There might be confirmation bias at work here, but does Cardinal get the love it deserves? And – here I’m really flying in the face of decades of received wisdom about Anglophone audiences – would it, in fact, be more appreciated if it were subtitled? For this fourth and, apparently, final season it’s certainly been bumped out of BBC Four’s Saturday night foreign drama double-bill slot, and given what looks like a promotion to BBC Two. But it looks a little bit adrift, a little unmoored, popping up on a Wednesday evening.
And so, despite not having planned to review this season at all, I thought I should say that, on the basis of these first two episodes, the show is bowing out on a note of sustained excellence. In the coldest month of the year in Algonquin Bay – and, my God, there isn’t an exterior shot that lets you forget it – Detectives John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) are searching for Robert Quillen, the prosecutor husband of politician Sheila Gagne (Carmen Moore). Quillen and Gagne have an open marriage, he had been on a date with another woman, and hasn’t returned. Cardinal and Delorme probe this issue tactfully; but, no, he wouldn’t just have stayed out, and sure enough he’s found having died of exposure. Then in the second episode, the elderly mother of nurseryman Barry Leblanc (Duncan Ollerenshaw) is abducted.
As it happens, we already know whodunnit, even if the cops don’t: Unpopcult’s old friend Currie Graham, who has served with distinction in The Rookie, Murder in the First, and The Mentalist, is the killer. We don’t yet know why, although we’ve seen evidence that Currie has at least one ally, and there are hints that Gagne and Leblanc are connected in some way. The real thrills, though, are to be found in the way in which Campbell and Vanasse subtly play opposite each other like colleagues who have a long history. It’s beautiful to watch. Moreover, with Cardinal’s ex-wife now dead and gone and Delorme’s ex Josh happily married off, there’s very little to stop the ship I’ve been sailing on since the very first season, particularly as Delorme has finally negotiated a transfer out of rural Ontario and down to Toronto. This is seriously good TV. Don’t miss.