[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Nikita's series finale. Read at your own risk!]
Nikita and her merry band of rogue agents are no more.
After four seasons of sacrifice, betrayals, lost loves and lost causes, Nikita's series finale on Friday -- surprise, surprise! -- had a (relatively) happy ending. Although the gang had lost their analyst Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) just last week, each of the remaining team members survived the finale and had a rosy future ahead of them. Plus: They caught Amanda (Melinda Clarke) and locked her up in a top-secret basement prison. "I think we knew there would be a general resolution, that Michael and Nikita (Shane West, Maggie Q) would end up together," series creator Craig Silverstein tells TVGuide.com. "I definitely knew I wanted a happy ending.
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"There were some pitches around the room about sacrificial deaths of Nikita, and I didn't think that was right," he continues. "But we did consider scenarios in where Nikita was a lone wolf in the end and was always going to be this elusive figure and could never quite settle down. I could see an ending like that, but with all of the plot that was going on condensed into the six episodes, there was no way to really effectively set that up. It would have felt unsatisfying watching her go off alone."
Here's what else Silverstein had to say about killing Ryan, keeping Amanda alive, wish fulfillment and what's next:
Was it important that Nikita go rogue again to make it come full circle?
Craig Silverstein: Yeah, that came about kind of a bit closer to the end, toying with these ideas of Nikita giving into her dark side and fooling the audience about that in order to fool Amanda basically. The only way to get there, of course, was to have Ryan die.
Poor guy. Let's talk about him. Was it a difficult decision to kill off Ryan? Why did you decide to do so?
Silverstein: Well, he was the only single guy in the office. [Laughs] So no one would miss him. We knew we didn't have to deal with the grief of a girlfriend. They could all mourn him together. But also, we needed a sacrifice, someone close on the team to die in order [for us] to believe that Nikita would go on this dark rampage, but also to understand how heroic it was for her to not give into that and trick Amanda.
But he did get a little cameo at the end...
Silverstein: He got a great cameo at the end, and I think his death was incredibly powerful. I love the way that Nick Copus shot the sequence that led up to Ryan's death itself, which was very raw and real because he's not a trained assassin like the rest of them. It had a different and more desperate feel to it, his whole last fight. That was just terrific.
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Surprise! You kept Amanda alive! What was the decision behind this? Was it just because this is the worst torture you could devise for her?
Silverstein: I think so. And also, a violent death for Amanda, I think, would have been satisfying in the moment, and then not so much afterwards. Amanda was never -- even if she was physically capable -- she wasn't a real physical threat that needed to be physically destroyed. It was much more interesting to beat her on her own terms, which was through deception and wit.
Even Owen/Sam (Devon Sawa) got a happy ending: He got to be part of Olex at last! Did that have anything to do with fans clamoring for that pairing?
Silverstein: That was something we had been eyeing as far back as Season 1. We always thought it would be interesting, and I wish we actually had more time to develop that because that story line suffered because of the short order. In particular, that story line would have been better with more episodes.
I was happy because at least Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) gets some happiness. She has the most dead ex-lovers on the series, right? This bunch has a lot of dead exes.
Silverstein: Oh, yeah. She did. Dating her or Nikita was a very dangerous prospect for any guy.
Beyond the open source anarchy, did you have anything else in mind for Birkhoff's (Aaron Stanford) future? Marriage to Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood) perhaps?
Silverstein: Yeah, I think so. In fact, Sonya was going to be in the final episode, but Lyndie had gotten onto Sleepy Hollow. It became a schedule issue. It was not in our plan to not have her in the final.
Speaking of Birkhoff, thank you for the Lionel and Peller exchange. Was Judd Nelson who you always had in mind for the role?
Silverstein: If you had to say this is Birkhoff's dad, we had to find somebody that kind of made sense. We had seen Birkhoff getting birthed from this rebellious guy from the end of The Breakfast Club. It sort of made sense.
Just curious -- did no one, not even Amanda, think to make a Nikita double?
Silverstein: Oh, sure. You've got to believe that we talked about that in the writers' room. We talked about that or making a Michael double. There was not enough time. I'm sure we're going to have people say the doubles idea is cheesy in and of itself, but it really would have been if we had pushed a Nikita double thing. But we definitely came up with scenarios for it. We were going to kill Nikita, and everybody would go, "No!" But it's a double. That kind of thing.
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Can you explain the decision behind the episode titles, why they were paired? ("Wanted" and "Dead or Alive," "Set-Up" and "Pay-Off," "Bubble" and "Canceled")
Silverstein: It started with the idea that at some point there was an air pattern discussed in which the season would be broken up into three two-parters. That was what the initial idea was, so in breaking the stories we approached it that way. That's why the titles match each other in twos. We thought it would be three separate nights. But on DVD and Netflix, each episode had to live independently as well.
