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Friday, November 28, 2008

Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons

First appearance: The Bourne Identity
Last appearance: The Bourne Ultimatum
Created by: Tony Gilroy/William Blake Herron
Portrayed by: Julia Stiles

Nickname(s): Nicky
Gender: Female
Age: 29
Date of birth: March 28th 1979
Occupation: Logistics Coordinator/Mental Health Supervisor, Operation Treadstone (1999-2002) Logistics Coordinator for various CIA operations (2002-2007)

Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons is a fictional character in the Bourne movie series portrayed by Julia Stiles. Though she did not appear in any of the Robert Ludlum novels on which the movies were based, she is the only character aside from Jason Bourne himself to have appeared in all three films.

Fictional character biography

Little is known about Parsons' life before Treadstone; however, several things can be inferred. Though Julia Stiles was only 21 years old when The Bourne Identity was released (19-20 when it was filmed), Identity director Doug Liman stated that the Nicky Parsons character was about 25 years old. Parsons stated in The Bourne Supremacy that she had worked in Treadstone for three years before its demise, which occurred at the end of Identity. Because she was a psychologist as well as logistics coordinator, Parsons had to have finished college. (When Nicky enters Daniels' office in Ultimatum and is forced to answer the phone, Landy confirms she is Treadstone, and her file is pulled up and can be seen on screen; according to her file, her date of birth is March 28, 1979.) The CIA utilized her young age as her cover when she worked for Treadstone in Paris; she claimed to be an American student studying abroad.

Parsons had two responsibilities in Treadstone: First, and most oft-portrayed in the movies, coordinating logistical operations; second, monitoring the mental health of Treadstone agents. She also served as Bourne's contact in Paris up until he was shot during the (failed) Nykwana Wombosi assassination.

As logistics coordinator, Parsons handled many technical tasks during Treadstone missions. In The Bourne Identity, she was responsible for many smaller tasks, such as printing wanted posters for Bourne and his traveling partner (later girlfriend), Marie Helena Kreutz, and operating a switchboard through which calls to and from Treadstone's base were filtered. She also handled more important tasks, such as being commanded to cover up the very public death of an agent, the agent killed himself by jumping out a window to escape Bourne after Bourne beat him severely (although she specifically says that she couldn't because it was public and in Paris). Essentially, her job as logistics coordinator involved managing the technical details of Treadstone missions and cleaning up collateral damage.

As mental health supervisor, Parsons dealt with the wide array of psychological disturbances suffered by Treadstone agents, not only after their traumatic conditioning (which involved fake "behavior modification" tools as near drowning, starvation, and sleep deprivation to break the will of the agents), but also in dealing with their daily lives as assassins. Symptoms she witnessed included, "depression, anger, compulsive behaviors... they had physical symptoms: headaches, sensitivity to light..." Before Bourne, however, she had never seen an agent develop amnesia. Though her responsibilities as mental health supervisor were not explored in detail, Stiles stated that the Parsons character handled medication for the agents.

Within the first two years after Treadstone's demise, Parsons was transferred to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her job there was never explained; however, when she was transferred to Madrid, Spain immediately after Supremacy, she continued to handle logistical operations. Whether or not she continued her psychiatric duties is unclear.

Portrayal in Identity

For the full plot of the movie, see The Bourne Identity (2002 film).

Nicky Parsons first appeared in The Bourne Identity, playing a very small and undefined role. She appeared at that time to be Deputy Director Alex Conklin's assistant, described by Julia Stiles as a "glorified operator." She operated out of Paris, France, handling a variety of technical details in the search for Jason Bourne. She was also present when Bourne confronted Conklin in Parsons's base of operation in Paris. Though she and Bourne exchanged no dialogue, she witnessed Bourne reveal that he had amnesia, recover his memory of his last (failed) mission to kill Nykwana Wombosi, and his decision to leave the CIA (including his threat to fight them if they came after him). When Bourne realized that Conklin had triggered an alarm for backup, he knocked out Conklin and killed the backup agents to escape; however, he left Nicky unharmed. After Conklin's supervisor, Deputy Director Ward Abbott, had Conklin killed, Parsons was the only living witness to the events (aside from Bourne, of course). Although Bourne's motives were never addressed, it is possible that he suspected that Conklin would be assassinated, and left Nicky unharmed to witness him leave without killing Conklin; thus, Conklin's murder could not be blamed on Bourne.

