19-2: J.M. reaches the end of his rope

One scene from last week’s episode of 19-2 stuck with me for days. It was a shot of J.M. standing alone in 19’s hallway. Already cast out from the team for the assaults on his wife, he’d sat in his car rather than chase down the shooters at the picnic. He’d been totally cut out from the rest of the squad and stood there, in the growing murk, by himself. So much can be said without any words and 19-2 does that consistently every week.

The same was certainly true of Monday’s new episode “Fishbowl,” which followed up on Ben’s decision to take drugs and guns from the men he was surveilling. Nick wondered what had happened to the straight-laced rookie he used to know, and I did too. Was there any way to pull Ben back from the brink? How dangerous could he make things for himself and others? That, and what would happen to J.M., haunted me going into Monday’s instalment.

The “previously on,” footage featured a ton of J.M. footage, meaning his storyline would figure prominently in the episode written by Nikolijne Troubetzkoy and directed by Sturla Gunnarsson. It did just that, catching up with the troubled cop as he, drunk, screamed at an unknown woman to leave his apartment. Reeling around the room, he drank deeply from a bottle and enraged, swept items off a dresser and, even more scary, brandished his gun. J.M. may have told Audrey two weeks ago that the job is just that, but it’s more than a job to J.M. despite his statements. Being a cop is all he is, and taking that away from him is taking a chunk of him.

And with that, J.M. did exactly what I was hoping he wouldn’t, pulling the trigger in an attempt to end his own life. He missed a bit—was that by accident or did part of him rebel at wanting to die—and the bullet went up through his jaw and exited his cheek rather than plowing straight up into his brain. He survived but told the Sarge his gun went off while he was cleaning it while drunk. Of course, that didn’t wash with Sgt. Suarez and J.M. confessed he needed help—was getting help—and wanted back on the job ASAP. The Sarge’s update on J.M. rocked the squad, and kudos to Troubetzkoy’s script for the impassioned speech by Suarez and for the touching, emotional scene between J.M. and Audrey. J.M. telling Audrey that shooting himself would make him a better cop was a stunning admission and cut right through her. These two are from the same cloth, not like the others.

Meanwhile, the city’s police force was on high alert. On instruction from Gendron, 19 was to get “up in everyone’s face” and show strength against the organized crime wars. Nick and Ben traded a look—how much has Ben helped with that escalation?—and new station member Roxanne (Aiza Ntibarikure) was introduced. Tyler and Dulac both had eyes for her and the latter made his move. It’s not pretty to watch but does provide some much-needed levity considering the scenes with J.M.

Dulac and Tyler’s seemingly easy collection of a father for parole violations turned serious when they dropped his children off at their mother’s and she was clearly not happy to see them. Tyler’s concern for their safety was justified when they were called back minutes later after an assault call to find the younger daughter beaten.

Ben and Nick found a short moment of relative boredom shattered by screams and broke into an apartment to find a young man being raped. That brought the pair to a crisis centre where they reported to social worker Farah Miller (Sagine Sémajuste), the mother of the boy Audrey ran down and Ben took the blame for. To say she was still smarting from her son’s death and the fact the police dismissed him as a drug user—a wasted life—was an understatement. Amazingly, she stayed professional, even after Ben apologized for his and the force’s actions. She stated the man who assaulted the prostitute would be set free and she was right, showing yet another instance where the police has let its citizens down. In a rare glimmer of hope, Ben and Nick’s persistence frequenting the rapist’s business paid off, as an order to search his clothing shop uncovered money and a bag full of pills.

(Quick aside: I love the fact 19-2 has worked the endless construction plaguing Montreal into its storylines. Rather than film around the roadwork, they use it. Of course, there is so much work going on they might have had to film in Laval to escape it.)

By the end of the episode, Nick was trying to prove to Farah the police could do good, Audrey and J.M. were bonding over booze and YouTube videos, and Bear and Roxanne were headed out for a drink together. A rare trio of happy moments in a series fraught with drama and danger.

19-2 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.