[Warning: MAJOR Spoilers ahead for tonight’s episode of Killjoys.]
Tonight’s Killjoys episode was a mother of an episode, with a lot going on, not the least of which involved Delle Seyah having her intergalactic test tube baby. She and Johnny were also essentially killed, cleansed, and rebooted. For those keeping track at home, superhero nerd Zeph saved three lives. Then there’s Dutch waking up and unpacking a world of hurt inflicted by The Lady. And D’av was running point on all of it. This morning, I jumped on the phone with the episode’s writer, Nikolijne Troubetzkoy, who also gave us last season’s Dutch origin story, “The Wolf You Feed,” (which was directed by tonight’s director, Stefan Pleszczynski) to talk about that episode, this one, and where we’re heading.
Troubetzkoy joined the writers room in Season 3, and along with last week’s writer, Julian Doucet, initially interviewed for Season 1. She wasn’t added that year, and in the interim worked on Orphan Black, where she penned the bonkers Sarah freefall episode, “The Antisocialism of Sex.” When Killjoys came calling again last year, she was thrilled to be asked. “I said, ‘Yes! I would love nothing more than to work on this show.’ I watched the first two seasons and was a fan. It was a huge opportunity for me,” she recalls.
Troubetkoy is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s highly competitive Bell Media Primetime TV Program, which only selects six students a term (the same program Doucet also graduated from). “I was originally writing short stories and fiction and I got a job as a script coordinator on a kids show for a year and I just loved the television experience. It’s the only form of writing where you get to be collaborative with other writers,” she explains.
“I really enjoyed being in a writers room and having that support and…the opportunity to see the writing come to fruition, getting to be on set and liaise with all the different departments. It’s so much bigger than writing itself. After that experience, I was sold on television and the fact that you could make a living didn’t hurt either.”
“I applied to CFC and got in. They do such a good job of showing you how the industry works and introducing you to different production companies and broadcasters. It really is an excellent program. I feel very blessed to get to do this and every time I’m on set, after the hard work of writing is done, and get to see everyone do their amazing thing, I feel so grateful to be there.”
Being handed the reins of a major reveal like Dutch’s “birth” last season came sooner than Troubetzkoy expected but she was excited about the challenge. “We knew that we were going to make that reveal at some point during the season. It was in all of our minds that it would come in the season finale, but as we were in the room and breaking Episode 7, it became more clear that that was the time when that revelation needed to happen,” she says.
“When planning out a whole season, you think that your revelations are going to come very slowly, and inevitably, once you end up breaking the episodes, you pull things forward and add more at the end. It was a very last-minute decision to pull up that reveal and that’s what makes that episode amazing.”
The episode also peeled back the onion on Khlyen, which was an added bonus. “[He] is such an interesting, complicated character. Michelle [Lovretta]‘s conception of him has always been to embrace all the facets of parenthood in all their many forms. The good, bad, and sometimes ugly,” she points out.
“This was such a great opportunity…you start in Season 1 and you see a very particular side of that character and in Season 2, it flips a bit and in Season 3, with the reveal of the backstory, you find out why he is the way he is and why he made the decisions he made and how his relationship with Dutch came to be. It was such a beautiful thing to be given to me to tell that story. Rob [Stewart] does such a terrific job with that character and he brings such complexity to it.”
Seasons 4 and 5 were written in tandem so Troubetzkoy knew she’d be writing tonight’s episode, but the “what” of it evolved. “When we started breaking it at the beginning of the season, we figured out that it would be the episode where the team comes back together. As we started going through [the first three episodes], we realized it would also be the episode where Delle Seyah gives birth,” she shares.
“So, initially, the conception of the episode was that it would be the team reuniting and also a birth story. [Originally], it had a totally different B story and we were not planning to get into the flashbacks in the Green. We were planning to save that for a later episode. At the very last-minute, Adam Barken said, ‘I think we need to move that flashback up.'”
“Again, that was such a great decision because it changed the episode from being more of a Delle Seyah story to instead becoming the story of Dutch waking up and telling her story of what happened in the Green. I think at this point, this is what the audience really wants to know. And to me, as soon as the team comes back together, it was great to see Dutch become the driving force for the story again. From a storytelling perspective, she really is the heart of the show. You can keep her off the screen a certain amount of time and it builds tension but then you really just want to have her back and kicking ass.”
