After a loooooong break, I’ve been requested to recap Cardinal again so here I am! What, you didn’t know you could request shows? Of course you can! Rolling into Cardinal S2:E01 Red after the break!
Fair warning if you want to suggest a show, sometimes I drop shows because I get freaked out, don’t have the time or just loathe what I’m watching, one of those was why I stopped after Cardinal’s rookie season. I had just completed some heavy duty shows and looking back at season one had me wondering if I could handle something that graphic again. Rumour has it the second series is not as bloody as the first (I totally watched through my fingers), so here we are again! Just two and a half tiny years later.
One more note: I started the series because it’s based on one of my favourite book series ever, from a Canadian writer even! Giles Blunt is the Canadian author in question, I highly recommend you pick up one or two of his books if you’re into the mystery series genre; subgenre: Canadian; sub/subgenre: northern.
We open with a terrified young redhaired woman walking quickly along a dock to an old boat that refuses to start, what/who is she trying to get away from? She walks along a road, ducking into the woods when she hears someone coming, but the truck stops and someone follows her. She hears gunshots and runs faster but is felled by a shot as she runs through a stream. She lays lifeless in the water.
Credits! Last time the credit sequence was so very cold, ice and snow everywhere. Now we’re in the water with fish and cast members and flowers everywhere, is this our spring?
Our intrepid and conflicted detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell – I finally realised where I knew him from, The Killing! That’s still one of my top ten shows ever), looking very relaxed in a boat on the water with his wife Catherine Cardinal (Deborah Hay) who must be going through a good period. Catherine struggles with mental illness and has been hospitalized regularly in the past.
Catherine passes on the news that their daughter Kelly isn’t planning to come home for the summer from college, Cardinal tenses up. Last year Kelly was held hostage by a suspect in one of Cardinal’s cases, he’s worried that’s why Kelly’s avoiding coming home.
Detective Jerry Commanda (Glen Gould, who has lost a significant amount of weight. He looks completely different. I’m neither congratulating or castigating (weight is so fraught), just pointing out that he looks like a whole other person and I wasn’t sure we hadn’t switched actors) jokes around with bartender before noticing our redhead being manhandled by a group of dudes in the corner.
She’s been there for a little while, other men have already tried to ply her with alcohol but she seems dazed. Jerry approaches and starts asking her questions over the objections of the arseholes grabbing at her, she doesn’t have any general understanding like day of the week. She’s covered with blackfly bites like the bartender, rumour has it it’s Blackfly Season.
Jerry pulls out his badge then asks if anyone knows our ginger, but nobody answers. WalkingRapeStatistic “thought she was just being nice” which is what jagoffs say about the women they think are too intoxicated to say no in a meaningful way. The fact that he was trying to physically defend the chance to take advantage of this woman makes him both dangerous and unfortunately ubiquitous.
Things are still tentative between Cardinal and his wife, can you imagine 30 years of that? I cannot. He wants to plan, to talk about retirement, but she thinks it’s best they don’t get ahead of themselves.
Cardinal’s phone buzzes, he’s got to go in. His partner Lise Delorme (Karinne Vanasse) also looks like she was caught unawares, she’s extra lovely this evening as she meets up with Cardinal at the hospital. She explains: she was on a date.
Last we saw Lise, her husband had just left her for not being more…traditional? She wanted to develop her career, she’s an excellent cop, and had much less time for social gatherings with him and the family he wanted to start. She lied for while, he found out and hit the road, just in time. He and his entitled arse got right up my nose.
*One thing: When doing the first series of recaps, I couldn’t understand why we saw so much of her partner, given how little we saw of everyone else’s. I still wonder if it’s because the author of the book series is male, that we needed to see the How The Male Partner Felt, but overwhelming majority of the first series episodes were written by women, so who knows.
**You should know I tend to go on like this. Cheers!
Anyway! Lise is looking foxy, Cardinal is thrown off and we’re about to meet our redhead formally. Red (Alex Paxton-Beesley) was shot in the head, the bullet is still lodged in her melon in the hippocampus. Jerry calls it “lobotomy by gunshot” and if she sustains any more trauma like a seizure, she’s at risk of dying.
Red is indeed eerily calm, she doesn’t react to anything Cardinal says to her, even when he tells her she’s going to Toronto to have a bullet removed from her brain. “Oh. Okay” is the response. She gives consent for a search of her clothing and a picture, seeming almost normal here.
She immediately forgets that she’s been shot in the head.
Off to Toronto rolls Red and Cardinal behind, I loooove Toronto. I haven’t been there in years but it’s one of my favourite places in the world.
I’m sorry, is this a surgery or an empty warehouse??
That’s almost the size of a TV dorm room!
Red is awake as they operate on her, singing aloud as they start poking at her hippocampus. She becomes agitated, tumbling out words like “flies, so many flies” and “there, pointing over there”, “moons, can’t hear the hissing” and then the bullet is out and she’s calm again.
