We’ve already reached the half-way point in this final season of Cardinal without even really trying and boy, it hasn’t hung about. These two episodes packed more action into their running time then the last two seasons combined, and whether this increase in tempo is preferential toward the show’s overall style remains to be seen. But it was undeniably good television all the same – twisting and turning into a set up for next week’s final act.
If there was any faint optimism that Adele should survive her ordeal at the hands of contract killer Neil toward the end of last week’s cliffhanger, then it was quickly expunged when a junker discovered her frozen body at the scrapyard. It was a graphic and unpleasant scene, but reinforced the brutality Neil was administering – but was this trail of vengeance purely for himself? In Neil’s rented holiday home, we meet his employer Scott – somebody seemingly with a BIG axe to grind against certain citizens of Algonquin Bay. Scott’s not happy with the results Neil is bringing, and insists he wants to get closer to the action when he hunts the next victim.
Whatever Scott’s history is, it’s clearly tied to Barry and Sheila, who visits him at the local church to discuss events. Barry’s fully aware that his mother’s fate is his fault, intimating something in their past is the cause of all this misery. It’s also something that involves local businessman Taj Roy, who seems to be the only one uncowed by the killer’s actions. Taj visits Barry at night to politely threaten him into staying quiet about their shared secret, whilst Scott solemnly stakes out the address from afar. Elsewhere, Neil is on a stakeout too, secretly watching Lise’s house – is she his next target? Either way, he witnesses Cardinal turn up and try his best at a smooth move – arriving with takeout and a folder full of crime scene photos (classy date). Lise seems to be responsive – until her ex Josh turns up to turn the mood sour.
Back on the case in the morning, Lise deduces Wade was the local middleman connecting client and killer with his knowledge of the area. When Barry is discovered frozen to death in his garden, the detectives surmise he was in a lot deeper than they imagined. With the local priest confirming Sheila met Barry the day before despite both previously telling the police they didn’t know each other, Cardinal and Delorme begin to dig in to Sheila’s history. It transpires that both Sheila and Barry worked at the same forestry company in the late 1990s – and left the business a week apart of each other. The detectives pile the pressure on Sheila to reveal what she knows, but their actions only cause her to resist further, raising the ire of Jerry, who feels they are going too far. It also elicits a call to Taj, where Sheila asks for his protection – unaware of what that actually might entail.
Meanwhile, Neil is planning his next strike and to the surprise of absolutely no one, it’s Lise’s ex, Josh. Anybody superfluous to a primary cast with more than a few speaking lines is always going to be prime meat for the killer in these things, and so it was that Neil tasered poor Josh over his chopped carrots and bundled him away, but not before being surprised by Josh’s dad Ken, whom he also incapacitates and abducts (fair to say, he is getting the job done in this show). When the alarm is raised, Lise is understandably aggrieved – although in a very civilized Canadian manner, with a few door kicks to make the point. It seems a bit strange that she wouldn’t know her long-term ex’s father just so happened to be the owner of the forestry company where Sheila and Barry had worked, or that Josh also worked there – but as these facts are revealed it’s clear the focus of the case is on what transpired there in the past, with Ken at the centre.
The wheels on the plot did come off slightly in this final third, but it was an enjoyable (albeit bumpy) ride. In quick succession, the baby-cam from Josh’s house yields a decent enough photo of Neil to identify him, and with the killer spooked as his name goes national, he meets with Scott to demand his money and dump Ken onto him so he can abscond. Quite why Scott decides not to just string him along, and instead fight a guy twice his size is a bit of a mystery, but the tussle results in Scott “accidentally” stabbing Neil to death with a rusty nail (ouch). The fallout from this sees Scott take Ken to a second location, whilst Lise and Cardinal frantically search for Josh. For the sake of plot contrivance, Josh is able to withstand the extreme cold long enough to free himself and set fire to a nearby shed, thereby alerting the authorities to his whereabouts.
So with Josh saved and Neil dead, the show is already aligning itself for the final act. Scott’s interactions with Ken reveal his connection in the death of a woman called Rebecca, but it’s not clear how everyone was complicit in her fate. What is clear, however, is the next victim is going to be Taj Roy’s daughter, as he is the final person in Scott’s plan to suffer for his actions – and with the detectives constantly two steps behind the villain, it’s anybody’s guess how this story will conclude.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODES ONE AND TWO REVIEW