Throughout its first two episodes, SYFY’s Vagrant Queen has already made it abundantly clear that it never takes itself too seriously, is always down for a joke, and is ready to subvert whatever viewers think they know about the space genre. Near the end of this week’s episode, “Yippee Ki Yay,” written and directed by showrunner Jem Garrard, Vagrant Queen not only solidified that that trio of Elida (Adriyan Rae), Isaac (Tim Rozon), and Amae (Alex McGregor) were all in the fight together, but it delivered an absolutely entertaining twist on an old trope along the way.
After being captured, Elida, Isaac, and Amae were taken to a battle for their lives. They were put in a cage, hung over a huge grill and fire, seemingly in a fight to the death versus their opponent. Elida readied herself for hand to hand combat, something she felt pretty confident in, and then the surprise happened. Not only would this not be a battle of combat, but much to Isaac’s dismay, it turned out to be none other than a karaoke battle. Once the shock wore off, the trio got into the swing of things and expertly belted out the 80s ballad “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship. You just can’t make this stuff up.
The scene marked one of the first instances of the team setting aside their differences, stopping all of their bickering, and really working together to accomplish a goal. It also served to give audiences a clear view of how Vagrant Queen continues to wonderfully mix action and sci-fi with humor. Oh, and if they flip a few tropes on their head along the way, then “that’s exactly what we wanted to do with it,” Garrard told The TV Junkies.
Garrard acknowledged that she knew putting that scene so early on in the series was a bit of a risk. “It happens in Episode 2, and that is when the audience will decide if they love the show or hate the show.” For her, it was definitely a standout scene that was indicative of everything Vagrant Queen is trying to do. As she explained, “often we were filming some really fun and ridiculous things, but underneath all of that, the show has a lot of heart as well. You can have a lot of fun, but people are only going to come back if they like these characters.”
For Rozon, he said that the karaoke scene was huge in not only solidifying Vagrant Queen’s central trio on screen, but off screen as well. “The very first time Jem, Adriyan, Alex and myself were in a room together in South Africa was for the table read for the first two episodes. We did an impromptu performance of this song and that’s when I knew we had something special. The three of us clicked. It was magic,” he recalled. He said even SYFY was immediately impressed as well. “I even remember our exec Josh [Van Houdt] from SYFY was there, and I saw him smiling during our singing. Making Josh from SYFY smile is huge,” said Rozon.
Beyond that first table read, “filming it was one of the highlights of the entire show for me,” Garrard said. Rozon was quick to agree with his showrunner. He recalled that “it was a night shoot. It was a cold night/morning and we were suspended pretty high up in the air with real fire below us. It was awesome and felt super real, but It was like 4 a.m. and I was just trying to stay awake and remember the words to the song! But I remember looking down and seeing Jem, and Jem’s energy was not stopping. She inspired me to keep going.”
For Garrard, she was just happy that the scene was able to come to fruition. “You write a scene where the characters are lifted in a cage above a grill singing karaoke, and you expect along the way that it will have to be cut or altered in some way. But it never was.” She credits the Vagrant Queen crew with making what she had on the page really come to life. “The art department and stunts team were just so excited to do it that everyone kept pushing ahead with it.” Rozon once again echoed her sentiments saying that “the set designers deserve big props for that day. It was one of the coolest sets I’ve ever been on.”
With the actors on board and the set all ready, there was one last element needed to make the scene work: the perfect song. Garrard said she knew from the start she “wanted a great 80s singalong track.” After listening to playlists constantly, she said she “had a lot of top contenders,” but “ultimately the scene is about these individuals becoming a team and working together.” That’s when she decided on “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” and “knew it was the one” because “it had the feel good vibes. It was perfect for our story and I could see every beat and moment of the scene when I heard it. From the trio saving Peter the bunny alien to Elida swinging out the cage in her Yippee Ki Yay moment! When this team works together nothing’s gonna stop them!”
Rozon said that the song actually became the Vagrant Queen slogan from that moment forward. He explained that “yes, we didn’t have the biggest budget, but our show has heart and now that show is on TV, truly nothing is gonna stop us now.”
What did you think of the Vagrant Queen trio’s karaoke battle? Sound off below!
Vagrant Queen airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on SYFY and Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.