Dutch facing off with The Lady morphing in and out of Khlyen and Aneela to test her mind and memories was hard to watch because it was so personal to Dutch, who’s just learning to trust them again/at all. That was exactly the point. “We were really thinking about what is the scariest way we could present The Lady and show her to the audience. Hannah [John-Kamen] and Rob are such amazing actors,” Troubetzkoy says.
“The idea of someone getting into your mind and digging through your memories and taking on the form of the people you love is such a terrifying thing and we thought that would be fun to play with. There is something concrete and specific she wants from Dutch. All will be revealed.”
The superhero save of essentially killing Johnny and Delle Seyah started with Delle Seyah’s delivery. “We were trying to get this baby that’s too big out of this woman’s iron stomach, basically and figure out all the fun steps we could use…and then the idea of having John cleanse himself by breaking his neck was this brilliant idea that was one stone, two birds. [It] actually solved both our problems and what a great high-stakes resolution for us to get the baby out of Delle Seyah’s belly,” she says.
The other remarkable thing is how quiet and fast the baby’s arrival is when it comes, and Troubetzkoy explains that was a deliberate choice. “When we were thinking about it in the room and in production meetings, we’ve seen so many birth scenes and they’re always kind of the same thing and it can sometimes also be very complicated and expensive to shoot really well,” she says.
“[It’s] been done…over and over again. My feeling was that the moment was more of an emotional moment for Delle Seyah because she was going to lose her core identity of being Hullen and become human and it’s the moment where she doesn’t know what’s happened to this woman she loves, and all of a sudden she’d going to be a single woman to a kid by herself on a space ship full of her enemies. I felt like the physicality was not important. It was really about her emotions.”
“I think that encompasses the whole journey this season and into Season 5. The thing she is most terrified of is whether Aneela will love her now that she is human, and where this hell is Aneela anyway…That struggle with her identity–she will have to figure out how to deal with that [and] be OK with her humanity. I’m sure if she could find some green that wasn’t frozen, she’d be all over that.”
Having Johnny kill himself to save himself when D’av and Dutch couldn’t do it for him was another methodical decision. “I think we started with the image of him being chained at the neck and I had this wonderful vision of him being so full of hurt and love and rage and frustration…he is Hullen but at the same time, he’s human as well,” Troubetzkoy shares.
“He’s in this in-between place and he’s losing his humanity. To see the person who is closest in the world to him in front of him…I had this vision of him running and running at her and snapping his neck and from the beautiful, emotional place Julian [Doucet] set him [last week]. Aaron Ashmore did a beautiful job with that and the ending needing to come from himself.”
The episode also saw D’av put through his paces, and that will be his theme this season. “Because [this episode] was being shot with 401, we wanted to keep the episode fairly small and contained…we wanted to keep it all on Lucy. Michelle came up with this great image. You have all these crises happening in all the areas of the ship and D’avin is the guy in the hallway being pulled between all of them to be the leader of because Dutch is not in an emotional space to take on that role right now,” she explains.
“We wanted this to be the episode where we would see D’av take ownership of the ship and everything that’s going on, At the end of the episode, he becomes a father. It’s a birthing episode for him too, in a way. After all these crazy crises, he’s going to be delivered into a totally different life than he’s ever experienced before.”
Zeph also steps up in a huge way and that’s also leading her toward her path in Season 4. “What I love about Zeph in this episode…my favorite part is that she gets pretty snippy at times. It’s a fun aspect to her and speaks of how far she’s come. We loved her in Season 3 so much. Kelly [McCormack] did such a great job with the character and Zeph became part of the team,” Troubetzkoy points out.
“With John incapacitated, she was thrust into the position that he would fill or help her fill if he was in his right mind. It’s one of the first episodes where we see her become a full-fledged equal. She’s going to go beyond being the nerd we met [last year]. That’s going to be a lot of her journey in Season 4, from the very competent nerd to the incredible badass we know she can be.”
One lovely moment–when Pree calls out Delle Seyah for Pawter’s death–had been waiting a little while for the right slot. “We do try to keep in mind everything they have been through and there isn’t always an opportunity to do that. [This] had been nagging at us and we were looking for an opportunity,” Troubetzekoy says.
“It’s so great to see Delle Seyah evolve from an enemy to someone who’s maybe’s not quite a friend but an ally. That history of what she’s done is ever-present. Pree is the best person to be able to speak to that. I was so happy to be able to work that in there.”
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