[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.]
To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale.
As I wrote in my mash letter last week, top to bottom, everyone on this show is just immeasurably kind, something I was fortunate to experience in person. Lovretta is proud of that legacy. “We managed to put together a very kind and generous and funny group who happened to be ridiculously talented,” she says.
“It was important to do that because you have to sink a huge amount of your life into making TV. That’s how the machine works. The thought of doing that with people who are political or petty or coming at it from a position of negativity, I wouldn’t be able to last a season. It’s too much work.”
Killjoys began with the titular team of three plus Lucy and ended with a found family expanded cast of nearly a dozen players. Lovretta says that expansion evolved her initial concept of how it all would end, to a degree. Some of it never wavered. “I think if your ending doesn’t change, adapt, and morph, then you can a bit closed-minded toward the contributions of a lot of people and you’ve closed the door to the potential of magic,” she shares.
“By that I mean, on the page, how you perceive or who you perceive a character to be…If they’re a large character, you certainly have a chunk of their journey, and possibly even their entire ending, knocked out. But once you pair them with an actor, there’s a certain alchemy that hopefully happens.”
“When I look at that beautiful shot, of all of our wonderful dorks standing in a row on a hill, what makes me so happy is I wouldn’t necessarily have known the exact list of people who would be there. And I think that what’s joyful to me is a lot of them are people that I didn’t know I was going to get to know as well as I did. And to see them standing there as equals with everybody else really was the fun of writing television versus writing a feature or writing a novel. You are able to pivot and take some new directions, and take advantage of collaboration, and that’s a part of it that I love.”
“I would say that how I saw the main trio ending is very similar to what happened. I don’t think I anticipated the specifics of the plot in Season 4 and 5. We did adapt some things because we had less time to shoot. As you get longer in the tooth in television, you generally have a little less money to play with as well. You have to be creative and I think we were, thanks to Adam and team, very creative.”
Before the series was renewed for the final two seasons, Adam Barken stepped into the showrunner role, and Lovretta says they each had a wish list. “I handed the reins to him for the last two seasons. very gratefully and with much gratitude, and he hit the ground running. Between the two of us, because I certainly never fully left, I was always there, we each had our own little contributions in terms of Easter eggs we wanted, or just little plot points we wanted to see pay off,” she shares.
“There were some amazing character moments and plot arcs that we hoped to be able to pull in. But the funny thing about having 20 [episodes] and knowing it’s your end is that what used to seem like a huge amount of road becomes a bit smaller when you realize it’s everything [you want to say]. There were certainly some arcs that we wanted to fit. Pawter was going to come back in one of them, in a very surprising way. But that conflicted with bringing Khlyen back because we’d have to do it in the same season. So that would seem sort of slightly odd. There’s things like that. If you could taper them out differently, you’d have them all. Instead, we had some things that we fell in love with that we couldn’t keep.”
Johnny’s arc this season was about finding his footing after the memory matrix and planning for his “next,” with a potential love interest for good measure. Lovretta loved that the season leaned into his bond with Lucy, saying goodbye to her and then getting her back, an arc that Barken and the writers developed. “I really loved the scene we put together at the end of Season 2 when Johnny leaves Lucy and they have to have their goodbye conversation before he goes off solo,” she says.
“I had loved just the sentiment behind that and I think Aaron Ashmore is just such an absolute gem. Half the time, Tamsen McDonough is just doing her fabulous voiceover in the studio once everything’s been shot. And he’s working on his own. For him to be able to convince all of us the way that he has that he has this very quirky, complicated, believable, grounded, but funny, connection with this AI, I think is phenomenal. And it just sort of speaks to how fucking charming that man is.”
“Adam, the team, and I, with [Rennika and Calvert]…those characters obviously serve a very important function in the plot itself [and] speed up the episode or the season, some of it comedic, some of it, deeper than that. But the goal was to also put a potential relationship around John, because it was a season with him sort of trying to figure out what it is that he wants out of life.”
“I think in John’s mind what he really needed was just reassurance that he can be unsure about what he wants, but he can go and find it. That answering that for himself is a very valid and important pursuit and that it has nothing to do with damaging a friendship that has become a family. So, I think that we have women around him [this season] that are interesting, that are, very different types.”
“And it’s a reminder of two things. One, that Johnny is charming and he could probably find love a lot of places fairly easily. And two, that wasn’t the thing that he wanted to stay and find. What he wanted was to find being the hero of his own story a little bit again. And to come back with those stories and to come back, well, I guess we don’t know [what he will be] bringing back. It may be a person, it may be a scar, it may be a dirty limerick, but it will be Johnny.”
Expanding the cast with interesting women also paid dividends for Dutch’s arc this season. “I think we’ve had a lot of really extraordinarily talented actresses and hopefully we’ve paired them with some really layered and unique roles. And I think that Dutch, being somebody who had [as an] element of her character, distrust issues with women, it was interesting and intentional to sort of slowly, without really making a point of it in terms of her dialogue, see that that has sort of fixed itself. You really see it and feel it by the end with Zeph, that she has healed whatever part of her was hurt in that way,” Lovretta points out.
“I think part of it is coming to terms with Aneela, meeting her mom, making herself aware of the culpability of Khlyen while she chooses whether to also love him. I think all of these things together have made room for her to become a character who doesn’t need our eyes on her at the end of Season 5. I think that’s how I would put it. Every story is told in chapters and you’d have to ask yourself, ‘Why these five years or five seasons in these characters’ lives?’ There’s a lot of reasons, a lot of ways we could partition this journey and say, ‘Oh, this is why I started at x and end at y.’ But I think an underlying one is the healing of Dutch.”
Aneela and Delle Seyah’s ending includes Aneela giving her the choice of a human life with the promise of a war waged in her memory, or the chance to be Hullen again. Delle Seyah opts for door number two, and that was a path Lovretta was excited to follow. “For me, it’s partly that the first show that I created, Lost Girl, had at its center a reasonably immortal woman, a succubus, and so I am familiar with and love that, but have already invested myself in the idea of what it’s like to be an immortal person who is with a human and potentially would have to let them go,” she says.
“What was intriguing to me with the opposite of that, was, ‘What if immortality or quasi-immortality is something you could give to your partner? Is that, the way to go? Is that something that you want to do?’ And to me, the three of them have clearly become a family, and so it made sense that Delle Seyah, given her character, would have no bones about saying, ‘Oh, of course, yes. I also want to be long-lived and powerful and forever gorgeous.’ That doesn’t seem like an equation that would stymie her. When in doubt, write from character, and for that character, sure. Time to grab those reins.”
The defeat of the Lady, without the death of the girl who was bodyjacked, was an intriguing turn of events that made me ask who or what, that girl is now. “It’s still The Lady, but it’s The Lady without any extra human powers. That journey that she started, grappling with, ‘What [is it to be] human, how do I handle this,’ [ends with] this body is now basically her destiny and she is in it for good or ill,” says Lovretta. “She is not quite the threat that she would have been before, but she still is not [entirely human or] one of them. By her choice, I suppose.”
Dutch bringing her a doll at the end is a callback to the adolescence that Khlyen forfeited, and a chance to deliver another young girl from that preordained path. “I think ultimately your tale is the story of your protagonist. And Dutch is the story of a girl who was deprived of agency. She wasn’t given choices, she was given lies and weaponry, and put on a certain path,” Lovretta explains.
“And I think that what she has become in the end, and this is sort of symbolized by the doll [is hopeful]. I think it is quite a beautiful journey to watch the way that she opens up in these last two seasons and has friends and has hope and has love and has trust. This is not the Dutch that we started with. I think the Dutch we started with would have just shot her in the face. And I would have been fine with that. I don’t think it was a poor choice. There’s some unfinished business there and she needs to make the point to herself, [which she does when she tells The Lady], ‘You have your choices and I have mine.’”
One of the biggest surprises of the night was that Pip survived, and Lovretta admits that was writer’s will. “I’m not a romantic. I don’t write from that. When characters live or they die, it’s not based on the relationship and the impact it has on those relationships. It’s generally based on those characters,” she says.
“So, Pip is alive because I wanted Pip to live. At the end of Season 4, that was a note I either yelled down the hall or sent on a paper airplane to Adam of, ‘Make sure there’s a chance Pip could live because I might want him to live.’ We laughed about it and in the writers room came up with all sorts of ways.”
I also had to ask about Yelena since we didn’t see her again, and Lovretta cleared that up. “In that scene where Khlyen’s on the black root ship and he’s looking through the window and you see the nebula, that’s where he’s heading,” she says.
