19-2: The squad loses one of its own

The advantage of being a television critic are many. Invites to cool events, the chance to interview folks about their latest projects and seeing episode images and screeners in advance. The disadvantage? In the case of Monday’s new episode of 19-2, seeing images minutes before watching the screener.

The result? I thought I had a pretty good idea of how J.M.’s storyline was going to end up. One image offered for me to use in my review showed Sgt. Suarez lying on the floor next to J.M. His eyes were open, so I wasn’t sure if he was conscious or not. I hoped he was because, as bad as that was, J.M. could still come back from it.  That image, and the one of J.M. looking down, shattered, was in sharp contrast to the others, with members of 19 at a cottage, shucking corn, barbecuing and consuming cold beer.

But I was totally wrong about J.M.

Monday’s “Labour Day,” written by Lynne Kamm, began with Ben haunted—literally—by the ghosts of the men dying amid the mob war in Montreal. After getting up to close his opened front door, Ben returned to see the body of the drug dealer in his seat, plastic bag fastened over his head. Ben didn’t even flinch … he just walked over to the chair and sat down again.

J.M. wasn’t flinching either, at least not on the outside. He walked the gamut of hospital staffers on the way to leaving, thanking them for the sponge baths—and in some cases smirking “You’re welcome!”—before walking out on to the street into the rain. Alone.

After mentioning Montreal’s traffic in last week’s review, it played into a dramatic setting when Audrey and Roxanne came free of bottlenecked construction-affected traffic to find an unmarked car had pulled over a vehicle. Problem was, unmarked cars aren’t used for officers. Audrey and Roxanne knew something was wrong. It was a guy impersonating a cop and brandishing a pellet gun. According to Rozanne, more than one had been collared in the last couple of years … and had been released after being given fines. If you can’t trust the police, who can you trust? It’s a recurring theme this season on 19-2.

The squad converged at Suarez’s rental cottage (all but J.M., that was), ready to let off some steam and relax for two days. It was so good to see the team out of uniform, laughing, Tyler taking over the kitchen and ordering everyone around, the sun dappling on the lake and the tension of their jobs left behind in the strangling city. We also learned, over some serious corn-shucking, that Bear and Roxanne’s date was a success until Bear chickened out at the end of it. Her plan? To unleash the dragon (tattoo) during the weekend. Ben’s trip to the store to get some fresh buns landed him a straddling from Audrey on the way, breaking the tension within them for at least a few hours.

Kamm’s script included a stunning scene couple of scenes involving Dulac. The first between Ben and Dulac had the former defending Tyler and his loyalty when the latter disparaged him as “a fuckup waiting to happen.” (I audibly cheered when Tyler opted to pour, rather than consume, the booze he was doling out.) Then, minutes later, Dulac and Suarez recalled their childhoods, with Suarez explaining how his father had hoped he’d become an engineer, but marks meant a police career. Dulac confided his father’s expectation was his son would be a cop.

“Then you haven’t disappointed him,” Suarez said.

“Not yet,” was Dulac’s reply. Those two words had so much meaning. Did Dulac’s reply mean he would inevitably disappoint his father? Was he hinting being a cop wasn’t what he’d wanted to do with his life?

A raw—and overdue—discussion about J.M. followed, with Audrey tearing into the team for not visiting once during his three-week stay.

“He tried to kill himself, and he’s going to try again,” she advised. “What the hell is wrong with you people?! You’re a bunch of cowards. I hope no one visits you.” She had a point, but I understood everyone else’s stance too. J.M. had been such a thorn in their sides over the years it was easier to cut him off than deal with him. As Ben said, he and Nick had pulled J.M. off his wife; if they hadn’t he’d have killed her.

Then it was back to work. J.M. returned to 19—gluten cookies in hand—to make friends. Ben told him no one wanted him there; Audrey told him that wasn’t true. But instead of J.M. turning his gun on Suarez, it was the impersonator Audrey and Roxanne arrested that did, arriving at 19 in his fake uniform. He opened fire inside, shooting Suarez and the more officers. J.M. stood up and took several shots at the man before he himself was gunned down. J.M. looked relieved as the bullets entered his body … this was his way out, decided by someone else. A hero. The perp killed himself before Tyler, Dulac, Ben and Nick could do it themselves.

J.M. was a remarkable character and congratulations to Dan Petronijevic for playing him in such a memorable way. He was alternately funny and frustrating, a fiercely loyal officer who believed in fairness for his fellow men and ladies in blue. He had his flaws, but I’m going to miss him as the rest of this final season rolls out.

What did you think of this week’s episode of 19-2? Were you glad J.M. was a hero in the end? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.




One thought on “19-2: The squad loses one of its own”

  1. I think 19-2 is the finest Canadian drama ever produced. Period. Dan Petronijevic did a masterful job with an unsympathetic character – glad J.M. went out a hero, and his suffering ended.

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