With every passing week of the new CBC drama series Coroner, things get more exciting, more intense and more complicated for Dr. Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan). Not only is she dealing with the sudden death of her husband, which also uncovered secrets he was hiding from her, but she’s trying to navigate life in a new career and help her son Ross (Ehren Kassam) work through his grief. Jenny made things even more complicated on last week’s episode when she announced at a press conference that the coroner’s office had made mistakes, and that she’d be reopening all cases worked on by Dr. Peterson. There will no doubt be fallout for Jenny after making that announcement, but it seems as if viewers will also soon learn more about Jenny’s past and her sister.
In order to take stock of Jenny’s journey thus far, and what the events during the last moments of last week’s episode may mean for the rest of the season, The TV Junkies recently caught up with Swan. She discusses what sort of repercussions Jenny may face at work, as well as how the news about her sister will cause Jenny to learn things about herself that may cause her to look inward. Swan also discusses why she’s so excited for viewers to see the last half of Coroner’s first season, currently airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.
The TV Junkies: Coroner really seems to be getting better and better every week. I’m kind of mad there’s only 8 episodes.
Serinda Swan: I know! The show just develops more and more as you go, and as I read the script I fell more and more in love with the characters. It’s not your standard procedural where everything is wrapped up at the end of each episode. Things start to go from one episode into the next and it’s done in a really lovely way that makes you wish there were more than 8 episodes.
TTVJ: I find the cases very interesting, but as you said, what I’m really here for are the characters and getting to know more of them each week.
SS: That’s the thing that was really important to me coming onto the project, being able to tell a story that was the driving force. It’s so important to have character-driven shows right now, especially ones that mirror society and that allow people to see themselves. We show mental illness in a way that doesn’t have stigma. We’re not judging Jenny on why she can’t catch her breath or why she has to take Ativan. We’re not shaming her or making her hide when she’s going to the therapist. It’s actually showing how those things can help, and one woman’s quest to figuring out how to come back to herself and the many different roads she takes. I really love that. I think that showing those imperfections is what’s really drawing people in.
TTVJ: I spoke with Morwyn [Brebner] and Adrienne [Mitchell] about that, how we as viewers are trained to expect her to go down a path of addiction with these pills, but that’s not what you guys are doing here. She’s just using the pills to help manage her problems.
SS: It’s a part of her journey. Not everybody who takes pills is an addict, but there’s always a day where you take more than you normally do, or days where you cry instead of going to the therapist. She’s trying to figure out what’s best for her and how she can survive this trauma, betrayal and new life that she’s been thrust into. She does lean on Ativan some days, then on her son some days and then work other days. It’s human and not like many stories you’ve seen before, but it’s many stories that you’ve felt, participated in or lived.
TTVJ: At the end of Episode 104, Jenny has some pretty big things happen that could shape the rest of the season. First, we learn that Jenny had a sister, and see the photo of her with the dog that looks like the one she’s had visions of. Then they both have red eyes! What is happening? Will we learn more about her sister?
SS: Absolutely! The first season starts to unravel what happened to her sister and why she doesn’t remember anything around her sister’s death. As she dives into the world of the dead in her job, she also has to do the same within herself. There’s a crossover of the world of the living and non-living and the dog seems to be the passageway for her to get there. At first she didn’t know why this dog was showing up, which is incredibly alarming, but then once she realizes it’s the dog in the photograph, it starts to lead her inward to this journey over the next few episodes.
TTVJ: To be fair, if I had to see anything, I would like it to be dogs. [laughs]
SS: Me too! But maybe like a french bulldog and not an all black German Shepherd. Not that I have anything against them, but they do look a little menacing and like a wolf. In that opening scene, if she looked across the pool and saw a french bulldog instead … totally different show is all I’m saying.
TTVJ: Jenny also speaks out, admits her office made mistakes, and says that she’s reopening all of Dr. Peterson’s cases. Why did she choose to do that and what kind of repercussions will she suffer from doing so?
SS: That’s the thing about the show, the inward and outward always mirror each other. It’s the same reflection. For her, she’s announcing that she’s going to dig deep in her own life, reopen the memories she’s clearly repressed, and no matter how much it hurts or problems it causes, she’s going to do it. The truth is the only thing that matters to her. In her new job, realizing mistakes have been made, she’s not going to lay down and cover it up just because she’s new. It’s a statement not only to herself, but also to the world, that the truth is the only thing that matters and that’s what she’s here for. Whether or not it disrupts things? She’s OK with that.
TTVJ: How does this bode for her relationship with her boss, Bryan De Silva?
SS: There’s a respect between the two of them. She’s an old wise soul and can see he’s the same kind of hunter for the truth, but he’s just been worn down a little bit. She’s coming in sharp and without wear and tear on her blade, whereas he’s been in the industry for quite some time — just like McAvoy (Roger Cross). You can see with both men that it’s taken a toll. You’ll see how it puts a stress on everybody, but at the end of the day, what she’s doing is right and is standing up for everybody.
TTVJ: We’ve gotten to see a lot more of Jenny working with this new team that she was dropped into. One relationship I really enjoy is the one between Jenny and Alison (Tamara Podemski). Will we get to see more of that and what’s it like building that with Tamara?
SS: Absolutely incredible! She’s one of my favorite humans and is so incredibly talented. She’s such a joy to work with, and I love Jenny and Alison’s dynamic. There’s a levity to it, but also a grounding and it gets more and more involved as the season goes. She’s one of the only people that really sees Jenny for who she is, and Jenny sort of let’s her in, which is interesting. It’s a nice little window into Jenny’s world through Alison.
TTVJ: Jenny’s trying very hard to not start a romantic relationship with Liam, but he’s very, very charming, especially given he also is building this nice relationship with Ross. What can you share about their relationship over the back half of the season?
SS: It’s what everybody wants them to explore, but after watching the first four episodes, you realize the damage that’s been done to her, and how she’s trying to find her footing in it. For someone who doesn’t have a foundation set in this new way of living, it’s very difficult to start building something else, like a relationship. She’s standing on shaky ground in her own life, so to try to put that foundation down with Liam is not always the easiest. You see an ebb and flow, actions and reactions, it’s a beautiful dance between two people who are incredibly attracted to each other at the wrong times in their lives and don’t know what to do with it. They try to navigate it the best as their ability when their minds are saying no, but when they are around each other everything feels right.
TTVJ: Anything else you wanted to touch on or preview for what’s to come the rest of the season?
SS: Coming out of Episode 4, the next episode really focuses on the family. I love that and I love that people are reacting to the characters. You get to see Jenny put into harder and harder situations — externally and internally — until she has a realization about her sister. It’s then unpacking that trauma for her in the best way she can. I think it’s a really fun last four episodes and I’m excited for people to see it.
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Coroner airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC and is available on CBC Gem.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.