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Nikita – Shane West, life after Division

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Nikita, 2.05 - Shane West
Episode 2.05 "Looking Glass" - Michael (Shane West) © 2011 The CW Network

If you’re a cast member on the CW spy drama Nikita, the only thing that’s certain is that nothing is certain. Characters change allegiance, reveal hidden agendas, or get killed off with stunning rapidity. And perhaps nobody has changed as much as Division operative Michael (played by Shane West), who begins the series by training Nikita (played by Maggie Q) only to find that that their relationship becomes infinitely more complicated than he ever anticipated.

According to Shane, the first two seasons of Nikita have been packed with more twists and turns for his character than the entire run of any previous series he’s worked on. During a recent East Coast promotional visit, he sat down to discuss some of the highlights so far…

Do you think there are any major secrets in Michael’s past that we still have to discover?

Nikita 2.08 - Shane West and Maggie Q
Episode 2.08 "London Calling" - Michael (Shane West) and Nikita (Maggie Q) © 2011 The CW Network

That’s a good question.

During the pilot, Craig [Silverstein, the executive producer] told me what he planned on happening to Michael during the first season and everything he said has happened.

I was comfortable and happy with that and loved what they wrote, so the first season was a breeze for me in that sense.

This season has been a lot more difficult, because a lot of things have been a little more secretive.

So yes, I think there already is something else being brought up from his past that me as Shane knows nothing about and wasn’t told about.

But I like it and I think it’s going to move the story along.

Do you think Michael would ever make a move back to Division?

That’s certainly been brought up. It really depends on what’s happening in Division. That’s chaotic as well, with what’s going on with Amanda and Percy, the addition of Sean and the big addition of Oversight looking over Division and controlling it to an extent.

One of the thoughts has been that Nikita and Michael go back to Division over time, or Michael goes back to Division and runs it the correct way. That’s what he wanted to do.

It was mentioned towards the end of the first season, that he wanted to possibly give Division a chance and one of the reasons he had joined to begin with was to do the right things.

Maybe they didn’t do bad things all the time, so that could happen too. But when do you do those things? In the second season, or five or six years down the line? It’s hard to say.

We’re not used to seeing Michael and Nikita’s relationship in a good place. Can we expect that to change?

Nikita 2.06 - Shane West and Maggie Q
Episode 2.06 "343 Walnut Lane" - Michael (Shane West) and Nikita (Maggie Q) © 2011 The CW Network

Oh yeah, definitely. We kept saying, ‘It’s very easy to bring them together; it’s very difficult to pull them apart!’

We implore the writers all the time- or at least I do- if you’re going to break them up or separate them or have some problems that destroy their happy home, you’ve got to do it correctly.

You’ve got to do it in a way that where they can come back together if that’s what we do, so we’re already working on that.

Surprisingly it’s Michael not Nikita that has the first screw-up in the relationship. Nikita is usually in that position, where she’s always usually making decisions for everyone whether they’re right or wrong and so far has been wrong a lot.

I keep waiting for her to be correct on an issue, but Michael is the fall guy for this first split, even though it’s not really broken. Nothing is very concrete in the world of Nikita, that’s for sure.

If most of your character’s past has already been revealed, does that make your job easier as an actor?

Nikita 2.06 - Shane West and Maggie Q
Episode 2.06 "343 Walnut Lane" - Michael (Shane West) and Nikita (Maggie Q) © 2011 The CW Network

I got fortunate, that what they told me ended up happening, but it didn’t have to and they were all surprises even in season one.

They weren’t surprises to me, because they told me that was going to happen, but surprises in the sense of when they happened from episode to episode because we didn’t get those scripts until the last second. But yes, in retrospect, season one was a lot easier.

I have no clue where this season is going. I do know that Craig has blocked out, even from episode one, the first three seasons, so He clearly knows what’s going on. I’m now in a situation like a lot of the other characters are; how Melinda [Clarke] and Xander [Berkely] have always been.

I don’t think Aaron [Stanford] worries about it, because he’s just enjoying playing Birkhoff and we all enjoy him on the show too, but we’re all in the situation of learning it little by little. That’s how it starts on a new show.

In an ideal world, what would you still like to see for your character and the series?

Nikita 2.06 - Shane West
Episode 2.06 "343 Walnut Lane" - Michael (Shane West) © 2011 The CW Network

I’ve put my faith and trust in these people and they haven’t let me down, that’s for sure. I’m very happy with that, but I’ve never done so much in one year before. It usually takes seasons and seasons of building relationships and things like that.

In the original series of La Femme Nikita — which ran for five or six years — I think they didn’t kiss until the final season.

That buildup made for great ratings, so that would have been my original idea, but what’s neat about our characters is not about bringing them together so quickly.

It’s all the dynamic things that can happen after that. What is going to pull them apart? What is going to bring them back together?

My only request with the show involving Michael is that no matter what happens with these two characters, whether it lasts two, five or ten years, as long as it comes back to them as far as being together, I would be very happy with that.

I think breaking them up and moving them on would be a little too painful for the end of the show.

I know Aaron said in episode eight last year, ‘I think Birkhoff is going to die!’ and Melinda is always saying, ‘Amanda has to go at some point!’ but you just don’t know.That’s what keeps you on your toes. We’re not doing a bunch of episodes where we’re like, ‘Oh, I hated that one! I can’t believe the show went that route!’

If that was the case, I’d be worried, but I’m not.

Nikita Season 2, Episode 10: Guardians airs December 2, 2011