Appreciating La Femme Nikita

I recently joined Netflix because I wanted access to old television shows that I can't afford to buy on DVD and new shows that I can't watch because I don't have extended cable. One of the shows I loved, but couldn't watch on a regular basis because I didn't have cable back then, was La Femme Nikita. I had watched enough to get the gist of the show and recall the characters, but I saw no more than 5 episodes per year.

The reason I bring this show up is because of the complexity of the writing. For those who've never seen it or have no idea the gist, the basic premise of the story is that there is a secret government agency that recruits people on death row (scooping them up, then making it appear that they've been put to death) to go on covert missions to keep the country safe. The tension in the show comes from the plight of our heroine who wasn't guilty of the murder she was convicted of, and who is now forced to become a killer for the government or she will be "cancelled." She is the figurehead for "humanity" on the show where the rest of the people appear to be ruthless, killing machines. But are they? Yes. But as cold-hearted as they appear (and it can be pretty scary most of the time), every now and then you see a chink in their armor. Seeing the vulnerability exposed even for a moment is shocking and increases the tension surrounding the rest of what they do.

But it's so subtle. You really have to pay attention to appreciate the nuances of the show. I mean, we think Nikita's partner, Michael, is as cold as he can be, but he's also in love with her (we know this because of the smoldering glances he sends her way sometimes and some of the hints we receive from other characters), but he will manipulate her emotions with a straight face (often in an attempt to save her without appearing to do so) and make you love him and hate him in the same episode.

To give you an idea how subtle this show is. Last night Nikita had to decide whether to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to a new recruit. Thumbs down means the girl is cancelled. We come back to how incredibly sweet Nikita is. She hates all the killing, and has her heart wide open for every hard luck case that crosses her path. She's really conflicted about the girl. She asks her co-workers for their impression of the girl and gets conflicting feedback. So, she goes to Michael for advice. Now, we know Nikita is in love with him (and fighting hard against it) and we know that he's been flirting up a storm with the new girl which drives Nikita crazy. So, of course, she's going to want to think the worst of the girl because Michael's attracted to her. But Nikita doesn't want to be responsible for the girl's death.

What's a secret operative to do?

In the end, she gives the girl a thumbs down (the girl enjoys killing a little too much). And then Nikita finds out that this decision had already been sanctioned, and it was Nikita being tested. If she'd failed, she would have been the one canceled. We conclude the show with a long lingering look between her and Michael across the room. Of course he knew what was going on. Of course he helped sway Nikita against the new recruit by flirting with the girl and making Nikita jealous. But nothing is ever said to this effect. You need to come to your own conclusion.

So, my question to you is: Could this sort of subtlety find its way into one of today's romance books? I don't think it could. I don't think the romance genre can appreciate sexual tension that doesn't involve touching. What do you think?

Today's goal: Start the FAB judging
Yesterday's accomplishment: Started reading Magic Burns (urban fantasy)
What I'm grateful for: Finding inspiration in many places
Quote: "It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." -Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)