Killjoys: Adam Barken Talks “Sporemageddon”

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

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

Killjoys delivered a world-shattering finale this week, along with a cliffhanger no one saw coming.

After Aneela and Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) switched places, the team quickly got to work to rescue Dutch from the Green. Along the way they ran into some old wounds, including a surprise appearance from Pawter (Sarah Power), forcing Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) to relive his worst moment. By the end of the hour Team Awesome Force used the spores to destroy the Green for good, leaving Aneela’s fate unknown. The final moments saw the gang all fall victim to a mysterious illness that stripped them of their memories and replaced them with new ones, delivering a helluva “what just happened” moment to viewers. Scariest of all, the last shot confirmed that the Lady made it out alive, with everyone helpless to stop whatever she has planned.

The finale, written by showrunner Adam Barken and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, included another a tour de force performance by John-Kamen, whose dual performance as Dutch and Aneela is so seamless you can see the differences between the two with a single look. “Sporemageddon” also delivered a heap of questions that we’ll have to sit with until Killjoys returns for its final season next year.

For our final postmortem of the season we are joined by Barken, who answers a few of our burning questions and leaves plenty of hints about Season 5 to simmer over until next year. He also discusses the surprise return of fan-favourite Pawter, Aneela’s coded message to Dutch, and what it means now that the Lady is out of the Green.

 

The TV Junkies: Where did the idea come from to have everyone in Westerley lose their memory and replace them with new ones?

Adam Barken: That was actually one of the first ideas Michelle [Lovretta] and I discussed back before we even knew if we had the renewal. We were talking in the summer about what we would do if we came back, and we both thought that after three seasons of cliffhangers, we needed something special. Season 1 ended with D’av (Luke Macfarlane) being split off from the group. Season 2 ended with Johnny leaving. And Season 3 ended with Dutch going off into the Green. We kind of ran out of Killjoys to make go away.

But what if we took from them the one thing they always relied on—each other. What if we made them forget who each really was? That would suck. It also immediately suggested what the Lady’s true power was. As she says, if you can control memory, you can control reality. Well, that’s a pretty big power to have. How do you fight someone who can make you forget there’s even an enemy to fight?

Once we had that idea, we knew what we would work towards, what breadcrumbs and clues we needed to lay in–and in a very general sense, what our last season would be about.

Bell Media / SYFY
Bell Media / SYFY

TTVJ: From what we saw, Dutch, D’avin and Johnny weren’t affected by the virus like the others were, so how did they lose their memory along with everyone else? How far-reaching is this memory wipe?

AB: The jump between that horrible moment when Dutch is grabbed by the Lady’s hand, and then waking up in Johnny’s arms–there’s definitely some time passage. I won’t say how much just yet, but suffice to say it was definitely long enough for the Lady to get ahold of them–and everyone else she wanted, like Turin (Patrick Garrow)–and make sure they were as wiped as the people on Westerley.

TTVJ: How did it feel to write such a major cliffhanger knowing you’d have the chance to pay it off in Season 5?

AB: It was actually such a gift. To be able to end on such a huge shift, knowing we could come back, let it play out and then pay it off–we had never had that guarantee, so we never had the ability to really push things like we do in Season 5. And believe me, we push it as far as we could imagine.

TTVJ: It was incredibly bittersweet to see Sarah Power as Pawter again. What made you decide to bring her back for this episode?

AB: Well, first, because we adore Sarah, and any way we could bring her back was fine by us!

But also, we wanted the memories each of them experienced in the Green to really be hard. As soon as we said ‘the team will face their worst moments’ it became pretty clear what it would be for Johnny. But in keeping with what we showed about the Lady’s shapeshifting powers in [Episode] 404, we also knew it wouldn’t really be Pawter, but the Lady wearing her face. Which only made it all the more painful. Not that I want to intentionally hurt our lovely audience, no matter what Michelle might think… Okay, maybe just a little, but it’s for your own good! You need to be strong and ready for what’s coming next.

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

TTVJ: Before everyone lost their memory, Zeph (Kelly McCormack) and Pree (Thom Allison) had a beautiful moment speaking about her grief over Pip (Atticus Mitchell), and the idea that there is no getting over something, just moving forward. It’s something we visually saw play out with Johnny and Pawter as well. What inspired that scene?