Cardinal takes the bullet and leaves.
In Algonquin Bay (but really North Bay, ON) with Lise watching a friend beat a boxing bag to absolute shite. Rachel Wells (Nicolette Pearsen) doesn’t recognise Red, doesn’t think she’s seen her at school or around her biker friends. Lise is concerned about her cocky young friend but we don’t know why yet.
Cardinal gets the forensic lowdown on the bullet; it was shot from one of two types of pistols and the bullet was probably old or waterlogged, which is why it didn’t kill Red. I laughed when the tech said “there are hundreds of these in Ontario” because you could probably rightly multiply that by a zillion if you were talking anywhere nearby with much less gun regulation. Oh no, hundreds! Mercy!
Back home Lise Delorme tries to identify Red from the missing persons database, are there really that many gingers astray? I thought we were sort of unicorns but here we are for the scrolling, like a brunette or something.
Boss Noelle Dyson (Kristen Thomson) asks Delorme where they are with identification, but detectives Ash Kular (Zach Smadu) and McLeod (James Downing) keep answering instead. McLeod’s searching US state databases, Ash is reviewing bus / train station CCTV. Delorme doesn’t think Red is a local, she’s healthy and there’s no sign of meth-mouth: someone would have reported her missing.
Cardinal checks on Red, who is awake and recovering well, but doesn’t remember meeting him or anything about her origins yet.
Delorme found an eyewitness! Someone saw a grocery truck drop Red off at the bar, Delorme’s got the driver (Mike Nahrgang) in an interview room already. She doesn’t let him off easy, he picked her up because as a father of daughters, he was worried about her wandering around lost not remembering who she is or where she was going. Not worried enough to take her to a police station or the hospital, just a bar, but under Delorme’s crossed-arm scrutiny, he falters and asks for a lawyer.
Cardinal takes his daughter Kelly (Alanna Bale) with him shopping for clothes for Red, she wants to know they’re not shopping for his girlfriend, right? *Dad frown* She gently reassures him: she’s staying in the city because she likes it (Toronto is AWESOME but they should shop for clothes on Queen Street West), not because she’s freaked out about watching her dad get shot and almost die by someone wanting to murder her. His phone buzzing interrupts before they can bond.
It’s Delorme on the line with an update on the truck driver, whose story is checking out so far. There are six whole people with guns that possibly match the one that fired the bullet into Red’s melon, how will they have time to check all six?
Cardinal drops off the clothing to a sleeping Red’s room and heads out, spotting a woman being forcibly assisted walking down the hallway. Does that remind him of his wife being in the psychiatric ward?
I wasn’t sure when to mention this, but I can’t go another scene with Delorme and not say anything. She looks ECSTATIC. Every scene she’s smiling, but you know, a Delorme smile so kind of a smug-y smirk. We know her marriage ended at the end of last season and let’s just say: that was a very good thing. He wasn’t abusive, I don’t even think he was really a jerk, they were just on two very different paths and he was faaaar too wrapped up in a life she wanted nothing to do with. She looks lighter and happier this season, if insufferably smug.
Maybe part of that is confidence in her abilities at work, last time she was working as a police detective AND in an undercover operation trying to figure out whether John Cardinal, her partner and our main dude, was a crooked cop. It ended up being much more complicated than that because of course it did, but she has a talent for that type of investigation, perhaps that’s why she’s come to Noelle asking for a reference letter so she can train with the National Intelligence Service.
Wait. Canada has a National Intelligence Service? Don’t we just get all our information from Twitter? I’m pretty sure…
Well, I’ll be dipped, we do have such an animal, although it’s called CSIS, Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Wow, okay, we just got a timeline for this series. Delorme’s only been there for 6 months, which means the other case just closed and Noelle’s not too keen to recommend her newb over others. McLeod makes note of the meeting, it seems he’s applied and he’s very unhappy when Noelle tells him later that he wasn’t chosen for the training.
Cardinal drives Red back to Algonquin Bay, every time she asks a question he’s all over her: is that a memory? Is something coming back to you? I think I’d just pretend to sleep.
Instead, she pulls off the bandage and stares at the stitches on her head; what does he think she did to be shot in the head? That’s interesting, that she associates a near-death murderous attack as warranted.
Hmm, it looks like there are three guys associated with that truck that we saw stop by Red on the road and chase her with at least one gun, they’re Kevin (Jonathan Keltz), Toof (Brock Morgan) and ?? and they’re headed to town.
Delorme is boxing with Rachel in the gym when Jerry Commanda brings her a present, hai Jordan Akiwenzie (Asivak Koostachin)! Delorme must be working with youth at risk, young Jordan looks like a model but Jerry says he’s got more energy than places to put it. Delorme’s concerned because she’s not into commitment right now, but Rachel seems to like the cut of Jordan’s jib.
Cardinal’s back in the office and working with Delorme, who’s narrowed down the gun search to four owners from six, whew! Imagine having to check out six whole people! There are 293 other matching guns in the province too.
