Oh, Canada… Motive Returns for its Second Season

Motive (Photo: ABC.com)

The less interesting French-Canadian ‘Means and Opportunity’ was mercifully axed during hiatus.

If one views Motive – the Canadian cop show where the killer and victim are identified at the top and the procedural proceeds to figure out the show’s title – as a play in, say, three acts,1 then the developments in the season 2 premiere are fine. Perfectly fine. Prepare for another summer of actual people, not caricatures, maneuvering quickly through an effectively entertaining hour of television.

If, though, you’re looking for a cop show that is a cop show, maybe with a few quirks thrown in for flavor, then you might want to start shifting nervously about in a manner suggesting Vancouver’s finest have, inevitably, figured out what’s really going on and it’s only moments until you’re hauled off in cuffs.

I’m hoping for the former. To wit:

S1 of Motive introduced a new enough twist on your standard crime-of-the-week cop show. It also introduced a gentle rhythm with smooth pacing, almost musical banter between well-matched partners (Kristin Lehman as Angie Flynn, Louis Ferreira as Oscar Vega), and tropes and beats consistent from episode to episode with the only significant change being the puzzle of that particular week’s murder. The no-nonsense boss and the occasional department politics, Lauren Holly as the coroner with a libido2, the properly doofy but still capable sidekick of a younger detective, and Flynn’s teenage son with whom she has a very real figuring out boundaries as both do adult stuff relationship; these elements were scattered – no, well-placed – over the 13 episode run and added a bit of depth, a nice touch of well-hewn distraction to what is, ultimately, yet another police procedural.

Which brings us to all the potentially disastrous changes at the start of S2.3 Prime amongst them – the boss is dispatched (via promotion, not death) and replaced by CTV favorite Warren Christie as Mark Cross. Oh, and Cross and Flynn have a past. Probably a romantic one. This is fine so long as they don’t make this a big deal. 

Here’s where my play analogy comes into play – a shift apparently this big is fine if it is the tonal theme of the act, the variation the character(s) plays against while still heading towards the same goal. Flynn’s relationship with her kid (with which this storyline will either compete or replace) was embellishment, notes that added to the character and made her – believably4 – a fuller person. But still a person who was solving crimes via this twisty layout. In other words, no one gives a flip about Flynn’s job performance getting mucked up by having an ex in charge; they give a flip about the job, and enjoy it when tensions enter the picture such that it’s not the same script different nouns each week.

I’m fully aware of the fact that all my questions could be answered, my concerns assuaged or confirmed, with a little bit of the Googling – ABC runs the 13 episode seasons of Motive in the summer, months after the entire run has aired on CTV. But I like to live in the now.5 No spoilers for me, please. I’ll learn whether this show plays too different a tune this season, or earns a place in my heart next to Rookie Blue, in due course.

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  1. And, really, why would one not?  
  2. Not like that…  
  3. I’m totally cable-newsing this – at worst, the show just loses its spark and becomes another cop show with non-annoying characters.  
  4. Sorry Lenny, but did anyone ever enjoy a character-backstory episode of L&O?  
  5. Which is why I spend so much of my time writing about television…  

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About Aaron Mucciolo 206 Articles
He does things. That's all we can say at this time. E-mail: mooch@whatelseison.tv