Vivian Lin and Derek Robertson Talk Killjoys “Three Killjoys and a Lady” [Exclusive]
[Wanring: Major spoilers for tonight’s episode.]
The duo were paired up by showrunner Adam Barken and say it was a natural progression of their working relationship as story editors and writers room colleagues to finally script an episode together Fellow writer Andrew DeAngelis joked on Twitter this week that the pair were combative when writing the script, but Lin recalls that they laughed a lot and it’s apparent talking to them that they just get each other in a fun way that reaps rewards for us at home with this episode.
Writing the final season of a series means that you’re on the hook to hit specific plot points, and with this one, Lin and Robertson knew going in that they had to build their story around losing Lucy. The aspect of being confined into one fixed space and not trusting each other was pulled together alongside some separate threads.
“Two parallel things came together. The first idea was an homage of doing our version of The Thing and what that would be—being paranoid and not trusting each other and our team turning against each other. That was a floating idea for a while,” says Lin.
“Adam came up with the twist that, ‘One of us is not right and the three of us turn on each other and the twist is that it’s Lucy all along.’ And on the other trail, we were talking about, ‘How do we make The Lady feel lethal?’ and it dovetailed really nicely and that’s where it fit in, in episode 3.”
“Vivian and I had been roughly talking about doing a whole different episode,” recalls Robertson. “This was always a beat we needed to hit early in the season. We really wanted to drive home that The Lady is far more dangerous than anyone we’ve ever faced before. How do we do that? And we thought the way we do that was with Lucy.”
They were totally aware of the stakes involved in killing off Lucy and say it was a necessary evil, and would be the most impactful to Team Awesome Force. And they absolutely wanted Tamsen McDonough to appear onscreen. “Lucy is the fourth Killjoy, who they could always trust… [until they couldn’t],” says Lin.
“When we knew we were going to write the final goodbye between Johnny and Lucy…it was a huge privilege and responsibility. These are characters we’ve loved since Season 1 and [we loved] the relationship they’ve shared together,” says Robertson. “So, you feel that weight going into it and that final scene was so important to get right. It’s the final chapter between the two of them and the journey they’ve been on. It was both scary and exciting to get to [write that].”
Robertson says since her earlier appearance in Season 2’s “I Love Lucy,” they had been looking for a way to bring McDonough back, and this was the perfect, albeit bittersweet, opportunity. Lin admits it was emotional for her onset when McDonough suited up as Lucy in the flesh to tell Johnny how to kill her. “I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to cry and then when I saw Tamsen as Lucy and that scene with Aaron [Ashmore], I teared up,” she shares. “She and Aaron together are so awesome.”
Robertson says they mulled how to do that goodbye and settled on the ultimate heartbreaking callback. “We [considered a big monologue] and then we realized quickly that the perfect goodbye between them was the first thing they said to each other—’Goodbye, thief’ and ‘Goodbye, ship.’ Tamsen did such a great job,” he says. “It’s such a rare thing for us to get to see her because a lot of her work is in post-production. For us to get to watch her on set was kind of a fan moment for us.”
They both say it was as hard to script as it was for us to watch. “In every draft, you’re still saying goodbye every time,” shares Lin. “It hurts every time. You can’t believe you’re doing it and it never gets any more fun.” Robertson shares that Julian Doucet warned him it would be a hard episode to write. “I thought I’d be fine with it,” he recalls. “But I did find myself getting emotional writing the scene between Johnny and Lucy.”
As for that fake out of it maybe being one of the other three who were body jacked by The Lady, Lin explains that their *off*-ness stemmed from their mindwipe and captivity. “After the memory matrix and being tortured by The Lady, they’re still not quite themselves,” she explains.
“I think all three of them are part of one heart and until they can find their way to each other and get their trust back with each other, they’re always going to be affected by what they did and didn’t live in the matrix. It’s definitely a wedge that has come between them and it’s going to play out for a next little while.”
“Even though they’re together and fine, they’re not quite right, and until they figure out how to be together again in the same way, everything is going to be challenging. They’re a little lost. It’s a ripple effect and it takes a while to get over it.”
Robertson says they’re dealing with the worst version of a morning-after hangover. “It’s beyond their control,” he points out. “If you have a night you regret and things go back to normal, it’s still hanging over you and whoever was with you.”
It’s apparent throughout the episode, and definitely by the end, that Johnny is bearing the worst of it. Lin says there’s a lot to unpack there. “He’s trying to figure out where he fits [now that he’s back in his real world] alongside Dutch and D’av,” she says. “Their life in the memory matrix also [raised feelings he wasn’t aware he’d even had], so now what?” Add losing Lucy to that and it won’t be an easy road for him. But we’ll have to wait and see whether that means a return of Johnny Dangerously from “Bro’d Trip.”
Aside from the emotional arc for Ashmore in the episode, we also get to see him cat burglar/Indiana Jones his way across his lab to try to short out the mainframe without walking on the floor. “We had that right from early days. That was one of the things we were most excited about. It’s one of the things that makes writing Killjoys one of the most fun shows. You go from these heavy emotional moments to these fun pure adventure moments. There was a lot of stuff that we were excited to dig into and getting to watch Johnny outsmart Lucy…we called it ‘the floor is hot,’” laughs Robertson.
“Our stunt people are great. There was a lot of choreography and I think we got it pretty quickly, which is a testament to how well it was planned between the stunt people and Aaron and [director] Paolo [Barzman]. It was not only a fun scene, it was an exciting scene to write because it felt like the ultimate showdown between Lucy and Johnny.”
“Through all these adventures, they’ve put their brain and AI together to solve these problems and now it’s John’s gray matter vs. Lucy’s circuitry. It’s weird that they were building to this. They have to square off without being able to help each other.”
Team Awesomeforce heading into a Supermax prison won’t be a great fit, either. And it’s possible that may bring back some literal old demons. As Robertson points out, “It’s never a good thing when someone who was in law enforcement ends up on the inside a prison.”
Having The Lady weirdly foist a tea party on Dutch was a callback to The Lady mining her memories with Khlyen in Season 4. “It’s part of her watching human interaction and relating to Dutch through her interactions with Khlyen,” explains Lin.
Our lingering questions about Khlyen will also have to play out this season. To start with, there’s that pesky fact that he should actually be dead. We still don’t quite know which master he serves—aside from himself.
We’ll also have to wait and see what it all means that The Lady’s too extra for her human hosts to sustain, and how that drives her toward trying to find Jaq, who’s apparently a beta test of a super species.
Post-Killjoys, you can catch Lin’s work on the upcoming second season of the Canadian series, Carter, which will air on WGN America in the US, and in Canada you can also find her behind the scenes of Season 2 of City TV’s Hudson & Rex. The titular Rex is a very handsome German Shepherd and Lin says writing for him involves scripting him like any other character, including the reactions.
The gig also reunites her with Doucet. She laughs that it’s their fourth successive season together. Robertson is currently in development on a new original drama series that we’ll hopefully see on the air soon. Fingers crossed!
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 pm/9c on Space Channel and Syfy. All of our Killjoys coverage is here. You can catch all four seasons and the first two Season 5 episodes on demand on the Space Go app and Syfy app and website. This episode should be online tomorrow.
Finally, a massive thank you to Vivian and Derek for taking the time to speak with me twice when the recording of our first call didn’t come out. I’m so glad y’all got to see the work of these lovely, kind, generous humans tonight!
Images courtesy of Vivian Lin, Space Channel, and Syfy.
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