Michelle Lovretta Talks Killjoys Season 2 And What’s Next [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.]
As we close out the second season of Killjoys and anticipate a third (woooo!), showrunner Michelle Lovretta took the time this week to chat with me about the show, the season, and what’s next (in general terms–no spoilers).
In her mind, we’re just getting started with two seasons. She also has a book series planned, so the Killjoys universe has many possibilities.
Lovretta has enough story planned for five seasons (praise the trees!), with the caveat that there’s always flexibility on the minutiae because the writer’s room is so rich with ideas. “I always look that far ahead when I am in the pitching phase. I want to know that I have enough personal interest in telling the story and that I’ve built enough organic, natural avenues for story and narrative expansion that would keep me interested for five years,” she explains.
“The big changes in the finale were there from the pitch stage. I do that but, I also understand that’s a proof of concept test for myself and a level of comfort for the networks I’m pitching to. Creativity being what it is, I’d be a fool not to take advantage of the wonderful minds that come into my room.”
“They all add something to it and come up with things I’d never think of. I remain flexible so that we can consistently go with what the best path and best story is make sure that every season we give something fresh and new, as best we can, to the audience.”
“[At the beginning of each season], we work on breaking out the firm-flexible tent poles. We know what’s going to happen at large turning points along the way. I get very hesitant about saying anything beyond any visual I’m having. It’s not that I don’t know where they’ll be. It’s that I’m nervous to say them aloud until I feel I have a really good hold on the missing pieces.”
“We break the first episodes in very fine detail after we’ve broken that larger arc in less fine detail and then we start handing out the script assignments to the various writers and they take lead on breaking a lot of their stuff. It’s very much a group effort from there on in.”
The exception is Johnny and Dutch scenes. “Dutch is the hardest [to write]. She’s a solid character that you build a lot of people around. She’s the core. [I] try to make sure that we have some fun with her and when I dig into her scary places, they’re the scariest,” she explains.
“She’s not femme fatale. She’s just fatal. That’s part is always emotionally hard. I know when I’m getting into Jonny and Dutch territory I am probably going to end up crying on crackers. That’s where I exert my showrunner privileges and greedily write their scenes because they’re the most fun.”
This season, we said goodbye to Pawter and Khlyen (totally bearing in mind how science fiction works, mind you), and Lovretta says Pawter’s arc was set from the jump while Khlyen’s Season 2 arc was somewhat about establishing who Dutch will be in Season 3.
“I had the end in mind for Pawter since the very beginning of Season 1. There were a lot of factors. It was important for me to have somebody that we identified with that embodied the struggle of Old Town,” she says. “What was interesting was that she wasn’t originally an Old Towner, but I felt that ultimately made her the ideal Old Towner because that’s what they are–a collection of people who’ve come from elsewhere–and this is their beleaguered home.”
“Creatively, I liked all these different iconic types of characters I could explore through Pawter–the poor little rich girl, the bad girl, the Florence Nightingale, the people’s princess, Joan of Arc at the end. She got to go on this path and I enjoyed going with her.”
Khlyen’s resolution is a little less certain, and it’s grounded in a larger complex arc. “I hesitate to say that this is Khlyen’s end point. I think it would be naive and premature of us to say that,” she points out. “I always want to change Khlyen. If we were fortunate enough to have Rob [Stewart] come and play and have a story that would make that worth it, it would have to be a thing that twists the relationships with Dutch and Aneela and makes it more interesting for the actor to play.”
“I’ve got all these really talented people and I don’t want to bore them with the same arc all the time. I want them to be able to explore different parts of their character and science fiction allows us to do that in some really interesting and compelling ways. I’ve said to all the actors who seem to be getting finales, “‘I don’t know if this is as it seems.'”
“What I really loved, and why it was necessary for me to close the door on Khlyen, for now, was that he has such a hold on [Dutch]. I gave myself permission to be deeper and darker this season [because] I love to give my cast things to work with emotionally and they clearly rocked it out.”
“My appetite is to stand on the foundation of that deeper character growth and allow ourselves to have a lot of fun. What I’d really like to unearth is a completely unleashed Dutch. As much as I like introducing Aneela, we’re also bringing a new side of Dutch out.”
“I want her to be free and independent. It’s a complicated mourning process [for abuse survivors when they realize], “‘I’m just me now. I’m not me pursuing them or running from them. I’m entirely my own free, true, authentic self.’ I’d really love to invest that spirit in Dutch and through her, in that spirit, have a very kickass Season 3.”
“You only get to have fun playing with [these characters] if you also invest in very real, believable human situations. I took seriously my moral obligation to be careful how I dealt with [their] story. I like taking villains and humanizing them and then realizing they aren’t villains to everybody, or looking at what their reasons were.”
