Breaking Down Killjoys “Bro-d Trip” with Writer Julian Doucet [Exclusive]
[Warning: spoilers for tonight’s episode of Killjoys.]
How’s everybody doing after that? “Bro-d Trip” had a little bit of everything–heartbreak, happiness, humor, singing, reunions, and on and on–so I turned to the episode’s writer, Julian Doucet, to suss out What. The. Hell. Settle in, because we covered a lot of ground. Enjoy!
Doucet joined the show in the second season as a junior writer and moved up to staff and story editor, last year gifting us with the Pree-tastic “The Lion, The Witch, and The Warlord.” In addition to tonight’s episode, he penned episode 9 this season, with two more to follow in Season 5, which is currently in production. He took a break from episodes 507 and 508 to chat and says it’s hard to believe how much has transpired for all of them just in the short time since this episode was filmed in March.
“‘Bro-d Trip’ feels like it was another universe and year. It hasn’t even been a year and it feels like ages ago. It was always envisioned as [the conclusion of a two-parter and Michelle [Lovretta] was taking the first part,” he explains. “Since I’ve been in the room the longest other than [showrunner] Adam [Barken], it was thought it was easiest for me to follow Michelle and have it be more of a [cohesive] piece.”
Doucet says it also helped that the episode was Delle Seyah heavy. “In the [writers] room, all of us have a little bit more of an affinity for each of the characters. My first episode was heavy Delle Seyah and she’s one of my faves. We’re close buds. She’s controversial and I feel like I’ve got an inner queen in me,” he laughs. “Delle Seyah’s stuff is easier for me because it’s fun and it’s fantasy me, if I was the coolest version of myself.”
He adds that the glimpse of her softening just a hair is as close as she’ll get to her version of motherhood. “‘Here’s how you deal with assholes. This is my mothering 101. It doesn’t come with milk and cookies. It does come with other benefits,'” he laughs. “‘How to rule your kingdom, how to take out your enemies, the proper way to backstab. It’s all there.'”
The episode was an important bridge to get all the players aligned, and Doucet says there was definitely a mechanical aspect to the structure of the action. “The geography was, ‘They’re there, they’re there, and she’s there. How do we get the band back together and cover all these distances and find a story that can bring them all together?'” he points out.
“Because the series has changed and branched out, there are more families. Giving the other characters more breadth [and] life by weaving multiple storylines with different characters carrying different parts of the plot [gives] everyone a chance to get to know them better and see how they work together. The family gets bigger and expands.”
One of those families is Pree and Gared, and tonight’s episode had a sweet scene that was cut for time. Doucet happily fills in the blanks. “Before Zeph and Pip have their talk, Pree and Gared are saying goodbye. Gared is going to Westerley to look after the bar because his mom is an alcoholic and Pree’s worried about their [stock],” he shares.
“They’re having a sexy, funny time and Gared says, ‘It’s our bar now,’ and Pree says, ‘Check the prenup, honey. It’s sweet that you think so.’ We wanted to have a moment that shows they’re newlyweds and in love. There’s some real tenderness because we haven’t seen that in the first three episodes.”
“Pip is watching them and when they kiss, he tells them to keep it professional but he’s also sort of sulky because they get to be so demonstrative and loving that’s what he wants and he starts sighing.” Then we get the rest of the scene. Echoing what Kelly McCormack said earlier this week, Doucet agrees that creating Zeph’s stance on a relationship was a team effort.
“I have to give credit to Kelly and Michelle. We talked about Zeph’s journey and being accepted and having a place where she fits. Also [factoring in] are where she comes from and how men and women were treated and the expectations of women, that you will learn about in 9, which I also wrote,” he says.
“She comes with a lot of baggage. What is more important for her is this new family, sense of autonomy, and sense of purpose. She has no problem with sex but a romantic relationship with Pip, the younger son of a Qreshi family and a bad apple but also a terrible romantic…that’s the friction we were exploring, just trying to keep the truth of that character.”
“She’s not about romance and never has been. She’s not a prude and probably pretty fluid. ‘If it feels good, fun, but then you need to go and I need to do my things.’ It’s one area she could be surprised. Since she’s always curious, romance or relationship or friendship with Pip, that could be surprising. It was interesting to see how she would plot through something like that. We just followed Kelly and Michelle’s cues.”
The Jaqobis scenes were the hardest for us to watch (or maybe that was just me) and the hardest for Doucet to write, particularly the calm between storms when D’av sits by the fire and Johnny is chained and fighting with the Dutch in his head. “The campfire scene was a tricky scene and it took me a long time to crack it. There are so many versions and so much history there. [We had to look at,] ‘What have we already said before and what is the heart of this scene,'” Doucet explains.
