Tag Archives: Forty Words For Sorrow

Will Cardinal reach “Keith” on time?

The penultimate episode of Cardinal—written by Russ Cochrane, produced by Jessica Daniel and directed by Daniel Grou—opens with Keith (Robert Naylor), naked and struggling against his restraints as he creeps along the basement floor. Before I go any further, I have to applaud Naylor who has been filmed naked throughout the majority of the series. Carefully angled shots have been the norm but still, for an actor as young as he is and having to spend a good deal of time either naked or near naked while shooting and to reveal that vulnerability while shooting is amazing.

This has got to be the best episode thus far. It is chock full of action, but also delivers a great deal of information. AND we still have another episode to go! We still need to find Keith and Edie (Allie Macdonald) needs to get what is coming to her for stabbing Keith. I guess we have to wait and see how that turns out next week. As for this week, here is the rundown.

Josh “Mr Geology” (Alden Adair) confronts Lise (Karine Vanesse) about the birth control he confronted Cardinal (Billy Campbell) with last week.  Lise admits she had no excuse other than she felt pressured due to her transfer. She also admits her guilt and reassures Josh she is still committed to their relationship (WHY, brain is screaming WHY????). Meanwhile, Delorme reports to Musgrave (David Richmond-Peck). It seems Cardinal is exchanging the poker chips for clean money and is not laundering the bills. Delorme believes it is a dead end, but Musgrave thinks this is the proof he needs to convict Cardinal. Musgrave suspects Cardinal is paying someone that he does not wish to be connected to.

And it turns out, Musgrave is right. Cardinal is paying Tammy Lindstrom (Fiona Highet) off. She is extorting money from Cardinal because she knows he somehow tipped off Corbett. But with Delorme’s ongoing investigation of him, Cardinal hands her over his last payment and tells Lindstrom if she walks out of there with that cash, she is never coming back for more. We can read the utter exhaustion on Cardinal. Billy Campbell does carry the weight of the world! We still do not know how John is connected to the Corbett case, but Commanda (Glen Gould) has clued in something is amiss and even he is questioning Cardinal’s integrity as an officer.

Meanwhile, a hunter discovers the body of Woody (Gord Rand) out in the woods. And, just as I suspected last week, the police also find Keith’s missing finger. Now Cardinal and his team know Woody’s death is somehow connected to the serial killer despite the lack of torture on Woody’s body. Their perp is getting sloppy.

Delorme and Cardinal call on Woody’s wife (Trenna Keating) to inform her of  Woody’s untimely demise and they learn he researched Ovation guitars online; the same brand of guitar Keith owns. This necessitates a quick trip to the music store at the same mall Woody was casing before targeting Eric (Brendan Fletcher) and Edie. While questioning the store owner, they spot the same charm bracelet found by Katie Pine’s body on Wendigo Island. Cardinal knows Eric Fraser is his man.

Cue the suspense. From here on out it is a whirlwind of action. Campbell is finally given the green light to let loose and Delorme and Cardinal have heated words. He believes Lise is half-assing her way through Homicide and at home with Josh.

In the meantime, Catherine Cardinal (Deborah Hay) goes missing and Kelly (Alana Bale) and Detective Fox (Eric Hicks) head out in search of her. They locate her by the waterfront. Now, other than tossing in a bit more angst for the audience, I am not sure what this scene really accomplishes to further the plotlines but I love the quiet moments Bale and Hay share here. They captured that moment when a mother realizes her baby has grown up. It was another fabulous use of quiet, and the use of winter itself as a character in the show.

And then there is this amazing, extended take that lasted just under five minutes (yes, I timed it). The scene is shot in a style duplicating that of a storytelling transition piece in role-playing and first-person shooter games. Cardinal and Delorme spot Eric’s van near the doors of an abandoned school. The take begins with Cardinal opening the exterior school door, and the two begin their search of the building. Moving from room to room, up and down staircases, through darkened hallways until Delorme takes a shot to her vest. Cardinal continues the pursuit, retracing his pathway back through the school on Eric’s tail. Gunfire is exchanged several times throughout and, finally, Cardinal emerges from the school to jump into the back of Eric’s fan, still in pursuit. The take ends after four minutes and 55 seconds with both Eric and Cardinal in the moving van. Ultimately, the van crashes and Eric takes his own life rather than submitting to the law. I am sure all of my friends are sick to death of me raving about this one take. The choreography and blocking for that scene alone … I cannot imagine how much time and I would love to know how many takes it took. Absolutely brilliant!

