Tag Archives: Colm Feore

21 Thunder season finale: Between a Rock and a Hard Spot

Is it possible to cram any more anxiety-riddled storylines into one show? Sure, if you toss in loads of special effects with million-dollar budgets perhaps. But 21 Thunder series writer Riley Adams outdid himself with the season finale. Most loose ends were satisfactorily tied up in very plausible ways and yet questions remained open, leaving an opportunity for the show to grow should the series be picked up for Season 2. More on that later.

I saw this episode broken down into three distinct sections: the lead-up to the match, the match itself and the aftermath. With that in mind, let’s dig in.

Everyone was feeling the pressure from the upcoming U-21 friendly between the Thunder and London. And then several of our favourites had additional pressures to contend with. Principally, Junior (Emmanuel Kabongo), Nolan (RJ Fetherstonhaugh) and Christy (Stephanie Bennett).

We opened with the police as they took Junior in to be questioned in connection to the Isaac Boka (Ryan Allen) murder. The police accused Junior of hiring Bamba (Clauter Alexandre) to kill Boka. Before they could press for more answers including those regarding Gregoire’s ring, the Thunder’s attorney arrived and escorted Junior out because the police had no immediate intention to arrest him.

Meanwhile, Nolan, still feeling pressured by Declan (Colm Feore) to throw the match against London, seized an opportunity to confide in Coach Davey (Ryan Pierce) only to learn he too is in on the match fixing. This only added to Davey’s own grief, rendering him useless when Christy sought him out for coaching advice. Her questions falling on deaf ears with Davey sent Christy to her mother, former coach Grace (Susan Bain). This nicely set up a reconciliation between these two strong willed women—cue a tear or two. They used the moment to bridge the chasm that had existed between the two for years, and ultimately Grace advised her daughter: “You take the fight to them.”

In the meantime, Emma (Clark Backo) was left waiting in the departure lounge at the Montreal airport, having taken Nolan’s parting advice to heart. She was off to Dublin to attend medical school. That was until she ran into Alex (Andres Joseph) at the airport—how about THAT tender moment between those two? Flight delay after delay left them time to talk through Nolan’s behaviour of late, piecing his inconsistencies together until they realized Nolan’s deceit was only a guise to protect Emma. Screw Dublin, it was back to the football pitch for these two.

That brought us to Lara (Eileen Li), who was entirely fed up with being under the thumb of Mangano (Bruce Ramsay) and his boys. Clearly a woman of higher intelligence, she was busily crafting a new plan. And, how much did we love that Russian roulette scene with Kevin (Kyle Mac)? Holy cojones, Batman!

Dawn on game day arrived complete with a threat of violence against Davey and Nolan should they fail to perform for Mangano. Then Christy gave a nice little pep talk to her team that effectively ran down the season’s events as she prepared us as viewers for the coming climax: the match we have all waited for.

Game time arrived with Fatima and Sly (Themala Mpumlwana), Grace, Emma, Alex and Mangano’s hit man  all in the stands. Anyone unable to attend were glued to their sets watching as referee Desjardins (Trevor Hayes), Assistant Coach Davey Gunn and Nolan were all working against a win for Thunder. Frustrations mounted amongst the team. Upset by a lousy call from Desjardins, “Snacks” (Kevin Claydon) sacrificed his troublesome knee and took him out of play. Then Christy put two and two together, realized Davey was undermining her and ordered him off the field. That left Nolan, faced with a game deciding free kick in extra time and all too aware that he alone was the only man able to swing the game for London. “We win or we lose with you Nolan.” Since he had nothing left to lose he responded with “What the hell?” After all, he believed Emma was safely on her way to Dublin.

With that, the Thunder won. Pandemonium broke out in the stands, at Lara’s and in the prison. A double-crossed Mangano was left without his winnings and a victorious Declan pronounced, “Did you really think my boy would kneel to you?”

The final four minutes were a flurry: a shiv fight between Declan and Mangano in the prison left Declan bleeding out, the hit man’s attempt to hunt down Nolan was effectively waylaid by Davey, and a lost Sly in a crowd of celebrating fans.

The season closed with a happy, albeit suspicious, ending. Gregoire (Kareem Tristain Alleyne) conveniently returned from the dead and obviously wearing his ring; the very ring that was removed from Boka when he died. And finally, Emma ran into Nolan’s arms as they enjoyed this double-edged victory together.

