Michelle Lovretta on Killjoys, swear words, and to the war to come

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Aug 26, 2017

Killjoys showrunner Michelle Lovretta has a knack for coming up with some of the best swear words on television today. She also has a talent for creating a show that's smart, funny, action-packed, diverse, and flexible enough to roll with the punches if situations change. 

Sort of like her lead character Dutch.

With only one episode left in Season 3 and a whole lot of things still needing to be resolved in some way, let's get to the questions, shall we?

Shana O'Neil: Can you give us a little bit of setup on what we can expect for the last two episodes?

Michelle Lovretta: It’s not gonna shock you when I say this, but I truly mean it from the marrow of my bones: a lot of heart and a lot of humor. Adam Barken does a stellar job on Episode 9. It’s about a coming together of the full team readying for the battle ahead. Then 10 we just let her rip, we go to war or go to sort of our ultimate opening battle of it, and everything turns on its head and is not what the team expected.

SO: Who’s The Lady we’ve been hearing about? We’ve seen the Hullen, the Hullen have been described as a hive mind. Is she, in essence, the queen bee?

ML: Well, they have been referred to as a hive, but the analogy of the notes we’ve tried to put in is it’s more of a cloud. They upload their memories to the cloud, it’s not something people are in constant contact with, they need to hook into the Green. As you proceed through Episode 8 you’ll learn in what way that connects to the lady on a more concrete level.

SO: How much of what you have here as far as the connection between Dutch and Aneela, the setup of the Hullen, all of that, was already set up when you started, and how much has been built?

ML: The Hullen have been there from the very earliest pitch. Its connection to Khlyen has been there from the earliest pitch. It was something that I sort of held secret from some people because although the network seemed keen on it; we weren’t sure whether at the last moment they were going to say, "We don’t want to go in this direction."

So we kind of, you’ll see [connections like] The Lady, which we first reference in 201, you’ll see that seeds have been placed throughout. Red 17 became a thing, all of those are seeds that have been placed, but I’m never entirely sure the story will go there full bore. Either my brain will go potentially in a different direction or maybe the network will go, "We don’t know how this is going to end.” Or something like that. So I always want to leave myself enough room that I can pivot and still tell the story that I really richly want to invest in. So, fortunately, the stuff we laid in the beginning with the Hullen has really paid off. We’re enjoying that storytelling. But there are also other threads that sort of lie amongst that that we can proceed with as well.

SO: Was Dutch’s parentage something that developed?

ML: It was a bit of both. There was always a connection between Dutch and Khlyen and Khlyen’s daughter. We’ve modified and refined what that relationship was as time went on. It’s kind of hard at the beginning for you. As you can see, this is obviously a massive canvas. So it’s hard from day one pitching it to know all of that. But I kind of have instincts for these things right from the very beginning. A chunk of them are fully detailed. The others, I leave myself room to bring in other writers and what their inspirations are and what people respond to. It’s kind of a marriage between fully knowing where you want to go and also leaving yourself room for some new exciting ideas we have brought in right from Season 1.

SO: To comment on those new exciting ideas, you had a pregnant Mayko Nguyen here in the middle of all this. Between Wynonna [Earp] and here in Killjoys, both you and Emily, I don’t know if it’s a female showrunner thing, but there’s something really cool about it being incorporated in a way that’s organic and that makes sense. Do you have any hints about what’s going on with that baby and how [you work] it into the story a little bit?

ML: In the end, I never wanted it to be the season of the baby. I was interested in it being the season of autonomy. That’s basically every season for me. Looking at how Delle Seyah, or Kendry as they now refer to her, and Aneela would grapple with this was really interesting. But we never wanted that to be their sole focus. So it’s what I find really so rewarding about their arc is really where we get Delle Seyah and Aneela by the end, by 10. There are some really funny moments that are coming your way. Some in 8, some in 9, some in 10.

