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Killjoys: Showrunner Adam Barken discusses Season 4

When we last left Team Awesome Force, things were in a bit of a disarray. Dutch and Aneela (Hannah John-Kamen) had entered the green to do battle against The Lady, leaving Johnny (Aaron Ashmore) and D’Avin (Luke McFarlane) stunned.

Killjoys roars back on Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Space with one heck of a fun ride in “The Warrior Princess Bride.” Creator Michelle Lovretta bridges the current timeline with the past, mixing the trio of Dutch, Aneela and Khlyen (Rob Stewart) with the Dutch-Johnny origin story. It has everything Killjoys fans have come to love over the last three seasons: humour, snark, action and heart.

With two final seasons of Killjoys to look forward to, we sat down with new showrunner Adam Barken—who has been a writer and producer with the series since Season 1—to get the scoop on the adventure ahead.

Congratulations on becoming showrunner for Seasons 4 and 5 of Killjoys. What does that mean for you? Is that just more meetings?
Adam Barken: It’s more of everything. When we were done with Season 3, Michelle was feeling like, ‘All right, I kind of need to take a break and step back,’ and didn’t want to leave the show completely, so when she and I talked, we discussed how we would go forward. I still loved the show and had been her No. 2 for the last two seasons and had been on since the first, so she basically said, ‘I would still like to be involved if you were running it,’ and I said, ‘I’d only run it if you were still involved,’ so that worked out. So what it basically means is I’m here every day. I am vetting all the scripts, I’m breaking all the stories. Michelle’s involved to basically watch that process, to help me kind of shepherd them.

As both of the people who have been writing the show the longest, we kind of take a pass on everybody’s scripts and then yeah, a lot of meetings. A lot of meetings, which is just how you make television.

When I spoke to her in Season 2, she was already saying, ‘I would love to do this for a certain number of seasons and then step away because I’m always about the world building.’ She really loves that part that.
AB: Loves it. She’s great at it.

What about you? Do you like the world building as well?
AB: I love the world building as well. Not that she doesn’t, but I really like making TV. I like the meetings to a certain degree. I like the production stuff, and I love being in a writing room. I’m happy to go in and out of the room more so that I can kind of keep an eye on all the different departments and keep track of everything that’s going. Thankfully we’ve got the whole writing team back from last season.

How important is it to keep that writer’s room intact? I mean, so many writer’s room people that I talk to like yourself, there tends to be a couple of new faces every year. Other people rotate out. Why is it important to have everybody, this same group?
AB: It’s great because you just have an institutional memory, right? Everybody is …

You’ve got a shorthand already.
AB: Yeah, everybody knows everyone. We’ve kind of worked out all the personality kinks. We all know each other. We all know when to leave each other alone and when to bug each other. Then it also just means that everybody … any time a new person comes in a room, it can be a great experience because they bring fresh eyes but you also spend a lot of time going, ‘Yeah, we did that story already. Yeah, we’ve already done that beat.’ In this one, with this, you’ve always got a team going, ‘Oh, we already did that. All right, let’s do something new. Let’s do something different.’

What do you look for in a writer?
AB: Personally, what I love in a writer, especially in a writing room like this is you want ideas people. The job of a showrunner is to say no and so it’s very similar to a director in that what you want are people coming to you with five options and you being able to go ‘Yes, no, no, no, no,’ and you say no more than you say yes, so you’re looking for writers who have lots of ideas, throw them out constantly and then at the same time move on when an idea has been ‘No, we’re not gonna do that,’ and not take it personally and understand this is part of the job.

As I learned when I started in a writing room and was that person is first you’re like, ‘Oh, but that was a good idea,’ but then I get to save that for my show, which is nice, and what you’re trying to do is basically you’re all pulling together but you are pulling together towards one person’s vision, or in the case of this season, I would say two people’s, because Michelle and I are both intimately connected in terms of what the vision of the season is going forward.

