*** Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the Killjoys Season 4 episode “The Kids Are Alright?” ***
There’s no such thing as war without a few casualties, especially when you’re fighting against an ancient alien. That doesn’t mean it hurts any less when you lose a friend. This time the Killjoys family lost Pip, played by Atticus Mitchell, who stepped up to sacrifice himself to save the team from annihilation. It was a beautiful but heartbreaking end for Pip, especially in the light of how hard Zeph (Kelly McCormack) worked to save him. But, in the end, he knew it was the right thing.
The TV Junkies spoke with Mitchell about Pip’s final moments and what it meant for the character. He also shared his thoughts on Pip’s arc this season, his relationship with Zeph, and his experience on the Killjoys set.
The TV Junkies: At what point in filming Season 4 did you find out Pip wasn’t going to make it?
Atticus Mitchell: I think it was a month before that episode [filmed]. It was probably midway through. We were on episode 5 or 6, something like that.
TTVJ: How did you feel about it once you got the news?
AM: Obviously sad. I got a call directly from Adam Barken, the showrunner, which was very sweet. He said, ‘we’ve tabled a bunch of ideas. We’ve been brainstorming a bunch, and we like to end every season with some kind of meaningful event and usually it’s a death. We found the one that we’ve written for you is the best one that we have. It’s the most emotional one, so we’re going to roll with it.’
I was sad to have to leave, but upon reading the script and how I go out, it doesn’t really get much better than what you saw. Sacrificing yourself to save everybody is kind of what every actor hopes for if they’re going to die. You might as well go out that way. So it was bittersweet. It was nice to have such a great ending, but obviously very not fun to leave such a great cast and set.
TTVJ: Pip was so calm about the situation and while talking to Zeph. How do you think he was able to come to terms with what was happening?
AM: I think he came to terms with it pretty early on. There’s the scene between the two of them when she’s trying to get the stuff out of his head, and he kind of disappears for two episodes. But I think within those two episodes you just kind of come to terms and you let yourself be comfortable with what you’re going to be comfortable with. So I think from the get-go as soon as he sees that this is his opportunity to really do some good and really help the team out, he takes it.
He’s obviously not as smart or as science savvy as Zeph, but he can tell by looking at her face that if she can’t figure this out, nobody can. He is a dead man walking. So it’s now up to him to decide how he’s going to spend his last moments and how he’s going to go out. I mean, it’s very similar in the way of me getting the call and finding out how [my character is] going to die. He’s doing the same thing; it’s like, ‘well, at least I get to go out this way and it’s not something pathetic.’ At least he’s not strapped to a gurney and something goes wrong during surgery. I think the opportunity to be a hero really overshadows any fear or doubt in his brain.
TTVJ: It’s been great to see Pip grow and mature this season. How has it been for you to see him go through that progression this year?
AM: It’s been really interesting. I mean, full disclosure, I really loved when he got introduced and how much of a dick he was in Season 3. That’s kind of the main thing that really latched me onto the character and why I was so excited to be brought back because I get to be a complete asshole. But pretty much as soon as Season 4 started we saw a completely different side of him. It was fun to explore that [side of him]. It’s not even a conversation of what was more fun than the other–I think obviously being a dick is more fun than being straight arrow–but his arc in terms of trying to be the straight arrow and trying to make something happen with Zeph was a lot of fun to explore. Hence how sad I was to get killed because I really wanted to see where that could take them over another season. But c’est la vie.
TTVJ: Their relationship had a really interesting progession this season as well. It started as a little more comedic, but turned into this very thoughtful take on when two people care for each other but aren’t really on the same level with what they want. What were your thoughts on how that relationship progressed?
AM: At the beginning of it, Kelly and I were so unsure about where it was going to go and what was going to happen. So in the early stages of Zeph saying, ‘just sex for me’ and Pip going, ‘oh no, I might actually love you, by the by,’ it was hard for us to gauge how quickly this was happening. But as it went on we got it and it made sense. Everything just flowed naturally and the writing really took us to a place where everything then felt comfortable. [That was] the most important part, so that by the time I kick the bucket you believe her tears. Because I think in Pip she ultimately found what she always looked for in Johnny or in her crushes. She found somebody who completely accepted her and was on board from the get-go and then you know, sacrifices himself and becomes an absolute hero. How do you not fall in love with a guy like that? He’s grade-A, he’s top shelf.
