The next generation of space bounty hunters has arrived, and they don’t look at all like Greedo or Boba Fett. Welcome to the world of Killjoys. From Temple Street Productions, the folks responsible for Orphan Black, and Lost Girl and producer Michelle Lovretta comes this new science fiction series about three licensed rogues who follow one principle: the warrant is all.
I recently attended NBCUniversal’s Television Critics Association press day for the show, at which showrunner Lovretta was joined by her stars: Hannah John‑Kamen, the gorgeous and deadly top-level Killjoy named Dutch; Aaron Ashmore, her peace-loving lower-level partner John the Bastard; and Luke Macfarlane, the troubled, ex-military man D’Avin, who reunites with his estranged brother John in the show’s pilot. Killjoys‘ ten-episode first season premieres June 19th @ 9/8c, on Syfy and Canada’s Space Channel. You can watch the show’s trailer below.
On Killjoys‘ world-building…
MICHELLE LOVRETTA: One of the things that I found really compelling about the concept when it first came to me was the idea that space is an adventure because it’s limitless. We’ve all seen a lot of shows where you get on a ship and you go on your grand adventure, and every week is a new novelty, a new civilization. We have that novelty, but we’ve done a twist on it. And we’ve used that to help explore a more confined universe. We have a neighborhood that our people patrol, which is a planet called Kresh and her three moons. So as we get, every week, a new warrant to go explore those areas, we meet new people. We explore their cultures. But it’s all used to build a larger, more complete world‑building that we get to go to and meet those people again and again. So we retain the novelty of where you go on a mission, but we have added now a different sense of world‑building to it and a sense of community that, through these great characters, we get to explore.
On the show’s “level system” for bounty hunters…
AARON ASHMORE: Well, the higher the level, the more dangerous you are. So Dutch is a Level 5. Johnny’s a Level 3… There is a test that you go through, and yeah, you’ve got to pass certain requirements to level‑up.
LUKE MACFARLANE: I’m Level 4.
AA: So I’m the bottom of the barrel here, guys. I’m the least dangerous.
LM: And it’s kind of hard for him because I join the team a little bit late, and I outrank him now ‑‑ and we’re brothers.
ML: Unlike Earth bounty hunters, on our show, Killjoys are part of a governing body called The Rack. So that’s the people who will license them, make sure that they are sort of following their warrants, and escalating them as they get higher. And when you are a Level 2, there’s certain warrants you can do. When you’re a Level 3, you can do more. When you’re 4 and 5 ‑‑ so it goes up. Like, 4 is live and dead, which means you bring someone in and ideally you bring them in alive, but if they happen to die on route… Meh. You have a license; it’s fine. So it allows us, every week, to have a different sort of story and a different sort of warrant that we change.
On being a Killjoy…
ML: They’re not law enforcement. They’re warrant enforcement. What that allows us to do is, if somebody were to do something in front of you, a crime, if you were to bond with your charge that you’re bringing in and someone were to shoot them in the head, they don’t have any power to do anything about that. They have limits. Their limits are… If somebody gives them a warrant and they hire themselves on for it, they can sort of break laws in pursuit of that arrest. There’s an infinite variety [of things] that they can do, but there are limits on their powers.
LM: It was described to me ‑‑ and I don’t know if this is correct or not, but it was described to me a bit maybe like Blackwater, if you think of Blackwater and their relationship to the military. So it’s a private entity that obeys within a system, but still has sort of not entirely strict rules.
AA: Yeah. The rule that we follow, the sort of saying is “The warrant is all.” So we basically do what we need to do. Bending the rules, if that be the case, to fulfill whatever the warrant is.
ML: What’s nice about the team that you guys have made is that you all have very different skill sets. So whatever warrant comes out, you each get a sort of chance to shine.
On the show’s family dynamic…
LM: It’s also a show about sort of a family, because we all do travel together around on this spaceship. And we have very different personalities, but we also interact like a family. So he’s my brother. We fight. Like every good family, it’s totally dysfunctional. There’s a comedy or a humanness to that part of the show. It’s not all just us stabbing and killing and shooting people.
HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN: My character Dutch, she’s very protective over Johnny. But when D’Avin comes in, there’s, obviously, tensions between us, too. But then we relate to each other because we both have very, very difficult, secretive backgrounds that are kind of catching up with us and we’re running away from.
ML: Something new about the approach that we have with you guys is that it is not a love triangle. I love love triangles. I’ve done love triangles. There’s something juicy about that. But what I find really compelling about you and Johnny is there is a platonic loyalty there. So it allows you to explore that as peers and partners, and then you bring in the complication of D’Avin, which sort of messes it up.
On the different environments that will be explored…
ML: There’s definitely different cultures. There’s different countries. There’s different moons and a different planet in the middle of it. We have that variety, and there’s a lot of politics. We have a building mythology. It’s not simply an episodic sort of engine. We use those warrants to build a mythology and [their] backstories as well. There is that exploration. There’s that novelty of seeing these new cultures, but they are forms of humanity.
LM: There’s a lot of comment on class because often the thing that distinguishes one country or one planet from another is their level of wealth.
On whether or not the show is a space western…
ML: I think that it would be incorrect probably for us to paint it as a space western. It does have western elements [like] all things that have a sense of adventure and size and romp factor to them. You can correlate a little bit with that sort of world. But what’s different is that when we get together and we explore things, it has more of a science‑fiction bent to it. So it’s more towards Blade Runner, I suppose, than it would be towards the western. Although one of my favorite episodes that we have is when all of you get together with your other bounty hunters. And I would say you guys are basically kind of cowboys.
LM: The cowboy mythology is the individual that operates without a system. We do operate within an organization called The Rack. So there’s an interesting political piece to that puzzle. We’re not just on the range.
What do you think of Killjoys? Can it help fill the hole that’s been in your heart since Firefly was cancelled? Let us know below!