[Warning: Spoilers for the season premiere.]
Tonight’s season premiere of Coroner put Jenny through her paces with a mass casualty event that included a child’s murder at work and a surging bout of anxiety that triggered sleepwalking and a white-knuckle attempt to cold turkey her meds. All of those things will feed the season ahead. I spoke with creators and executive producers Morwyn Brebner, who wrote the premiere, and Adrienne Mitchell, who directed, about tonight’s episode and how its events will cascade out, as well the departure of Season 1 regular Lovell Adams-Gray.
During the episode, Jenny finds herself awake in unlikely places, including the path of an oncoming car. That will thread through the season similar to the black dog last season. “The fire is all connected with the sleep walking. There is something around the fire…a [new] mystery that needs to be solved,” says Mitchell. “It’s intertwined with her working through a case.”
“The case at the fire and her sleepwalking and her past all have a kind of interesting dance this season.”
Jenny’s not the only Cooper who’s struggling, as we find out Ross is hiding the truth of starting school. “He’s in a little bit of a crisis. It’s interesting, because sometimes when you’re adrift, it’s how you figure things out. He’s free of expectations, but he’s a little rudderless,” says Brebner.
“We’ll watch it all play out. This season is really about people having to strip away their delusions, and deal with the core of what they need to do. That relationship [between Ross and Jenny is something] we love so much. Ross is such a great character because even though things are real for him, he finds sort of inventive ways to emotionally deal with [them].”
As the season of Coroner picks up, Jenny is in a good place with Liam. She’s open with him about her anxiety when it ramps up, and she recognizes that the fire opens old wounds for him, too. Brebner says the relationship is much more evolved than the one Jenny had with her husband. “Liam’s a really interesting partner for her because he has his own things he’s going through [as] she’s going through her things. They’re authentic with each other, but they’re also protective of each other,” she points out.
“And it’s a really subtle balance. Serinda [Swan]’s amazing this season. She has levels of vulnerability and truth that are just remarkable — the way she plays it throughout the season and the way she plays her connection with him and her moments of struggle with her anxiety and her desire to be truthful but also to be strong. It’s really fascinating.”
“And we tried to be true to her anxiety and the way that it fluctuates and increases and she tries to deal with it.”
“We try to not make it the same journey, but build on last season and really say, ‘Where is she at and how is it affecting her now?’ I feel like it’s such a part of her life. Anxiety is like a weird friend that lives in your head and you’re always conscious of that weird friend. And that friend is always like, ‘Hey, I’m here. I’m here.’ And sometimes, it’s quiet, and sometimes, the friend is talking louder. I feel like the way Serinda lives with that is really magnificent.”
Tonight’s premiere bade farewell to Dr. Allen, and Brebner appreciated having Adams-Gray for the episode. “[His departure was due to him] not being available [for Season 2], but he was so generous in coming back to us so that we could write out the character properly,” she shares. “We love Lovell and we love Dr. Allen.
“We really wanted the opportunity to say goodbye to Duane in a way that felt fitting and Lovell came back and did that and we were really grateful for that.”
Mitchell directed tonight’s episode of Coroner and leapt at the opportunity to commit such a big set piece like the fire to film. “I encourage Morwyn to explore all sorts of ambitious and striking dramatic scenarios. I’m up for it. I just had such an amazing time shooting that fire sequence. It’s a huge thing to shoot and to be able to do it within [our budget]. I think it looks amazing,” she says.
“Just to be able to do that cinematically and to work on stories that have such narrative arcs throughout the season [is fantastic]. Not only [to be able to tell] the stories [but also] then build image systems that you harken back to throughout the episodes, that evolve into different image systems, is incredible. I have such excitement as an artist to work on this series. It’s stretching the way I depict things from a directorial perspective.”
Coroner airs Mondays 9pm (9:30NT). You can catch Season 1 now, and tonight’s premiere tomorrow, on CBC Gem. in case you missed it, our other Season 2 interviews are here. [Update: Season 2 begins airing in the US at 9pm Wednesday, October 7th, on The CW.]
Photos Courtesy of CBC.