Killjoys: Adam Barken Talks “Run, Yala, Run”

SYFY / Space
SYFY / Space

*** This article contains major spoilers for the Killjoys Season 5 episode “Run, Yala, Run” ***

And so it begins… Killjoys final season kicked off Friday night with a Season 5 premiere that had a little bit of everything: mystery, sexiness, laughter and some kick ass action scenes. All in all, it had exactly what fans have come to know, love and expect from the SYFY and Space drama series. While almost all of our beloved characters seem to have no recollection of who they actually are or remember anything about their lives, Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) thankfully “woke up” and remembered that they are in their biggest fight yet against The Lady. Thanks to some help from Zeph (Kelly McCormack), she now seems on her way to trying to get the memories back for John (Aaron Ashmore), D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), Pree (Thom Allison) and all of Westerley.

The Lady showed in “Run, Yala, Run” that she’s quite the villain though, as she utilizes both decontamination showers and the rain to keep everyone under her spell. Written by Killjoys’ creator Michelle Lovretta and directed by Peter Stebbings, this episode also showed that The Lady ultimately is after D’avin and Delle Seyah’s (Mayko Nguyen) son. We here at The TV Junkies are honored and excited to once again be breaking down this and every Killjoys episode this season with the show’s creative team. This week, showrunner Adam Barken joins us to talk all about the Season 5 premiere.


The TV Junkies: Why did you want to begin this season exploring the idea of memories and how much of ourselves are tied to our memories? Where did that idea come from?

Adam Barken: From the first season to the last, the idea of memory, and how it relates to identity, has been a major theme of Killjoys. Dutch is a living memory. Aneela’s sanity suffers after Khlyen extracts her memories. D’av shows up in the pilot with the sense that something is wrong with his head, and over the course of the season, comes to realize that his own memories have been manipulated. That storyline led to the first mentions of what would come to be known as the Hullen, and eventually their own shadowy “leader” – The Lady, who as we saw in Season 4 has a very particular relationship with memory, how she can use it to control humanity, and bring her own race back to their rightful control of the J, the galaxy – and everything.

As for where it came from – that’s always been a product of Michelle’s own interests driving the discussion in the writing room. Memories are a pretty big part of personal identity, obviously, so we have a ton of fun exploring that. Then when we asked ourselves “What does the Lady want” – the answer came back “our memories.” But why? Well, turns out Humanity has the capacity for a certain type of memory – episodic memory – that makes us pretty unique. I’ll skip the science lecture, but basic theory is that it gives us the ability to relive events in our mind with all the emotions intact, fueling our relationships, ambitions, vengeance, traumas, lots of very human shit. Most importantly, this ability to vividly relive our past is part of what enables us to imagine our future, and dreaming of our future is a pretty damn important skill, as a species. What if the Lady is from a race that doesn’t have the same emotional-memory capacity?  She could see that as a weakness on her part – but also, a vulnerability on ours.

TTVJ: It was really fun, as a viewer, to see that even though our beloved characters are different, there are still many things about them that are the same. What was that challenge like for you all as writers to make them the same, but different? Did you all have a lot of fun with that in the room?

AB: SOOO much fun. We knew early on that while we would shake up their memories – because what could be worse for a family than to forget who they are to each other – who they are at their core wouldn’t change. I guess that’s us making a philosophical stand on identity, but it made sense to Michelle and I that there’s just something essential to our gang that couldn’t be messed with, even if they don’t remember who they are. Dutch will always be a fighter and protector. Johnny will always be a wide open heart with a mouth full of sass. D’av will always be kind of a dick – but a damn loveable one. Zeph will always be a genius, Pree will always be fabulous, etc. The fun was taking them as far from their regular roles as possible, but still seeing that innate them-ness shine through.  And thanks as always to our incredible cast, we think it did in spades.

SYFY / Space
SYFY / Space

TTVJ: It was also interesting to see that despite their lives being different, some interactions between the characters remained. Johnny and Dutch clearly are still more suited for a non-romantic relationship, Zeph still adores Dutch and there’s still a romantic pull between Pree and Gared. Why was it so important to show those feelings and relationships still exist even in the absence of memory?

