[Warning: Spoilers for Season 3 premiere.]
Tonight’s season premiere of Coroner swam straight into the pandemic with that gorgeous overlayered tracking shot written by Mowryn Brebner and directed by Adrienne Mitchell as Jenny and Bobby walk the same paths over several weeks but never see each other. In part two of our chat, we dive into the details of the first episode of Season 3.
“Morwyn had this opening that was about the passing of time and the bodies, which really inspired me. As a director, you want to build on what’s there to realize it fully. It was their walking and their passing and not really seeing. And when they’re walking in each other’s footsteps, but coming from a very different perspective .. Jenny, as a coroner has more of a place of power where Bobby doesn’t,” recalls Mitchell.
“We wanted to definitely intertwine them and create a sense of seamlessness for that opening. And when she finally sees her, it’s in a strange way too late. But having realized it just gives her this energy to fight for the truth for Bobby, because she realizes that she didn’t see her and Bobby was one of those warriors risking their lives. It was all of that, and working with the DP Samy Inayeh.”
And what’s up with Mac? The co-showrunners weren’t telling, but they did gush about their leading man, Roger Cross, who was already stunning tonight in so many ways — from stoned karaoke to curling into a fetal position and yearning for levity during a spinal tap to try to find out why his leg hasn’t healed.
“Here’s this person who’s super stoic, super devoted to his work, [suddenly faced with] thinking about his own vulnerability and mortality. He confronts death all the time and to suddenly be confronted with his own mortality is part of life. There are opportunities for all kinds of feelings that come out of the vulnerability and he plays them all. And really, he’s just amazing.” explains Brebner.
“[I was thinking about] what could happen to Donovan that would be hard that would really crack him open and something that he would genuinely be laid bare before … and sort of ended up there. Roger is such an amazing actor and it felt like it came naturally from somewhere else.”
“If you have an actor like that, all the actors are so amazing, you know, Roger, Nicholas, everyone on down, and you really like to look for things for them to do. You’re like, ‘What are new avenues for this actor? What can we do?’ It’s really satisfying to see a performance like that.”
“In directing him, it was just really fascinating. He just went so inside of every little moment … [with Mac] always trying to keep up appearances that nothing was wrong. His own sense of stoicism and how he’s working through his own layers of denial [about] it,” says Mitchell.
“It’s a very internal journey. [We didn’t] even have a huge dialogue for him to work it out. He works it out stoically and internally. And it’s incredible to watch his journey. How Roger works through the scenes is so real and authentic and amazing. I can’t wait for you to see the whole season.”
“He just blew me away this season. He’s just such an amazing person and a lovely actor to work with. And he did his work on that, some really deep, deep work on it. He was very specific about it. You can’t direct that. It’s so exciting to see all the nuances and the layers. He really dived into that journey and it just brought something so special to the season.”
“You’re going to find that [we see Mac learning how to] manage in the workplace, proceeding with cases. It’s just like how Jenny has to manage her anxiety while still functioning, highly functioning. He has to manage his pain and his sense of unknowing around what’s going to happen to him while he’s still working. And I think that’s really where the show lives, you know, ‘How do we survive?’”
Jenny’s stability gets blown out of the water with the arrival of Liam’s letter and the news of the inquest related to her sister’s death, and that, too, created new opportunities in storytelling and for Serinda Swan’s performance. “[At the beginning of the season], Jenny is in a good place and she is opening herself up to things and she isn’t self-medicating and that presents its own vulnerabilities and challenges. And so that’s scary for her,” says Brebner.
“She’s really trying to be open and to take things as they come. And it’s really, really, really hard for her now. I would say that that is the biggest challenge, and that’s something we haven’t seen before.”
“And I think it makes her acutely vulnerable this season. And I feel like Serinda’s performance and her purposefulness and toughness, and vulnerability allowed us to go places with her, like sort of weird dream-like places that bubble up underneath her. We are not trying to be retraumatizing; we’re trying to have her go through it, and all [her] traumas are coming at her in new and weird ways.”
“I think that what is interesting this season is her trying to work with her trauma as a tool, to say, ‘Okay, this is who I am. I have this. It’s not always going to be with me, but how can I move with it and derive experience from it to deal with my life situation?’” adds Mitchell.
“[It’s also an opportunity to] use her empathy. There are a lot of people who have anxiety in the world, who have been traumatized. Instead of her being traumatized and re-traumatizing herself, how can she use this experience as a way to connect with her cases, connect with people, and maybe move through it in a way that’s a bit more enlightened.”
“And that doesn’t have a straight line because sometimes she just can’t get there. And sometimes she can and the things that she fears about herself and wants to eliminate … what I love about this season is that towards the end, there’s a kind of reckoning where she realizes that this anxiety and the extreme emotions she has, and this rage stem from her trauma. It has its negative side, but it was also her way to survive a very difficult situation. And I think that she has less of a black and white relationship with it as a result, and I think that’s kind of interesting.”
One last note — although we didn’t see Alison in the premiere, the duo say we will see her this season, so stay tuned.
Coroner airs Wednesdays at 8 pm (8:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem. Seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on CBC Gem, and each episode will also stream there. All our previous coverage, including part one of my Season 3 conversation with Adrienne and Morwyn, and Melissa’s new interview with Roger Cross, is here.
Photos Courtesy of CBC.