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article imageReview: Bravo's meditative cop drama '19-2' returns for Season 3 Special

By A.R. Wilson     Jun 20, 2016 in Entertainment
'19-2': The squad deals with the fallout of Sgt. Houle's double life in the Season 3 premiere of Bravo's award-winning cop drama.
For a series that often features intense action sequences, there is a meditative quality to 19-2, quiet moments that let the show's characters — and audience — absorb the big and small dramas of each episode. These beats come in the form of slo-mo effects, flashbacks, and static images of past traumas that slice into investigations, conversations, and confrontations. The technique is a surprisingly effective shorthand for the baggage the cops of Montreal's 19th Precinct accumulate episode after episode, and a signal that this show isn't as interested in heroes as it is in humans.
And 19-2, which begins its third season tonight at 10 p.m. on Bravo, is made up of deeply human characters.
In "Burn Pile," written by showrunner Bruce M. Smith, the squad is dealing with the fallout of Sergeant Houle's (Conrad Pla) suicide after being outed as a pedophile and mob rat last season. The event leaves the group without a leader, and Commander Gendron's (Bruce Ramsay) attempt to save himself from the resulting Internal Affairs investigation has him battling with Isabelle (Maxim Roy), which further destabilizes the department. Meanwhile, Nick (the criminally underrated Adrian Holmes) and Ben (Canadian Screen Award winner Jared Keeso) are once again at odds, this time over how to handle the disappearance of Nick's cousin Kaz (Richard Chevolleau), who got into hot water with the mob last season.
Though nothing can compete with Season 2's spectacular (and instant classic) opener featuring a high school mass shooting, "Burn Pile" does feature a jaw-dropping chain-reaction car accident that initiates a new rookie (Alexander De Jordy) and lets the reeling squad rally together as they come to the rescue. But, again, it's the contemplative interludes — supported by Nicolas Maranda's dreamlike score — inserted into the chaos that really drive the drama home. It's the nearly silent CPR performed on a teen. It's the memory of someone laughing and dancing with neighborhood kids. It's the haunting image of a corpse that won't rest in peace.
19-2, which won this year's Canadian Screen Award for Best Dramatic Series, is a cop show for people weary of cop shows. Instead of depending on constant action sequences and endless doses of adrenaline, it spaces its major crimes out, patiently mining the aftermaths of these events for compelling storylines — such as Season 2's look at Audrey's (Laurence Leboeuf) PTSD, J.M.'s (Dan Petronijevic) domestic abuse of his wife, and Tyler's (Benz Antoine) alcoholism, stories that will no doubt be further explored in Season 3. It's realistically written, beautifully acted, and gorgeously shot in and around Montreal. Most of all, it's a keenly observed character drama that manages to make the cop show genre feel fresh by placing people over procedural.
19-2 has already been renewed for a fourth season, so it's well worth it for new viewers to catch up and ride along with one of TV's finest dramas.
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Season 3 of '19-2' premieres Monday, June 20, at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo in Canada.
Seasons 1 & 2 of '19-2' can be streamed on Acorn TV in the U.S.
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