A Preview of the ‘Cardinal’ Series Premiere

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

CTV rolls out its newest drama series Wednesday night with the six-episode first season of murder mystery Cardinal, based on the first book of the Cardinal Mysteries series by Giles Blunt, Forty Words for Sorrow. Billy Campbell stars as the title character, John Cardinal, a Northern Ontario detective still haunted by a missing child case that’s revealed to be a murder as the premiere episode opens.



Cardinal, who always believed the girl wasn’t a runaway, finally starts to draw some help from the police force once he has forensic evidence that indicates a much larger crime. While he’s sorting through that long-overdue assistance, he’s paired with detective Lisa Delorme (Revenge‘s Karine Vanasse), a transplant from financial crimes who would rather work the high-profile murder than work catch-up on the burglary cases Cardinal is pulled off of.



At home, Cardinal is equally haunted by the absence of his wife and the accompanying solitude that affords him way too much time to reflect on old personal and professional wounds. There are also a couple of mysteries within the mysteries as Lisa’s motives are made clear and Cardinal seems to have something else going on that he’s not ready to talk about yet.



The rest of the cast includes Kristen Thomson (Saving Hope) as Cardinal’s Sergeant, Noelle Dyson, Orphan Black‘s David Richmond Peck as Corporal Musgrave, an officer running a covert investigation, Glen Gould (Blackstone) as Jerry Commanda, a fellow detective and John’s ally in the Native population, Brendan Fletcher (Gracepoint and a thousand other things, seriously), and Allie MacDonald (Orphan Black).

Cardinal is the brain child of Aubrey Nealon, a producer and writer on Orphan Black, Saving Hope, and Rookie Blue, who wrote the entire first season. Daniel Grou (19-2) directed all six.


If you’re hip deep in snow already, the series won’t warm you up anytime soon. It’s set in the town of Algonquin Bay and was filmed last winter in the frigid cold of North Bay and Sudbury, which take on a life of their own, similar to the way the bleak, wet Vancouver winter informed the mood and tone of the first season of The Killing. I was also reminded of the austere landscapes of Pivot’s Fortitude, but without that show’s sense of extreme isolation.



It’s a very visceral part for Campbell, who spends much of the first hour silent and observant, only speaking when he needs input from others. Most of the pilot has him working his own intuition solo, underneath a layer of weariness, also about things unspoken. I like Vanasse in her role, as well. It’s a nice swap from when I last saw her as Margaux on Revenge.

Cardinal premieres Wednesday at 10 pm E on CTV. Here are a couple of sneak peeks of what to expect.



Photos and Video Courtesy of CTV

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