“I think it’s cool. I think it’s exciting,” said Nikita creator Craig Silverstein of the CW show’s rapidly growing popularity. “It’s always been a cult thing, ever since the French film [1990’s Nikita]. It’s always been a cult character.”
Now that Nikita is in its third season, it has moved well out of the long shadow cast by USA’s La Femme Nikita, its small-screen predecessor that had a similarly devoted following. Nikita has paid plenty of respect to the original TV series over its first two years, the most major being the casting of Alberta Watson, who played Madeline in LFN, as Senator Madeline Pierce in Nikita. Silverstein confirmed to me that it is not the same character, but that the same name is “a nod [to the fans].” As far as further references in the upcoming third season, “It’s funny, because we play in the same kind of sandbox, stuff happens that even we don’t intend, that feels like a callback,” he said. “But we don’t have any direct ones planned.”
I recently caught up with Silverstein and the stars of Nikita at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, where they shared their thoughts on the completed second season and previewed the upcoming third season, which begins on Friday, October 19.
There is a tremendous amount of change now that the show’s major villain, Percy (wonderfully played by Xander Berkeley), was killed off in the second-season finale. According to Silverstein, Percy’s demise was planned. “We at the beginning of the second season that [Nikita] was going to take over Division, and there was no way that he could survive that. The only two options are he goes back in the cell or he goes back on the run – both things we’d seen from the character before. And I kind of wanted him to go out on top,” he explained. “It is tough, because he was such a great bad guy, but we’re going to have a bunch of bad guys now who are all very scary.”
Who are those bad guys? He continued, “We have these thirty rogue agents, and they have all cut out their trackers and are all in business for themselves, and they form the episodes [of season three. It’s] going after these people and they’re all into different stuff. We have a character who is the guy who would find you, fake your death and recruit you [into Division], and now he’s selling his services to cartel leaders on death row.”
Yet just because the show is introducing new antagonists doesn’t mean that fans should forget about Amanda (Melinda Clarke), who is still on the run. “[Amanda] comes back in episode four. We want a new look for Amanda, because she’s been on the run. We’re debating what it’s going to look like. I want her to be scarier somehow,” said Silverstein. Her partner-in-crime Ari (Peter Outerbridge) “will be back. He’s with Amanda.” Of Outerbridge, Silverstein was very complimentary: “He’s sort of the go-to guy in Toronto. Every show that comes through there. I think he’s in the Beauty and the Beast pilot for The CW, and they wanted him as a recurring character, and we’re like, ‘No, we have him. You can’t have him.’ He’s awesome.”
Also returning this season are a number of familiar faces, including new regulars Owen Elliot (Devon Sawa), Sean Pierce (Dillon Casey) and Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) as well as computer tech Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood). “Owen is going to come back in our fourth episode. We have some exciting things planned for him,” said Silverstein. “He doesn’t remember anything that happened in his life before Division. Every time he tries to think about what his life was before Division, he gets these really bad headaches. He was very susceptible to this kind of treatment that [Amanda] gave him. And that’s part of his reason to come back, is to find out who he was and everything that happened.”
“The fun thing about Sonya is that she kind of gets together with Birkhoff at the end of last season,” he added. “They’ve had a fling and something’s gone wrong, and everybody in the show knows it and everybody talks about it. We’re going to have fun with that for awhile.”
With the addition of three new regulars and the departure of one, that means Nikita now has eight main characters – Nikita, Michael, Alex, Sean, Birkhoff, Owen, Ryan and Amanda. That may seem like a big number, but for Silverstein and the writing staff it’s a balancing act. “Not everybody is contracted for all episodes. Devon is contracted for twelve of the twenty-two and even Noah is not [in] all of the episodes. If they were in all of the episodes, it would be really, really hard,” he said, admitting that the show got slightly too crowded in season two. “Karla Bennett going was more of me feeling like everything got overstuffed in the middle of the second season. I literally couldn’t afford to have all these people in an episode. We couldn’t make the show anymore. We had to pay service to all these different characters…so they just started dying one after the other,” he added with a laugh.
Silverstein added that last season’s conclusion was not intended to be a series finale, as some fans have speculated. “I had always planned three seasons. [Nikita] taking over Division was a paradigm shift to me, it was never an ending,” he explained, though he added that “Past this season I don’t have a plan. What I’m hoping is halfway through this season I begin to come up with a plan for the next one. ”
He already has some idea within one of the issues that will be addressed this season: “As [season three] goes on and Division starts to become something useful to the government, they go ‘Hey, maybe we should keep this running?’ and then does [Nikita] have a conflict with that? She was always fighting against the man, now she kind of is the man, that’s going to come to a head and I think could explode out into more stories.”
Nikita returns on Friday, October 19 on The CW.
For more from Brittany Frederick, follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.