Killjoys: Michelle Lovretta talks “How to Kill Friends and Influence People”

Bell Media/Syfy
Bell Media/Syfy

*** Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the Killjoys Season 2 finale episode “How to Kill Friends and Influence People” ***

OK take some deep breaths Killjoys fans because if you’re anything like us you’re going to need a minute (or five!) to recover from that Season 2 finale episode. The mystery of the green plasma that has plagued the team all season long finally was revealed and with the surprising help of Khlyen (Rob Stewart), Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) and the Jaqobis brothers were able to save the Quad from a Black Root takeover. Yes, Aneela may be thwarted for now, but now that Killjoys has been renewed for Season 3 it certainly seems like she and Dutch are headed for one hell of a showdown.

Will Dutch be down one Jaqobis in this fight since John (Aaron Ashmore), still reeling from Pawter’s (Sarah Power) death, was headed to parts unknown with Clara (Stephanie Leonidas) when we last saw him? He’s surely got a lot to figure out after unexpectedly shooting Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen) in that back alley of Old Town.

“How to Kill Friends and Influence People,” co-written by Michelle Lovretta and Jeremy Boxen and directed by Peter Stebbings, was a jam-packed finale and there’s a lot we’re still digesting. Thankfully Killjoys creator and showrunner Lovretta was able to join us one last time this season to break down that finale and look ahead to Season 3. She shares some of her plans for the future and lets us know whether we’ve truly seen the last of beloved characters such as Pawter and Khlyen.

The TV Junkies: There was so much to digest in this finale, but since this is Dutch’s show let’s start there. While the team was able to stop the Black Root’s takeover of the Quad, Aneela is still out there. So for Season 3 are we headed for a Dutch vs. Aneela showdown?

Michelle Lovretta: Dutch vs Dutch: the Dutchening? Ok, yes, I already have a lot of baby hopes and wishes in store for Season 3, and I think you can tell from the way we constructed the finale what I’m hoping for: a glittering, gleeful head on collision between Aneela and Dutch. I want to really explode the secrets and lies between the two of them, and get at the truth. It’s not what you think.

Dutch: “Aneela is not going to stop unless I stop her. So let’s stop them all. I don’t want to win just one battle. I want a whole bloody war. Who’s in?”

Ian Watson/Syfy/Killjoys II Productions Limited
Ian Watson/Syfy/Killjoys II Productions Limited

TTVJ: As promised, you gave us a lot of answers about the green plasma, but one big mystery that still remains is why does Dutch look like Aneela?

ML: Exactly! One of the challenges with a show like this, but also one of the real pleasures, is deciding how to unveil your mythology. Early on in my career–particularly in Canada–you weren’t really given permission to do serialization outside of romance, everything was fully episodic. Things have changed now and the fans have changed, so the industry now encourages and even expects you to do an overarching mytharc. For me, the fun of a show like Killjoys is coming up with a fresh angle or brand new section of the mytharc to explore every season, while still keeping them all related. An evolution, not a reinvention. It would be too much to explain the massive world that is in our heads as writers right away–imagine trying to bring up Hullen in Season 1!?

But if you look, there were hints. We try to be strategic about the ways that we dole out our information every season–what mysteries we’re still building, which ones we are paying off and concluding–hopefully giving you a very rich, coherent, expanding story that will take multiple seasons to fully tell, but with individual seasons that can be enjoyed on their own.

TTVJ: For the second week in a row we lost an important character. Let’s discuss the fact that Khlyen is now gone. It feels like that will be such a huge void, not only for Dutch, but the show as well given he was such a “Big Bad” in a lot of ways.

ML: I love that the man we hated last year, we grieve in this one. I think that when it comes to my worlds, and when it comes to genre, you have to be careful about the concept of “losing a character.” A lot of times if you’re in love with a character, so am I. With somebody like Khlyen, he’s been seeded into the DNA of the show’s narrative to have a very polarizing effect on our lead character and that’s not something I want to let go of too soon, possibly not ever. But I do need to keep things fresh every season and part of the challenge of that is finding interesting and even surprising new ways for the audience to experience those same characters.

Frankly I love Rob and think he’s a blast. He’s done amazing things elevating a character that could have so easily been played as one-dimensional or mustache-twirly, and was instead really able to find the strength, heart and wit with that role. I think it’s actually to the credit of the show if we find new ways to fold him into the fabric, but ultimately my priority right now was freeing Dutch from Khlyen. Dutch needs to grow, to be a character next season who isn’t running to or from a parent figure in her life. I want to know who Dutch is when we cut those strings for her.