As I mentioned at the top, we are left wondering if there will be a Season 2, and there are threads that writers have left dangling that leave that possibility open:

  1. How will Lara and Kevin’s new money making scam pan out?
  2. Is Declan dead?
  3. What now for Coach Davey Gunn?
  4. Was Gregoire somehow involved in Boka’s death?
  5. Can Emma and Nolan’s relationship survive any fallout from Mangano et al?

I reached out to series writer Riley Adams on the occasion of the season finale for some parting comments and he had this to share:

“We are so proud to have created a show that embraces the Canadian values of diversity and opportunity while reflecting the highest international standards of craft in acting, direction, photography and design. And we are thrilled the international marketplace has responded so enthusiastically. We will be announcing in upcoming weeks our international partners for Season 1 and seasons to come.”

There you have it Thunder fans! I guess we wait for news about a possible Season 2. Congratulations to the 21 Thunder team for producing a superb program that reflects Canadian diversity and inclusion. A great metaphor for the beautiful game. I for one enjoyed tagging along for the ride.

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21 Thunder: Together We Part

The penultimate episode of 21 Thunder arrived, and delivered! This episode was all about preparing the players—and viewers—for the upcoming friendly against London, creating lots of tension and setting us up for what I am sure will be a great season finale.

The cold open quickly set the tone for the episode: Nolan ( RJ Fetherstonhaugh) put his father on notice: Declan (Colm Feore) “can go to hell,” Stefan (Stephan Arnaud) and Damien (Lucas Chartier-Dessert) exchanged blows over Marie (Kimberly Laferriere) and Junior (Emmanuel Kabongo) was determined to enlist the expertise of Joseph Bamba (Clauter Alexandre) in order to learn the truth about his brother Gregoire, despite knowing Bamba was once involved with Fatima (Gabrielle Graham). All of this set the stage for further tensions during the remainder of the episode.

On the field and off, players and staff tried to focus on the game but external distractions were at war with that goal.  The team needed to move on from the loss of captain and keeper Alex (Andres Joseph) and Nolan was unanimously elected as his replacement. But Coach Rocas (Conrad Pla), hindered by his wife’s departure, officially resigned leaving Christy Cook (Stephanie Bennett) to fill his shoes as head coach. A fortuitous by-product of this promotion? Fix the league’s “woman problem” that was created by Davey’s (Ryan Pierce) misogynistic vlogging. Still, uncertainty had the players on edge, so Christy had the team relieve some of their pressures with a fun match of bubble soccer. Unfortunately, followers of the team were not impressed by this latest turn and lashed out online. Stefan, ever the team philosopher, pointed out, “These people are not fans. They are fanatics. They don’t love the game. They want to own it.”

Meanwhile, the mystery behind the disappearance/death of his brother Gregoire continued to plague Junior. Bamba contacted Junior to advise he thought he found Isaac Boka (Ryan Allen)—the last known contact with Gregoire—and the two set out to confront him. Unfortunately for Junior, and I suppose Boka too, Isaac was found dead of what looked to Junior as suicide. Later we learned things were not as they seemed and by the episode’s end the police tracked down Bamba and took him in for questioning for the murder of one Isaac Boka.

That brought us to Nolan and his attempt to free Emma from any connection to Declan, even association through himself. But Declan, in a calculated and desperate move, contacted Emma on his own and showed her the video of Nolan, effectively making her an accessory to the crime. In order to ensure Emma’s safety, Nolan deliberately pushed Emma further away, denying his love for her, telling her their relationship was all a lie and all but demanded that she attend medical school in Dublin. Without Nolan in her life, Emma is safe from harm. Without Emma in his life, Nolan has nothing to lose. Together they part.

And as I had expected last week, Lara (Eileen Li) did indeed exploit Davey’s financial woes and coerced him to be her coach on the ground during the friendly. She fronted him 50k as a down payment to secure a loss by the Thunder. That left Davey torn with wanting to support Christy as head coach and getting himself out of trouble with the tax man. At any rate, with Nolan wanting to save Emma from Declan, and team owner Ana (Christina Rosato) refusing to investigate Christy’s suspicions about ref Desjardins (Trevor Hayes), it looked like Thunder’s match against London may well be headed for failure.

Not a great deal of actiony action this week but all of the odds and sods dished out created suspense and lots of possibilities for the season’s close.

Hopefully, the finale will address some final questions:

  1. The obvious: will Thunder beat London?
  2. Will Nolan’s efforts succeed in protecting Emma from Declan?
  3. Will Lara’s and Kevin’s canny plan to fix the match work?
  4. Will Junior—and viewers—ever learn the truth about Gregoire?