And then "Bubble" was a working title that we had because we had always talked about this scenario in which Nikita was put in a bubble in which she believes she had won. If Mr. Jones (David S. Lee) had his way, she would have lived out her entire life in that bubble and never known that the group was still operating. If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. Of course, the bubble burst. And then for "Canceled," there was some email chain where we were batting back and forth [on] episode titles. I kept saying, "It's going to be 'Canceled,' because it fit the Nikita lore -- where agents get 'canceled.'" And then we realized how well it paired with "Bubble" -- kind of a grim in-joke. It's been a bubble show every season. We said, "It's got to be called that."
What were some of the things on the list of "to do" that you finally got to this last season? What didn't you get to?
Silverstein: We wanted to bring back Ramon (Simon Kassianides), we wanted to bring back Cyrus (Isaiah Mustafa), we wanted to bring back Percy (Xander Berkeley). There are a bunch of people who were on the wishlist. We also had this wish to show how in-depth it was, the process by which they made these doubles. We didn't have enough time to really get into it as much as we really wanted to or as much as we had already worked out behind the scenes. There are some loose trheads out there that were abandoned -- but I'm sure for some fans they won't mind they were abandoned -- like Michael's son and blondie Cassandra (Helena Mattsson). But honestly, I would have liked to have brought that back and pay that off or at least addressed it. Alex's mom -- these are things that we never forgot, but there's limited time. And they didn't work out as well as we wanted them to. I don't think there was ever anything we did on the show where we said, "OK, pretend that never happened." We always remembered that it happened.
Was having the plane this season something you've always wanted to do?
Silverstein: No, that was something that occurred. That was a lot of fun. But I will tell you -- we were really, really trying to destroy the plane because we knew that beginning with Nikita's lair and culminating with Division, even Falling Waters, the beach house -- every single lair they've had has been destroyed. So we really wanted to crash the plane and have them parachute off of it, so we could have the perfect score of blowing up headquarters.
Is there any story behind finally revealing Michael's last name?
Silverstein: In Episode 5, they're having that romantic moment, and Nikita says something about, "Now you can go back to being Michael Bishop." We knew he was Michael Bishop for a long time, but it's just that we noticed that fans were demanding it and wanting to know what his last name was. For us, it was never a big deal, but it was a game we started to play, like how could we avoid it. I think we had some moment where he visited his family's grave and he was standing in such a way what it blocked his last name. That was just a game we were playing to frustrate the people who really wanted to know his last name because we thought it was funny.
Did you clue in Shane early on to the last name?
Silverstein: I think we did. We were like, "Here it is." He was like, "Cool, what does that mean?" "Nothing, it's just a last name." But for us, it's a reference to Sneakers, in which Robert Redford's name is Martin Bishop, and we all love that movie. So it's a Sneakers shout-out.
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Go back to the start ... do you remember your hopes for the show and if any of those things changed?
Silverstein: It became more sci-fi than I had expected it to be. But the only real big change in my hopes and plans had to do with the Nikita-Alex relationship. My original plan was to build them into unlikely rivals, that Alex was going to take a darker turn. Not that she would become an enemy, but that they would find themselves on opposite sides and she would have taken over Zetrov. Of course, you saw that story line piece by piece get sealed off and tied off, resolved. That one, I'd say, is the biggest shift from my grand plan to where we ended up.
Can you think back to some favorite scenes over the years?
Silverstein: The moments that I remember the most were the moments that surprised me, like Birkhoff getting his hand hammered by Amanda. We knew the scene and we knew her line, but we just didn't anticipate it being so brutal. I was really surprised by that. Also, I really loved in the seventh episode of the second season where Nikita ascends the building to get at the Wall Street guy who she thought killed Ryan. The first of the three times that Ryan dies on the show. The solution that had come up from our producer narc in Toronto ... to plug some device into the window washer grooves was such a brilliant idea because we had just written your standard old harpoon and grapple hook type of thing. This was so much better. And then I had always loved the moment from the 11th episode in the first season, "All the Way," where Nikita was trapped in Division, hanging by chains. And Alex weakens the ceiling and Nikita rips the chains out and uses the chains as weapons. I don't think I found past that point a more effective visual statement of what the show was all about -- that Nikita was going to take the chains that had locked her in and would turn them back on the people that had chained her. It's real simple symbolism, but it didn't hit you over the head with it.
What's next for you?
Silverstein: Next is something that although it's set in the world of spies, it's completely different. Turn for AMC is based on a true story never told until now about America's first spy network under the direct supervision of George Washington. It's an extremely exciting and exotic time that we all think we know, but we actually really don't.
How difficult is it to write for this time period?
Silverstein: It's definitely challenging because you're dealing with people who actually existed and trying to find their voice in how they spoke. We of course don't have any records of that. We have records of how they wrote letters to each other, which was very formal and flowery, but I don't think gave you an insight into how they really spoke to each other. So that was a fun challenge to figure out and take a guess at. And stepping back into a completely different world, which almost feels like an alternate reality, like a Game of Thrones-thing but it's all true.
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