“In Hullenizing Johnny, it’s the first time he puts himself first. Of course, it turns him into a psychopathic narcissist. Pluses and minuses…If you had Johnny’s intelligence and you didn’t hold back on the things you want to say because you know it’s going to hurt those people and you love those people, even though it’s true…that was tricky to find that balance.”
“[It’s the same] for D’av. He’s heard this argument a lot. How are they going to reach this next level in their relationship with things shifting? There’s a change in the trio and the fundamental dynamics and there’s a reorganizing and an insecurity in how that’s going to play out. All that is bubbling around and him being Hullenized gave us permission to explore [it].”
“It was an exciting scene, finding the truthfulness of that without veering into where they’re already picking at scabs. When you have to be vulnerable, it’s always a bit tougher. We’re never as articulate. Nobody wants to be vulnerable, I don’t think, even characters. That’s how we connect and that’s the risk and the scary and that’s the payoff.”
Dutch emerging from the Green holding the gun Johnny threw into it had me wondering if he somehow “activated” her. Doucet explains that it’s a little more complicated. “That is the gun he threw. Our image is like the sword in King Arthur and an inter-dimensional lady of the lake moment if we had all the money in the world. It is sort of that,” he says.
“In our minds, it was always Johnny getting proximity to the Green because his connection to Dutch is so strong. He summoned her throwing the gun in and because he’s Hullenized, there’s that connection between Aneela and Johnny (too). Aneela does things that nobody really understands and I don’t think even she understands. Because she is the mirror of Dutch and she is that memory twin, somewhere between the two of them there is that bond that draws them together.”
The moment that I snorted my Diet Coke was when Pree came running after Turin with, “Apologies, Baby Z. I couldn’t stop his hairness from flipping his wig.” Doucet says Turin had a line that was cut for time that served as a mic drop should there be any doubters with, “It’s not a wig.” He adds that his innate familiarity with Pree and Pip led to their “Really? That’s kind of my thing” back talk during their oaths.
“Sometimes when you write, things happen really, really fast. We thought it would be fun to have them swear in. The characters are so well-defined. As soon as I heard the words…[I] know who they are. That was a lot of fun to write,” he says. “One of the joys as a writer is when the characters kind of live with you and they talk.”
The decision to have Lucy’s lock code be Dutch and Johnny’s song came up in the writers room. “[We were asking], ‘What is the code that only they would know? What is significant?’ We wanted it to be emblematic of their relationship and have some sweetness to it because [the other storylines] were grimmer,” he explains.
“[We wanted] to find that balance to give its some lightness, heart, and Killjoys buoyancy. We’re all in love with Guyliner Johnny. It came out of that in the room. One of us said, ‘What would their song be?’ and [we realized] they have a song and we started spitballing [on] how they met.'”
Doucet ended up on Killjoys after working as an actor, doing stagework, and writing plays before ending up at the Canadian Film Centre, where he started writing scripts. He was initially slated to come in during the first season but had a French-Canadian show greenlit and came in during the second season instead. “Michelle read a script she liked. It was the English version of [my French show],” he recalls.
Although hired as a junior writer, his level of responsibility jumped considerably when another writer had to leave before completing her script and it was assigned to him to finish. “I came in a little later and sort of got airdropped in and I hit the ground running [on her script]. I was lucky that I didn’t know what I was doing,” he laughs.
He explains that it helps considerably that he and Lovretta share a similar tone. “Our voices are in the same universe. I don’t know what I am going to do when she’s not there to do her pass and make it sparkly and delicious,” he says.
Funnily enough, Doucet was raised in a home without a TV, but he voraciously read all the classic sci-fi, and had the benefit of a multi-cultural family and upbringing and being bilingual. “I was just lucky that I shared a point of view and humor and affinity that jived with Killjoys universe. I was writing dramedies and half-hour comedies. I never thought that it could be a career but Michelle really took a chance on me,” he says.
“When I started, they said, ‘We love everything you’re doing but please do it with more imminent death and lasers.’ I’m always attracted to stories of interpersonal relationships and why do we make the choices we make and why do we behave the way we behave? That’s going to be my meat. The sci-fi stuff was just me learning as I go. I was a drama nerd, I was a theater nerd. I didn’t know I was in the wrong nerd lane.”
Killjoys airs Friday night at 10 pm/9c on Syfy and Space Channel. The first two episodes of Season 4 are available online at each networkâ€™s site and through their apps, and tonight’s episode will be available tomorrow. ICYMI, all of our Season 4 coverage, including previews and exclusive interviews, is here.
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