It’s been an odd five-plus years for everyone involved in The Listener, from the fans tuning in season after season to find that their show had changed formats yet again to the actors coming and going onscreen. Although the little Canadian series that could finally started to find its stride in recent years by taking longtime leads Toby (Craig Olejnik) and Oz (Ennis Esmer) out of the hospital setting for good, CTV confirmed what most of us already knew deep down, that Season 5 would be the show’s last.
Sadly the announcement left little time for mourning, and even less time for the show’s production team to craft together a proper goodbye. As such, Monday night’s series finale, “In Our Midst,” was always designed as an episode that could serve as either an end to the show or a placeholder until a potential Season 6, and only offers a certain amount of closure to fans.
Behind-the-scenes it was a fitting farewell since former series star Peter Stebbings, who portrayed IIB boss Klein up until Season 5, also directed the installment, getting everyone together one finale time before the big finish. But for the million-plus fans who have tuned into the series for five years, a proper goodbye may never happen. As such we sought out some of the main cast to get their opinion on what they wish they could have seen from their characters before the big finish, how the finale will play out with fans, working with Stebbings behind-the-camera one final time and more.
HOW WILL THE FINALE SIT WITH FANS … OR HOW DID IT SIT WITH YOU?
Craig Olejnik: I wish we could go back and provide a little more closure now, knowing that it’s the final one, but we didn’t know going into it. We thought, it’s either the finale or we’re going to shoot again in six months and pick up from here. (Showrunner) Peter Mohan did a great job of wrapping it up for sure.
Lauren Lee Smith: It’s funny because when we were shooting it we all sort of had the same thought of like, wow, this is just a solid episode. There’s something for everyone. It almost felt like a little bit of a different show because we’re going out on a bang for a Season 5. From an audience’s perspective they will get some sort of closure with each of the characters. Each one ends on a nice note, which is really lovely I think.
Rainbow Sun Francks: It’s full penetration in the last episode (for Alex and Dev shippers). Yeah, full pene for the finale. It’s going to be awesome. They might be a little too happy, I don’t know. It’s going to be good. Yeah I think so. There are some moments, before we just get hardcore, it’s good.
Ennis Esmer: I don’t even know if it answers or pays off stuff, but it definitely provides some new information about Toby’s past and gets into some other stuff with the team in a new way. So I think it ends on a high note and you know we’ve been getting great numbers since the announcement. So many we should do this every year!
ON HAVING PETER STEBBINGS DIRECT:
Rainbow Sun Francks: It’s always a special episode when Peter Stebbings directs. Mostly because he knows the show inside and out, he knows us and has helped us discover the incredible learning curve of this show. We rode that together, so it’s always a fun time. The finale always feels like a family reunion once you get there and this is no exception. It was another one of those times where we just laughed our asses off, with him running around making us laugh and telling us how terrible we are and how great we are. It helps us get through an incredible amount of work.
WHAT YOU ALWAYS WISHED YOUR CHARACTER WOULD DO:
Craig Olejnik: I would like Toby to have gone rogue a little bit. You want to see the dark side a little bit, he’s such a good guy. You want to see his Batman side, the Dark Knight a little bit. I mean we existed in a certain genre, we had a certain flavour, so it would have been nice to have seen a little different taste on the tongue sometimes, a little more edgy, a little more raw.
Lauren Lee Smith: It would have been fun to see Michelle go in a completely different direction, maybe see her not save the day. I was always fighting for the episode where Michelle gets held captive and everyone has to save her. Like Magnus (Peter Outerbridge) comes back and kidnaps Michelle and keeps her in some dark dungeon and Toby and Dev have to come to her rescue.
Rainbow Sun Francks: It would have been nice to have seen Dev have some personal relationship stuff. Add some humanity. He’s an amazing robot but it would have been nice to see him do something else. I think we did a little bit this season and I hope it was enough to have those moments peppered in, even though it was while he was being a robot you saw humanity leap through.
Ennis Esmer: The one thing I always wished would happen was that Oz did something that compromised his friendship with Toby. In retrospect if I knew we were ending this year I might have asked for that. Oz wouldn’t commit a crime but maybe something ethically happened that he witnessed and he had to keep quiet. Oz was always the source of perspective advice.
FAVOURITE EPISODE OR MOMENT:
Craig Olejnik: I’m still very, very fond of when Toby Logan was a paramedic. I think I loved the movement, we weren’t solving a crime by standing around looking at a board. That was in the beginning years, the excitement of, are you going to make it. There’s this hunger. Me and Ennis Esmer we were always just running around and driving the ambulance. But I just a fan of the whole thing, you know? The whole process.
Lauren Lee Smith: In Season 3 I had this episode that Peter Stebbings directed where I sort of got to go undercover and it’s this whole world of art thieves. It was really fun because it was sort of outside the box and outside of what Michelle had been before that. It was a really fun episode to do.
Rainbow Sun Francks: Looking back, there was a moment when I think I killed like four people in one scene, and that’s become so out of character for Dev. That was really fun. But the few times I’ve had to do stunts and stuff for sure. You know … it was all just one really great moment.
Ennis Esmer: I really miss working with Arnold Pinnock (as Ryder) a lot. We had so much fun with that dynamic of like Arnold as the police chief and Craig and I were the buddy cops. It was like our version of Bad Boys or something like that. I miss that dynamic. That was definitely a lot of fun to always be covering each other’s asses and him telling us to shut the heck up.
FINAL WORDS FOR FANS:
Craig Olejnik: Deep thanks. Deep, deep, deep thanks. Just that I was very grateful to have been a small boy from Nova Scotia, who used to sit around reading the Ninja Turtles comic books and dreaming of being in the Ninja Turtles movie and not knowing how to make that happen. So you know the loyalty of the fans has allowed me as a person to do what I love and pursue what I love in a way that I never thought possible.
Lauren Lee Smith: From the bottom of my heart thank you, because honestly our show, we wouldn’t have had the success that we had without the fans. It’s because of them tuning in week after week that we had such a wonderful, long run and they make … they’ve made the show worth making for us. That’s really the reason we loved going to work every day, because it’s really for the fans … so, thank you.
Rainbow Sun Francks: I think Ennis Esmer last Monday night said it nicely. I was already done tweeting and he texted me saying, ‘Can you retweet my last tweet?’ So I went on his Twitter and I retweeted the last tweet and it was a photo of him and it said, We are all #Listenerds. He really summed it up well. We formed a family out of this show and we are all just a bunch of Listenerds. So .. I’ll give my last words to Ennis Esmer.
Ennis Esmer: The #Listenerds have shown themselves to be an actual movement and it’s been pretty awesone to watch. We have a pretty awesome fan base and hopefully they’ll be happy with how things went. Thanks for sticking with us for five years. I think it was supposed to be this show you could pick up and watch wherever you wanted but there was a lot of turnover: characters, job changes, romances, everything. you know. There was a lot going on with this show, so it was a treat to work on.
The Listener wraps its run on Monday, Aug. 18 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV. Will you be #Twatching?