AB: Because we didn’t want to mess with the audience TOO much – of which we are the first members!  There’s still a big difference between identity – who you think you are – and character – how you instinctively behave. The Johnny/Dutch thing makes all of us kind of fascinated, but also pretty squicky. Michelle had one hard rule: John and Dutch never sleep together, which is part of why they’re clearly in a “rough patch” as a married couple when we meet them – something inside them is resisting the Lady’s manipulation and not letting her win. So yes, the Lady being super evil would force them (and us) to go where we kinda really didn’t wanna go, in an effort to break them open and learn their secrets. Which can be scary/fun. But this is still Killjoys and we care deeply about our characters and our audience, so we never wanted to go so far that Johnny and Dutch couldn’t come back from it. Not that there won’t be consequences to even the little that did happen…

TTVJ: We have to talk about Pree’s look! We’ve seen Pree before, like in the episode where we see him as a warlord, with some pretty outrageous looks, but this with the hair and beard felt next level. Where did the idea for Pree’s look in 501 come from?

AB: RIGHT??? So much of that was thanks to the incredible costume, hair and makeup team of Trysha Bakker, Teresa Buccione and Craig Ryan-French. We gave them the scripts and the idea of “Pree as RAC Chief” – and what they came back with just took all of our collective breaths away. There wasn’t a guy or gal who wasn’t immediately turned on in our room. Which I SUPPOSE might also have a bit to do with Thom’s raw animal magnetism. But let’s keep that to yourselves. He gets all the love as it is (deservedly)…

SYFY / Space
SYFY / Space

TTVJ: I really loved that we got so many scenes between Dutch and Zeph here. Dutch has a great relationship with many of the men in her life, but there always feels like there’s something special when it’s these two women. Why did you want Zeph to be the person there that Dutch could count on and try to solve this memory wipe with?

AB: As much as I think Michelle is the Queen of Dick & Boob Jokes (and really, she is) I think maybe my favorite part of her writing, the stuff I most admire and aspire to, is what she does with deep, loving friendships. And Dutch’s friendship with Zeph has grown to be one of our favorite things about the show. It just made sense that, with Johnny still under the sway of the Lady’s “memory matrix” (as we call it), the next best person to help Dutch would be Zeph. Who else but Zeph would have that nagging feeling that something isn’t right? And who else but Zeph would immediately pledge herself to this strange, powerful, beautiful woman telling her she’s a genius?

By the way, the moment when Zeph realizes she’s not crazy is one of the best things I’ve ever seen Kelly McCormack do onscreen. Another one is coming in the very next episode…

TTVJ: I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to shout at you about Delle Seyah because OH MY GOODNESS, DELLE SEYAH! WITH BANGS!!! Have you all been reading my secret diary over in the Killjoys’ writers room because the Delle Seyah we saw in 501 is the stuff dreams are made of, Adam. She’s always had bite to her, but how did Delle Seyah become such a badass overnight? Are these her maternal instincts kicking in? Can we expect this side of her to continue through Season 5?

AB: There was no way Michelle was EVER going to let our (Once) Green Queen be anything less than Fabulousness Personified, and having the chance to make her a Bang-Tastic Killing Machine was, I assume, Christmas and Hannukah and Kwanza all rolled up into one for her. As for how she got so badass to quickly – she was ALWAYS badass. I’m thinking you don’t survive that long as the head of a Qreshi family without learning a few moves. She just gets to use them now without worrying about it showing up in the society pages. And you can definitely expect to see more where that came from…

SYFY / Space
SYFY / Space

TTVJ: The Lady was already the worst villain ever faced by Dutch and now she’s taken human form as a child, somehow making her even scarier. Why did you want her first human form to be as a child? 

AB: Well… little kids can be super adorable, but also SUPER creepy. We were convinced of that when we saw those final shots in episode 410 of Lily Reid as “The Girl.” Just the way she stared down the camera – it sure seemed like an opportunity to keep it going. And it fit with our (absolutely horrible) conception of how The Lady manifests herself in our world. Stay tuned. It’s awful. Wonderfully, perfectly awful…

TTVJ: Now that the Lady has seemingly foiled Dutch’s plan though, and once again wiped Johnny, D’av and Pree’s memories, where does Dutch go next?

AB: Well, she still has (a horribly wounded) Zeph. And she has a better idea of how The Lady is controlling them. Now she needs to know how to stop it. But even more importantly – WHY. But don’t worry, it’s going to be totally benign and cool. (It really isn’t).

TTVJ: Is there anything else you’d like to preview about next week’s episode, Episode 502?

AB: Just one word: flamethrower, bitches! Okay, that’s two words.

Can’t wait for you all to see what The Lady’s plan is, what the hells Dutch can do about it – and a very sexy meeting amidst the laundry of Old Town…


What did you think of the Killjoys Season 5 premiere? Sound off below!

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