Life has changed in so many ways due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and TV shows like Coroner aren’t going to shy away from that fact. From the opening moments of last week’s Season 3 premiere, it was clear to viewers that the pandemic would be a part of Jenny’s (Serinda Swan) journey this year. While it will be a part of the story, it won’t be the entire story for Jenny and her team. Just as in real life, pandemic or not, our lives have a way of still moving forward and there’s work to be done.
In this week’s episode, “In Bloom,” written by Marsha Greene and directed by Adrienne Mitchell, Jenny begins to uncover some uncomfortable truths thanks to the effects of new therapy she has been trying out. Coroner showrunner Morwyn Brebner and Mitchell recently spoke to The TV Junkies about Jenny’s mental health journey this season. They also previewed what Liam (Éric Bruneau) moving out means for their relationship, and how things turn very personal for Donovan (Roger Cross) this season.
The TV Junkies: You mentioned that you want the viewer to be put right into what Jenny’s going through with the pandemic, and her mental health is at the forefront of any season of Coroner. How is she faring and what kind of journey might she take to keep working through some of her trauma?
Morwyn Brebner: This season Jenny is trying some new therapy with Dr. Sharma (Saad Siddiqui) that’s more physical. She’s trying to be in the moment, open herself up, and not be so guarded with her trauma. That means she’s more vulnerable to everything that happens to her because when you open yourself up, you expose yourself. She’s always working through her trauma and making this decision to allow her trauma to move through her, and it’s really, really hard for her. She’s armorless this season and Serinda really played and embraced that.
Adrienne Mitchell: What was really interesting in working with Serinda this season was seeing how instead of letting that trauma overtake her, she’s trying to live with it and move through the world with it. She may even connect to the wisdom behind the trauma, and allow herself to draw from it, in order to connect with others experiencing their own personal trauma. Serinda coined the term “using trauma as a tool,” and that’s what she’s really working with this season. There are subtleties to her performance that show Jenny evolving that throughout the season. It was very exciting to watch her this season.
TTVJ: Jenny and Liam really went through it last year, and we know they both have some personal issues they need to work through. Where do things stand with their relationship?
AM: Two people have left each other because they feel that they need to go away from each other to heal before they can come back. It’s the story of the ramifications of that and what happens. You go away to heal, but can you come back to one another? Can you come back to each other?
TTVJ: Something I’m really excited about is that things are going to get a lot more personal for Mac this season. Can you preview what his story looks like?
MB: He does have more personal stuff and we’re so happy about it. Roger is just incredible. He’s confronting his own mortality in a different way. For someone who deals with death every day, it’s a really big thing for him. He is such a strong and guarded person so to really have something that whisps away any possibility of that was really exciting.
AM: Morwyn and I remarked at how much work Roger did for this. He did a deep dive into putting a public face forward when you’re not only experiencing tremendous physical pain, but you also don’t know if your life is going to change from the way you’re accustomed to. Given he’s a stoic guy, how does he move through that? He’s very internal and isn’t the guy or character to go around talking about it to people. Roger did a lot of internal work, and as the season unfolds, he does a really great job of not talking about it but moving through the world in a way that tells the story in a compelling, heroic, and heartbreaking way. His performance is stunning this season.
MB: For Donovan, it really opens up a lot of new choices and possibilities for him. It’s pretty cool.
TTVJ: Coroner always does a great job of hitting on timely, serious issues. Can we expect some of the same types of stories told again this year? Did the Black Lives Matter movement affect any of the show’s stories?
MB: We are a coroner show and not a police show, but it definitely does. A lot happened in 2020, so when George Floyd was murdered it became apparent that we needed to weave that into the fabric of the season, along with Black Lives Matter and this emphasis on racial justice.
AM: Even in Episode 1, when Malik (Andy McQueen) walked out of the police station we saw some protestors outside. That’s the beginning of elements that will play out throughout the season.
TTVJ: Is there anything else you wanted to share about the season?
MB: There is a lot of magic in the season. The one thing about the pandemic is that it’s made people change the way they live. That opens up the possibilities of living differently and we tried to think about that. The COVID haze has allowed the show to go to some surprising places. They have a mysterious lightness to them, and we have an interesting mix of things this season.
AM: We all have been living differently and put a pause on the normal rhythms of the engine of our lives. When you do that you can open up a space for imagination that doesn’t get expressed as much. So we go into some strange places, even in the first episode you see that crazy marijuana trip, and that’s a great example. That vibe is in the series a lot and it’s great.
MB: We also just really tried to make a good season to honor the fact that we were able to work.
Coroner airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem