Last year, Killjoys and Dark Matter premiered on Syfy, two shows which returned to a formula that had been long missed by viewers: a story about a spaceship, its crew, and their adventures. Both series are poised to return for their sophomore seasons in July, and they’re coming back bigger than before.
Earlier this year, Syfy invited a group of journalists to the Toronto sets of each show, where we saw some of the work that goes into creating an episode of each show, and what they’re looking to bring in their respective upcoming seasons.
Our first stop was to the Killjoys production, tucked away in an anonymous warehouse a short distance away from central Toronto. The interviews were conducted on an unused set, namely The Royale, Pree’s bar in Old Town. The production staff had distressed the location since, after all, it was been bombed in the finale. The surrounding streets formed an impressive continuous set that carried the same sort of run-down, dystopian feel as that of Blade Runner.
Killjoys creator Michelle Lovretta broke away from her work on the ongoing episode to chat with us first, and she caught us up a bit on where the story would pick up from the end of the first. Season two begins with a bit of a time jump, but picking up with the same emotional intensity of the finale. D’avin is still missing, while the season will work to deal with the fallout—on a political and personal level—of what happened in the finale.
Lovretta noted that while they covered most of the emotional points that they had plotted out in the first season, “You’re never going to hit them in your first season with characters you’re just getting to know yourself (as well as the audience) as deeply as you can in successive seasons where you really know them now... you know how to hurt them, and I enjoy hurting them.” She also teased some major obstacles for the characters in the time gap between seasons; Old Town is walled off from after it was bombed in the finale of season one, and the entire place is formulating a rebellion against the Company.
There are other elements that she hopes to bring out in the second season. “Hannah [John-Kamen] is funny. She’s light, you just want to go have a beer with her. She’s young and full of joy; she sings and she dances,” Season 1 established her as a tough and resilient character with a harsh past; Lovretta noted that she wanted to bring out some of the humor. “[I] want a little more of Hannah coming through; she’s still young! ... I would like to, out of my love for the character, to let her have some fun, because she deserves it.”
There’s more to the show than simple character growth in store for Dutch, John, and D’avin. The second season will be delving into some of the deeper stories that were teased last year. Lovretta noted that “the point of this season for me is kicking open the barn doors on a lot of the mythos and questions. We explore this season a large part of the origins of Red 17, sort of how all these pieces that look disparate and disconnected ultimately are telling the same story, and are possibly headed in the same direction.”
Lovretta also noted that the first season was an introduction for the world and the characters and how it was designed to show off some cool things in the world. In the upcoming season, they’ll be exploring the characters and how they tick. If season 1 was about the characters in their 20s, season 2twowill be as though they’re in their 30s, and they’re quite a bit more aware of the larger world around them. “Now, they don’t want to be people’s puppets; now they are really invested in finding out.”
For her part, Hannah John-Kamen is excited for what her character Dutch has in store for the next season, noting that we’ll see more to do with Khlyen, who’s backstory isn’t simple or straightforward as might have been originally thought. Rob Stewart, who portrays Khlyen, noted that there’s quite a lot that the audience doesn’t know about him, and that his relationship with Dutch is very complicated. More than anything, he’s motivated by love—a twisted sense of love, but love nonetheless.
Luke Macfarlane, who portrays D’avin Jacobis, noted that he was eager to play something even more physical, and noted that following his capture at the end of season one at the hands of Khlyen, he’ll be having more screen time with the villain. Up to this point, he’s been able to live a very principled existence—first as a soldier, then as a Killjoy. Khlyen brings a level of confusion to his world, and the second season will explore their relationship.
There will be more to the relationship between the brothers, and that season two will bring together more of their own backstory that was hinted at throughout season one. Aaron Ashmore came out with actress Sarah Power, who portrays Dr. Pawter Simms, and hinted that there could be a growing bond between Simms and Johnny. Like most of the other characters, she noted that there the second season would be delving a bit more into her background. Moreover, they each represent caring and compassionate characters, something that they indicated wasn’t build for the harsh world of the Quad.
It was a longer trek out to the sets for Dark Matter the following day. Like its companion show, we found ourselves in a remote warehouse. As we walked in, it was clear that little of the budget was going to facilities. Ceiling panels were punched out, with lights strung out across the ceiling; paint flaked on the walls. Like the starship Raza, it was clear that the place had seen better days.
We assembled in an open conference room, where we were greeted by the show’s co-creator, executive producer, and writer Joseph Mallozzi, who launched into an introduction on where they were currently at (filming the season’s sixth episode): “Season two was surprisingly smooth sailing,” Mallozzi noted, “I worked on a franchise called Stargate (that you may or may not be familiar with), for a few years, and that was a super, well-oiled machine. Everyone was really good at what they did—on this show, we don’t have Stargate money, but we look as good as any TV show out there just because we’re prepared, we produce on the page and everybody is so very good at what they do.”
Like in Killjoys, the Dark Matter team had to contend with some major fallout from their own finale to Season 1. “One of the things that drives me nuts about certain mystery shows is they hold onto the mystery for so long, or basically they never answer the mystery in a satisfactory fashion, and that’s one of the things that I wanted to avoid.”
