Killjoys: Derek Robertson Talks “It Takes a Pillage”

Ian Watson/Killjoys IV Productions Limited/SYFY
Ian Watson/Killjoys IV Productions Limited/SYFY

D’avin and Johnny made their peace with the past on this week’s Killjoys. The two met their father, Marris, (Ron Lea) for what may well be the last time in an unwanted family reunion that not only solidified their bond as brothers, but gave D’avin (Luke Macfarlane) a chance to be the better father for Jaq (Jaeden Noel). And, in true Killjoys fashion, all happened while in a deadly standoff with the Hullen.

Speaking of deadly, Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) and Zeph (Kelly McCormack) had their own particular brand of “girls night” when Dutch nearly flew herself into a sun to help Zeph science the spores given to her by Yalena. By the end of the episode they both gave each other solid advice–a lynchpin of any girls night–and Dutch and D’avin had what may have been their first real adult conversation.

For our postmortem we’re joined by Derek Robertson, who discusses having his first episode directed by Flashpoint and X-Company co-creator Stephanie Morgenstern. He also shares the personal nature of this episode for him and the initial pitch for Dutch and Zeph’s “girls night.”

 

The TV Junkies: Last we saw D’avin he was confronting Dutch about her past abuse, and in this episode he’s forced to come face to face with his own. It ended with that subtle, but powerful moment where D’avin made it clear that the cycle of abuse ended with Jaq. What were some of the conversations in the writer’s room about tackling this part of D’avin’s story?

Derek Robertson: My grandfather had an alcoholic father about whom he always seemed to carry a heavy sadness. He said to me once the most important job he had as a father was to try and be a little better than his dad with his kids, and my dad in turn’s most important job was to try to be a little better as a father than he was, and should I ever have kids it was up to me to try and be a little better of a father than my dad. That advice has always sat heavily with me as such a simple yet powerful way of looking at what it means to be a parent, and it’s the journey that coming out of his blowout with Dutch, D’av, as a new father, seemed prime to come face to face with.

We’re all so close in the writing room that when I brought that initial idea into the room we all just started diving deep into each others feelings about becoming like our parents, or the worries you can carry as a parent inadvertently passing certain traits down to your child, and how those fears of falling into a cycle would manifest themselves in D’avin.

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TTVJ: John (Aaron Ashmore) learned the truth about why D’avin left all those years ago. What made now the right time for that reveal?

DR: No one builds a world like [creator] Michelle Lovretta. Since long before Killjoys first hit the air, she had mapped out all these backstories within backstories, all the partial truths our characters know and the parts they haven’t shared with anyone. They’re all so rich that when you find yourself in a position to get to share a part of them with the audience, it’s like a gift from the writing gods.

One of the biggest things that has hung over the Jaqobis brothers since we first met them in episode 101 was how D’av ran away from home when they were kids. We knew coming into Season 4 that we were building to a finale in Season 5, so one thing we really wanted to do was begin to see Dutch, D’av, and John shift their focus from where they came from to where they’re going. With that in mind, when we landed on the fact that we would be back on Telen, face-to-face with the man both brothers ran from all those years ago, it seemed like the perfect time to learn what really happened the night D’av left.

TTVJ: Dutch and D’avin have done a lot of growing this season and are well on their way to becoming, dare I say, emotionally mature adults. But how does anyone maintain a stable relationship when you still need to save the universe?

DR: I mean, what says date night like enlisting the help of a chemical weapons designer to stop the rapid aging of your son or searching for a green pool to try and save your sister-mother from a big bad in another dimension?

But honestly, I almost feel like Dutch and D’av are at their strongest together when their backs are against the wall. Every couple needs their shared hobbies and for Dutch and D’av, saving the universe might be it. It might not be all smooth sailing ahead, but man, have those two won me over and have me rooting for them.

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TTVJ: We learned more about how Jaq’s premonitions work in this episode, and how they manifest as if they’re memories that haven’t happened yet. Is this something he’ll be able to hone and develop as the story progresses?