In the closing minutes of this action-packed instalment, Delorme gathers a change of clothes from Cardinal’s home, giving her the opportunity to search Cardinal’s home for more evidence against him and Edie arrives at the school to see Eric placed into a body bag. She returns to Gran’s house, whereupon Keith begs for his life but to no avail. Edie stabs him and shuts the trunk. Roll the credits!

One word: WOW! This is the new benchmark for Canadian television!

We are down to one episode! Will Cardinal and Delorme find Keith on time? What will this new lead on Musgrave’s case deliver on Cardinal? How, or will, Cardinal and Delorme figure out that Edie was working with Eric?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

The season finale episode of Cardinal airs next Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.


Cardinal’s serial killers “Edie and Eric”

Last week, Kelly Cardinal (Alanna Bale) suggested her father, John (Billy Campbell) take up running again. This is the scene we open this week’s episode of Cardinal with: him running. The chase has begun. Cardinal knows the killer will strike again and he feels he is in a race against time. Since the show is holding true to the book, there is likely a good deal of back and forth from here until the end. This was the issue I had with Forty Words for Sorrow. We know very early who the villains are and it is now just a race to the finish. As a novel, this format failed miserably for me. However, on screen, this formula works well, building suspense when we as the viewer know something the protagonist(s) doesn’t. As it stands right now, we have three principle storylines and two subplots, so I will attack each one separately instead of bouncing all over the place.

First, we have the story of Edie (Allie MacDonald) and Eric (Brendan Fletcher), who have selected their latest victim, Keith London (Robert Naylor). He is strapped, naked, to a chair, frequently drugged, and routinely degraded.

We also learn a good deal of backstory about Edie. She is emotionally hampered by her physical appearance and, left to care for an ailing grandmother, she is so entirely desperate for attention that the warped attentions of Eric act as a panacea for her woes. Eric has effectively seduced Edie, and in so doing has created his own little twisted minion, one that is eager to prove her devotion. Even though Eric is ultimately in control of Edie, knowing exactly which buttons he needs to push, Eric goes to the trouble of informing Keith he is deferring to Edie. She is in control and Eric is just there to nudge her along. Edie does so in her own time. With the removal of Keith’s finger, Edie demonstrates that she is not just a “dumb animal” and she made Keith bleed.

The scenes between Fletcher and Naylor were exquisitely performed. The fear is palpable. And can I just say “OW”? That duct tape over Naylor’s mouth HAD to hurt! The chemistry here is really terrific! Even the predatory sexual tension in this relationship despite the degradation is terrifyingly seductive.

I do have a question however, and I had the same one while reading  Forty Words. If pharmaceuticals and the knowledge of them is so easy for Edie to procure from the pharmacy where she works, why did Edie never self-medicate her eczema? Why, when she has felt so insecure and angry with respect to her outward physical appearance did she not use her position to remedy herself? What happened that made Edie so incapable of acting on behalf of herself, but so willing to act in exchange for the gratification she seeks from Eric?

Next, we have Delorme (Karine Vanesse) investigating Cardinal on behalf of Corporal Musgrave (David Richmond-Peck). We learn in this episode that Musgrave and Cardinal both worked Corbett’s crime ring raid in Toronto together. According to Musgrave, the raid “went bad” and he lays the blame squarely on Cardinal. Corbett and his crew were tipped off and instead of locating the drugs there was just “a half pound of C4 rigged to a wire there” waiting for them. As a result of the “tip off,” another officer was killed in the explosion. Musgrave is convinced Cardinal warned Corbet and his gang of the raid. I think Delorme’s spidey sense was tingling. She knows something is amiss. Delorme points out to Musgrave that he has no cause. The case was closed, Cardinal was cleared and therefore Musgrave has no reason to investigate Cardinal. So why is he pushing so hard to nail Cardinal? You know that line from Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much methinks”? Sub in Musgrave for Queen Gertrude here.