How do you think the season will end? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

21 Thunder airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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21 Thunder goes to war

Episode 6 of 21 Thunder opened on Monday night with action that set the tone for the next 44 minutes. If I were to describe the episode with one word: angst, and lots of it!

“War” focused on Junior Lolo (Emmanuel Kabongo), Nolan (RJ Fetherstonhaugh) and Lara (Eileen Li). And right off the top these three actors turned out fantastic performances. I was grieving with Junior, I was fearing for Lara and I was just as furious with Declan (Colm Feore) as Nolan was. 21 Thunder just keeps on getting better and better!

Last week, we saw Fatima (Gabrielle Graham) return from her visit with Gregoire, her face covered in bruises. This week we opened with Junior, intent on seeing Gregoire and was immediately attacked by Isaac Boka (Ryan Allen) who we now know was impersonating Gregoire. Junior learned from his brother’s imposter that his brother is dead, supposedly he succumbed to pneumonia—however, a quick look on IMDb shows Gregoire (Kareem Tristan Alleyne) appears for one episode. IF Gregoire is dead, then his identity and his belongings are nothing now, but for Isaac Boka they could be a life saver—but why then if he is in so much danger was his apartment unlocked when Junior arrived? I have to wonder then, who attacked Fatima and Sly (Thamela Mpumlwana) when Junior was playing in Boston? Why start a fire threatening Fatima?  Something still does not add up here.

Lara, charged by Declan to ensure the Thunder makes it to the European tournament, paid Desjardins (Trevor Hayes) his first installment to fix the upcoming road game against Boston. But Desjardin failed to show.  We saw Lara’s fear; Eileen Li’s portrayal made it palpable for viewers. The moment she contemplated pulling the fire alarm, you could sense the knot of dread coiling in her gut. Meanwhile, the effects of Lara’s  game fixing were felt far wider than she herself was aware. John Mangano Jr. (Bruce Ramsay) was seen squeezing Declan for a cut of the profits. As punishment for not ensuring the game’s outcome, Lara had to see to Desjardin’s punishment and she paid a visit to Desjardins accompanied by two of K’s (Kyle Mac) thugs.

Upon the team’s return to Montreal following their victory in Boston, Kevin greeted the team bus, under instruction to take Nolan to his father. This capitulation by Nolan, it seemed, was the last straw for Emma (Clark Backo) and she declared she was done with him. Nolan met with Declan, who then invoked his parental  influence over Nolan, and ordered him to toss the upcoming match against London. Nolan wanted no part of his father, but Declan played his trump card: he still has the video on K’s phone proving Nolan was present when Kevin took down the dealer in a deal gone bad.

Side stories updated this week: Davey Gunn (Ryan Pierce) found himself in serious financial straits due to his salary cut. Because of his injury, Davey was unable to fulfill his contractual obligations. Alex (Andres Joseph) was called up to Utah’s first team which means Nolan has lost an instrument of positive influence from his childhood. Albert (Conrad Pla) upon returning home, found out his wife Renata (Paula Rivera) had left him. Coach Christy Cook (Stephanie Bennett) began to carve a place for herself with the team, earning praise from a stoic Coach Rocas. Finally, Grace Cook, with help from her new friend Davey Gunn, changed her mind and did not enter the rehab facility. Instead, she agreed to fully commit herself to home therapy. I am really loving the interaction between Davey and Grace. Here Davey can be himself and Grace is treated with integrity rather than as an inconvenience.

Things to watch for next week:

  1. Will Nolan be Declan’s inside man on the field, tossing the game against London and his big chance in front of international scouts?
  2. Will we learn who started the fire at Fatima’s apartment?
  3. We are still waiting to see if anyone goes to police about the murder Kevin and Nolan are involved in.
  4. Will Coach Davey Gunn’s serious financial difficulties mean he will be the coach Lara targets to help fix the London match?

As an aside, much has been said about 21 Thunder‘s message of diversity and this episode takes racism head-on. During the match this week we saw Tran (Jonathan Kim) fouled and a Boston player telling the “Gook” to stay down. Following the match, this same player from Boston started a fight in the hallway, tossing more racial slurs at Tran. This was the first time the show overtly tackled racism and it was done seamlessly within the plotlines.

I do have to mention just one minor complaint. Why on earth would Lara be seen around Desjardins’ in her team warm ups? For a bright girl, that is not so bright.