*Detroit rolls over on its back, feet in the air, gasping for breath, tears streaming from its eyes as it tries to stop the guffaws.
McLeod comes in hot on the heels of finding out he’s not getting the NIS training, he’s assumed Delorme’s getting it and he wants to know why.
He would believe that before the obvious fact that she’s a better detective than him.
Cardinal plays catchup; she wants to go where? She applied because it came up, okay? It’s a significant training period, six months away and the same amount of time she’s been in Algonquin Bay and a detective. Before that she was tracing money.
Cardinal’s wife Catherine pops up just as they walk outside, she’s brought him a change of clothing and is bright and lucid. She’s got 12 photography students lined up already for Toronto, Delorme watches how they interact.
Delorme brings Catherine up as they drive to visit possible suspects, she looks happy? It’s tentative, because Delorme knows more than she should about Catherine, who was the person inadvertently responsible for a tragedy last season.
Cardinal and Delorme hit paydirt immediately on their trip, the very first person whose gun they ask to see shows them an empty box. The gun is kept in a safe right next to an unlocked desk with a key easily accessible, the detectives start firing questions at gun owner Chris (Caleb Marshall). Well, he has this friend Dave Elhurst (David O’Malley), see.
Did we meet Dave up there by the water with his two friends? They were driving that truck! Cardinal and Delorme check out Dave’s place of work, but his sole employee Marci (Michelle Adams) hasn’t seen him or Red.
Wait, nope, I don’t think Dave was the ginger dude we saw with Toof and Kevin, so now I’m confused. First episodes are the WORST. I’ll get there! In the meantime, Cardinal puts out a BOLO for Dave and Delorme takes a picture of Dave to show to Red.
The doctor treating Red does not want to show her the picture, Red’s in a very suggestible state right now and could be influenced. Cardinal harumphs away because that’s what he does, Delorme sticks around and finds a way to get Dr. Paley (Andrew Musselman) to introduce the picture in a way that’s not suggestive because that’s what she does: she gets shite done. Cardinal does too, he can just be a little sensitive around mental health professionals.
Cardinal and young Constable Derek Fox (Eric Hicks) lurk outside Red’s room, has anyone been by to see her? Nope, and no flowers either.
At home, Cardinal watches his wife pack for her trip to Toronto, you can see him gauging her mood and wondering if he should say something. He does venture a “are you sure you’re ready for this?” and it’s like a cloud has come over the sun. That elemental push and pull of worrying for someone that you can’t help, can only watch and try to catch them if they fall.
That rueful smile is easy to decipher: he is always worried.
Huh. At that lodge with Toof and Kevin, there’s a man looking out at the water with a large X on his back, possible from being whipped? Or cut? It’s difficult to see.
Delorme runs into an old enemy outside work, Malcolm Musgrave (David Richmond-Peck) is obsessed with bringing down Cardinal and almost succeeded with Delorme’s help before she realised the truth. Let’s just say that Musgrave wasn’t interested in what really happened, just in anything he could use to destroy Cardinal.
*I absolutely love that they’ve cast the lone RCMP officer as the villain, part of an overarching well-oiled machine that crushes small police forces with their might. I know so many RCMP officers, so many, and they’re mostly in these small towns and not the least bit evil.
Musgrave makes sure to mention he knows someone on the NIS Selection Committee, Delorme’s not interested. It’s so predictable that he assumes that there’s something sexual between Cardinal and Delorme, of which we’ve seen exactly nothing.
Catherine meets with her psychiatrist to talk about how she’s doing, she’s frustrated with Cardinal but also acknowledges what they’re both trying to do: prevent the next time she goes off. She’s a manic depressive on treatment, when Cardinal was away on an undercover assignment, she attempted suicide. She doesn’t remember, but she also blew his cover and her actions accidentally led to the death of a police officer. Cardinal took the blame for that and also took all the guilt of her suicide attempt, it wouldn’t have happened if he’d been home. That’s what he thinks, Catherine isn’t sure.
Dr. Paley comes smiling into Red’s room with Cardinal and Delorme trailing behind, time to look at some pictures! She’s nervous, but he’s reassuring. She shows no reaction to the picture of Dave Elkhurst and Marci, but panics at the sight of an old school bus overgrown with grass. This is one of Dr. Paley’s slides, it was taken at Beaufort Hill, which is where we go next.
Delorme sprays herself and Cardinal both with bug spray and they move onto separate paths in the dense bush.
Cardinal doesn’t find anything other than bugs on his leg of the trail, he heads to the creek. He finds a small cave by the waterfall and radios for Delorme to join him. The entrance may be small, but it’s a deep cavern, the walls marked with symbols and a gruesomely decapitated body hanging at the rear.
We switch back to the man with an X on his back, now we can see that it’s covered with scars from whippings, by his hand or another? We don’t know, we’re out for now. Until next time! Cheers.