*** This article contains major spoilers for the Killjoys Season 4 episode “The Kids Are Alright?” ***
Killjoys delivered a shocking and heartbreaking episode, along with some powerhouse performances, with “The Kids Are Alright?”–and, frankly, we’re not alright.
The episode, written by Julian Doucet and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, began with the homecoming of Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), and Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) to take back the RAC, but things quickly turned sour when a crew of Killjoys, along with poor Weej (Ishan Morris), were killed in a first attempt. And things only got worse from there.
While Team Awesome Force were able to take the Lady’s Green pool, the Hullen set their sights on destroying the Armada, and the only way to stop it was to manually self-destruct the RAC. Knowing he was a goner either way, Pip (Atticus Mitchell) made the ultimate hero play and sacrificed himself for everyone, leaving behind a devastated Zeph (Kelly McCormack). To complicate matters even more, Dutch found a way to switch places with Aneela, and is now stuck back in the Green with Lady.
Doucet joins us for another postmortem to discuss the heartwrenching losses of this week’s episode, Pip and Zeph’s feelings for one another, and what losing the RAC means for everyone.
The TV Junkies: We knew Pip’s days were numbered, but that didn’t make this one hurt any less. When did you know Pip was going to go for the heroic sacrifice, instead of succumbing to the spider?
Julian Doucet: I feel like, when your choices are to go down in a literal blaze of glory to save your friends or die in a puddle of your own drool from a slowly degrading brainspider, Pip made the right choice. But yes, despite all my begging and pleading to the contrary, the room was pretty bloodthirsty. From day one, Pip’s arc was always to stumble his way into Zeph’s heart before dying to save the gang. It was always going to be a classic redemption story with Pip moving from privileged, loudmouth extortionist to lovable dickhead hero.
TTVJ: I feel we can officially say at this point that Episode 9 is the major death episode in each season. Historically it’s been showrunner Adam Barken who writes these episodes, so did you feel any added pressure being the Grim Reaper this time around?
JD: I’m more of a cuddly Valkyrie than Grim Reaper, but, oh gawd, yes. So much pressure. I’m barely over Pawter’s death. And then I have to kill Pip? And Weej? And blow up the RAC? I was a mess writing this episode. A gooey, snotty mess.
I’m probably the room’s most sensitive flower, so there was something a weensie bit perverse about me writing it. Adam’s deaths have such an epic sweep to them: Pawter backstabbed as she saves Old Town. Alvis throttled by a mad Queen. Me? Pip’s last phone call. But anything more and I’d never have gotten off the floor. You gotta do you, right?
TTVJ: Killjoys often subverts and challenges traditional notions of relationships between men and women. Even knowing that, I was amazed at how understanding Pip was about Zeph’s feelings on relationships–it’s not something we’re used to seeing on TV. How did you approach writing that scene?
JD: For me, the key to Pip’s death scene was that post-banging scene in Eulogy. Michelle [Lovretta] had written some scene fragments between Pip and Zeph that became the foundation for that scene. As soon as I read Zeph’s line ‘middle is good’ I knew they would be Pip’s last words because that’s the key to whatever their relationship is. They don’t try to change each other. They both have personalities that are a little extra, but together, they even each other out. Meet in the middle, if you would.
Also, Pip’s a great listener! Partly because it was his job to wheedle information out of people to sell. Partly because he was a neglected spoiled rich kid who only children listened to. But Zeph is someone who was never listened to growing up. Science is how she gets people to listen to her. Pip listens to her in a different way without trying to change her. I think this is really disarming for Zeph.
That’s why Pip didn’t need Zeph to say ‘I love you’ even as he was about to die because he knew how much those words would cost her. Everything about Zeph’s actions, how she tried to save him, trusted him, believed in him told him that she loved him. In her way. And that’s all he wanted.
TTVJ: It was in that post-banging scene that we learned more about Zeph’s backstory and her past trauma with her family. What was the process like in the writers room developing that history for the character?
JD: Michelle always had a pretty clear idea that Zeph was from a Handmaids Tale meets the Amish kind of farming cult on Leith. As for developing her history, you’ll just have to wait for Season 5.
TTVJ: Zeph’s relationship with Team Awesome Force is understandably shaky at the moment. She’s angry with Dutch for Pip’s death, and even Johnny admits that he left his share of the science burden on her shoulders. How can they move forward from here?
JD: Moving forward is not going to be easy. But maybe the silver lining in Pip’s death is Zeph is over her hero worship of Dutch and the boys. Is her anger with Dutch justified? Not really. But it’s the safest place to put her hurt right now.
Zeph has done amazing things this season and Pip was the only one to really see this. He didn’t take her for granted like the others sometimes do. Pip’s death allowed Zeph to let go of her need for Awesome Force’s approval. She’s not the irritating little sister that tags along any more. Now she’s the irritating little sister Awesome Force needs to tag-along or they’re going to get their asses kicked.
TTVJ: While Pip’s death was a slow and heartbreaking realization, Weej’s death was a punch in the gut. I literally felt like the wind was knocked out of me. How could you hurt us like that?
JD: As our episode 9s are always a deathfest, we thought it would be sneaky if we served one right out of the gate. Throw the viewer off the scent. Was it vicious? Absolutely. Cruel? 100 per cent. Do you want to punch me in the face? Get in line. And blame Barken. Please blame Barken.
TTVJ: Poor Turin (Patrick Garrow) experienced a lot of trauma this episode between losing his guy and losing the RAC. Without giving anything away, what does this mean for him and for the remaining Killjoys?
JD: We basically turned Turin into a Country song, didn’t we? He lost his job, his girl, and then his dog died. Get that poor bastard a beer and shot of whiskey. What does this mean for Turin and the Quad’s Killjoys? They’re homeless. They’re alone. They’re squatting on an alien armada that belongs to an ancient evil entity who probably wants it back. I think it means they’re fucked.
TTVJ: Up until you ripped our hearts out, it felt like a bit of an old-school episode with the Killjoys working together, and Fancy continuing to be the Designated Asshole. Was there a sense of that when you were writing this episode?
JD: Definitely. Even when dealing death willy-nilly, we’re always asking, ‘where’s the fun in this? Where’s the joy?’ But as I write this, I’m wondering, is this a cry for help?
TTVJ: Aneela and Dutch have switched places, with Dutch now in the Green with the Lady. How does this shake things up heading into next week’s finale?
JD: The first part of the season was the Killjoys version of The Odyssey. Now that Dutch has finally made it home, we go down the rabbit hole to Wonderland where a bloodthirsty Green Queen is waiting to go off with their heads…
Were you shocked by the events of this week’s episode? Do you need a tissue? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.