Killjoys Creator Michelle Lovretta on Saying Goodbye

SYFY/Bell Media
SYFY/Bell Media

“I’m gonna miss this.” Us too, Dutch. Us too. Thankfully, it was a Killjoys ending that also contained many new beginnings all wrapped into one. The Lady was ultimately defeated, though work remains to be done there, Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) made her peace with Khlyen (Rob Stewart) before finally confessing her feelings for D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), and Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) got set for his year away off on his own. All in all, the series finale, “Last Dance” written by creator Michelle Lovretta and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, felt like one giant love letter to fans who have been right there along for the ride with Team Awesome Force for the past five seasons.

Not only did Lovretta’s finale give viewers some much needed closure on Dutch and her team’s fight, but it also offered up a feeling of joy and hope that felt like the show’s way of giving fans a great big warm hug as we prepare to move on for a life without the SYFY and CTV Sci-Fi series. The TV Junkies were lucky enough to speak with Lovretta about the finale episode and saying goodbye after five seasons. In Part 1 of our interview, she discusses how she approached writing the finale, why it felt right to her to give everyone a happy ending, and whether or not that ending came close to what she had imagined back at the start of the series. Lovretta also shares how current Killjoys showrunner Adam Barken helped to make all of this come true.

 

The TV Junkies: How did you go about approaching this finale?

Michelle Lovretta: It really is incredibly daunting having to contemplate how to end all five seasons. I think the way through it is remembering how you started. Ideally, when you first create something, you don’t do it for anybody else. You don’t dream it up hoping for a sale. You don’t even tell anyone the details for a long while. You just hold these precious, weirdo little imaginary friends in your head and heart and tell yourself a story that’s just for you, and ultimately, that’s how I approached the finale. I decided the best thing to do was to go back to that ethos, and tell myself a story about how I wanted to see these people end — not what would please the most people, because I don’t know the most people. In a way, that’s not really my job. That’s an ancillary thing you hope to do as a writer, but my job is to fall in love with the story myself and find a way through it, within the restraints of our budget or production limitations and all those other practicalities.

TTVJ: All of our Killjoys characters seemed to get a happy ending. Can you talk a little bit about that?

ML: One of the things that was important to me was that I wanted everyone to be happy. A lot of my favorite episodes that I’ve written have been season finales, because there’s a lot of emotional buildup, and you know you’re going to end on a bit of a cliff and a bang. So it’s all a bit razzle dazzle, and what I found interesting about writing a series finale in comparison is that you can’t quite go down that same path. You can’t end on too many new questions and potential, you need something solid, some payoff. On the other hand, if you make everything too neat and tidy, check all boxes for everybody and make very clear exactly how everything ends, then you suffocate a bit of the magic.

If your finale seems to say “phew, glad that battle was won, now everything resets and goes back to the way it was”, then what was the point of the journey? If your finale seems to say “this is their true ending, don’t worry, nothing exciting will happen off screen without you watching” then you risk neutering your characters and saying ‘this was the most interesting chunk of their lives.’ I don’t really want to believe that, this time, with these characters. I love them too much. Johnny, Dutch and D’avin are so bold and full of life, and I want to believe that they still have many excellent adventures ahead of them, together and separately.

That was the balance I had to try and strike— a way to show growth and change for each of them so we understand the point of their arcs, finding a satisfyingly solid and safe place to leave them, while also suggesting they will continue to have amazing adventures.  It’s tough, man! But I hope we’ll make you feel that this one chapter has ended, but all of the people involved will be able to stay in each other’s lives.

SYFY/Bell Media
SYFY/Bell Media

TTVJ: It really seemed like a lot of the bigger series at large questions were answered by midway of Season 5, and we were allowed to focus on getting answers personally related to the characters, who they were, and their fates. What was behind that decision and really focusing on character in this final season?

ML: Well, I love character above all things. Character is my story God, and if you are given the gift of knowing that these are your final ten eps at bat, you’re definitely going to want to use them to dig one last time into the hearts and minds and relationships of these wee fictional people you love so much. Saying goodbye is hard for fans (bless you all) but it’s hardest, I suspect, for those of us who are most responsible for creating these people: writers and cast. I can’t begin to count how long I have had them there, daily, in my head.