Bell Media/Syfy
Bell Media/Syfy

…It doesn’t mean we necessarily cut his strings to the show. It means that we need some space where from Dutch’s point of view, she’s on her own for the first time. She’s making decisions, taking steps in a way that is bolder and freer than she’s ever been given the latitude to do. I’m excited by that as her mama storyteller. I want to know what Dutch is like when that darkness is no longer on her back. How much joy is she going to be able to put into killjoys–pun intended–when she is her fullest, most liberated self? Of all the things I’m most excited about in Season 3, that new side of Dutch is the heart of it. #FreeDutch

Dutch: “You never prepared me to be free.”

TTVJ: Moving over to Johnny, it’s funny because during the first half of the episode I found myself thinking that he was moving on too quickly from Pawter’s death. Clearly that wasn’t the case since he went and shot Delle Seyah. However, am I correct in assuming that she’s going to recover from that wound and we’ll see her again?

ML: Aw crap dude, how do I answer that so that people who want surprises aren’t spoiled but people who are worried get cared for? Um.. look at the next question if you don’t want to be spoiled, how’s that? Ha. Okay, yeah. I won’t go into specifics but I left a lot of breadcrumbs on the path in Episode 10 that give you signs of Delle Seyah’s fate–chief of them being her smile, but also what seems like a throwaway conversation she has with her guard. If I have my way, Delle Seyah is not finished with us and we are not finished with her. In a lot of ways, she’s just beginning–that’s why we don’t end on a shot of John walking away, we end on her.

Never count out a Queen.

Bell Media/Syfy
Bell Media/Syfy

TTVJ: Between that scene with Delle Seyah and then the one following with Lucy (Tamsen McDonough), Aaron Ashmore just about broke my heart. Is it wrong that I’m so invested in the relationship between a man and his ship?

ML: If it’s wrong I don’t want to be right. Hats off to both of them. Hats off to Tamsen who comes into a sound booth and has no benefit of facial expressions with which to convey this attachment she has to this man, and it’s something that is clearly more complicated and distinct and unique than a human romantic attachment. There’s something odd there, and I’m into it. Hats off to Aaron Ashmore because sitting in editing, what we have in that scene is an actor standing acting against no one. For Aaron to be able to just summon these really true emotions is a credit to him and the two of them, as well as the music. If anyone saw me tweeting stuff to Aaron really early on last year where I said ‘I just wrote something for you that made me cry,’ that was the scene.

It’s important too that John acknowledges in that scene that he’s conflicted. I’ve never wanted him to be cold-blooded about ‘I’m going to go and kill Delle Seyah lahdeedah.’ I really wanted it to be an in the moment thing, where something overcomes him and he’s still in shock when he’s with Lucy. He’s explaining in that scene ‘I don’t know yet how I feel about this’. It’s very raw and very new. Part of why I really fought to bring in Clara (Stephanie Leonidas) at the end of that ep is that I was so sad that so many amazing goodbyes were happening, we needed a GD hello and we needed some happy!

I did everything I could in those last scenes to make sure that we took care of Johnny Jaqobis. One of the lines Lucy says at the end is ‘You need a wingman and she has a gun arm,’ and there was a previous line I had in there along the lines of ‘Don’t forget your weapons –and a sweater.’ Everything I was doing was making sure that I had a good feeling that Johnny was going to be safe one way or another. Obviously, he’s one of our amazing trio of leads and going to be back in short order, but I needed him to have the chance of a new vista and the opportunity to kick the dust off his boots and look at what he’s done, what this season was about for him and come back to us a really composed, grounded character with maybe some scars that will make him a more valuable asset to the team.

Bell Media/Syfy
Bell Media/Syfy

TTVJ: I always felt like Clara would be back but I was still cheering when I saw her sitting there on Lucy.

ML: Me too! Some of these scenes in the tag I had written way back when we were producing Episode 201 and we had those problems with Clara and the prosthetics. I had a panicked hour where I had to wait and see how that sequence worked out, and as happens with writers’ brains, my mind turned to distracting itself by imagining their next scene together. I was so on fire from what I had seen on set with Aaron and Stephanie, they were so fabulous together, so I ended up writing the “Johnny goodbye to Lucy” scene and “Clara is back and waiting to escort Johnny, and then they go steal Khlyen’s ship” scenes while we were still literally shooting the big 201 Clara and Dutch shootout. Not a word of those Lucy/Clara scenes changed all those months, and it was great having them as a goal post I wanted to hit by the finale… even while we were still in the early days of making the season premiere. TV is weird, man.

TTVJ: You just love the gun arm!

ML: I do love the gun arm! It’s so fun!

TTVJ: As someone who really loved Pawter, I particularly enjoyed that you guys took the time out to have Johnny and Pree share that moment for her. Why are little scenes like that important for you to include?