The last of the three story-lines revolves around Cardinal and Delorme’s investigation into the serial murders. The department catches a break on a possible new victim after the Major Crimes Dept. from Toronto Police called. The parents of Keith London notified Toronto Police that their son did not arrive as scheduled.  Police know Keith passed through Algonquin Bay, but their trace of Keith’s phone revealed the signal died further east. Cardinal deduces the killer places the cellphones of his victims on the trains as they pass through town. Eventually, the phone goes dead, but long after leaving Algonquin Bay. However, these trains all lead back to Algonquin Bay. Meanwhile, the encrypted texts from Todd Curry’s laptop come back from forensics and Cardinal and Delorme run down the lead. Turns out Curry was lured to town by a man pretending to be a woman, but this was not their killer.

Finally our subplots: John and Catherine (Deborah Hay), and Lise and “Mr Geology” Josh (Alden Aldair). John visits his wife in the hospital again, but this time it is work related. As an artist, with knowledge of the mechanics involved in photography, John questions Catherine about the process of image processing. Despite her condition, Catherine realizes Cardinal is “working” and her resentment is palpable. Anyone else notice these two never appear in a shot together? In fact, they are positioned in opposition to each other and Catherine’s body is even turned away from her husband … indicative of the gulf that exists between them.

Also, it seems Lise is keeping a few secrets of her own. She is hiding the fact she is smoking again AND, she taking birth control behind Josh’s back. Yet it is as though she wants Josh to catch her, smoking in their car, leaving her pills in the glove compartment. Why does she want him to discover her secrets? IS she looking for an out from the relationship?

Questions remaining: What is Corporal Commanda (Glen Gould) doing investigating the hit and run of a horse? And why did Francis (Lawrence Bayne) hit a horse and leave it to die at the side of the road in the first place?

What are your thoughts on this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

Cardinal airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.


Cardinal… meet “Delorme”

Last week, Cardinal‘s cold open introduced viewers to the focus of the series, the murder of Katie Pine, and the lead character John Cardinal (Billy Campbell). Our first glimpse of Cardinal was a slow zoom to a head shot as he sat in his car conducting surveillance. We learned his back story, watched how he approaches a case. We also learned he has some secrets yet be uncovered and we are left to wonder whether or not he is a “dirty cop”.

This week, Cardinal starts with the same initial slow zoom establishing shot but this time its gaze is upon  Lisa Delorme (Karine Vanasse). To recap some key points about Delorme from last week: she has been transferred to Homicide from the Financial Crimes Unit under the direction of Corporal Musgrave, RCMP (David Richmond Peck) to investigate her new partner John Cardinal. At the close of the premiere, Delorme was ordered by Sergeant Dyson (Kristen Thomas) to meet with Musgrave instead of attending with the rest of the department to the Curry crime scene. But we need to ask, why did the RCMP choose her? And why would she agree to such a transfer? What secrets does she keep hidden? This week we peel back some of Lise Delorme’s layers.

We begin the morning after Cardinal’s discovery of a second victim in an abandoned home. Delorme is just arriving at the crime scene and Sergeant Dyson reminds her, her priority is the murder investigation and the department, and not whatever Musgrave has her working on. It’s decided Cardinal and Delorme are heading on a road trip to Delorme’s first autopsy. Her partner/boyfriend/husband Josh (Alden Adair)–I am not too sure what exactly this pair really are–is clearly not pleased with the arrangement (do I detect some insecurities here?). We also learn Lise and Josh have been trying to conceive a child, but without success.

Confined to a car for several hours, Delorme uses the opportunity to try and get to know her partner a bit better. However she soon realizes this process is a double-edged sword; the more she knows about Cardinal, the more she respects him. The same proves true for John when Delorme shares her thoughts on the timeline for Katie Pine’s death; the killer held Katie captive for a week before he murdered her. Delorme continues the search for intel on Cardinal. Why two phones? One is designated for his daughter, Kelly (Alanna Bale), who is away at school in Toronto. This way she can always reach him. Watching Vanasse and Campbell watch each other is fascinating. These two are doing a dance, constantly readjusting their positions, reevaluating each other as they circle each other and this case. Director Podz is using pregnant pauses to his advantage as he dishes out this story to the audience.

