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TV Review: Cardinal (Series 1, Episode 3)


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This week's episode of Canadian crime drama Cardinal was even more intriguing than the last, as we were finally introduced to the killer that Cardinal and Delorme are hunting.

And when I say killer, I mean killers - for the duo from which the episode takes its name, Eric and Edie, are to blame for the deranged murders that this series is based around.

Their dynamic made this episode creepily engaging, as I tried to get my head around why exactly they were doing this. Eric is the dominant force of the two, insisting to Edie that “it is not enough to be a spectator”. Her growth in this episode is emblemised in their captor’s severed finger, which she hands to Eric at the end of the episode with the accompanying whisper: “I made him bleed… for you”.

Their interactions are incredibly disturbing, yet hard to pull your gaze away from. Brendan Fletcher and Allie MacDonald were the highlights of the episode, as their chemistry and performance led the story into some interesting places, leaving viewers with so many more unanswered questions.

But the episode wasn’t fully centred around the serial killer pair. A crime drama wouldn’t be complete without the detectives who follow the crimes, and the storytelling that revolved around their investigation wound really well into the episode’s arc. Two particular threads caught my eye: the train tracks and the internet predator. Both of these aspects were hinted at during the glimpses of Eric and Edie’s lives that we were allowed access to – with the pair staring at a passing train in one of the opening scenes, and Eric using an old desktop PC in the dining room of Edie’s mother’s house.

The latter element was masterfully built to a crescendo, as Keith tries to break free due to Edie’s apparent subservience and the detectives race to the house of the predator. There is a moment of pure, glimmering hope that the viewer holds for Keith, before it is then swept from under us when the camera reveals that the house of the predator doesn’t match Edie and Keith’s location. The storytelling here is masterful and well worth a watch.

Delorme’s secret mission is also built upon in this episode, as she starts to question why Cardinal is under investigation. After looking into his past, and discovering that he used to be deep undercover, she confronts Sergeant Musgrave and questions his motives. Her repetition of “he was cleared” in response to Musgrave’s insistence that “he did it” shows that even though she doesn’t leave the case, her suspicions remain. Musgrave is holding back and, as she puts it herself; “I can’t do my job if you hide things from me”.

In summary, all of the elements worked together perfectly and the insight into the lives of Eric and Edie was fascinating. One can only hope that the series continues in this way, as this high standard of storytelling is a marvel to behold.

Cardinal airs on Saturdays at 9pm on BBC Four.

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