What was a bit scary, I think, as a showrunner is just that you’re never quite sure if your actress is going to be able to be there for the full stretch, you know? So we had some backups. We had some things. We invented the character Brynn so that if God forbid, Delle Seyah wasn’t able to continue with us from her own steam we would have ways we could kind of continue that story. It is a creative challenge in a season where part of the point of the season is making clear that the Hullen can’t have babies. So it was unique, but honest to God I swear none of this is spin, none of this is bullsh*t. I freaking love where it took us, and I am immensely grateful it is something that was put on our plate because we got to go in some really interesting and bold directions that I probably would have never thought of. Some of my absolute favorite moments of the season involve pregnant Delle Seyah. She’s a hilarious badass. I really enjoy having her on screen, and getting this new side of her was fabulous.

SO: I’m really glad to see her back. I love her character. I was honestly surprised Aneela has that strong a bond to Kendry, because the whole "she doesn’t feel connections" thing, that’s definitely an interesting dynamic. 

ML: It’s one of those things I think you get to understand a bit more in hindsight. We obviously have the virtue, as the writers of the show, of knowing her whole backstory. We couldn’t put that backstory first, it’s almost retroactively filling in for you. This is a person who literally has some pieces missing and who feels incredibly alone, and the thought that there is someone there willing to take her side and fight for her is something that she grasps and holds on to. With more time and tread, the one thing the pregnancy did move forward is that they were always going to be a couple. But we needed to get [them] together a little bit sooner, because we just ran out of time with the pregnancy reveal. There would be a certain point where it would no longer be a surprise to anyone.

So be it. That’s the joy of making television. There’s no sarcasm there, that’s the actual joy of having to grapple with it. It’s always new ingredients you’re playing with, and this was one that was new to all of us. That, I think, impacted slightly people’s ability to understand what I was trying to do, which is to genuinely say these are two people who are together against everybody. And who have an actual bond. It’s not Delle Seyah strictly playing the smart political path that’s always a part of who she is, but that’s not driving her right now. I think really honestly what’s driving Delle Seyah is she’s offended, on behalf of queens everywhere, that somebody would dare do this to Kendry.

The Killjoys access the coordinates of the last place the ship visited…and go there. Spontaneous, much?

SO: You’ve done this really great backstory with Dutch. We know some of the backstory with the Jaqobis brothers, but are we gonna see more of that get uncovered when you get renewed? Because I’m just going to go on that assumption.

ML: From your lips to the TV gods.

SO: I would like the show to run at least another three or four seasons, there are too many things I am curious about.

ML: Me too. I really do think it has the steam for that. The boys are something I’d like to get into in terms of their history but I’m almost more interested in more screen time and more adventures between the two of them in the present. I think that when we hopefully head into our fourth season the three of them together is something that we always want to be sort of the driving engine of that season. I think we’ve got a table set now. We’re able to really do that. They don’t have a lot of personal crises between them anymore, and that’s good, I never wanted to be that show. I don’t want to be a show about petty relationship drama and all that. Relationship is great, drama is great, and sometimes the two of them together are great, but they’re never supposed to be, in this show, the engine. They’re just, they’re a human detail, but they’re not the point.

SO: How do you come up with these amazing swear words? You have some of the best swear words on your show. 

ML: Yeah. I would love to spread the credit, and everybody is involved, but I am the chief architect of the crotch, sh*t, or boob-centered insults, and I don’t know. I have no idea. But at 4 in the morning, when I’ve had coffee, the thing that thrills me to no end and gets me through to that next draft is finding new ways they can insult each other.

In an odd way, I think part of that comes back to early writing on Lost Girl. One of my favorite things to do, and I think Emily would say the same, is: We would write our scripts, everybody would get them and head to their offices, and you would sit in your office and wait. When you heard the other writers laugh, job done. And usually what they laughed at back in the day was the insults. So there’s still a part of me that’s trying to make Emily Andras laugh and the rest of our writers, just at the way I insult characters.


Here's hoping we get to hear more of those insults and more of everyone's journey. Fingers crossed for season 4. From the sound of it, Michelle Lovretta has a lot more story to tell on Killjoys.