Have you heard of the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? It’s about a boy who wakes up, and from the moment he does, everything goes wrong. I can’t help but think of that book—written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz—every time I watch an episode of 19-2. Every time something goes right for that Montreal police squad, it seems like 20 don’t.
Returning for its fourth—and final—season on Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, 19-2 makes the jump from Bravo to CTV, a well-deserved move that will give more Canadians the opportunity to catch this exceedingly well-written, expertly acted cop drama. (CraveTV subscribers get to see episodes a day early, on Sundays.) Adapted from the Radio Canada series of the same name, showrunner Bruce Smith and his writers have not only managed to set the English version of 19-2 apart from the French but has outlasted it by one season. It’s also gathered a pile of awards—Canadian Screen Awards for leads Jared Keeso, Adrian Holmes as well as Best Drama—and critical acclaim in the U.S.
Now it all comes to an end beginning on Monday with the episode entitled “Swimming.” Season 3 ended in a flurry of violence and emotion. Officers Nick Barron (Holmes, above) and Ben Chartier (Keeso) were determined to hunt down Inspector Elise Roberge (Krista Bridges) to avenge the brutal death of Nick’s sister and Ben’s lover, Amelie (Tattiawna Jones). Escalating mob violence in the city has an impact on the 19-2 squad directly, leading to Ben and Audrey (Laurence Leboeuf) involved in a deadly car accident.
When we first met Nick and Ben we asked, ‘Can these two guys be partners?’ And, after Houle [Conrad Pla] shot himself, and fell into the lake, and the two of them are driving back into the city … the message we were sending to the audience is they’re partners now.
Back for Season 4 of 19-2 are Dan Petronijevic J.M., who saw his marriage crumble because of his rage issues; Benz Antoine as Tyler, on the mend from alcohol abuse; Mylène Dinh-Robic as Béatrice, who is seeking redemption after losing her stripes; Bruce Ramsay as manipulative District Commander Marcel Gendron; and Alexander De Jordy as young cop Richard Dulac. Maxim Roy returns to guest star as Nick’s ex-wife, Det. Isabelle Latendresse. New cast includes Aiza Ntibarikure as Roxanne, a new young female cop; and Sagine Sémajuste as Farah, a social worker.
Last November, TV, Eh was part of a press junket to Montreal that included a stop at the set of 19-2, where we chatted with Smith, Keeso and Holmes about Season 4, and the series overall.
Where do we pick up in Season 4?
Bruce Smith: Season 4 picks up exactly where Season 3 left off, not just in terms of plot, but emotionally and in intensity. These are characters in extremis from the beginning. We’re really excited about the way Season 4 starts. It starts with more plot going on than is normal for us—it’s not always about plot with our show, it’s about emotion. And really what we felt is that we spent so much time building up the emotional intensity, particularly for Nick and Ben, that we felt we could keep that intensity going rather than having to build it again. And, really, this final season is really the second of two two-part movies.
When we first met Nick and Ben we asked, ‘Can these two guys be partners?’ And, after Houle [Conrad Pla] shot himself, and fell into the lake, and the two of them are driving back into the city … the message we were sending to the audience is they’re partners now. They have been through the school shooting, through Houle … whatever they feel about each other, they are inseparable. Season 3 and four has been an exploration of that partnership under extremis. The real extremis was the losing of a common loved one between them. It really was like a marriage and the loss of a child causing a marriage to break up. We tracked them almost breaking up last season, and then they came together and move forward into Season 4. They’re not together when we start Season 4.
Can you say why?
One of the first things they experience is the weirdness of not being together for a very emotional moment. That’s for both the characters and the audience. There are a series of events that happen and they are physically separated. When they do come back together, it’s strange because they haven’t experienced it together. One of the focuses for us in the writer’s room in Season 4 was to show how much is undone. There are very prominent characters, our core characters, who never really had arcs together before. There are a couple of new pairings and new relationship arcs between core characters in Season 4.
Jared and Adrian, what were your reactions to Amelie’s death last season?
Adrian Holmes: It was a huge shock to me. Tattiawna was so great and when you lose an actor it’s hard because it’s like a family we’ve created here. So to not have her around was hard. And for the characters, it’s a huge blow and it’s something that adds a lot of tension and friction. The characters have to rise above that and find a way to still keep the marriage together. It was a big shock, but these are the things that make 19-2 so unique and special. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. The shock value is very high on our show and we take a lot of pride in it.
Once you do an episode about a school shooting, the second episode really needs to be about what that feels like. That’s it. It’s very challenging to write and very challenging to act, but if you can do it, you get rewarded for facing those challenges.
Jared Keeso: I think it was the first time that I read the script, and I texted Smitty and said, ‘This is a great opportunity for us as actors to play something like this.’ I’ve certainly never played anything that heavy before. The good thing about our show is it’s earned. It’s all about the writing on our show. It builds and builds and builds, and then boom. All the context is there and that’s a huge advantage for us as actors as well.
I always watch 19-2 cringing because no one is safe. That’s by design, correct?
Bruce Smith: From the beginning of the show and certainly by Season 3 we saw, from the reaction of the audience, that we had done our jobs. We want to train the audience to be afraid. When you have happiness, be a bit nervous but also cherish it. With the cast that we built up and the writers and directors we’ve had, we felt early on what we were really good at. We were really good at provoking intense emotion in the audience and in the characters. It’s a show about first responders. It’s not a show about abstraction and putting things together and solving something. It’s about being stuck in awful or exhilarating or wonderful moments and then dealing with the aftermath of just that moment.
Once you do an episode about a school shooting, the second episode really needs to be about what that feels like. That’s it. It’s very challenging to write and very challenging to act, but if you can do it, you get rewarded for facing those challenges. In Season 4, we’re coming in hot and there is intense feeling from the top and you’re on an emotional roller coaster with these characters.
Do you think fans will be happy with the series finale episode?
Bruce Smith: I sure hope so.
19-2 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.