Review: Cardinal (S1 E5&6/6), Saturday 17th June, BBC4

The Canadian tundra’s answers to Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have had a bit of a falling out over what to do with their torture victim Keith London (Robert Naylor). Psycho Eric (Brendan Fletcher) had been thrown off his game by hapless burglar Woody Baldwin crashing his party.However, the perennially late Woody was going to be very tardy indeed for the first day at his brother-in-law’s firm because he was, er, late – stabbed and bleeding all over Edie’s granny’s basement floor. But as Eric had pointed out, the old lady is pretty whiffy herself so she probably won’t notice the smell of carnage.

NB: Spoilers inside

Keith, still trapped in the dungeon, was momentarily reprieved because of the petty thief’s intrusion and Eric pistol-whipping Edie to shut her up.

Poor downtrodden Edie (Allie MacDonald), who prided herself on being a good acolyte, was left to scrub blood off the dungeon while Eric realised he had inherited Woody’s truck – pity it was the one that Cardinal is already trailing. Eric, feeling that two dead bodies in the house would be a little de trop, decided the main feature had to happen somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse) was facing the Spanish Inquisition at home about why she was still taking the pill when she and her husband were supposedly trying for a baby. Were the boot on the other foot and Josh had a challenging new job would she be making half this fuss? We don’t think so. This was merely a trumped-up narrative leaving the way clear for her to team up full time with Cardinal.

Woody’s wife was expecting bad news when Cardinal and Lise rocked up her door with the tidings that his body had been found in the woods by a startled hunter.

They managed to track the killer to the mall through notes on Woody’s PC about Keith’s guitar, although his boss at the music shop in the mall didn’t have a phone number for him. Obvs Paranoid Eric doesn’t believe in cell phones, which have GPS.

Cardinal was really on fire now and spotted Katie Pine’s lost jewellery in the music shop – bingo. It was only a skip and jump from there to find that Eric had form – or mischief – that’s property damage that exceeds $5,000 to me and you. They went to his flat but no one was at home because Eric knew the police were onto them and was having to manage stupid Edie, who was jittery about getting Keith out of the house on her own.

Lise, reporting back to her boss at internal affairs, Sgt Musgrave (David Richmond-Peck), on the investigation into Cardinal told him he wasn’t laundering dirty money from drug kingpin Corbett but lightly washing his own clean money to cover his tracks in paying someone he didn’t want to be associated with. By this time even my cat could work out that Cardinal was basically straight and this was either part of a sting on the bad guys or an effort to shield someone close to him. It wasn’t his daughter because she was too young to implicate – so it must have been barmy wife Catherine who had somehow queered the pitch for him.

Who was the lady with the gun waiting in Cardinal’s house with a gun? Tamara Lidstrom’s the one who was blackmailing him and he was refusing to pay anymoreore to keep her quiet over the case that went tits up and ended in the death of a police officer.

Where the plot really began to get shakily implausible was when Cardinal’s daughter Kelly arrived at Algonquin Bay – ostensibly to find out her mother’s status, but it actually felt like just a clumsy plot contrivance to Put Her In Harm’s Way. Why are the cop’s families always dragged into the mess? It’s usually a lazy stratagem to tie up loose ends quickly, and so it proved here.

Cardinal admitted Catherine had been sectioned as a danger to herself but the psychiatric hospital seemed more of a danger to her as it had somehow allowed her to go AWOL when Kelly visited.

This wasn‘t the time for Cardinal and Lise to fall out. “Whatever you think you are looking for there is nothing to find,” he told her. He’s so much smarter than all his colleagues and has known all along that he’s under investigation.

But Lise also had on her smart hat; at Eric’s gaff, she found photo negative sheets of previous victims Katie Pine and Todd Curry behind an intercom on the wall – and Eric thought he was so clever not using traceable digital comms!

