Syfy's Sanctuary did it: Last Friday's episode killed off Ashley (Emilie Ullerup).
Or did it? "Nobody dies in sci-fi," creator Damian Kindler said with a laugh. "No body. Habeas corpus."
In last week's ep, "Eulogy," Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and Will (Robin Dunner) failed to find Ashley's body after she apparently gave her life to avoid killing her mom, and everyone accepted that Ashley had truly gone to that big abnormal zoo in the sky.
But why kill her off? Did Ullerup want more money? Have another job waiting in the wings? Were there personality conflicts behind the scenes? Maybe she wanted to go off to college or work for Obama?
"To be very honest about it, it was a decision we arrived at with our two major networks in the U.S. and Canada creatively, and we really felt it would have the deepest, most dramatic impact on the series and the characters," Kindler said. "We felt it was a very bold, kind of brave choice to make, and the more we looked at it, the more we felt it was a really strong choice, ... the strongest choice. We did it. We are also very aware that people don't necessarily have to die in sci-fi, the characters. But we felt one of the things that makes shows so attractive is when their characters' journey are hard, but they continue to strive no matter what."
As for Ullerup, Kindler vows that he adores her. "Emilie did an amazing job, embracing the direction and in playing that part in that scene so well," he said. "It wasn't easy for anyone, least of all Emilie, but it definitely was handled with the utmost grace and professionalism. Hats off to her for that."
As we all know by now, there's a new girl taking Ashley's place: Agam Darshi's Kate Freelander. Kindler acknowledges she may rub some people the wrong way. And he wanted that. At least so he says.
"I absolutely know there will be a backlash of people who will not like Kate," Kindler said. "I think people already don't like Kate, and it's absolutely by design. She's not likable yet. But I can absolutely guarantee you that 99 percent of the people who don't like Kate, by the end of the season will like Kate." Her moment to shine will be in the episode called "Penance," which guest-stars Stargate SG-1's Michael Shanks.
Tonight's episode, "Hero," deals with a man who thinks he's a crime-fighting superhero (it was written by Alan McCullough and directed by Martin Wood). And it's funny.
"It's an absolutely heartwarming and hysterical, action-packed tale, with the wonderful Chris Gauthier from Eureka in the guest-starring role," Kindler said. "I'd like to say you're going to see a new tone of humor in Sanctuary, and that's good. It's important. It's just as important as the heavy epic stuff. It's very heartwarming, too. Ryan Robbins [Henry] is lovely in this episode. I think there's just some lovely, funny and touching moments, and also a f'in great monster. A really great monster."
What about Ashley?
"Once we know for sure about a third season, there is definitely an Ashley story in there that we're developing, and I think it's very true to what we've done with the character," Kindler said. "The intention was to never kill her off with any finality. It was always to kill her off in a way that was dubious at best and fraught with inconsistencies and fraught with mystery and isn't completely solved even when they have to put her to rest and move on. I didn't want to milk that horse more than three episodes. I think that gave that arc its due, and then we had to move on to business as usual. We only have 13 episodes."