Cardinal is set in snowy small-town Canada, and has all the edge and atmosphere of the best Nordic noir. Bleakly beautiful photography; poignant, subtle performances from a pair of superb leading actors. It’s truly mesermising crime TV drama – so it’s no wonder that the final season has been nominated for a slew of international awards including Best Drama Series, Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress.
Each season tells a standalone and frequently eye-poppingly gory plot, all based on the equally powerful novels by Giles Blunt (hard to find as ebooks: worth buying as used paperbacks). They’re short and sharp with half a dozen 45min episodes. The scriptwriters don’t pad out the original plots, and it’s impossible not to be completely drawn in.
In the fourth and last season, Detectives Cardinal and Delorme investigate an horrific murder, where the victim has been calculatingly exposed to the bitter elements in the wilderness. Left to die alone in the ice and snow… but dressed warmly enough for the experience to be prolonged. And filmed, with the footage sent to the victim’s partner.
If that’s not weirdly gripping enough, a second person is similarly abducted and murdered. But the police team can’t find any connection… although it’s obvious that the grieving families are keeping hidden secrets. Just when you think you understand what’s happening, the plot thickens with a contract killer; a wrongly-convicted man desperate for revenge, corporate malfeasence – and the constant tension between the two pivotal protagonists.
The final episode is almost impossibly tense. And then comes the sadness of knowing it’s all over. Simply brilliant.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Cardinal is available to stream or on DVD at Amazon
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