Credit: The CW

At the end of season 3, Nikita left behind her team (not to mention her engagement ring) to go on the run. She had been framed for the assassination of the president, and she realized that the best way to protect those she loved most from Amanda was to get out of Dodge. The good news is that Nikita’s absence from the U.S. won’t last long. We have an exclusive video that shows Nikita’s determination to get back to her team.

But first, why is she so ready to come back after three months on the run? We talked with Maggie Q about Nikita’s decision to return, her first run-in with Michael, and what we can expect from the series’ final six episodes:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Season four picks up about three months or so after the finale. What can you tell us about Nikita’s mental state in the premiere?

MAGGIE Q: We allude to — I don’t know if it’s in the first or second episode — but where she’s been and what she’s gone through during that time, and she certainly, when we find her at the beginning of the season, she’s not the same person that you watched for three seasons. She’s not hopeful, dutiful. She’s lost something, for sure. And I think that it’s not going to be overt. It’s going to be pretty subtle, but Nikita, her last fight is not to clear her own name for the sake of clearing her name, but the fact that clearing her name will actually keep the people that she loves safe for good is what she actually wants. So it’s still not really about her but about how she can give these six people back their life without her. That’s still her M.O. She resurfaces to make that happen, but that’s still where her head’s at.

From the episode description, it sounds like the presence of a reporter is what pulls her back?

Yes, she sees an opening, an opportunity to reach someone who she actually thinks will not listen because he believes her or because he cares about her fate, but will because he’s a greedy journalist, and he wants an exclusive on something that they would never have access to, so she thinks that’s her window.

In the clip we have, we see her steal a cop car and drive off. Is that the moment when she decides to return?

No, she’s decided already. You’re going to see her cross over the border back into the U.S. at the top of the episode. It’s bizarre how she’s been gone and then she just throws herself back into the public eye. For me, even when I read it, it was a little bit jolting, because it’s so dangerous for her to be anywhere near any of this. But she sees it as the last opportunity to clear her name and make this happen, and whether this works out for her or not, she doesn’t care.

Okay, we have to talk about Michael. In the season three finale, she left her engagement ring behind. What is that first interaction like in the premiere, both with Michael and the rest of her team?

It is interesting, and they’re all sort of — when I say all, it’s like Birkhoff and Michael who are mad at her — the dynamic with the team is sort of the dynamic with the team in that when you have friends, somebody that you know and love very well, even if they do something you don’t agree with, when you see them, there’s an overwhelming sense of joy and relief at the fact that, first that they’re safe, and second, that you’ll always love them no matter what they do, no matter how crazy they are. And that really is her relationship with the team. When it comes to Michael, it’s a little different, because it’s so much more personal. Michael’s really hurt. Michael’s not in a place where he can see why she did what she did. To him it all seems sort of selfish.

By the end of the premiere, do you feel like the band is back together or is there still some unspoken awkwardness?

Just between him [Michael] and her I would say. That’s what the group’s going to have to carry is, ”Well we have to do this thing, but how are we all going to work and play well together?” meaning Michael and Nikita.

Now let’s chat about Amanda! Division headquarters has been destroyed, so is this season all about the fight with Amanda and The Shop?

Yeah. Well, it’s weird, so there was The Shop, and now above The Shop is The Group. And The Group is basically Mr. Jones, her partner, and the people who fund and manipulate The Shop and all The Shops around the world, globally. So it’s kind of about how Amanda is working her way through The Group to not only take over their operations but also how that is weaved in with her purpose for Nikita.

We have to assume she’s going to keep going after Nikita’s loved ones, right?

Yes. Definitely. The funny thing is that she kind of doesn’t really have the resources to do that, so what’s weird is that her focus starts to tunnel back to Nikita, but it’s a whole different dynamic than we’ve seen in the first few seasons.

You all had six episodes to wrap everything up. Does this season move faster, have a different feel?

Oh yeah, way faster. Like too fast. I got into it and realized that wrapping up the season with six was a lot harder, just because story lines start to move into turbo. If we had done a full season, even a 13-episode season, Michael and Nikita wouldn’t have seen each other until episode five or six. There’s no way that we’d throw them in together in the first episode. And we went back and forth, and we were very confused about how to make that work. But if we didn’t bring them together right away in the first episode in a shocking sort of, ”Oh geez, here you are in my face,” there would’ve been no time to actually get into what they’re going to go through for the next six episodes. So that had to happen right away, which was a little unfortunate. I wasn’t in love with the fact that she saw the team or Michael that quickly, because if you think about what it took for her to leave in the third season, it was huge! I had some really big character problems with that quickly being in the vicinity of people that she loves that much, that she sacrificed that much for, and putting them in danger again, essentially, because that’s not what she would do. But how do you keep the whole cast apart? So it definitely had its challenges, and the writers did a great job. I feel bad for them, because they were really struggling with how to give it what it deserved but also within these parameters. It was quite difficult.

I saw an interview where you talked about this being the season of identity, and us finding out about Nikita before The Division, maybe even meeting her parents?

With the six [episodes], we couldn’t even get into that. I wanted to, and we do actually start the season with young Nikita.

In the premiere?

That’s in the premiere, yeah. We start the show with young Nikita. We’ve seen Nikita when she was a street kid, we’ve seen her in the moments where she first got into Division, and then when she was already a recruit, but this is like raw. We’re going to see Nikita 48 hours into Division, 24 hours into Division, which is still pretty raw and still in that animal state she was in as a street kid. So that’s going to be interesting, but because of the length of the season, we weren’t really able to go into … I still have that question: Why is Nikita who she is? Why is she so good? Why is she the best that they’ve ever had? There has to be a reason. In the first and second season, we did talk about that, and we were excited to get into it, but the story lines go where they go, and I think the fourth would’ve been the season where we got into that had it been longer, but I still think people are really going to like how we, we stay within the central characters.

Were you happy with the conclusion? Do you think fans will feel satisfied walking away from the show?

I think so. I really do. The writers did an amazing job. Craig, our creator, what a challenge to take all the years of work and intricacy and everything that you’ve woven for these characters and then have to end it so quickly. So I feel like they did a real justice to where everyone’s going and what the future holds for them essentially.

Watch an exclusive video from Nikita‘s premiere below:

Nikita‘s fourth and final season premieres Friday, Nov. 22, at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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Maggie Q is a badass spy assassin by day…  badass spy assassin by night, too
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