[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Thursday night, Coroner wraps its emotional fourth season (and last week’s cliffhanger) with an equally emotional two-part finale. In the aftermath of the bombing, Jenny’s reaction startles her friends and co-workers but they nonetheless rally around to support her. Look for Jennifer Dale’s real-life sister, Cynthia Dale, to come play.
While that’s unfolding, McAvoy and Malik work a different angle that puts them in the crosshairs of a legal advocate (Dani Kind) who’s angling for police reform.
This week, I caught up with executive producer and lead director (Seasons 1-3) Adrienne Mitchell for our fourth annual finale conversation to discuss the season.
First up, Mitchell had some exciting news break last week with the announcement that she and her Back Alley producing partner Janis Lundman, who brought us not only Coroner but also fantastic Canadian shows like Bomb Girls, Bellevue, and Durham County, have sold their library to Cineflix, which is also a Coroner producer. Mitchell says to stay tuned for her next adventure under her new shingle BentFrame TV and Film but did give us a little tease.
“I really wanted to sort of focus more on projects that are now more serialized, not as procedural,” she shares. “The beautiful realm of television right now is enabling artists and filmmakers to tell stories where there are no limits and I want to be part of that, and that’s where I’m going now, with a real focus on the female-driven story.”
Going into the season, Mitchell and series creator and showrunner Morwyn Brebner stepped back but stayed on as producers while Adriana Maggs came on board to showrun. “I think that Adriana did an amazing job this season and it’s not easy to transition into an established drama series. She’s an incredible talent and has an incredible voice [and we had] an incredible team of writers,” Mitchell explains.
“Noelle Carbone, as usual, was a powerhouse working Season 4 magic with Adriana, while Morwyn brought her hallmark creative energy to the table. [By losing Gordon from the narrative], we had to look at what other family dynamics that could be explored more fully [like] Peggy and bringing in her world more and showing how the fallout with that character could either bring the daughter and mother closer or [push them] farther apart. That’s where Adriana brought a new take on it, too. It was such a turn in the storytelling. So she did quite an incredible job of shifting that.”
Mitchell directed the episode “LJND” a few weeks back, which features an extraordinary palette and lush visuals that belied the darkness underneath as McAvoy followed Cassidy to the retreat. “I have to first give kudos to Adriana and Lindsey Addawoo and Nathalie Younglai for the beautiful, thought-provoking material that they created for me to work on. This is a world right now where people can be manipulated to see another kind of reality for themselves that is not necessarily based on truth or fact or goodwill,” she says.
“And that was one of the inspirations of the episode, given the freedom convoy or the right wing movement going on in the US. I think QAnon was really one of the inspirations for this. So the challenge of this episode really was to figure out how can we, in such a short period of time, only 45 minutes, create the kind of atmosphere of seduction that happens to make normal, intelligent people get sucked into this vortex of ideology?”
“Nature is a big thing and it can be seductive and beautiful, and that was one thing that we wanted to work with. It’s very much a part of the visual stamp of the episode and how we have a person that is as seducing as Legend with the charisma and the ability to mesmerize and overcome his followers’ sense of logic and rationality. Visually, I was trying to viscerally position the audience in that space to give them an understanding of how this mesmer can influence people, so I loved it.”
The episode also showcased Roger Cross. “I can’t even begin to articulate how my working and collaboration with Roger has been so rewarding on so many levels. I have seen him reach into a vulnerability in his soul and in the character of McAvoy that I don’t think we even knew was there. He’s a big man. He’s got this kind of hard exterior, and maybe he gets typecast, but there are such layers and dimensionality in his being and how he can reach for that. It has been just astounding to watch,” she shares.
“It culminated in episode eight, when Roger had to pull off this incredible moment with Legend where he actually meant everything he said, and every emotion was genuine.”
Even though McAvoy was undercover, the fears and insecurities and vulnerabilities that he laid out actually were real for that character in that moment. And he had to be real in that moment. To navigate those two realms of being undercover yet being extremely raw, authentic, and real is extremely challenging. And that’s what undercover officers actually have to do. They actually can’t fake anything. So that was an incredible moment for him and directing him was an honor and a privilege.”
“It was also a really important scene for one of the writers, Lindsey, who has gone through some personal trauma with health. And she really wrote that from her heart and he really carried it. So that’s my love song to Roger.”
“All of the characters have been incredible. Andy McQueen … his sense of humor and his ability to come at you from behind and then be this incredible presence really grew over four seasons as Malik. And this kind, beautiful bromance between McAvoy and Malik and how it went through its growing pains. And what Malik offered also in terms of his sensitivity, but needing to find a way to be tough love with McAvoy too, even though McAvoy was his mentor. It was amazing to see that.”
Thom Allison has been a ray of sunshine as Eli and Season 4, and as he told us in his chat, Adriana Maggs wrote the part for him. “When we first saw Eli in the dailies, we were screaming because of the energy he brought … the character was electrified. And we just can’t have enough of him really,” she says.
“Eli just brings a kind of no-nonsense energy that comes from a very experienced place and a place of tragedy too, where he himself has witnessed and unwittingly been involved in tragedy around a death investigation that he combated with this take-no-prisoners attitude. He also has a heart of gold, so he’s just a fascinating character to watch. And he just gives an energy to the autopsy room that there hasn’t been before. Thom’s been amazing. I just love him.”
Check back tomorrow for part two of our conversation as Mitchell breaks down the finale.
Here’s a sneak peek of “Blast to the Past” written by Noelle Carbone and “Death Goes On” written by Adriana Maggs, both directed by Samir Rehem.
— CoronerCBC (@CoronerCBC) April 5, 2022
Photos Courtesy of CBC and Back Alley Films; Video Courtesy of CBC