DR: Coming out of 408 it’s clear now the Lady is going to be relentless in her desire to hunt down Jaq by any means possible. It’s also pretty clear from what the Hullen sent to capture him said that he’s important. But what does she need him for? And can Jaq harness these premonitions enough to keep himself and his family one step ahead of the Lady? Those are the questions I am going to leave hanging cause they’re a lot more fun to watch unfold than to listen to me answer.

TTVJ: Dutch and Zeph had such a fantastic dynamic in this episode, especially when it comes to their complete inability to do girl talk. What was your approach in writing such awkwardly fun dialogue between them?

DR: When I first pitched the idea of Dutch and Holo-Zeph being flung around the sun trying to create a massive makeshift centrifuge, I remember [showrunner] Adam Barken got really excited on how the story could lend itself to us doing our warped Killjoys send-up of a “girls night” tv trope. Instead of two women talking dating problems, their “boy trouble” is one is dealing with needing to remove a spider from someone’s brain while the other is dealing with the fallout of teaching a teenager Assassin 101. And instead of a sleepover or mani-pedi or whatever painfully cliché tv trope setting one might have two female characters bond over, of course our kickass characters were going to do it over a death-defying science experiment.

When Adam framed it as our two characters who are the least likely to open up and talk about their feelings finding themselves coming into this episode really needing to open up and get things off their chest, but having no idea how and no willingness to be that vulnerable, that’s when the story really clicked for me. As someone who has spent a lifetime feeling all the feels but my inherited British reserve will be damned if I let you see it, I related so much to Dutch and Zeph as I wrote those scenes.

I have to say it also didn’t hurt to have Julian Doucet, a master of awkwardly fun dialogue, working away on his episode in the office next to mine to bounce lines off of.

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TTVJ: That pressure Zeph is putting on herself to save everyone continues to build each episode. Any chance she’ll give herself a break soon?

DR: I wish I could say there were some vacation days ahead for Zeph, but between the spider in Pip’s (Atticus Mitchell) brain, the spore, and that pesky problem of how to get back into the Green to save Aneela, Zeph has a lot more overtime to clock.

TTVJ: Stephanie Morgenstern was a guest director for this episode, who’s a writer herself for Canadians gems like Flashpoint and X-Company. What did she bring to the table as a director, and why was she the right fit for this episode?

DR: One of my first jobs on a TV series was as a production assistant on Flashpoint. I was such a huge fan of the series when I got hired and I would spend every hour at work just dreaming of one day getting to be in the writing room with Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis. They then went off and followed up Flashpoint by creating X-Company, which, as a lover of all things spy fiction, just cranked my envy of their writing room up to 11.

So when Adam told me Stephanie was going to direct the first episode I wrote, it felt like this crazy fulfillment of this dream that had started when I first watched the pilot of Flashpoint. Of course, in that moment, as lucky as I was feeling, I had no idea how lucky I was.

Working with a director who is an incredibly accomplished producer, writer, and actor to boot is like winning a creative jackpot. Everyday through prep and shooting we would meet to discuss the minutiae of the character’s emotions, motivations, and backstories and it really elevated where we were able to go with this story.

Adam however, having worked with Stephanie on both Flashpoint and X-Company, knew exactly how lucky myself and the story were about to be for having Stephanie in the directors chair. From the moment I first pitched the idea of a contained thriller family drama, he said Stephanie would be the perfect person to direct it.

We’ve seen in past episodes that whatever’s happening to Aneela in the Green seems to be affecting Dutch, but never to the extent we saw here with the symbol on her back. Should we be worried?

DR: Our team is back together, they have a weapon that promises to be a tool to defeat the Lady, but time may be running out. Aneela can only last so long in the green and the one thing I can promise is that nothing is about to go according to plan. So be worried? Maybe…

TTVJ: Now that Jaq has had his father/son road trip, he’s off to see one of his mothers. So, how much Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen) can we look forward to in next week’s episode? Any other details you can share?

DR: Next week’s episode is written by Julian Doucet, which, if you’ve been keeping score over the past few seasons, you know that means there are going to be some juicy Delle Seyah moments. Now that our team is back together, it’s time to head to the Quad, but with the discovery of that green pool on the RAC and the ominous scars appearing on her back, it’s not going to be anything but a chill welcome home.

 

Did the Jaqobis boys make you feel things in tonight’s episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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