[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Just two weeks until we dive back into a slightly different variation of Wild, Wild, Westerley in the fifth and final season of Killjoys and We. Are. So. Ready. Last August, I visited the set for the third time, and during a press day, chatted with several of the cast and creative team who’ve brought us an addictive four years of Friday night fun. First up, showrunner Adam Barken, writer and producer Julian Doucet, and producer Beth Iley talk the journey so far and tease Season 5.
We’ve talked before about how terrific this series is at world-building and diversity and Doucet and Iley agreed that it’s something sci-fi in general, as well as their show, have addressed. And they credit series creator Michelle Lovretta with charting that path.
“What I love is that [Killjoys] imagines the best of what our future could be so we don’t have to explain or get through all the things we’re working toward, whether it’s inclusivity, diversity, progressivity, all of that stuff,” says Doucet. “We get to imagine we’re just there and we get to fight monsters who want to eat our brains. It was part of the environment I stepped into. That’s how Lovretta rolls.”
“She doesn’t wait for the dialogue to change. That’s just the language that [she speaks], and the people are starting to speak in that key more and more and more. It feels great to know when we’re writing and casting and working with directors, these are conversations we’re having about inclusion and diversity and always being mindful of it, but it was always baked into the architecture of it.”
“Since the very first time I picked up a script, which was the pilot, I was amazed at Michelle’s ability to nail humor, heart, and stakes all at once, and it’s something [the writers] constantly deliver on. I think that’s a challenge for us, every season, to continue to execute on that promise we made to the fans,” adds Iley.
“It’s the job of sci-fi to address those conversations more than any other genre can. It’s become part of the fabric and we’ve stopped batting an eye at it. All the way through to the music. Our composition and song licenses are sometimes audacious and surprising and subversive in their tone and it matches our writing well.”
“We take our cues from Michelle and Adam. It’s finding those surprising images. That’s sometimes how Michelle works. Finding an arresting image and sometimes building a story around that,” shares Doucet. “[As we write], part of what we’re doing is paying off the arcs of the season. We also try to make each other laugh.”
“[We ask], ‘Is it joyful? Is it exciting? Is it sexy?’ In a Lovretta universe, sexy means 20 to 50 different things. When I first started, I was like, ‘There are so many ways we’re using sexy. I don’t know!’”
“We try to ground some [storytelling] in actual science and sometimes take a more impressionistic approach to science as a point of departure, a jumping off point. Like the Hullen was based on an actual neuroparasite that can be found in kitty litter.”
Family has been a throughline across the series, and Doucet and Barken say that continues despite the reset at the end of Season 4. “Family is the bedrock of the series. All the different ways it hurts us and heals us and how it shapes us, and [we wonder if we] can we unplug from the wiring, the track that has been laid down for us as children,” Doucet explains.
“How is that driving us? When is it our guide? When its it our prisoner? All of our characters have at times felt lost and found their ways together and Season 5 is very much about fighting for that…chosen family. When the Lady strips them of four seasons of working toward each other and takes that and makes them different people, that’s the ultimate betrayal.”
Getting to the reset point wasn’t wholly a master plan according to Barken, but the importance of memory evolved over the series’ run, and Season 5 is a bit of an “If…, then…” puzzle to see where it leads. “TV’s a bit of a magic trick. You start off with a plan and right from the beginning, one of the things that came out naturally was this idea of memory and how it relates to family,” he explains.
“The more we explored that every season, the richer the stories became. By Season 2, we had a pretty good idea that one of the main themes was family and one of the main ways you interact with and deal with family is your shared memories. The idea of D’av and his lost memories started us down a path that seemed a really good one to follow.”
“We tried others that weren’t as interesting to us, so I think we were lucky that we found one that really meant a lot to us and that now allowed us to build in a season that goes back to the core themes of memory, family, what this trio means to each other, and what the world means to them. Season 4 was a good time to pay off, in an interesting and compelling way, and to explain, what the Green is and how it worked, and who the Lady is and how’s she’s been manipulating it, who the Hullen are and how they are in that place.”
“In Season 5, it’s about, ‘How are we going to pay off the idea that Khlyen has been involved in something for hundreds of years, some of which he’s understood, some of which he hasn’t, and showing [the] worst case scenario [that] the Lady got what she wanted, [and asking], ‘How close we can get and show people before maybe our guys find a way to stop it?’”
“In Season 5, the idea is that Westerley is under this kind of memory wipe because it’s important to the Lady’s plans. This season is about saving Westerley. Leith and Q’resh are always part of the Quad, but we’ve always felt, for Dutch and her team, Westerley and Old Town in particular are the places they consider home, so that’s where the final fight is and where the Lady has focused her attention.”
“One of the finds of doing a story likes this is, we’ve spent four seasons getting to know these characters. We have the joy of knowing exactly what [our characters] will say, so let’s have some fun saying, ‘What if people weren’t the same? What f Pree wasn’t a bartender and what if Turin wasn’t the head of RAC?’ We thought, who would they be in a new Old Town society and we’d have some fun playing that,’ and we did.”
Despite the massive character reboot, Barken assures viewers that the core of who our beloved characters are remains unchanged. “The way we respond to things, our theory of people, is that people are still who they are, even if they aren’t sure who they were and where they come from,” he says.
Killjoys returns for its final 10 episodes Friday, July 19th, at 10 pm/9c on Syfy and Space Channel. Until then, get your Tweet on with the fans and creative team. In case you missed it, all of our coverage of the first four seasons is here. You can catch up on all four seasons on demand on the Space Go app and Syfy app and website. And here’s the full Season 5 trailer.
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Space Channel, Syfy, and Julian Doucet.
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