[Waning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.]
See? I told you tonight’s Killjoys would ease your troubled heart! “Ship Outta Luck” was a very fun homage to cheesy prison movies. This week, I reached out to the episode’s writer, Julie Puckrin, to ask a few questions about bringing the funny and she graciously agreed to an e-mail Q&A.
Last season, Puckrin penned “Baby, Face Killer,” the episode that saw Jaq pursued by an assassin and tonight she got to put a different spin on it with a lady assassin and a badass warden. She had a ball getting the first crack at setting up the supermax.
“We knew we were going to a space prison this season, and I got lucky enough to write the episode introducing that world. Coming off the emotion and intensity of episode 503, it felt like time to have some fun and adventure. It was a blast to explore all the familiar prison story tropes and turn them on their head, Killjoys-style,” she says.
“[In one sense, the prison is integrated because] we wanted to keep our group together, but it also just felt like space prisons of the future probably would be integrated! I was excited to write two awesome new female characters, on opposite ends of the spectrum—the tough-as-nails Warden, and the deceptively kooky assassin.
“My favorite thing to write in this episode was the intake interviews between the Warden and D’av and John. It was fun to highlight their different approaches. I love that D’av was so endearingly honest, and wound up in hot water because of it. It was also fun to stop and recount just how crazy Team Awesome Force’s adventures have been over the last few seasons.”
The montage of the many uses for a spoon was a fun misdirect, especially if you were like me and just expected Dutch to kill someone with it as a callback to earlier mentions of her skillset. Puckrin had different ideas. “We had a lot of fun figuring out how Team Awesome Force would break out of prison. The trope is to tunnel your way out with a spoon. But Dutch isn’t the kind to dig tunnels—she’s the kind to kick butt,” she says.
“So we had a lot of fun thinking up ways she would use the spoon as a weapon, even if we didn’t get to show them all. I think it was Andrew de Angelis’s brilliant idea to have her use the spoon to steal the guard’s thumb print.”
During last year’s set visit, we were told Tamsen McDonough would be playing Lucy and Newcy in Season 5, but we had no context for the name change. Tonight, we met her for the first time, as Johnny starts a new relationship with a blank slate.
Puckrin shares that the version Johnny is carrying around is her master code. “Newcy is the only copy, and the only thing left of Lucy,” she shares. “So he’d better not let her go through the laundry in his pocket by accident.”
D’av’s earnestness during his heart-to-heart with Dutch was painfully sweet as he misunderstood what Dutch meant until she defined the love of Johnny’s life as Lucy, which surprised me because I’d always felt like that title belonged to Pawter. And we learn a couple of other things in that scene—that D’av doesn’t have to worry about losing Dutch to his brother, and maybe Dutch isn’t fully acknowledging that Johnny’s also grieving her. Puckrin explains that it’s complicated.
“Lucy has always been the fourth member of our trio, and her loss is hard for all of them. We’ve always known Lucy was in love with Johnny, but I think that love was mutual. John’s a deceptively complicated character, and Lucy really got him in a way that not everyone does. He’s grieving both the loss of Lucy, and the loss of the thing he wants most—which is to find his person and build a family,” she says.
“The Lady let him have a taste of that in the memory matrix, and she even gave it to him with Dutch, who is someone he genuinely does love…just not in THAT way. Now that they’re awake, John’s understandably confused. And on some level, Dutch might be afraid that acknowledging that confusion could hurt their friendship.”
For our Canadian friends who’ve seen the final season of Mary Kills People, it’s an extra treat to have Rachael Ancheril pop in to play the Warden, and it’s a little jarring to see her so stern after her MKP character was so joyful. That said, there’s a hint there that she might see some potential quid pro quo with the team, and Puckrin says we’ll need to wait and see.
“I don’t want to give anything away,” she points out. “But I can say that in this first episode at least, the Warden may not trust the Killjoys, but she is reluctantly charmed by them. And that leaves the door open for things to go either way.”
In Khlyen’s scenes with The Lady, he’s a bit empathetic to seeing her struggle with humanity, and he does a very crafty thing of making her look at whether it would be the best thing for her race. Puckrin explains that Khylen is still looking out for himself first.
“We know from previous seasons that Khlyen can be morally flexible when it comes to getting what he wants. And what he almost always wants most is to protect Dutch and Aneela—even if it means hurting them in the short term to do it,” she says.
“So for me, I think he’s biding his time, trying to give The Lady whatever she wants for now, until he can figure out a way to save his children. But it is a dangerous game, and Khlyen will certainly find himself in some very difficult positions.”
This was Puckrin’s last episode of the series, and she says it was bittersweet. “It was sad to say goodbye to Killjoys! We’ve had a lot of fun with these characters over the seasons. The great thing about genre is that the sky isn’t even the limit—outer space is the limit So you can do all kinds of interesting things,” she shares.
“It was fun in this episode to reflect back on where they’ve been, but also to see proof, both on the prison ship and on Westerley, that no matter what’s thrown at them, these people will always find each other, and always be drawn to heroic action.”
Puckrin is currently at work on the upcoming Canadian series, Nurses, and she explains that it shares a commonality with Killjoys. The thing Nurses has in common with Killjoys is that it’s all about the characters. We follow five young nurses who are thrown into the deep end on their very first day,” she says.
“Most medical shows follow doctors, and the question doctors are always trying to answer is, ‘What’s wrong with the patient?’ But nursing is a different kind of medicine. The question nurses are always asking is, ‘What care does the patient need?’ And that philosophy allowed our show to explore some intimate, emotional stories. With high stakes medical drama, of course!”
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 three Season 5 episodes on demand on the Space Go app and Syfy app and website. This episode should be available online tomorrow.
Images courtesy of Julie Puckrin, Space Channel, and Syfy.
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