the romantic leads into rivals makes for good television. Unfortunately, it was hurt by Dupuis.

Special features include deleted scenes with commentary, commentary on two episodes, and a blooper/gag reel. I applaud the extremely talented Mario Cassar (24) for his candidness. He is open about why things didn't work and why certain choices were made. Instead of applauding everyone, he takes a refreshingly critical stance.

The show is presented in its fullframe format. While the video transfer looks good, it looks its age and is slightly muted. Thankfully, the Dolby Surround pounds out nicely from the speakers.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Oddly enough, its cold nature acts as the show's worst enemy. So much of what goes on appears removed and muted. I understand why an entire network of spies does not cry or wallow in melodrama, but most of the emotion is so underplayed that it is almost not there. Imagine the Ayn Rand spy school.

Roy Dupuis hurts the series. His acting, or lack thereof, will tear the strongest scene to shreds. A cardboard stand-in would probably have been just as effective. He delivers his line with stiffness. He lacks energy. It completely kills any suspension of disbelief when trying to figure out what Nikita finds in him.

I was personally disappointed by the show producers' decision to make Nikita wrongly accused. Nikita's growth is limited by not having to redeem herself. More of her character could have been explored starting from a far darker beginning.

Closing Statement

La Femme Nikita is a series I regret missing all these years. I thought it was hokey and cheap -- instead it is a great action series with a terrific cast (except for Dupuis). While at times repetitive, La Femme Nikita is deserving of greater respect. I feel I just missed the party.

The Verdict

The court finds La Femme Nikita: The Complete Second Season guilty of escaping my notice all these years. Here's one series I hope to see in my court again.

Review content copyright © 2005 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 92
Extras: 85
Acting: 85
Story: 90
Judgment: 97

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 982 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Deleted Scenes
* Crew Commentary
* Gag Reel

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0118379/combined

* La Femme Nikita -- The Complete First Season
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/lafemmeseason1.php