As for the arc structure, well, that was more organic. Part of the division of labor that ended up happening as I stepped back from showrunning and Adam stepped in, was that Adam had the massive task of trying to figure out all the little pieces that add up to a whole. We had a great time together at the head of the seasons where we’d spend weeks sweating it out with our writers, come up with great stuff, and all fall in love with it. We’d know where the story was going, the big turns, and what the final hypothetical endpoint was, but that’s always a bit of a sucker’s gambit, because the reality of production is that things have to change and adapt at times. You write those big picture plans out, but that’s writing in crayons. Afterwards, you have to come back and put the smaller plot details in with an actual pen. Adam was that pen our final 20. It was seamless, and I’m so grateful to him. He’s been there since the beginning, and I couldn’t have trusted anyone else to pull off what he pulled off for us. And, why, yes, it did free me to sit back and throw in so many extra crotch jokes. As the TV Lord intended.

TTVJ: I remember speaking with you back around Season 2, and you had mentioned you had a 5 year plan for Killjoys when you started. I know parts of that got accelerated along the way and things changed, but is where you end up here at all close to what you initially had in mind?

ML: I always saw the trio and Khlyen ending up pretty much exactly the way that they did, yeah, but I was also open to it not ending that way if it felt wrong once we got there. That’s just a truism of TV writing and showrunning: keep your mind open to how things can change based on cast or unexpected storylines or various other things. There are a ton of elements in our last two seasons, big and small, that I definitely didn’t predict or plan ahead for that still needed to be factored into the finale. There was no Zeph or Pip in my mind when I first created the series, for one thing, and I didn’t know for sure which characters would still be alive.

By the end of Season 3 I was dreaming up this very VFX heavy “team bug hunt” type final season as my homage to Starship Troopers and Aliens, this grand fight for Westerley, but that was way too costly so we had to scrap that… instead we just glimpse it in 509 and suggest it as a new mission end of the finale. And Adam threw in a great Hicks/Ripley Easter egg for me in 509, the sweet bastard.

SYFY/Bell Media
SYFY/Bell Media

TTVJ: So Johnny leaving was always in your mind, then?

ML: I always knew that Johnny was leaving. “Leaving” is a really loaded word, and I wish I had a more nuanced one because Johnny’s coming back. There’s no doubt in my mind that Johnny’s coming back. But he’s needed to leave for a while, and this war has stopped him from being able to do that, so now it’s time.

What I love about that ”Johnny Solo” journey is how I think it will strengthen TAF.  Dutch can take Johnny for granted sometimes – I’d love for her to experience missing him without chasing him. And John needs to take a breath and decide what life he really wants. When you’ve known your friends forever, and you’ve been extremely codependent with them, every story you have is their story, too. There’s a part of that dynamic that’s beautiful and comforting, but there’s a part that also gets a little stale. What can be amazing, and inject new life into a friendship or relationship, is when you spend a little bit of time somewhere else, meet new people, make new stories, and then bring them back to the people who know and love you best.

I really like the idea that when John comes back, they are all going to sit in the new bar, and have the same drinks, but Johnny is going to be telling these amazing stories, and they’ll have a few of their own about what crazy shit he’s missed, and they’ll all be newly charmed with one another. What he gets up to over that year is unwritten. Maybe he brings back Clara and the Hackmods and convinces Aneela to make the Quad a safe zone for them and their rebellion. Maybe he comes back and starts something up with the Warden, professionally and personally.  Hell, maybe D’avin and Dutch break up and John returns to sweep her off her feet Officer & A Gentleman style, for those who are determined to see that ending. Anything fans want to picture or put into fan fiction, they’re certainly entitled to do. Here’s the only thing I’d say is canon: Johnny Jaqobis is safe and he is happy and he is coming the fuck home.

 

What did you think of that series finale? Please share your thoughts with us below! Stay tuned for more with Lovretta in Part 2 of our interview.

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