“If you think it’s cool, let’s discuss it. And if I think it’s cool, let’s fucking do it.” That was the attitude Dennis Heaton had going into the fourth—and final—season of Motive.
We spoke to the series’ showrunner to get his take on upcoming storylines, key recurring characters and Bega vs. Flega, the differences between the American and Canadian TV industries and what’s going to happen in Motive‘s series finale.
Congratulations on four seasons of Motive. That’s a success story no matter what country you’re in.
Dennis Heaton: I agree!
Before we get into this season specifically, I wanted to point out that we have a unique challenge in this country with regard to funding and the hurdles that need to be jumped to make television here.
It’s true. The Canadian market is completely different from the U.S. They’re apples and oranges. We’re dealing with CRTC guidelines and Canadian Media Fund guidelines. We’re dealing with Heritage Canada intentions. Every show around the world has its own set of hurdles, it’s just that ours are unique to this country as the ones in the U.S. are unique to their very much for-profit system. There you get more people getting the opportunity to make a pilot because they go with the, “You gotta spend money to make money” format. Their one Game of Thrones is going to pay for their 10 failed pilots. HBO isn’t the best example, but you get what I’m saying. It’s an amazing amount of content that they produce to get that one hit compared to the Canadian model.
OK, let’s talk about Motive. Once you knew this was the final season, were there season markers or storylines you wanted to hit?
Particularly in Angie and Vega’s relationship, the show has always been about them as much as the cases, this very unique office spouse relationship. I love that the fans have the Bega vs. Flega sort of thing, but for me nobody has to decide. It doesn’t have to be either of them, the way the relationships are Vega gets to enjoy both. As we moved into Season 4 and we knew this was going to be the last season, I really wanted to make sure that we did service to that friendship. That became a key element of the season, along with the natural message of all things must change. Life inevitably draws you in different directions and to that end I pitched a series finale to work towards that gives me that satisfaction of knowing what is to become of our team.
At what point did the series finale idea come about?
The idea for what I wanted to do came two to three weeks into the room. It came up while we were sitting and talking about how series end and what’s been a satisfying conclusion of a series and which conclusions leave you unfulfilled as a viewer. We talked the gamut. We talked about cop shows that we’ve loved, we talked about the infamous St. Elsewhere ending, the famous Newhart ending. All of those elements were thrown onto the table and discussed. There were also ideas that I’d had over the years that we’d never gotten to do and those were thrown into the mix as well. The marching orders that I gave everyone, not just in the writers’ room, was to err on the side of cool. If you think it’s cool, let’s discuss it. And if I think it’s cool, let’s fucking do it.
That said, could the finale mean this world was all inside a snow globe?
[Laughs.] I’m not going to give away the ending, but I will say it’s very true to the emotion of the series. And I will also say that it’s the craziest fucking murder weapon we’ve ever used. [Laughs.]
How difficult is it to write an episode of Motive? Does it take a different way of thinking to write a “whydunit”?
We start every season like the first day of camp. One of my first episode pitches in any season will result in myself or one of my writers saying, “Yeah, that’s a great idea … if it was a whodunit.” And then we say, “Right, it’s a whydunit,” and then we go. It’s one of the great challenges about the show: how do we create two disparate characters and smash their worlds together? And, how do we do it so that we don’t create a language for the show and allow the viewers to get ahead of it?
Vega is a Staff Sergeant now; how did you alter the storylines so he and Angie could keep in contact?
It made writing for them fresh again, for me. They weren’t at the crime scene together all of the time so when Angie is talking to him they’re riffing and it has a fresher spin to it, a fresher feel. We see them apart a bit more, but when we see them together in his office or in the bullpen or out in the field, there is more grist for the mill.
Let’s talk a bit about the new characters. Victor Zinck, Jr. has certainly made an impact as Det. Mitch Kennecki.
I love Kennecki as a new character because he’s a fucking idiot and that’s exactly what that character was meant to be, in the wrong place at the wrong time. How he wreaks a certain amount of havoc in the bullpen was a lot of fun. We’ve never had that dynamic before; he’s the puzzle piece from the wrong box.
What can you tell me about Karen LeBlanc’s character?
Karen is great. Her character, Det. Paula Mazur, is a detective on par with Angie in terms of skill level and intensity. It was really exciting to, 1) bring in another female detective to the series, and 2) bring in a female detective who had nothing to prove to anybody.
Motive airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.
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