[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
We have our favorites here at The Televixen and Ryan Robbins is definitely on that list, along with A.J. Buckley (Murder in the First, Justified), Patrick Garrow (Killjoys), and Peter Outerbridge (pick something), so CBC’s new series, Pure, had our attention just on the basis of the casting. I’m happy to tell you it’s also a really good drama series about the new world order bumping up against the old and pushing people on both sides to step up and fight or move out of the way.
On the face of it, the premise sounds like it might be the setup for a twisty reveal, with Robbins cast as Noah Funk, the newly appointed Pastor of his Ontario Mennonite community. It’s not a gag. What it is instead is a revelatory performance as Robbins pushes down the physicality you’ve seen him use before in Sanctuary, Continuum, Falling Skies, and most recently, Van Helsing, to wholly inhabit an extremely kind, principled, and restrained man who finds himself in a deep quandary when he inherits a faction of Mennonites known as the “Menno Mob” who are running drugs through his community.
While Robbins has often demonstrated that his characters take no bullshit with a side of brute force, here he dials that down to the subtlest suggestion, without raising his voice or his fists, that he’s capable of so much more and that you should take him at his word.
His partner at home is his wife, Anna (Copper‘s Alex Paxton-Beesley), who accepts Noah’s appointment with a mix of fear and concern, wholly aware of what he’s taking on, and assertive enough to demand that he not do it alone. Gord Rand (Orphan Black) plays Noah’s addict brother, Abel, which gives him a unique insight into both sides of their problem.
The outsider perspective comes from a local city detective, Bronco Novak (Buckley) who literally stumbles into the mob case while half in the bag, and leverages his familiarity with Noah from their time as high school classmates. Rosie Perez plays an American DEA agent who clues him in on what the mob is doing in Mexico and his own backyard.
The mob side is represented by the reliably, fantastically crusty Garrow, who plays Gerry Epp, Outerbridge, who plays his uncle, Eli Voss, a particularly nasty piece of work who’s not above taking out entire families, and Dylan Taylor (Rogue, Covert Affairs), who plays Gerry’s younger brother, Joey, the errand boy on Eli’s vile tasks.
I enjoyed the first hour, and I’m always happy to see terrifically talented people get the opportunity to do a role that’s a little left or right of what they’re known for and then completely kick it in the ass. That the drama is compelling and the cast is top-notch across the board are wonderful bonuses. I’m in for the season.