(Did any of you catch Delorme’s rule of thumb for men? “If I ask a guy five questions before he asks one back, then he’s a douche.” Interesting theory!)

We arrive in Toronto and witness Delorme’s first autopsy. This one proves grislier than most (Blunt certainly has the imagination for gory murders!) and elicits “tabarnac!” (one of several throughout the episode) from Lise. Several wounds, multiple fractures, a few screwdrivers thrust through the skull and all wrapped up nicely with audio tape. The tape is a trail. Not only is our killer escalating, he tied this murder to the Katie Pine case.

Back in Algonquin Bay, Josh decides to drop in at the department to surprise Lise. Cue the testosterone. There was definitely a bit of a turf war there on the part of Josh.

Meanwhile Ronny, the fisherman who found Katie Pine’s body, now feels it is necessary to watch over Dorothy Pine (Gail Maurice). OPP Detective Commanda (Glen Gould) has a chat and gifts Ronny with some soil from the fairgrounds where Katie was last seen alive. Ronny has already seen one side of Katie, now he must see the other side of her, the side that lived.

Lise, needing to blow off steam because “Whinging Josh,” let it slip to her family they are trying to have a baby,  goes for a late night drive and happens upon Cardinal on his way to the casino. She makes the call to Musgrave but he orders her to back off (WHY?). She follows Cardinal, despite her orders, and makes the discovery Cardinal is cashing in old chips for cash. The next day Cardinal recognizes Delorme’s car from the casino and lets her know, subtly, he is aware she is investigating him.

The last scene introduces Eric (Brendan Fletcher of The Revenant), Edie (Allie MacDonald of Young Drunk Punk) and  Keith (Robert Naylor of 19-2), who I think we can safely assume is their next victim. For those who have not read Forty Words for Sorrow, we don’t have one killer but rather two. They picked out this victim from the bus depot and followed him to the local bar. Edie laced Keith’s beer and they make the decision; Keith is next.

A couple of lingering questions: why is Cardinal going to the trouble of freezing the raccoon until he can bury it? What is up with Lise and “Whinging Josh”? Is anyone else sensing  Lise and Josh are not meant to be? I have a feeling the Lise-Josh-John triangle may heat up. And what is up with Musgrave? His “displeasure” with Delorme disobeying orders was just a tad over the top and not at all professional!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cardinal airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.




Cardinal: Introducing “John Cardinal”

At last, the long-anticipated Cardinal has arrived. The screenplay adapted by Aubrey Nealon (Orphan Black, Saving Hope), from the Giles Blunt bestseller and award-winning novel Forty Words for Sorrow, nicely captures the aura of the novel. This has the feel of a full-length feature film rather than a TV series. CTV knows it is competing with other cable productions, they took a chance, and they delivered with Cardinal; a captivating, gritty experience for its viewers.

Filmed in Sudbury, Ont., Cardinal is set during a Canadian winter, albeit without the grimy, roadside snow banks. We are frequently reminded of the deafening quiet quality of a snowy Canadian winter, and in winter, we pause, with shortened days, and colder nights.  The pace we set is slower, and Cardinal does that too. And it broods, which is, of course, suitable for a story about a serial killer, but it is also characteristic of our eponymous lead character. There is a great deal of internal dialogue provided by both the setting and Billy Campbell, most recently of Helix. But there are no gaps to fill in dialogue despite the many prolonged silences.

The cold open features the discovery of a body and a case which sets off an investigation that will span six episodes. A local fisherman makes the grisly discovery of an ice-encased body of a child at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft.

Then we are introduced to Detective John Cardinal as he conducts surveillance at the local big box electronics store. His new partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) steps in to notify him that Sergeant Noelle Dyson (Kristen Thomson) wants Cardinal back in Homicide. Without yet knowing the identity of the child, Dyson suspects this may be the same case that nearly destroyed Cardinal’s career.

