La Femme Nikita – the one with Peta Wilson

It’s interesting sometimes, when you remember something from years ago and love it so much you risk watching it again and then your entire perception of the show changes. I mean, I have seen Buffy from episode one through season 7, and even a few issues into the comic season 8, over and over without my first fascination changing. I still feel Buffy and Angel belong together, even though I agree she needed the experiences of Parker, Riley and Spike in order to grow. And while I think her and Spike can have an enduring closeness, they weren’t completely tied to each other the way she and Angel were…but I digress.

My husband absolutely loved the old movie Excalibur. Considered it one of the best of all time. Until he bought it to share his love with the kids and found he’d really outgrown it. I don’t remember all the issues he had with it, I just remembered he was really disappointed.

A few months ago, Craig and I started re-watching La Femme Nikita. I had originally planned to enjoy this kick-ass heroine show with my girls. They hate whiners. They hate wimps. Occasionally, they have tuned in. Out of a smidgen of interest and a great deal of pity, Craig took over watching it with me. The issue? Michael is an ass-hat. Or was in seasons 1 & 2.

Well, the show wasn’t nearly as spoiled for me as Excalibur was for Craig. But I observed things I didn’t catch before. My friends and I had loved watching it the first time around, and while this was before I learned about internet discussion boards, we would call each other up, tape shows, plan to watch them together, all that. We were convinced Michael and Nikita were the loves of all time.

Fast forward a dozen years, and I wonder. This time I saw all the ways Michael played her without the “oh, but he’s so hot and he’s just forced to” justifications. My daughter didn’t buy them for an episode, let alone over and over for a season. Good girl. Then I saw, knowing the end, how Nikita changed after season 1, becoming more distant and cold. I hadn’t remembered some of those moments, but this time it made me genuinely wonder about her statement at the end of season 4: “I don’t love you. I never did.”

The first time, it shocked the hell out of me and I was mad at the studio and mad at the writers. Well, I was mad anyway. Birkoff’s death was pointless. That position hasn’t changed. But this time, though I had forgotten that line, I’d remembered Nikita was a counter-spy. This time when she delivered the final line, it wasn’t met with total disbelief.

We are now wrapping up the final two disks. I don’t know what to believe. But I read a statement about how season 4 was planned in advance that way and season 5 was only brought back based on watcher demand.

The lesson I learned is a mixed one. Do not play with watcher demand. Don’t break their hearts. But at the same time, if the clues are laid from the beginning, who’s fault is it? The viewer or the writer? And how much is assumed by the people watching, when they attribute emotions and motivations to a stoic face?

But mainly, it was sad to see Walter and Birkoff’s care of Nikita and Michael ¬†wasn’t as reciprocated as I’d remembered. And his death was still a pointless, stupid mistake. Emotional, yes, and I liked Jason, but I would have rather seen twin drama than pointless drama.

Have you ever re-watched an old favorite and have your perspective change? For the better or the worst?


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