Monday 23 March 2015

Edgy Montreal-made TV drama 19-2 comes to emotional concluding season 2 finale

When I interviewed actor Conrad Pla  in January before this second season of BRAVO TV's edgy police drama 19-2 began to air he warned me that I would not believe where the storyline would take different characters. He could not have been more correct. Spoiler alert for those who did not yet see the season finale on March 23 or the series at all. Go to Crave TV and catch up and what you missed.

During the first season and the first eight episodes of season two Pla, as Sergeant Julien Houle, came across as a likeable and trustworthy character. He was the one keeping the officers in order, giving briefings and determining who teamed with whom. The series of courses focuses on squad car 19-2 of the Montreal Police and officers  Nick Barron (Adrian Holmes) and Ben Chartier (Jared Keeso). From the get go Chartier arrived on the scene he was working undercover for the Quebec Provincial Police, trying to uncover a "mole" at the station. Barron was the prime suspect, up until episode eight when in a shocking turn of events Houle was fingered as the double crosser. Adding to the darkness of the plot, Houle was exposed as a pedophile who was clearly being blackmailed to rat on his fellow officers in order to keep his dirty little secret safe.
The season finale was not kind to the character of Brouillard (left) and Houle.

A credit to the producers. The "pedophile" sequences were all done in very good taste given the disturbing subject matter. When Houle goes to a hotel and has no more than 12 year old prostitute join him he refuses to touch her and flees the scene. At the conclusion of the finale he calls Barron and Chartier to a remote location, hoping they will shoot him.. "I am a cop!" he shouts, explaining why he could never face prison. Barron refuses to his dirty work and the last scene Pla turns the gun on himself.

As an actor, this may of been Pla's finest moment. I am sorry that the producers chose to make him the mole for we won't see him again on this fine drama.  I spoke to Pla today about this challenging storyline.

"I knew from the French version of the 19-2 series that Houle was the mole and a pedophile," Pla said. "I asked the director if that would be the same for our series. They said maybe not.  When we started shooting season two, they still had not decided. Then about six episodes in they gave me the news. I was reluctant and told myself 'No way I can do this.' They assured there would be nothing graphic. It was amazing for me to have a regular role in a Montreal shot program. That is over now. There is nothing I can do about it. I guess it is better to go out with a bang."

One of the messages Pla feels viewers can gain from his storyline is this: "A lot of times sexual molesters turn out to be the most unsuspecting persons."

Pla is the father of four, aged two, 13, 14 and 21. "I asked the three eldest not to watch the last two episodes," he says. "I told them there was some disturbing stuff and they respected that. As an actor it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. On the show ReGenesis my character was gay and I had to have intimate scenes with another man. This was harder because there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality."
Barron (left) and Holmes make a good team in squad car 19-2.
The season began with a violent school shooting in which Barron and Holmes became the heroes and brough down the perpetrator. It was an all too familiar scenario for Montrealers who have had to witness shootings at École Polytechnique, Concordia and Dawson. We then watched Barron hang out with his crooked cousin Kaz. The station 19 commander Marcel Gendron (Bruce Ramsay) dealt with his troubled daughter, whom we later learn was one of the victims of Houle. Officer J.M. Brouillard (Dan Petronijevic), shown as a wife abuser during the first season, seemed to have his act together. In the finale he beats his wife to a pulp and is later pounded into submission by Barron. We thought Officer Tyler Joseph (Benz Antoine) had his drinking problem under control. Clearly not we see in the season finale. Officer Beatrice Hamelin  (Mylène Dinh-Robic) has some very torrid sex scenes with her ex-girlfiend on the steps near Place des Arts.  Audrey Pouliot (Laurence Leboeuf) is still very much traumatized by being attacked last season.She loses her cool on the job often and this is picked up on YouTube.  Rookie Vince Legare (Tyler Hynes) has sex in a washroom with a woman whose purse he has reclaimed. She becomes a fatal attraction and with Brouillard double crossing him ends up losing his job.

I am fortunate to have known Pla, a former professional kickboxer, for many years. On the eve of the season premiere I got to interview Holmes and Keeso, friends in real life. They reside in Vancouver and love our city. They are superb actors whom I had zero trouble seeing as real police officers.

A shout out to noted Montreal publicist Janis Kirshner, who had a small role in the season finale as the daughter of a senior citizen who fell on hard times.

What a season! I certainly hope that the people at Bell Media bring it back, complete with the replica Montreal Police uniforms and vehicles.  I can tell from the people I meet who have followed my blogs and stories in The Suburban that they have followed the series religiously and become hooked, something which is pretty easy to do.

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