TTVJ: His last words to her were “meet me in the middle.” What do you think he meant by that?
AM: Oh, I don’t know. [laughs] That’s Julian [Doucet]’s way of just giving him one final one-liner. I don’t know if it’s necessarily funny–under the circumstances it’s pretty sad–but it might make sense in the future. Who knows! Or it might just be what it is.
TTVJ: What stands out to you as one of the most enjoyable parts about working on Killjoys?
AM: I mean, I thought initially it was how close I lived to the set. I used to live in the Beaches and so my commute was maybe 10 minutes every day, which was amazing. It doesn’t get any better than that. That was fantastic. I can sleep in and don’t have to worry about anything. But apart from how convenient at all was, it really is one of the best [sets]. I mean, top to bottom, the crew, the cast, everybody is a treat to be around. There are no sour grapes. And usually when you come onto a show that [is a few seasons in] there’s a hierarchy and you just kind of experience it, but here was the first time where there really wasn’t much of anything. The leads like Hannah [John-Kamen], Luke [Macfarlane] and Aaron [Ashmore], they wear it proudly, but holy cow, are they easy to talk to and get along with. Just a breeze to work with.
Absolutely the best part for me was the beginning of this season. We were blocking the first scene of Season 4 and Stefan [Pleszczynski], the director, came up to me, as he usually does, because I had thrown in an ad-libbed line. It’s kind of my thing, I just like to play around. But since we had so many budgetary restrictions that season we were kind of time-pressed. So he pulled me aside and I said, ‘I know, I know, I know, don’t worry, I won’t ad-lib at all, I know we’re on a time crunch and I know time is money, so don’t worry about it.’ And he said, ‘no, no, no. Keep doing that. This is why we hired you. Throw in as much as possible, give us everything, and I will tell you if it doesn’t work, but it usually always works and we love how playful you are. Please keep that going.’ That really meant a lot to me as an actor and a human being who enjoys getting compliments. So it’s been a fantastic ride from day one, pretty much.
TTVJ: Can you think of any ad-libs you did this season that made it on the show?
AM: It’s kind of been a blur and I made up maybe half of the things I’ve had to say, but probably just because I forgot what the other lines were. But, I don’t know, I think my favorite wasn’t even an ad-lib, it was just a line. Instead of saying ‘shenanigans’ I said ‘shuh-na-na-gains’ which doesn’t make any sense, but it made the final cut and I’ve never been more proud of mumbling in my entire life.
[In this episode] the scene where it’s me and Dutch crawling through vents, she pulls me out, wondering if I’m okay and I gave her a kiss on the cheek and said ‘thank you.’ That was ad-libbed and I think I could hear a couple of crew members and somebody on the camera try desperately to hold in laughter. We almost lost it there, but that was a nice one too.
TTVJ: Last question: I spoke with Kelly McCormack recently, who pitched an idea for you two to be on a show called Space Bums where you jump into different universes, since you’ve been on Killjoys and The Expanse together. So where do you think you should go next?
AM: I mean, there are no limits there. The outer reaches of space are astronomical and endless, so we could really go anywhere. I mean, you could start with Star Trek. I hear Discovery is killing it, and that new Jean-Luc Picard show is coming out. We could sneak our way in the middle of those, it would make tons of sense. Scientifically, you can do whatever you want. But I don’t think we should even stop in space. Just any fantasy/sci-fi region would work because Kelly is such a fantastic actress and it helps working around her. Anything she does makes me look a lot better, so hell, throw us in The Matrix. Make Lord of the Rings make sense somehow. And that would be just a kick-ass show, I think, personally.
What did you think about Pip’s final farewell? Sound off in the comments below.
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.