"This is Nikita's version of Inception," Melinda Clarke tells TVGuide.com about Thursday's episode. "Amanda is injecting Alex with a hallucinogen to give her this waking dream state in order to extract the information she wants."
The chemical interrogation will make many fans happy. "They really want Amanda to be truly evil," she says. "That's the fan response: We need her to be as bad as possible and to be really evil. At one point someone asked for some violence."
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Clarke doesn't think of her character as a villain, however. "That could be the kiss of death, to play a character as a bad guy. That's when things get unrealistic," she says. "Amanda is responsible for training these recruits to the best of their ability. If that means a little bit of torture, then so be it."
On Thursday's episode, "Echoes," Amanda is unaware that Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) is Nikita's (Maggie Q) mole in Division, but suspects that Alex is hiding something besides her sordid past as a junkie Russian sex slave. Under the guise of helping Alex overcome her reawakened addiction, Amanda administers a psychoactive drug in hopes that the Division operative will spill her secrets.
"It's a real drug called Ibogaine, a hallucinogen that's used to treat opiate addiction," Clarke explains. "It gives people this waking dream state and they experience visions representing their deepest fears or they play past dramas in their life. So Amanda's obviously studied this drug and maybe she's used it on herself. Alex is not the first person she's used it on."
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Whereas the roles of the other Division employees — head honcho Percy (Xander Berkeley), recruit leader Michael (Shane West) and technical expert Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) — are fairly straightforward, Amanda's role is open to interpretation. At times we've seen her instruct Alex on proper seduction, torture Nikita psychologically and tap into her knowledge of Russian body language.
Clarke offers up a few theories about her character's mysterious past. "I think to do what Amanda does, she's gone through so much that she's desensitized, more than most. She might be operating on a completely different psychological level than most people," she says. "I think Amanda's motivations just go deeper. It could be an abusive background, it could be truly ego, or maybe she's just a little bit off and on lithium."
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And despite last week's episode, when Michael enlisted her help to stage a rescue operation behind Percy's back, Clarke doesn't expect Amanda to have any obvious friendships or alliances.
"Never truly trust Amanda," she warns. "These characters tend to use each other when it's convenient. So Michael giving Amanda trust, that might happen one episode but it might not happen in the next. So keeping things from Percy might happen in one episode, but you never know. Nothing's ever consistent."
Do you think Amanda is truly evil? Do you want her to be?
Nikita airs on Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.