Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner Talk the Coroner Season 3 Finale

[Warning: Spoilers for the Season 3 finale.]

How’s everyone doing after that finale? We’ll have to wait until Season 4 (fingers crossed) to break down that loaded look from Jenny at the end, but to tide you over, here’s the second part of my chat with co-showrunners Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner about the other things we can discuss.


In the finale, as Donovan lies wounded, he confesses to Malik that he’s been the one tagging the precinct about an old case, which gives an interesting spin to his relationship with Kirima — that she’s living out loud in a way he can’t. Brebner says we’ll explore that more if they return next year.

“We were trying to really find a way for Donovan, given what happened last summer after George Floyd was murdered, and how galvanizing that was for people, to bring that energy into the show,” she explains. “There are parts of Donovan that he keeps inside. And it’s interesting that [now] he does have a desire to have that part of him be known.”

Morwyn Brebner Coroner

“I think for Donovan, there’s a further coming out of the things inside him, to be able to break out of his shell even more, and like he talks about with his dad, his time to shine. He’s got a lot of really exciting potential for new things. He has a unique place in the system [he’s been secretly protesting].”

Last week’s episode gave us a field trip for Dr. Sharma when he loaned his expertise to Jenny’s case and then ended up a hostage. “I love Dr. Sharma and that episode. I feel like it’s about bringing Jenny’s worlds together in a weird way. They start to integrate themselves into the real world. I think it’s hard for Jenny and uncomfortable for her, but it also allows her to know that you don’t have to keep everything separated,” says Brebner.


“It’s okay for life to be messy. And that there are tools from different parts of your life that you can use in other parts of your life to help you grow and expand as a person. It was so serendipitous to have him see her in her element and to have her see him out of his element. I think he has newfound respect for the complexity of Jenny’s life.”

“Christmas Eve” was written by Noelle Carbone, and tonight’s episode, “Christmas Day,” which continued the arc, was written by Brebner (both episodes were directed by Mitchell).

Brebner explains that it’s a team effort when you split an arc between two writers. “All of the episodes are thought out in multiple ways, but this last one at the end of the season, we’re really running on fumes and you don’t have as much time to think about things. It’s terrible to admit,” she shares.

“Noelle is an amazing EP on the show, a writer, and a brilliant person. She wrote episode nine and I wrote episode ten, and we had parameters. I was able to like pick up on things [she started], so it was really exciting. Noelle brought in this triangle of characters of Flora, Aaron, and Caleb, who are so great.”


“And then it was, ‘Okay, we can take these characters wherever we want them to go.’ Nine was written before ten, and because we had a break, I actually got to read it before I wrote ten. The psychological dynamics were really rich. And I [realized], ‘This relates back to Jenny in different ways. It relates back to Donovan in different ways.’ It was actually a really exciting process of creation. And I feel like it’s been very collaborative this season.”

Mitchell imbued the episodes with a David Lynch touch, and she says she had specific images in mind as they started to break the episodes. “We all sort of connected together on it. There’s a lot of great imagery that I really seized on. I found it very interesting to work with. I brought a lot of my own game to the shows around how we could achieve the vision of the scripts and bring in that sort of twisted Christmas vibe,” she explains.


“Noelle was working with this idea of the perfect facade, the perfect family. How do we convey that, and how do we get it into that sort of weird heightened realm? I remember just going on the Internet and finding that climbing snowman ornament and how that could echo the father climbing up the ladder, putting the thing on the tree [to mirror] the mechanization of Christmas.”

”That pressure that society puts on people to make it a beautiful, perfect time and how we can use that as the facade and all the sort of toxic things that were going on with the family … how they were using that as a public badge for people not to scrutinize them. And so those were the kinds of things that really excited me.”

Adrienne Mitchell

“The episodes were in my DNA. I have a sort of bent dark, humorous darkly, weird sensibility. And I was so excited to get these scripts and this material because it was so in my wheelhouse, it was very exciting. I think it’s some of the best material I’ve ever had to work with as a director.”

The reason I advised against eating during the finale were the tapeworm scenes, and Brebner explains that was a scientific choice.

“I was trying to think [of] something that could be festering in people. It felt very of the moment, like there’s just something in people. It’s a pandemic, it’s conspiracies … At first I was [thinking] maybe a fungus and then our pathologist said, ‘There’s no fungus that will do what you want to do,'” she says.