“War” was an outstanding buildup for what I am sure will be explosive action in the final two episodes.

Related: Read our interview with RJ Fetherstonhaugh!

21 Thunder airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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21 Thunder: RJ Fetherstonhaugh talks Nolan Gallard

On 21 Thunder, RJ Fetherstonhaugh plays Nolan Gallard, a gifted soccer player whose tortured past returns to haunt him. In reality, Fetherstonhaugh is an unabashed animal lover. I caught up with Fetherstonhaugh to talk about his character on CBC’s summer hit 21 Thunder, including some key backstory not shown to viewers.

Since 21 Thunder is based on the team members of an under 21 professional soccer team. Can you tell me a bit about the chemistry in the locker room?
RJ Fetherstonhaugh: Overall it is pretty relaxed and fun. Andres [Alex] wrote a bunch of those chants and stuff. And we would all just hang out, and go about the scenes the way they were written. Sometimes the boys would create, come up with their own ideas as we went along. Overall, the chemistry was really good. We had a lot of fun and it really reminded me a lot of what it was like when I played on on my own team.

How did you get the role of Nolan Gallard?
The role was cast out of Toronto and I was in Vancouver at the time, so I sent in a tape of just dialogue for the first audition. The second round they wanted to see a video of me playing soccer so I sent in a tape of me kicking the ball and juggling and dribbling and all that. Then they flew me out to Montreal and we did the audition. It was fun and pretty unique to anything I had done before, having the lead role. I did the audition in front of about 10 people and I guess they liked it and I got the job.

You mentioned these chants that the team would do for the show. Can you tell me a bit more about how they came to be?
Well, Andres actually wrote them. He would sit in his trailer, and one day he just said, ‘Hey guys, I came up with this idea,’ and he would just teach us. We would sit outside his trailer and rehearse them, and then go in the room and do them. So that was really unique. I grew up playing soccer and we never really had that, so this was a really cool experience.

Getting to shoot in Montreal; what was that like? Was this your first experience in Montreal?
I was there when I was 18 or 19, which was a crazy experience. I went there because my sister was living there, finishing up her schooling, and I stayed with her for a week during the summer. She didn’t have air conditioning in her apartment and I remember how ridiculously hot it was. This time around I didn’t get to see too much of the city but Montreal is such a fun, cultured city.

We lived at Sainte-Laurent/St. Catherines, so it was pretty loud when you have a 5 a.m. call time and partiers were still going at four in the morning, so it was annoying at times. But genuinely I love that city. I would love to go back. I cannot wait for the next time I can go back. The food is great, there are so many great spots. As much as you want to say no to the food you can’t. They know how to cook. If there is good food in a place, then you can be sure I am happy with it.

Your character, Nolan, intersects with several different storylines: the team, Emma, Declan and Kevin. Which storyline is the most challenging for you to play?
Emma [Clark Backo] I think. Working with Clark was incredible and our chemistry was good. But I think because the show was so quick; the scenes were so fast. That was the challenge overall. You also have to remember, Nolan doesn’t speak. Like, no dialogue. There is very … very … very little. People say things to him and he just sits there. I constantly asked the writers, ‘Do you want me to say something?’ and they would reply ‘No, we want you to be quiet.’ Nolan is a just a quiet, solemn kid. So not having a lot of dialogue also made it challenging. Working a scene that is just four lines back and forth and that is it. Or, someone else speaks and you just listen. That was tough.

Working with someone as experienced as Colm Feore, were you able to glean some pointers from him during your time shooting scenes with him?
Watching him and sitting with him, I think seeing how relaxed and comfortable he is on set, being able to create without worry or nerves, I think that is the lesson I will take from Colm. He made the set so fun and so comfortable. He made everyone feel like they were at home. That was a really awesome thing to see.

Finally, there is so much tension building between your character and Kevin/“Special K.” What was that like to create?
I wish we had time to go into the history of those two. I just felt like with the show, because there are so many storylines going on, there was a lot of information that we know that is not there for viewers which is a shame really. We didn’t get to dive into the fact that in the story, when my mother died, and my father was arrested, Kevin took me in. I lived with him. He took care of me. I ran drugs for him. I did things for him but he basically sheltered me and kept me out of foster homes. Then when he went to jail, that is when I was scouted for the soccer academy and I met Emma. Then I moved in moved with Emma and her family. But none of that was talked about.

My thanks to RJ for taking a few moments out of the day. Fans can look forward to seeing him playing Agent Thomas J. Church in The Predator, due out next year.

