Killjoys: Adam Barken Talks “Greening Pains”

Bell Media / Syfy
Bell Media / Syfy

*** This article contains major spoilers for the Killjoys Season 4 episode “Greening Pains” ***

This week’s Killjoys had everything: rapidly aging newborns, drug-induced fight sequences, Hullen-cuddles with Turin (Patrick Garrow), and a love triangle between a man, his AI, and the digital consciousness he helped kidnap. The very fun “Greening Pains”, written by showrunner Adam Barken and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, also gave us some vitals clue about the road ahead for Team Awesomeforce, now that we know why Khlyen (Rob Stewart) told Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) that story and that the Lady is actively searching for the Hullen heir.

The TV Junkies is joined by episode scribe Barken this week to offer some insight as to what’s to come in the second half of the season. He also talks about leaning in to a classic sci-fi trope, creating some new and interesting character dynamics in the episode, and continues to not make us feel better about what’s happening to Pip (Atticus Mitchell).

 

The TV Junkies: Luke Macfarlane was a standout this week for me. He delivered some of the best humor in the episode, while still bringing so much emotion in D’av’s anxieties over becoming a father. As the writer, what was your process trying to balance those two elements?

Adam Barken: I think Luke has been a standout–amongst standouts–this whole season so far, because he’s had to play the quieter, internalized anxiety, anger and fortitude of a leader whose partners are either missing in action–Dutch–or batshit crazy–Hullen Johnny (Aaron Ashmore). So I’m super happy he’s getting the recognition for that.

As for writing it, I’ve always had an affinity for D’av. I’m not sure why–it sure ain’t the rock hard abs and way with a gun. Maybe it’s being an older brother, or being someone who always thinks they can can fix something if they just try harder. In any case, from Season 1 I’ve always felt that writing D’av was the easiest for me. But this season, that balance you mention was definitely a challenge. The humor maybe less so–Luke is so naturally funny it’s fairly easy to come up with jokes and situations you know he’ll slay. But weaving in the anxiousness and self-doubt definitely took a few passes, as we all looked for the best way to show this “man of action” struggling with questions of fatherhood, responsibility, and the anxiety of his own family’s influence. Stay tuned for that last one–we’ll be exploring the Jaqobis family tree more as the season progresses.

As for my process, pretty much same as it always is–have fun breaking it in the room, go into deep despair writing it, then claw my way out with the help of the writing team and genius director Stefan [Pleszczynski]. Lather, rinse, repeat!

Bell Media / Syfy
Bell Media / Syfy

TTVJ: It was pretty clear that the baby wouldn’t be a baby for long, but I’m not sure anyone predicted we’d see him age as quickly as he did. What were some of the factors in determining his age moving forward in the series?

AB: Since we were pretty sure people had guessed we’d be using Ye Olde Fast Growing Baby Sci-Fi Trope, I’m glad if folks are surprised at least with how fast we did it. It really was a function of story-telling. We have ten episodes to tell a full season’s story, and we knew we just didn’t have time for D’av to be running around with a baby bjorn–as adorbs as that would be. It felt like the best way to do it was right after the birth–giving our team no time to rest. That’s the driving energy of this season: being on the run, never getting a chance to catch your breath, go!

It also adds to the D’av’s anxiety. He’s just barely dealing with the fact he’s a dad. Most new parents get a few months at least of “holy crap, is this for real? Naw, can’t be for real. Hm. There’s still a baby in my house and they need food and love. Must be for real…” Before D’av’s even had a chance to work out a feeding schedule he’s got a teenager. When in doubt, crank it to 11.

As for looking forward… now that we have this young man and wonderful actor Jaeden Noel–whose character shall be named next episode, not to worry–we intend to let the audience get to know him, and let Team Awesomeforce figure out how he fits into their family, and their adventure. But, again, it won’t go where you think. Hopefully.

TTVJ: Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen) had an unexpected pep talk from Johnny in what was one of the most emotional moments of the episode. Will we have the chance to see more of these two as they both continue to deal with everything that’s happened?

AB: Johhny and Delle Seyah have a bond that no one else shares. Not just Pawter, but now also being Hullen and then… not being Hullen. So any time they get together, it’s special. But Delle Seyah and D’av also have a deep bond now, and we explore that one going forward as well. Basically, any chance we have to put Delle Seyah up against anyone in our show, we take it. How could we not?

TTVJ: Dutch and D’avin have acted on their feelings before and, historically, it hasn’t gone so well. This time seemed a little different, and they’re certainly approaching it casually and cautiously. How are they both feeling about each other at this point?

