Owen Elliot has left the building.
Unfortunately, said persona — a no-nonsense, drug-smuggling Army vet named Sam Matthews — isn’t nearly as compassionate or appealing as Owen. What’s more, he has some serious trouble playing nice with others; when you’re part of the Division Super Friends, that might become an issue.
Alas, Sam is here to stay — for the foreseeable future, at least — and Owen is… Well, Owen is still in there somewhere. Nikita fans will just have to keep tuning in to see when and where we’ll get glimpses of the erstwhile Guardian.
Here, Sawa describes to TVLine his initial reaction to playing Sam instead of Owen, teases what’s ahead for his man on a non-Division mission and reveals why his “new” character will grow on viewers.
TVLINE | Sam is so different than Owen. How did you feel when you learned about this drastic change?
To be honest with you, when they first told me about it, I kind of pouted for a couple days. [Laughs] I didn’t know if I wanted to become a bad guy — not that Sam is a bad guy. He’s bad-ish, because you don’t know where it’s going to go. But after a couple days I just went with it, and now I couldn’t love him more. I love playing Sam.
TVLINE | Did you approach it as if he were a completely new character? Or are there still shades of Owen in there somewhere?
There are definitely shades of Owen in there. Owen was a little bit of Sam. I wanted him to be a little different than Percy and Amanda; I wanted to be a different flavor than those two. My whole goal was to make him a likeable bad guy. In Sam’s head, he’s the good guy. He thinks he’s good and so that’s how I’ve been doing it.
TVLINE | I’d say that the relationship between Owen/Sam and Nikita underwent the most significant dynamic change because of this revelation.
In tonight’s episode, Nikita’s mind is blown. This is just another crappy thing happening to her in her crazy world. Maggie [Q] and I did get together a little bit to discuss both of our thoughts on the relationship between Sam and Nikita, and also when she’ll sense a little bit of Owen in him.
TVLINE | And after years of tiptoeing around it, Michael and Owen/Sam finally got into a full-fledged brawl!
For two days after that fight, Shane [West] and I were limping! My arm was sore and his foot was sore — we went at it! [Laughs] The stunt coordinator showed us some stuff and then we just gave it our all because it was the last big fight for both of us this season, together. Shane handled it and I did my best. We didn’t use any stunt people either. It was a lot of fun.
TVLINE | Given that Owen is definitely still a part of Sam, do you think there’s a place for him in the group? Can he truly replace Owen in viewers’ hearts?
I think Sam can be likeable. Owen was a toned-down version of Sam — he was Sam with a bit more heart — and we could see Sam get that back. But in these episodes coming up, Sam is all about himself. We do drop little hints of him caring. There’s a moment where Nikita is tied up and you can see in his eyes that he remembers having feelings for her… But I think the audience is going to learn to love Sam… I hope! [Laughs] He’s a different kind of bad guy.
TVLINE | That definitely came through in his showdown with Amanda. He scared her — and we rarely, if ever, see her rattled. I think fans can rally behind that guy.
My thoughts on how Sam feels about Amanda is that he just doesn’t buy her sh-t. You know what I mean? He’s too smart and too cunning to buy into her sh-t. He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not about that.’
TVLINE | Last we saw, Owen was trapped in Division with an uprising going on around him. How, if at all, will he partake in these events?
One of the writers told me that [showrunner] Craig [Silverstein]‘s plan going into the next episode is that Sam is just so annoyed with everybody; all he wants to do is get out, get his money and be on his way. When the whole place goes on lockdown, he couldn’t be more annoyed. [Laughs] He’s just done with these people and he wants out. So, that’s where he is now, and then he’ll hit some speed bumps that he’s got to manage.