“[We were] in the writing room and we needed something. And I think it was Nathalie Younglai, one of the writer producers on the show, who found that a tapeworm can go to your brain. And then we had to look at all these videos of tapeworms and everyone was so disgusted.” Then, when they got to shooting that scene, Mitchell wanted it to move, so, on the day, the tapeworm had its own puppeteers.



Brebner and Mitchell were thrilled with the guest stars they had for the finale, and to have Charlotte Sullivan come play. “She worked on Rookie Blue, and she’s actually very good friends with Noelle, who also worked on it, and I did, too. We were overjoyed when she could come. There is no one like her,” says Brebner.

“It was just such a gift. She is an absolutely lovely human being, first of all. Lovely to work with and is so instinctual. She gets so lost in the moment that she herself doesn’t know what she’s going to do next, which makes for such surprising, unusual, and extremely specific choices that you basically could end up watching her watch paint dry,” shares Mitchell.


One of the treats this season was the very sweet romance between River and Dr. Garcia, and Brebner and Mitchell ship them as much as we do.

“It was like a beautiful ray of sunshine through the season and especially the last two episodes. You need some sunshine in there, and their relationship is so wonderful. And those two, they have so much chemistry. It’s pretty sweet, too. They have a wonderful vibe together. It’s pure joy for us. I love them,” explains Brebner.

“As people and actors, they just enjoy each other. Every time one gives something, the other one is just receiving and giving back. It’s fun to direct them because they really come alive with each other. It was a beautiful little arc. It was so simple and poignant [and] a bit of a breather from the [darker themes],” says Mitchell.


Ross’s impulsive decision to invite Peggy for Christmas has explosive ramifications, and Brebner explains that it felt like it was time to bring her home. “It’s a trip. We love Jennifer [Dale] so much. She is just phenomenal. We were so lucky to get her. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t sure how we were going to do it. We talked about it a lot, but it felt right for her to come back and be introduced into this matrix,” she points out.

“Over the long arc of Jenny’s time on the show, a lot of it is about healing and the primal trauma of what happened to her as a child and her mom is a big part of that. To have your mom leave is one of the hardest things that can happen to a person in their life. And so bringing back her mom felt sort of necessary. [And we wanted] to bring her back in a way that would be surprising. It’s not going to be easy.”

“Working with Jennifer Dale was a real gift. What I love about her is class and poise, which is a kind of armor that she wears as a character, and it makes people around her think she’s got it all together. It’s an interesting device this character has created to keep people at a distance,” says Mitchell.


“And so to see those layers start to come apart, when she sees Jenny, and gets slapped, and all that stuff that’s unsettled underneath that poise makes her a very fascinating character to watch, because you don’t know where it’s going to go with them. We really love the chemistry between Jennifer Dale and Serinda [Swan], and I think there’s a really interesting story to be told in their healing and how they work through their emotional situation together.”

Going forward, whatever that looks like for Jenny in a potential Season 4, Brebner explains that she’ll navigate it with a mix of old and new tools. “[Jenny] is someone who has a surprising depth of resources and her response to things is never what you think it would be. Her path towards healing has been really nonlinear because of that. We’re not interested ever in re-traumatizing her or just making things blatantly worse for her. I think it’s an opportunity for her to come through all of this,” she says.


“It’s an interesting process because sometimes, when you try to reinvent yourself, you’re doing it for all the right reasons, because you don’t want to fall into the same hole, the same patterns you’ve been falling into, but sometimes [you unintentionally] just throw the baby out with the bath water,” adds Mitchell. “And you realize, ‘Maybe there are parts of the old me that I should still use,’ and it’s just a balancing act. So it’s a really interesting, very human journey for her. I think for her that could happen in season four.”

All three seasons of Coroner are available now on CBC Gem. All of our coverage is here.

Photos Courtesy of CBC.


One thought on “Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner Talk the Coroner Season 3 Finale

  1. Enjoyed weird vibe of Christmas Day. When I connected the tape worm and slaughtered wild pig,all I could think was “revenge of the swine or you are what you eat”. I hope the show is renewed to see if Donavan and Liam are well,and to see how in the world the mother and child reunion works out. Also,the Donovan work angle.Also,enjoyed artistry of warped Christmas music soundtrack to increase off-kilter mood.

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