Despite being a 5’11” stunning redhead, Tamsen McDonough is more commonly heard than seen on screen. But that doesn’t diminish her enthusiasm for playing Lucy, Team Awesome Force’s beloved ship in Syfy space opera Killjoys, or her obvious admiration for her fellow castmates, led by Hannah John-Kamen.
So it is with eager excitement we meet to chat, and admittedly fangirl a little, about all those space miles travelled as we head towards the final season.
From the mind of Michelle Lovretta (Lost Girl) Killjoys centres around three bounty hunters, Johnny, D’avin & Dutch, in a planetary system known as the Quad, where life is hard and ‘the warrant is all’ until they uncover an alien conspiracy.
As we sit down, a year on from our last meeting, I remind her of our outlandish hope for Ewoks to appear on Killjoys. “I think we really wanted it to happen; I don’t think we thought it was going to happen. I want something furry and tiny and cute- like a puppy! But Lucy’s a little too fastidious; she might get upset with peeing and stuff.”
Interestingly Lucy has had to deal with babies being born on board, which Tamsen notes she has kept surprisingly schtum about recently. “She said nothing about Delle Seyah having a baby! There’s [a running theme] where people just leave the ship and people show up on the ship and she says nothing. Maybe she’s been reprogrammed and nobody told me about it?”
It wouldn’t be surprising if Lucy is short-circuiting, given how many times she’s been tampered with. But the Lucy fans have come to know and love is prone to exhibit emotions from jealousy to anger and, as we see in the season 4 premiere, trust issues. So just how sentient is Lucy?
“I like to think that she’s very sentient. But after her time as the Lucybot and getting more sensory input, I think she’s like the Google thing (Alexa) where you ask it questions, and if it doesn’t know the answer it says ‘Well I’m still learning’. I think Lucy’s constantly learning and constantly adding to her library of what these emotions could be, and I think she’s also mimicking, and experimenting, and just trying to have a bit of fun!”
Lucy’s fun tends to revolve around Johnny Jacobis (played by Aaron Ashmore), a relationship fans have affectionately termed ‘Jucy’ – if one can ship a ship! Tamsen is not concerned that Johnny’s recent Hullenisation and poor choices will affect them. “Lucy will always give [Johnny] the benefit of the doubt. Assume that he’s good. Assume that she can trust him, unless he gives her a reason not to. Because she doesn’t trust easily, it [initially] took her six months, so I think she’s going to stick with him until she can’t possibly have any more reason to trust him.”
Lucy has had to contend with some new tenants this season – namely Zeph, Pip and even Pree (played by Kelly McCormack, Atticus Mitchell and Thom Allison respectively) and Tamsen has enjoyed the crew change.” It’s been fun, and weird. It’s usually quiet with [Team Awesome Force] because there’s more intensity. Meanwhile you get the three chatterboxes all of a sudden show up (in episode 403) and as Lucy I’m like ‘Okay shhhhh’ I want more space to think and they’re talking constantly! I think they kind of annoy her!”
“We got more of a sass-off with her and Kravn (a downloaded subconscience in episode 305) which I really liked. And hearing the Austrian accent (voiced by Killjoys producer Julian Doucet) I was like ‘Ooh alright, where are we going with this?!’ And I loved that Johnny was getting jealous for a change!”
As Tamsen only gets her part of each script, she does not read or see it realised till the episode airs. In part as a consequence she has taken to watching episodes live alongside fans and tweeting her reaction. One tip for viewers: “You always have to look at D’avin’s (played by Luke Macfarlane) face. He has the best reactions! He’s so good. I don’t think people give him enough credit, because he’s so good looking and this cool suave guy but he’s really good. The other two (Hannah John-Kamen and Aaron Ashmore) everyone gives them lots of props which they absolutely deserve, but he deserves more props. Even in episode 206 where Lucy’s the fembot and she’s kissing Johnny – watch D’avin. He’s hilarious! He’s thoroughly disgusted and a little freaked out! But everyone’s focussed on the two of us kissing in the centre and they’re not watching D’avin at the side going “Oh! Oh no! Come on!” (laughing).
We acknowledge it’s nice to see Team Awesome Force laughing especially considering their current fractured state heading into the season 4 finale, and the unenviable position that puts Lucy in. “I want Team Awesome Force to get back to this cohesive thing. Maybe that’s the Lucy in me going ‘I want all my humans on board, I don’t want them running off, I want to keep track of them. I want GPS locators in them! They won’t let me do that but that’s what I’d like. I would love to see them go pick up more bounties. I have a whole area for that! ”
Season 5 producers have moved well away from ‘the warrant is all’ and have teased some big changes to Team Awesome Force will be revealed in the season 5 premiere with season 4 finishing on a cliffhanger. “I love what they’re doing, but I really miss the warrants” Tamsen admits. “I liked the simple action side of it and these crazy characters they were hunting, and how they ended up feeling about them and how they’d bring them in etc. I like it when a show has their thing they do every week plus the mythology and the overarcing theme. So I do miss that but sometimes I don’t even notice because there’s so much other good stuff going on!”
Given the number of ships that have been destroyed as the team focusses on the war against the Hullen, fans may be wanting reassurance that Lucy survives intact into S5, but Tamsen is reluctant to offer it. “I certainly hope so, I can’t say for certain, but all I can say is…there’s a big change coming for Lucy.”
One theory Tamsen is all too happy to discuss is what would happen if the green got into Lucy’s system. “If she got Hullenised a little bit? I kind of thought that could happen at some point, she could go a little crazy, get a green plasma core… that could be interesting just to see what she does and how they extricate themselves from her without blowing her up – Spinoff! The Lady and Lucy ha ha! ”
Clearly Tamsen is not averse to making her own story predictions, and she follows fan theories and discussion on social media. She has embraced the sci-fi world and sci-fi fans have embraced her right back. Since starting on the convention circuit, fan meet & greets have quickly become something she loves.
“Because we’re doing live tweets and chatting with the fans, as someone who doesn’t do much theatre, it’s very much, kind of, audience reward. Because you don’t get that on TV. So with Twitter it’s really great feedback and you also start to get to know the people. So at these cons it’s great to meet these people, and the press you’ve just had phone calls with. It’s also great to know who’s watching this and to know who’s taking it in and to know it’s important to them. I really like talking to people and hearing about their lives and what makes them enjoy the show.”
Before we part ways Tamsen also takes a moment to reflect on how she feels as the series is about to wrap filming, given seasons 4&5 were shot back to back.
“There’s a sense of relief that we didn’t get cut, as so many series do, right during a great season or they don’t get renewed, and you don’t get that sense of closure and all the ends tied up. So I really like that we get to end it on our own terms. But of course, as expected, there’s a sadness that you’re not going to see these people anymore and have not only this world in your life, but this kind of extended set of friends in your life with all the fans, who are constantly sending you things – little fun jokes, pictures and videos. That’s on top of all the artwork of their own interpretation of what’s happening. The talent that’s out there is phenomenal. I’m gonna miss the fandom.
And as for Lucy? “I want a happy ending! I’m a Polyanna!”
Fingers crossed we see her join Johnny then settled on his Leith farm. But it looks like we’ll have to wait at least a year to see how Killjoys ends. Plenty of time to ruminate over fan theories!
Killjoys season 4 currently airs on Syfy channel in the UK and Space channel in Canada.
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