The press release that Space sent out when they announced that they were going be the two final seasons, I think you were quoted, certainly, Michelle was, about the importance of being able to tell the story and having two seasons that do that. Why is it important? I mean, I think I know the answer, but why is it important to know that you’ve got two 10 episode seasons to finish with?
AB: Well, I mean, look. If we had known that we were only getting one season, we would have made that work as well. The idea that it was important was just knowing we had an endpoint, because when you know you have an endpoint, then you can build your stories to go towards it. With two seasons, it was great because even before we had gotten the order, Michelle and I had been talking, and we said, ‘You know, there’s a way to do what we were talking about,’ because we had some general ideas and tent poles, as if we had two seasons, we kind of know exactly how this would break out, so when they ended up saying, ‘How about two?’ We were like, ‘Great, we’ve already kind of thought that would be the way to do it.’

I think five is a good and a round number for television regardless of how many episodes. It’s five seasons, so with four we can kind of do some interesting stuff. We can mess around with our convention, but end on a cliffhanger that points to specific things. You know, Season 3 obviously ended on some pretty big cliffhangers, but they were pretty open-ended because we didn’t know if we were coming back, so our feeling was, ‘OK, if we don’t come back, then basically we’ve given the audience a sense of, like, the adventure continues.’ With this, we’re able to end it in a way that feels like … put a bit more of a bow on it.

Do you already know what the end scenes are? The final lines are at the end?
AB: We’ve definitely got some strong ideas about what those moments are and what the feeling is that we want people to come away from, and we’re just kind of still … as we’re figuring out season five, we’re … you know, making TV is definitely building a bridge from both sides and hoping they meet in the middle.

How often do things change, where you think, ‘Well, this will be what the end is,’ and then you’re getting there. You’re like, ‘Well, no, that isn’t going be the end, because things have changed.’
AB: Constantly.

Tony Nappo is playing Big Joe, what can you say about Big Joe?
AB: Joe was a character we introduced back in Season 1 and so he was Dutch’s mentor who, by then, had gone to seed and obviously we killed them, so how are we having them back? So what we’re doing is we got to do something really fun at the beginning of this season because we wanted to shake things up a bit and actually tell basically an origin story and we wanted to do a story of what happens when Dutch and Johnny first came to the quad.

Because we loved Tony and I remember doing the read through of 106 and I remember him reading it and getting really good and then he gets to the end and goes, ‘Ah, fuck, I’m dead?’ I was like, ‘That’s why you should always read the script before you do the read through, Tony.’ But it also … we felt the same way. We were like, ‘Goddammit, we got this great actor, this great character,’ so we get a chance to see him in action and see what he was like as a Killjoy, which was a lot of fun, so yeah, I’m very excited about that one.

Killjoys is one of those shows where no line is ever a throwaway line, no scene can just be like, ‘Oh, I can just rest because this won’t matter.’ Everything matters on this show.
AB: We want you guys to watch it many times. We hope that, yeah, the stuff that we work on … because that’s, you know, from our perspective, if we’re gonna get people’s eyeballs for 44 minutes, we want to be able to give them not only something that is a fun, hopefully fun diversion, that if they feel by the end, ‘OK, I got what I wanted,’ but if they’re gonna go back, hopefully, they’ll see that, you know, we’re trying to make sure everything feels like it matters.

Stephanie Morgenstern will direct this season. How did that come about?
AB: Because as we were looking for directors, we knew that Stephanie had stepped up and been directing in X Company. I’d been working with Stephanie since she and Mark [Ellis] created Flashpoint, so it just seemed like a no-brainer. We knew we wanted to have somebody in that was good, smart, and Stephanie just fit the bill. And Temple Street had worked with her on X Company, of course, so it just seemed like a no-brainer.

Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Link: Showrunner Adam Barken sets the stage for Killjoys Season 4

From Heather M. of TV Goodness:

Link: Showrunner Adam Barken sets the stage for Killjoys Season 4
“In all past seasons, we never knew if we were coming back until after we had wrapped. So what has been nice and different is that we feel this time around like the stories we tell now have a different impact because we know they are heading towards a definable end that we have decided on.” Continue reading. 

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