Full disclosure: I wasn’t a die-hard fan of The Romeo Section in Season 1. I am a fan of the show’s creator, Chris Haddock, and his other series, especially Da Vinci’s Inquest and Da Vinci’s City Hall. In both, rat-a-tat, conversational dialogue came as fast and furious as the dead bodies (the former) and political plotting (the latter). And then came the spy-themed The Romeo Section. It was slow and methodical, many scenes were filmed in low light and therefore difficult to see, and I had a hard time warming to the characters.
But as Season 2 approached—it returns Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC—I realized I was judging The Romeo Section against two series I loved. That wasn’t fair. As Haddock told press prior to the Season 1 debut, the world has changed (Inquest and City Hall went off the air in 2006) and Romeo Section was a reflection of that. It deserved another shot.
So, how do I feel about The Romeo Section now? I enjoyed parts of the season premiere and was a little annoyed by others.
“The Official Narrative” begins with Wolfgang (Andrew Airlie) driving the dark (yup), rain-soaked streets to the Vancouver waterfront. We quickly learn Wolfgang, no longer handing assets, is still teaching at the university and is asked to not just look over notes suggesting the government plans to put all of Canada’s security forces under one umbrella but read up and report on something else: a quashed terrorist plot involving a backpack bomb. Of course, Wolfgang signs on—he needs the money and there wouldn’t be much of a show if he didn’t—and heads to a club where he meets with Norman (Brian Markinson) a blackballed former spy. I love Markinson’s work and was jazzed to read he’d be part of Season 2. Norman is the type of character you can’t help but cheer for, despite the fact he oozes sleaze. He’s the smarmy ying to Wolfgang’s uptight yang, and the pairing works as they recreate the events surrounding the planned bombing and perceived bungles in the investigation.
Meanwhile, Rufus (Juan Riedlinger) has become a player in the city’s heroin market, with the proceeds financing a movie. It doesn’t take long for Rufus to start making key connections in the industry, but it rings a little hollow for me. Rufus utters almost every tough-guy cliché one does when trying to gain trust with violent bad guys while throwing in new ones, joking he found a kilo of heroin under his Christmas tree and that Santa’s elves sit around for most of the year with nothing to do, so they’ve gotten into the heroin trade. OK, bud.
As for Lily (Leeah Wong), she’s a recruit for the Intelligence Service and is caught in a power struggle between Al (Eugene Lipinski) and another agent while keeping her double agent status intact.
Thanks to the back-and-forth between Norman and Wolfgang and their investigation, I’ll tune in to The Romeo Section next week, with fingers crossed the Rufus storyline sheds some frustrating details.
The Romeo Section airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.