21 Thunder airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

 

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21 Thunder: Could this be Heaven, or Hell?

We all have our own way of defining hell, and sometimes we cannot help making decisions that put us there, which is evident throughout this week’s episode of 21 Thunder, “Heaven or Hell.”

Three main storylines played out during this episode: Lara’s (Eileen Li) involvement in the online betting ring, Junior Lolo’s (Emmanuel Kobongo) call up to the show and Nolan’s (RJ Fetherstonhaugh) existential crisis over his deadly involvement with Kevin’s gang.

First with the sports betting ring. Declan (Colm Feore)  got word about Lara and Zhen’s (Anthony Shim) game fixing success and ordered Special K (Kyle Mac) to insert himself on their little gig. However, Lara, now out of debt with her one-time involvement wanted out. Kevin and Zhen were not having any of that because let’s face it, you can’t have too much of a good thing. In some anxious moments, we watched as Lara prepared to bolt, tried to secure a refund from medical school on compassionate grounds, but apparently, once in the world of illegal betting, you are all in—and yes my heart was pounding during this sequence! Between Declan’s (Colm Feore) insistence to stay in his employ and Kevin stealing her cash, she is now trapped in the hell of her own creation. Declan, it seems, is going to use this little venture to help his son the only way he knows how: Lara is to ensure the U21’s qualify for a tournament with the Europeans, thus giving his son the exposure to make it big in footie.

There was also a good deal of turmoil surrounding Junior Lolo. The cold open saw him with his younger brother Sly (Thamela Mpumlwana) as they were evicted from their apartment, having used all of their cash to learn the whereabouts of their older brother Gregoire (Kareem Tristan Alleyne). And if being homeless wasn’t enough, it seemed Coach Rocas (Conrad Pla) had some big plans of his own. Rocas convinced  Coach Shields (Randy Thomas) of the premiere team to call up Junior instead of Nolan, Rocas hoped to ride on Junior’s naive coattails should scouts from the European League take note of his skills. Scoring the game-winning goal in New York, they did indeed take notice of Junior and presented an offer. But Coach Mike had already warned Junior of Rocas’ plot to sell Lolo to a big European club. Resolved to remain in Montreal, Junior ignored Rocas’ pleas and instead called Coach out for the dishonourable man that he is. Meanwhile, Junior’s new love interest Fatima (Gabrielle Graham) went on her own search for big brother Gregoire, and unfortunately for her, found him. He is evidently not the lovable, kind soul the boys remember from their youth. Poor Junior, here he is in the blush of early love, faced with the knowledge that his brother he so desperately wishes to find, has beaten his girlfriend.

Finally, we returned to Nolan, whose guilt was starting to get the best of him after spotting his victim’s mother canvassing for information regarding the death of her son. Distraught, Nolan turned to of all people, his father for advice: “Just bury it.” Expected for a family dinner at Emma’s (Clark Backo) to celebrate her completion of the MCATs, Nolan instead sought out his comfort zone and hung out with his team mates. Here he learned Alex (Andres Joseph) had tried to kiss Emma while tripping on some molly. Despite his anger, or because of it, the episode closed with Nolan apologizing to Emma for missing dinner, followed by a very confused yet impassioned proposal of marriage—Nolan, you did that wrong. Don’t you know you need 1,000 yellow daisies when you propose?

In other minor developments, we learned Grace Cook is in need of 24-hour rehabilitative care. Begrudgingly, she agreed to go to that “shit hole rehab” when her care proved too much for Christy (Stephanie Bennett) and Peter to manage. Additionally, Christy is faced with fending off rude comments directed at her through her contractual social media presence. As her budding friendship with Marie (Kimberly Laferriere) continued to tread lightly,  Marie asked Christy to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to first-string footballer Damien (Lucas Chartier-Dessert). We also saw Assistant Coach Davey Gunn ( Ryan Pierce) injured in the match against New York.

This week we were left wondering:

  1. What the hell is up with Gregoire?
  2. How will Lara fix the next game? Or will she?
  3. Will some good Samaritan come forward with information that will lead police to Nolan and Kevin?
  4. How will Coach Gunn’s injuries affect his contractual obligations to the club and the tax debt he is carrying?
  5. Will Emma say yes?

This was another superb installment by the cast and crew of 21 Thunder. I suppose all there is to do now is keep watching and wait to hear if CBC will renew it for Season 2!

21 Thunder airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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