Synopsis: Fast forward through two years of training (montage and all)...sexy fight scene in a short skirt...Nikita's first kill.
Review: From its simple one word title (every episode in the first season has a one word title) to the focus on character rather than action as in the ending shot, which was a close-up of Nikita's eyes seemingly staring right at you, the viewer, Nikita set the stage for an incredibly deep, creative show. Premiering just two months before another favorite television heroine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, La Femme Nikita set the standard high. Created by the two guys who went on to create 24, Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, if you have not seen Nikita yet, you can imagine Nikita as Jack Bauer without the annoying 24-hour plot device. Yes, Nikita was a low-budget show, but in the end, that worked to the show's advantage: instead of big flashy special effects the writers actually had to deliver creative episodes.
The introduction and first act were somewhat disorienting. Two years, what easily could have filled two seasons, was crammed into the first ten minutes of the episode. This episode was somewhat terrorist-plot-of-the-week-y, but the real purpose of the episode was to introduce the characters and establish the series' basis. Madeline's office is a complete contrast with the rest of the Section. I loved Operations ominous stare from his nest. I may be reading into it, but who thinks there is some kind of symbolic significance to Nikita's obsession with sunglasses?
Eyes were important in this episode. The extreme close-up was used often and really fits with the show's deep examination of character. You cannot look away from the reflection of Nikita's eyes in the mirror as Madeline tells her "There is no weapon as powerful as your femininity." During "dinner," Nikita's eyes peek out from underneath bangs in an absolutely entrancing manner. Peta Wilson's facial expressions do the acting in this scene. She expresses a gamut of emotions from giddy to surprised to outraged with her facial expressions. She is met by Michael's unwavering stare.
Nikita's femininity extends beyond just using her feminine wiles to distract bad guys. She gives a feminine touch even to the action sequences. Nikita's gun fight in the restaurant was downright graceful. It will also help her empathize and prevent her from killing in cold blood like the Section wants. She has a strong personality that will fight for what is right amongst the morally ambiguous Section. Her first kill is protecting Michael, but still she struggles with it. Although the plot is weak, the pilot does a good job introducing us to Nikita and the Section. Most pilots fall into this trap, so I'll go easy on Nikita and give it a 7 out of 10.
Objectionable Content: Nikita is ordered to take off her clothes in front of the whole team to be prepped for the mission. There is a somewhat revealing shot from the back, and it also a very dehumanizing portrayal, but then again, they were trying to establish the Section's cold utilitarianism.
Automatic weapons, blood, killing. It goes without saying that La Femme Nikita is a violent show, so I won't mention it frequently in objectionable content unless something particularly violent and/or disturbing occurs.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)