“Khlyen did have a damaging relationship with Dutch, even though he wasn’t in control of all of it, or it was the best he could do. It was important for me to have Dutch move past that but [also say], ‘It’s not OK to ask me to pretend that I wasn’t a victim so you can feel better.'”
“You can get past the duality and complexity. Love is not simple. When you throw pain in with love, it gets really heady and complicated, but it can be love, after a fashion, and ignoring that is even more complicated for the people experiencing it.”
All three Killjoys came together as damaged in some way, and Lovretta says they’ve each recalibrated emotionally to the times in their lives that were lost to them. “A lot of times, when people are pushing for a subtextual romance between John and Dutch, I quietly try to explain them that Dutch came to him in a bloody dress with extreme trauma and some Stockholm syndrome and he was not going to make a move on that girl,” she says.
“He had a hard childhood because D’av left and she had a hard childhood because of murder, death, mayhem. They meet as children, emotionally. When you see them at their best, that’s what they are. When you see them on the bed, kicking their feet. reading the comic book, that’s pure them. What you’re seeing with D’avin is he’s resetting to [his teenage self], the part of his life that he was deprived of enjoying on his own, which was when he was kicked out and had to join the military.”
Khlyen and Pawter were just two of the peripheral characters expanded this year, and we saw Clara come back tonight, too. Lovretta is grateful for the wealth of opportunities afforded by her main and supporting cast, and admits Clara’s return came about in an unusual but fulfilling way.
“One of the things I really enjoy is that I’m not working with a lot of people, with the exception of Hannah, who are really new to the size of their roles. They’re pretty much veterans. They know how to love their work and also do the work. They’re extremely, extremely professional and that allows us to also have a lot fun because we’re getting the job done,” she says.
“[Every guest star] is always a test case. I always want to put actors together, and sometimes interesting sparks happen that you weren’t anticipating. Since we wanted to keep the heart of our show around the three and give people time to know them and bond with them, you couldn’t put a spotlight on the relationship with secondary characters, but they were all there for important structural reasons.”
“They were there to embody different aspects of the Quad and teach us who to care about, who to be concerned about, who to root for. If any of them had fallen flat, we couldn’t have explored religion as we needed to with Alvis or politics with Pawter and Delle Sayah.”
“It was an incredible strike of lightning that every single one of those actors exceeded, let alone met, the high expectations and hopes I had. And it’s because of that, that I have had the great privilege of expanding their roles and screen time, and I hope to do more of the same [in Season 3].”
Clara’s return in the finale, at Lucy’s behest, to accompany Johnny on his walkabout arose as Lovretta was anxiously sitting up in the middle of the night waiting for an on-set glitch to be worked during the production of “Dutch and the Real Girl,” the episode where we met Clara. “There had been an issue with the prosthetics that was potentially going to mess up the big fight. As often happens when I’m trying not to think of something, the characters just started speaking. I ended up writing two scenes,” she recalls.
“I wrote the John says goodbye to Lucy scene and I called my producing partner, Karen [Troubetzkoy], and said, “I’m bawling. I just wrote a scene were Johnny leaves Dutch, and oh, by the way, Clara comes back,’ because I ended up writing their last scene.”
“I knew that part while we shooting 201 [and we shot it during 201]. They didn’t change. The dialogue is the same as what I wrote at 2 am. Sometimes things come and you know that’s a fixed point that you’re going to get to and you have to trust that. It’s fun as a writer to see how that comes out.”
Lovretta has plans for a book series to accompany the show. “[The books will explore] the things everybody else loves, [which] is the stuff I love the most. It’s not just the relationships, it’s that great geeky stuff origin and back story and more depth to the politics, explaining the rituals and cultures,” she says. “I hope we will have the great fortune to be a long-running series and they can be good side venues for some of that information for fans.”
“I’d like to get into Pree’s warlord days because it’s great, juicy fun. This would allow you to explore it first on screen, which is where my heart is and my priority in storytelling will always be, and then, being able to give these little bits of candy to everybody is something I’d love to do.”
Looking ahead to Season 3, Lovretta says we’re in for more plasma, more kickassery, and more fun. “I think [the plasma] will be a thread through the run of the series. What it actually means, what it powers and limitations are will expand and be given greater detail and weight as we go through,” she says.
“My intent, currently, if it gels in my brain, is to have Season 3 be Dutch vs. Aneela. [Hannah will] work a lot. Being able to keep [happiness] in the characters is something that we’re really looking forward to. I want them to be a united team who are able to love and support one in another in the hard and enjoyable ways that they need.”
“It’s a continuing privilege to put sexy, sassy talking people on a spaceship. It’s a career highlight that I do not take for granted and certainly hope to keep doing, because, damn, it’s fun.”
You can catch up on Season 2 now on syfy.com.
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