One of the things we love about writing Killjoys is telling the story of D’av and Dutch, this strange and surprising, for both of them, couple, in a show that has romance, but isn’t what I’d call a “romance show.” Sex, emotion, power, those are all dynamics we love to explore, but we never felt the need to build a story around Dutch’s dating life. It just isn’t her priority when she’s trying to save her ass, or the collective ass of the universe.

But that doesn’t mean she and D’av don’t have a profound connection, and I love dropping in on their intimate moments, seeing them behaving like adults, and navigating a relationship amidst all the craziness. As for how they’re feeling–we figured that the last time they’d seen each other privately was way back in 309, on Reckoning Night. So once they had a moment to breath after all the Hullen Johnny and baby craziness, they’d check in on each other and ask is that still us? And the answer, for now… is yes!

Bell Media / Syfy
Bell Media / Syfy

TTVJ: We’ve seen a few foreshadowing moments with Pip in the last couple of episodes, but now we definitely know something’s wrong. What can you reveal about where his story will go from here?

Everything’s fine, guys! Relax!

Naw, It’s pretty bad. And Dutch and the boys have their hands full with the new addition, plus the realization that Khlyen’s story from the Green is actually a series of clues that are leading them to… somewhere. So it’s up to Zeph (Kelly McCormack) to fix this with science. Which she can totally do, because when has she ever failed, right…?

TTVJ: Kravn was a very fun addition in the episode, both as a nice foil and an unexpected love rival between Johnny and Lucy (Tamsen McDonough). I also noticed Julian Doucet was listed as playing Kravn in the credits. Where did the concept behind him come from and how did it all come together?

AB: The concept for Kravn came from a single line. We were breaking the story, and getting ready to reveal this nefarious bio weapons maker, and suddenly someone in the room said, “What if Kravn doesn’t come into the Safe Room–what if he is the Safe Room!”

“Wha…? What does that even mean?”

“Don’t know, let’s do it!”

That’s pretty much how that goes in our room. Make it cool, then spend hours making it make sense. Then, as soon as we knew that was the idea, we knew Julian had to do it. He’s not just an amazing writer, producer, and actor–he’s the voice of the Ottawa transit system (no joke), specializing in “mild authority.” This is our way to let him cut loose with “totally insane super-villain authority.” I love it, and him, so much in this ep.

TTVJ: We never got an explicit answer on Pip’s question: Have Dutch and the gang been Killjoying with their buzz on this whole time?

AB: That’s a personal issue for Dutch and the boys to deal with in their own way. We are always here for them.

Bell Media / Syfy
Bell Media / Syfy

TTVJ: Fancy (Sean Baek) and Gared (Gavin Fox) were a fun team-up, especially when it let Gared show off even more of his goofy side. What was your experience trying to write that dynamic in the script?

AB: We are so blessed to have such a deep bench by now, we can play mix and match with dynamics and characters. The Gared and Fancy story came out of plot necessity with where we’re taking Gared, mixed with the desire for MOAR FANCY. And as soon as we started writing those two, already knowing their voices and vibes, it just felt perfect. Who doesn’t want to watch the Designated Asshole and the World’s Cuddliest Bartender team up to solve a mystery?

TTVJ: Turin had his own interesting dynamic with the rebooted Hullen now known as Weej (Ishan Morris), who went from intimidating to kind of adorable. What’s next for these two now that the “dolls” have abandoned ship?

AB: Again, once the plot was sorted out we looked for a fun dynamic to take us through it, and pairing His Eternal Grumpy Hairness with the sweetest Hullen ever just felt so right. And I love what Ish Morris brings to our adorable Weej, so named because we thought of him kind of as a living Ouji board, not entirely in control of himself, but guiding the way–this is how we keep ourselves excited, folks. We’re weird. There will definitely be more Turin and Weej. Promise.

TTVJ: We now know that part of Khlyen’s story was about leaving a code for Dutch and Johnny to discover. What can you tell us about how that mystery will unfold?

AB: Only that, if the driving force of episodes 1-5 were “get out of the green and figure out what the Lady wants,” the rest of the season is “follow the breadcrumbs to see how to stop her.” Clever Khlyen has left several clues in the only way he was able–within a story, a memory, that Dutch and Johnny shared. The key, of course, was Johnny–Dutch had no reason to think the story was wrong. It took Johnny to say “Hey, that’s not how it actually happened,” as he does in this episode, for them to unlock the first clues.

Where that takes us I won’t spoil. But I will say, it will teach Dutch more about her past, and the past of her “family,” while pointing towards a couple of possible futures. There’s one in which they win. But there’s also the future The Lady showed her in the Green, where everyone is broken, defeated, dead.

It’s up to Dutch to make sure that future never comes to pass.

 

Where do you think Khlyen’s breadcrumbs will lead them? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.

Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space.

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