ML: It’s a bit of a melange of things. One, it’s true to those characters. Two, it is my way of honoring a character that we first and foremost really love. Three, that “her spirit remains” aspect was always part of Pawter’s intended path. I don’t know if in next season we’re sticking to the Quad. I don’t know if we’re maintaining Qreshi politics. I don’t know those things. We’ve obviously left ourselves in a great position where we can be fairly flexible with where the team is at when we meet them again.

I do know that Pawter was always conceived to become a symbol by the end of her life. She was somebody who was intended to die for her cause, and then be adopted forever by that same cause. There was something really beautiful about that arc for me, complicated by the blood on her hands. We intentionally show you some of that “mythologizing Pawter” stuff starting in 210, how she’s becoming an iconic symbol of the spirit and fight of Old Town, having a day in her name–we show it with her being broadcast throughout the city, we show it with the way John and everyone else talks about it. Pawter is not gone. Pawter had an impact.

‘Is Sarah gone?’ is a separate question that I find very intriguing. She did such wonderful work and frankly, her character was so great to write for that I’d be open to the possibility of finding a very unique way of bringing her back. It would have to be interesting enough to appeal to the actress, create brand new character dynamic terrain worth exploring, and be a credit to the character and the audience’s intelligence. It couldn’t be something that we just hammered in as a random flashback or “ha ha just kidding she’s not really dead, aren’t you happy?’ I don’t want to cheese out with a bait and switch. I want her death to have mattered, not just to Johnny, but to the world of our show–because her death really mattered to me. But this is genre and one of the things I love about genre is surprise, unexpected returns when it is the least convenient time for all the characters involved. So it’s entirely possible, in some future season, if all the stars align just so. We shall see!

 

Bell Media/Syfy
Bell Media/Syfy

TTVJ: Once again bless D’avin and Luke Macfarlane for making me laugh this episode. D’avin and Fancy made quite the team, which makes me happy that Fancy will still be around now that he’s been cured. What made you want to pair those two characters up here?

ML: Ooh, doggie. One of my favorite things to do on any show, but particularly this one, is to mix our characters up into unexpected combos and see what happens. I mentioned to Morgan (Alvis) on the FanExpo panel last night that while I always thought Dutch and Alvis had a history, it’s only because of the chemistry he and Hannah had in their Episode 104/110 scenes that I knew they’d have a “present”; when I put Rob and Luke together in that 110 alley fight, I knew I wanted more of them as a duo, which impacted 201; and when Hannah and Mayko sparked so spectacularly and competitively in 104, well shit, entire future arcs have been born in my head.  This cast is full of surprises for me, and I love mining all the jewels.

TTVJ: You continued the trend of fun casting moves this season by having Rick Howland from Lost Girl. He was so great, especially in those moments with Rob Stewart, so I’m just curious how that came about?

ML: The luck of good timing–I have immense affection and respect for my one-time Blood King, and working with him again in a new role was a real treat for me. I especially love that Dej Serafin is clearly a character that can recur, because think of how much potential Archive has for us in future eps? I hope we get to see Rick again.

TTVJ: I don’t really have a question for this part but I wanted to make sure to mention things like the wardrobe, the music, the great VFX effects and fight sequences in this finale. All those things really added to the experience for me and are things you guys have done so well since the beginning of this show.

ML: Credit where it’s due: director Peter Stebbings ROCKED this finale, and I had a much-beloved compadre and co-writer on this episode that made it all possible, the wonderful Jeremy Boxen who was a lifesaver because I was on fumes. He brought so many great ideas to this ep. I’d be the jack of all asses if I didn’t heap praise on all of our many departments that gave this ep its shine: Wardrobe, hair, make-up, sets, finding that perfect archive location, lighting it like a boss… it all matters, and damn, a lot of amazing work goes into putting on this show!

Want a wee BTS look at how that spaceship VFX sequence came to be–? It only happened because our VFX supervisor Michael Gibson made it happen. I was tossing finale ideas around with Jeremy Boxen and we said something about wishing we could have a big dogfight but no way could we afford to pull that off let alone in time, and I swear to God, Gibson heard us down the hall, ran in, and was like “dogfight? What dogfight? We can do a dogfight. Please let me do a dogfight.” Fun fact: Gibson was a VFX supervisor on Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. He knows his ships. So I stepped back and let him do his thing, he designed the whole sequence with his team. Every time I got notes from the nets on 210 it included “please don’t let us fall in love with a spaceship sequence if we can’t have one.” Well, we could, it was amazing, and the man responsible (and his team) has my thanks.

 

What did you think of the Killjoys finale? We want to hear ALL your thoughts and predictions for what’s next in the comments below!

Killjoys will return for Season 3 in summer 2017.

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