CBC’s new legal drama Burden of Truth premieres tonight at 8pm. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it centres on Joanna Hanley (Kristin Kreuk), a rising corporate attorney who returns to her home town of Millwood for a case. While in Millwood, she discovers that there may be a bigger mystery at play with that case, plus there are some family secrets to uncover.
Burden of Truth stars Kristin Kreuk, Peter Mooney (Billy) and Star Slade (Luna) sat down with me to discuss the series and tease what’s in store during the first season.
How much of the story this season revolves around Joanna discovering things about herself and her family that she was not aware of?
Kristin: That is the parallel story. We’re working on the case, which is also running parallel to her discovering what went on in her family’s history and in her past. They are kind of linked to each other and they mirror each other. Obviously the case is the most important story, and Joanna’s personal journey is just a part of that. [It’s also about how] that affects everybody in the town, which is also linked to Joanna’s family history.
We immediately see some clashes when Joanna gets back to Millwood. It’s not exactly a warm homecoming.
Kristin: She’s not a warm person.
But at the same time, I wouldn’t say that Joanna is entirely cold.
Kristin: Joanna’s a shut down person, but she feels very deeply. She’s very affected by everything she experiences. Whatever her past is revealed to be, there have been effects on her personally based on that. And she feels oddly connected to these people [in Millwood], especially the girls who are being affected by whatever is affecting them.
The pilot alludes to Joanna reassessing her path so far. Does that continue in Season 1?
Kristin: It will very much be a reassessment for her, especially as she learns the reality of what her life was. She has one idea of what her upbringing was, and she’ll discover that it was other than that. It will force her to reevaluate more than she’s already reevaluating. In the opening of the pilot, you get a sense that she’s uncertain about her choices and the path that she’s taking. It feels shallow and empty. Something just isn’t right. She sees that and subconsciously, going home is the way to fix it. On the surface, it’s being affected by these people. She remembers what it was like to be a teenage girl. She feels for them and feels very linked to some of them.
What brings Peter and Joanna together?
Peter: They come together on opposite sides of the case initially. Billy is from the town and practicing law there. He’s personally invested in the case [because] his niece is affected. He’s operating out of fear. They don’t know what’s causing this sickness in the town and it’s terrifying. They try to make a case against the first thing that lines up, and then Joanna comes to town and knocks it down in a pretty decisive blow. When we see them start their journey together, then they have to figure out what could it be. That’s when they start it as a do-over.
Can you tell me a bit about the relationship between Luna and Joanna?
Kristin: There’s a couple of scenes with Luna and Joanna in the first episode. They have a funny relationship dynamic where Luna can be really mean and funny, and Joanna finds it amusing. They’ve got a great rapport which continues as Luna gets more involved with Billy and Joanna.
Star: Joanna comes back and one of her first interactions is with a teenage girl, Luna, who reminds Joanna of herself. Also, Luna sees Joanna as someone who left Millwood, a successful and strong woman who knows herself and who doesn’t have to be nice. It’s empowering for Luna to [meet Joanna] because Luna isn’t superficially nice. Her heart’s in the right place and she’s very moral, but she’s real about it.
For a long time on TV, people went out of their way to make all the female characters likeable. I love how it’s shifting. It makes it more human.
Kristin: Me too. I think that’s a big part of why I love this character. She’s not an asshole, but she’s not constrained by the need to be nice all the time. She doesn’t need people to like her. It’s nice to be able to check in with a character who’s like, “I don’t need to be liked in this circumstance. I want to do my job well and be as good a person as I can be.”
From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds like this season is a self-contained story.
Kristin: Not to spoil anything, but there is a conclusion, and as the story concludes, it opens a new world. Cases like these are so complicated, and it’s rare that you have a decisive win and everything’s done. It’s more likely you’ll lose. For this story there’s a lot that’s left open, and you develop all these interesting personal relationships and dynamics. All of that can continue forward, although we might bring in a new case, whatever that might be, in the future.
Photos Courtesy of CBC