One of the things that he heard after the first episode, he noted, was that viewers felt that they should have saved the reveal of the characters’ identity for the end of the finale. “I suppose I could have, but I wanted to accelerate the story. I’ve been sitting on the story for years and years, one of the benefits was that it allowed me to really think things through and come up with a solid backstory.” He noted that in that time, he had come up with a five-year plan, and he knows where each year will end.
In response to the criticisms about the reveal after the first episode, he notes that that reveal shifted the story from one of mystery,to one of redemption, one that is “told across six or sevenvery different characters, and you’re on a journey with them for five years, and it’s not going to be a happy ending for everyone.”
Like with Killjoys, the first season of Dark Matter was focused heavily on who the characters were. “They don’t know who they are or how they got on board, and they start off on the same level as the audience. They’re finding out about themselves at the same kind of pace and same kind of time as the audience.” For the second season, they will be exploring the much larger world in which the story is set. “Where season one was very much about the mystery and them finding out who they were, we’re going to continue that in season two, but we’re going to be what the executives like to call proactive, and they’re going to take the fight out to the enemies that they’ve established... [In] season two, we’re going to be going out more, finding out more about the universe, colonized space, more about the corporations, and it would seem like we’re headed for a corporate war, and that forms much of the backdrop in season two. There’s significantly more worldbuilding.”
He also noted that fans should expect for things to get dark. “I’m gonna say that season two will put the ‘Dark’ in Dark Matter.” He pointed to the death of Akita in episode #9, at the hands of Four as a sort of representative of what to expect. “This mentor character who bonded with Four, and Four brutally kills him at the end,” Expect more deaths - not necessarily of one of the main cast, but the sorts of things that they’ll do in the course of their missions. That’s not to say that everyone will come out alive by the end of the season. “No one is safe—one of the things that I love about some of the cable shows is the fact that we know no one is safe. In our show, no one is safe.”
The actors all noted that they were largely in the dark with what the future held for each of their characters. For example, the reveal of the mole during the climax of Season 1 was one of the last scenes filmed in the season, and not even the Roger Cross, who turned out to be the mole, knew until it was revealed.
The revelation that Six was the mole will have some major ramifications for the coming season; as it was a surprise to the actors and audience, the characters won’t learn of his actions until the beginning of season two. Cross noted that the betrayal gives his character a place to go, and that the revelation won’t go down well with his fellow crew members, particularly Five, who he had bonded with over the prior season.
The betrayal will also spell some changes for the larger relationships. Jodelle Ferland, who portrays Five, noted that in the upcoming season, while she won’t react well to Six’s revelation, she will be resuming her role to bring everyone together, noting that her character is really yearning for some sort of familial connection, something that she hasn’t really had before.
The betrayal will have some other ramifications. Anthony Lemke noted that his character had set up to be unlikable from the start, and even though there’s been some redeeming factors for his character, he’s a character who doesn’t trust easily, and regaining that trust with the rest of the group will take some time. He also noted that in the beginning of season two, the group will be fractured. Melissa O’Neil indicated that she’ll be aware of who the Mole was, and that’ll lead to some serious complications for the characters and their relationships.
Palmer noted that her portrayal of Android wasn’t informed by other notable robotic characters such as Data or C-3PO, opting instead to approach the world as a child might. Her character adapted over the course of the season, helped in part by her own performance. Mallozzi noted that one notable scene came about because a script came in short, and they gave the additional time to Palmer (when Android began trying out a whole slew of accents to try and fit in). Over the course of the next season, they’ll be exploring this a bit more.
There will be more characters joining the ensemble cast as well, including Devon, portrayed by Shaun Sipos, and Nyx, played by Malanie Liburd. These characters appear to be joining the cast following their imprisonment, and might have a role in their escape. Devon is a doctor who is haunted by mistakes in his past, while Nyx will be “strong, badass character who is also very charming,” according to Liburd.
She finds a place with the crew of the Raza, and is a character that uses what she can to survive. As she’s coming to know the members of the crew, it seems that she and Two will have a sort of respect for one another.
The central tenets of the show are redemption and families, so it’s safe to say that despite the factions that will emerge out of Season 1 will come back together in some form, but different. Alex Mallari Jr. (Four) noted that this is in part because the group really has no other options. They’re alone in the world, and while they don’t necessarily trust one another, they do know one another.
One of the major complaints that we had about both shows was that these first seasons were essentially introductions to a much larger story—had they not been picked up for additional seasons, they would have been fun, but flawed adventures that alternatively focused too much on world building or not enough on characters.
With an additional season each, both Mallozzi and Lovretta have noted that they have the opportunity to really learn more about these characters and their worlds. With the major introductions out of the way, they now can spend the time and really dig into what makes each character tick, and continue to expand the worlds so that we know more about what the larger stakes for the respective crews are.
Disclosure: Syfy paid for io9's transportation and lodging for this trip.