The final scene of the episode is the second half of the nod to The Cutting Edge that Barken set up last week, where D’av said, ‘I love you,” and didn’t get a response from Dutch. Here, she says it back and he reminds her he said it first. Lovretta says that came up in the writers room as everyone converged to create that last moment. “We had a couple of options. That was one. I can’t remember what the other one was. We gave Luke [Macfarlane] two or three lines,” she recalls.
“The funny thing is, we were all just a bunch of kids at camp in those last days. Writers who hadn’t been on the show for a couple of months were coming in and hanging out and actors were hanging out in the writers room and we were all just sort of like, ‘What are the last lines?’ It became a bit democratic, as it should. And it also became just this really lovely way to signify for ourselves that, ‘Okay, this is it. We’re really putting a lid on it and it’s over.’”
“So, we had a couple of lines for Luke to say, and for Dutch to have the very last line of the show. We cut a couple of different versions of each, but Luke just sort of nailed the attitude. He’s somebody who, much like Doug Dorsey, can pull off that line and still be charming. It felt like the two of them needed something that wasn’t too serious.”
Lovretta says Full Stop there was never any other option than to have a happy ending. “It was extremely important. I was determined to end with joy and I think that a large chunk of the recipe in anything that I write is hope. It is hope. It is kindness, it is joy. There may be monsters around you and there may be occasional crime and murder, and there’s going to be a lot of dick jokes, but there’s always got to be heart because I’m not in this for the grim and the gloom and the masturbatory rage,” she explains.
“There’s rage in the real world and I can’t write it. I can process rage, I can process trauma like a fucking champion. I can do that shit, but I can’t dwell in it. I can’t have a world be full of desperation and despair and cruelty. I don’t want to spend time there and so I’m never going to give that to you. If that is the metric by which I write, then it sort of presupposes that I need to end in a place that lives up to that.”
“To me, it was a happy experience writing these last things, [like] having Delle Seyah, seeing that journey where she could turn to Pree and say, ‘I’m not going to be nice, but I’m going to try to be good.’ That crystallizes, for me, that character’s arc. It made sense of her. It made sense of it. It fits. And I could just sort of check off in my mind, ‘Okay, I know where she is now. I know why we took this journey. I know that she’s in a good place,’ without ever sabotaging who she actually has been.”
“And I could sort of do that with all of our major characters, and that felt important to me because I will likely never get to write them again, or at least not to share them with people. I wanted to make sure that where I left them was where they belonged in my mind. And I think this is where they all belonged.”
“There’s still adventure. I never want to say for characters that are adventurers, ‘Well that was it. You got five years. Now go sit in your kitchen,’ unless you choose to sit in your kitchen. If your goal is, ‘I want to have the best damn kitchen,’ well, then, I should know about it. And then let’s give you a kitchen.”
“We didn’t even do that with Johnny. Johnny always had the joke about the farm and the [goats], but that’s like, ‘Not now.’ He just needs to know he can have that the same way that, most of us when we’re in a job, we need to look at the thing we’re working toward. Dutch and D’avin are always working toward battle. That’s their comfort. They are soldiers at heart.”
“And I believe Johnny’s working toward doing good, large and small. I think he needs to feel that that’s part of his daily life. And a large part of that before was feeling that he was taking care of Dutch, in quiet ways without her necessarily always knowing.”
But he was there because he felt, ‘This is a person who has dealt with trauma, who has got this incredible load on her shoulders, and also P.S. will maybe have to save the universe, so I’ve got to put everything on the back burner and make sure that she’s okay.’ And I think the beautiful thing now is Johnny’s able to look and say, ‘She is okay. I’m OK. I get to have my fun right now and then we’ll meet back in the middle.’”
“And so that’s why I wanted to sort of suggest the Killjoys, the RAC…this all goes on. There’s still warrants, there’s still fights, there’s still fun, there’s still fabulousness, but there’s no unrest. They’re all in charge right now of the parts that they’re playing. And I think that’s a good feeling.”
It most definitely is. As I said in my preview, this finale was a huge success for me because I am happy with where we leave them. I know that they are OK. Hip-deep in some sort of bullshit, no doubt. But OK.
Again, THANK YOU all for coming along with us on the five-season Killjoys journey. All of our Killjoys coverage is here. If you missed an episode or just want to start over, all four seasons and the first nine Season 5 episodes are on demand on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel app and Syfy app and website. The finale should be available online tomorrow. Check back next week for final thoughts from some of the other Killjoys folks. Good night!
Images courtesy of CTV Sci-Fi and Syfy.
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