His parole officer said he used to work for a security firm so he had his choice of empty buildings to hole up in. When Cardinal and Lise cornered Eric in a derelict school building he shot at Lise. In a thrilling, hand-held camera scene Cardinal chased him into his van, which crashed. Eric, figuring there was no way out, blew out what was left of his brain. Sad little Edie drove up in time to see Eric taken from the scene in a body bag. Overwrought, she stabbed poor Keith, who was trapped in the boot. And when Eric’s death hit the TV news, Granny had to go too.

At Cardinal’s place Lise foundevidence of his meeting with Tammy and takes away fingerprints.

Who is Lidstrom? She was the connection to Corbett. Lise reckoned she had Cardinal bang to rights now and the Big Reckoning at the police station came as Lise revealed her hand about the pay-offs. Although he was cool under questioning and asked why she hadn’t filed her findings to her superiors, as George said to Blackadder in Blackadder Goes Forth, he looks as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo.

Lise was in tears as she confronted him and he did little to defend himself so she didn’t press home her advantage.

But the chase was on to find Eric’s accomplice and poor Keith, and thanks Cardinal’s inability to clock off, it led him to link an empty shopping bag among the junior Moors Murderers’ belongings, pointing him to Edie’s pharmacy. Edie had again been stealing drugs from work to keep Keith quiet, but her boss was blindsided by seeing her enormous bruises from Eric’s whack in the basement – and let her go home early. We do hope the pharmacists in our local Boots branch aren’t so easily fooled.

At Edie’s home, granny was found dead in the basement and Keith shackled and bound but alive in the garage. It had been a race against the clock – rather than a whodunit – and the clock was then ticking to find Edie.

Naturally, while her dad is solving the case single-handed, Edie was menacing Kelly at Cardinal’s place. 

Some half-hearted shooting left Cardinal wounded and Edie put out of her misery by Lise. So what did we make of our young, murdering couple? It was an interesting move to kill Eric off at the end of the fifth episode. He had been the dominant personality in the relationship – the one who manipulated Edie, the one who pushed her buttons and the one goaded her on. But with Eric gone, Edie’s choice was stark: pack it all in and fold, or carry on the good work. She chose to carry on the good work. Did she want to prove herself, something she had spent her life doing? Despite her previously and seemingly passive role in the relationship, Edie was the most interesting character of the two, not least because Eric’s motivation for his wave of sadism and murder was never made clear.

Although the stench of corruption hadn’t cleared entirely, Lise told Musgrave to back off because Cardinal was not a rat and she could find no connection between him and Corbett. Over the course of these six episodes, Cardinal and Lise’s relationship had become an interesting one – both initially suspicious of one another, they grew to trust and even like each other, despite the big, fat corruption investigation still in between them. And we liked this element, because it kept their relationship bubbling up until the last and added a slightly different dynamic than what we’re used to.

Speaking of Lise, when she got home, miserable Josh (we never could quite work out why these two were together) had moved out – cue a second series.

Billy Campbell was a fitting choice for the role of John Cardinal. Square of jaw but not too good-looking, he captured the quiet brooding that this character required, although in the next series speak up, man!

We’ve warmed a great deal to Lise Delorme (with a name like that she should be a singer on a cruise liner). She has more than a dash of Sofie Gråbøl’s Sarah Lund (The Killing) about her in that she’s smart, is doggedly determined, doesn’t suffer fools gladly – and now is no longer afflicted with Useless Husband Syndrome. They are no match for DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan of Unforgotten, but we’d quite like to see them back on our screens soon.

Deborah Shrewsbury 

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two, three and four review, go here

3 Comments Add yours

  1. MikeB says:

    We enjoyed the series and six episodes seemed just about right. The final two episodes nicely tied up everything. A second series seems likely and would be welcome.


  2. Mike Stafford says:

    I’ve been a fan of the Giles Blunt novels featuring Cardinal and Delorme since book one. I really think Campbell and Vanasse did an excellent job of bringing them to life. I have been a fan of the director Daniel Grou since his work on the exceptional series 19-2. Great decision to have him direct all six episodes. CTV has already commissioned series 2 and series 3. They, too, will adapt novels from Blunt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Good news, Mike. Thanks for the update!


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