We head out to the crime scene in the middle of a frozen lake. The wide shot aerial footage here is really breathtaking. I am from the extreme southwestern tip of Ontario and I am not a huge fan of winter. I have never actually seen a vehicle drive on ice, or even ice huts out on a lake. It just doesn’t get that cold here for that long. I’m sure viewers not familiar with this type of cold were equally captivated by these scenes. Those who are familiar, will no doubt very quickly locate themselves into the story. At any rate, once Cardinal arrives on the scene he establishes his authority. He efficiently demotes the first to scene OPP foot patrol, and literally “de-boots” him for contaminating the crime scene.

The crane lifts the remains from the shaft; a lingering shot of the body, showing signs of animal activity, and we cannot turn our gaze. Special effects do not spare on the gore factor here. After forensics does a preliminary examination, of which we are thankfully spared, the Katie Pine file is reclassified from missing person to murder. With the discovery of her body, Cardinal’s early suspicions of abduction and murder are confirmed. We are told by Forensics there is evidence of ligature marks on her wrists and legs, and abrasions to her remaining eye socket. Katie Pine was forcibly restrained and the killer made use of a speculum to force her eyes open. The killer made her watch him.

Not trusting his new partner, Cardinal assigns Delorme all of his outstanding B&E cases to follow up on. Will these cases provide any clues relevant to the Katie Pine case? I think it is safe to assume so, otherwise, why write them in? Additionally, Delorme may have reason to distrust Cardinal; seems the detective has a little stash of something. Drugs? Intel? Cardinal makes a drop in the dead of night to “Francis” (Lawrence Bayne) for cash.

Delorme begins to earn Cardinal’s respect, albeit begrudgingly, and he shares his theory of a repeat killer. Cardinal believes the drowning of another child, Billy LaBelle, labelled accidental, was anything but. Lise, and it turns out the entire department, are all highly sceptical of Cardinal’s theory. However, after a thorough survey of unsolved missing person cases spanning the last two years, Cardinal’s theory pans out with the discovery of another body in an abandoned home, that of missing person Todd Curry. This confirmation sets us up for the remaining episodes. If there is a serial killer, there must be another victim!

In the closing scenes, Delorme asks the question that founds a secondary storyline: “Did he?” Did John Cardinal take money in exchange for information from Sudbury crime lord Kyle Corbett? We know his artistic wife, Catherine (Deborah Day, most recently from a guest appearance on CBC’s Four in the Morning) has been institutionalised for depression, but what other burdens are torturing Cardinal? Has he compromised himself? Delorme, it seems, is under the direction of RCMP Corporal Musgrave (David Richmond Peck) along with Detective Hansen (Kevin Louis) to investigate Cardinal.

So far, Cardinal is following the novel Forty Words for Sorrow, but thankfully, leaving out the inherent weaknesses I found when I read it. I found the book predictable. I will tell you why later should future episodes follow the same pattern. However, if Episode 1 is any indication, this may be the rare case that the book translates better to film than it appeared in the text.

Billy Campbell was the perfect choice for the role of John Cardinal. He captures that quiet brooding that this character emotes. Campbell must demonstrate this early on. In the scene in the squad room he shares with Delorme and McLeod, Cardinal hears the details of Katie Pines forensic report. As the camera slowly closes in, we can read everything Cardinal/Campbell is thinking in this long silence. Any dialogue in this scene would have been redundant; Campbell’s eyes told us everything we needed to know.

A couple noteworthy changes, from the original text: Delorme is not from Special Investigations, but rather transfers from the Financial Crimes Unit and Sergeant Adonis Dyson has been re-imagined as Sergent Noelle Dyson. We’ll wait to see how or if these changes play out in some significant way in upcoming episodes.

A very solid start to what I would call an atmospheric crime drama, and I look forward to how this will all play out! Other than Fargo the movie and the series, and the first season of Campbell’s earlier series Helix, I don’t think the use of winter has been used quite so effectively to drive a storyline. The Canadian winter is a character unto itself.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

Cardinal airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.