AB: We knew we wanted to let Zeph really try to process the loss of Pip. No, we don’t want “full emo girl” all the time, but neither did we want to just gloss over it. As I started breaking the episode, it became clear that one of the major themes was ‘getting over trauma.’ But can a person really “get over” something—or is it more a case of time letting you move further and further from an event, until it hurts less? I’ve always thought Pree was the wisest and, in many ways, most experienced of the people in our little world. So it made sense for him to express this idea to Zeph. You don’t get over. You just move on.

TTVJ: Aneela had the option to betray them for a chance to be with Delle Seyah and Jaq, but she gave it up. Why the change of heart?

AB: I actually don’t think it was a change of heart so much as a change of plan. Aneela certainly isn’t so naive as to think she could ever trust the Lady’s promise. But when it became clear that D’av had been overtaken by her, Aneela realized she had to think fast to find a way to defeat her from inside the Green. Hence her words to Dutch, echoing what Dutch said to her back in Season 3: ‘You were here. And it mattered.’ Without being able to explain the new plan, Aneela was able to still communicate the necessary message. You can use memory in here. You were here, in this place, when you first got the spore. Go back to that memory, and use the spore while I stall for time.

This crazy mind-frak of an idea, by the way, comes courtesy of Derek Robertson. As soon as he pitched it I said, ‘That’s perfect! Now how the hell does that work.’ We spent a lot of time making sure it did. I really do love the brain-bend of it all.

TTVJ: It wasn’t clear whether Aneela survived. Have we had our last goodbye or will we need to wait for Season 5 to find out?

AB: Well… I don’t want to give anything away, but I would point out two things. The last thing we saw with Aneela was Khlyen (Rob Stewart), standing behind her. And we know that everything he has done for over 200 years was to protect and save her. And we also know that if Aneela were to die, Dutch would likely die too, being her original source. So, that’s all I’m gonna say. For now.

Bell Media / SYFY
Bell Media / SYFY

TTVJ: The Lady is officially out now as a very creepy little girl and presumably human now. What does that mean for her?

AB: Freedom! Victory! World Domination! Just as soon as she can figure out where a certain special someone is.

The Lady is out, but that has its plusses and minuses. Plus: controlling everyone’s memories and keeping her number one enemies in a delusion that keeps them from fighting her. Minus: the human body she’s in is awfully fleshy. And killable. She is not an all-powerful being. She is now in our physical world, and has to protect herself. But she also has that aforementioned memory control, which sure helps.

TTVJ: We’ve seen Dutch and Johnny as a semi-happily married, D’avin as a loner Killjoy looking for a wanted Jaq, and Turin as a sullen hippie. What can you preview about the other identities we’ll see in Season 5?

AB: One of the joys of writing this final season was coming up with the alternate lives that could be lived by our regulars. What if Pree wasn’t a bartender? What if Zeph wasn’t a Killjoy scientist? What if Fancy (Sean Baek) wasn’t an asshole Killjoy? Well, the thing is, Fancy will always be an asshole. And no matter what Pree is doing, he’s always Pree. Turin may be an Old Town hippie, but he’s still a cantankerous grump. We are who we are, even if we don’t remember what we are. Playing around with that conundrum was one of the driving themes of the next season. Along with the pure fun of putting out characters in positions and places you’d never expect—and figuring out how to get them out of it.

We hope you’ll be intrigued and excited enough by how Season 4 ends to join us for the last hurrah. It involves, in no particular order: sausages, stinky raincoats, monsters, madness, brutal fights and fancy dinner parties, a horrible sacrifice and a trip through the woods, the return of a dangerous old enemy and the introduction of a tough new ally—and all the dick jokes and sex puns you’ve come to expect, nay, demand of us.

In the meantime, on behalf of the writing team and production, I’d like to thank the editors and readers of The TV Junkies for being such incredibly engaged, hilarious, and kind fans. As Michelle would say: we see you. It matters. Thank you.

 

Were you thrown by that shocking conclusion? What are your theories for next season? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Killjoys will return for its final season in 2019.

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