Portrayal in Supremacy

For the full plot of the movie, see The Bourne Supremacy (film).

Parsons' role was significantly expanded in The Bourne Supremacy, mostly to define her role in Treadstone. After the events of The Bourne Identity, Operation Treadstone was shut down, forcing all its employees to be reassigned. Two years later, when the events of The Bourne Supremacy took place, Parsons was stationed in Amsterdam, Netherlands. When Bourne was framed for the murder of two CIA agents, Parsons was called in to assist in locating Bourne. It was then revealed that Parsons was not only the coordinator of Logistics for Operation Treadstone, but also the mental health supervisor and Bourne contact in Paris. She showed a clear understanding of agents' thinking patterns, interrupting a discussion amongst higher-ranked officials to analyze aspects of Bourne's behavior that had been wrongly deemed "random" or "a mistake."

When Bourne first called Deputy Director Pamela Landy, he set up a meeting with Parsons at the Alexanderplatz in Berlin, claiming that he wanted to "come in," escorted by someone he knew. Though Landy knew it was a ruse, she let Parsons go to the meeting wearing a wire in order to obtain information from Bourne. Bourne had seen an advertisement earlier for a rally at that location, so when the crowds filed in and the Agency could no longer cover Parsons, Bourne led her via cell phone into a subway station to interrogate her without visual surveillance, though he probably knew she was wearing a wire. She told him that she believed him to be innocent (though in context, she may have simply been pleading for her life). She willingly answered his questions regarding Deputy Director Pamela Landy, the end of Treadstone, and why Landy was trying to kill him (because Landy believed Bourne had killed her agents); however, she also asked him questions that led him to describe his whereabouts during the aforementioned assassinations ("4,000 miles away in India watching Marie die") with such emotionality that Landy began to believe Bourne was innocent. Eventually, Bourne led Parsons to a location where her wire failed to transmit a signal so he could interrogate her more aggressively regarding both the murders he was framed for and his first mission. Though she knew little about the murders and nothing about his first mission, he was able to attain enough information from her to jog his own memory, making the connection between the murders and his first mission and recalling the name of his first victim, Vladimir Neski. Bourne tried to learn more about the Neski mission, but when Nicky told him she knew nothing about it, he pushed her to the floor, put a gun to her head, and screamed at her in an attempt to make her talk. She pled for her life, crying and insisting that she knew nothing about the mission. Bourne eventually let her go unharmed. This was her last appearance in The Bourne Supremacy.

Portrayal in Ultimatum

For the full plot of the movie, see The Bourne Ultimatum (film).

Parsons plays a significant role in The Bourne Ultimatum, where she becomes Bourne's accomplice in his escape from the CIA Madrid station. She also helps him in tracking down "Neal Daniels", the Madrid station chief. In the process, she jeopardizes her career and is herself made the target of an assassination attempt. After escaping this attempt she demonstrates tender feelings toward Bourne, before changing her appearance and going into hiding. The nature of her motivations for helping Bourne are unclear. She suggests that her past interaction with Bourne is the reason, but whether the interaction was romantic or just created a strong sympathy for him, is not elaborated upon.

Parsons re-appears at the closing of the movie, watching a TV news report about the exposing of Bourne's true identity. Upon hearing that he was shot at and fell into the East River, she appears disturbed, but after hearing that his body has not been found, she smiles to herself, presumably satisfied that he escaped and is back in hiding.

Category: Fictional CIA agents

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