Cardinal (TV series)

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GenreCrime drama
Created byAubrey Nealon
Written by
  • Aubrey Nealon
  • Russ Cochrane
  • Sarah Dodd
  • Jennica Harper
  • Alison Lea Bingeman
Directed by
ComposerTodor Kobakov
Country of originCanada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes24 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Jennifer Kawaja
  • Julia Sereny
  • Daniel Grou
  • Jocelyn Hamilton
  • Armand Leo
  • Aubrey Nealon
  • Sarah Dodd
  • Patrick Tarr
ProducerJessica Daniel
Production locationsSudbury and North Bay, Ontario
EditorTeresa De Luca
Running time40 minutes
Production companies
Original network
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release25 January 2017 (2017-01-25) –
11 May 2020 (2020-05-11)

Cardinal is a Canadian crime drama television series, which was first broadcast on January 25, 2017, on CTV (in English) and Super Écran (in French).[1][2][3] The series adapts the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt, focusing on police detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and his partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who investigate crimes in the fictional city of Algonquin Bay.[3]

Across six episodes, the first season adapts the first John Cardinal novel Forty Words for Sorrow (2000),[4] which focuses on the investigation of the murder of a young girl.[1] On February 28, 2017, CTV renewed Cardinal for a second and third season, each containing six episodes.[5] The second season adapts Blunt's third Cardinal novel, Blackfly Season, while the third adapted the novels By the Time You Read This and Crime Machine, the fourth and fifth novels in the series.[5] The fourth season adapts the sixth novel, Until the Night.[6]


Season 1: Forty Words for Sorrow[edit]

John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) is a troubled and brooding police officer in Algonquin Bay, who was removed from the homicide squad as a result of chief Noelle Dyson's (Kristen Thomson) belief that he had become obsessed with his investigation of a missing Native Canadian girl. When the girl's body finally turns up, he is reassigned to the case with a new partner, Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse). What he does not know is that Delorme is being assigned to investigate him as part of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police–led corruption probe that has identified Cardinal as possibly collaborating with a local drug dealer who has repeatedly managed to elude arrest. The investigation widens when another missing person case with some similar patterns leads Cardinal to believe that a serial killer may be active in the area.

Season 2: Blackfly Season[edit]

A young woman suffering from amnesia after having been shot in the head appears in Algonquin Bay. Soon mutilated bodies, in accordance with some occult religious rituals, are discovered. The bodies are members of a local group of bikers known for trafficking drugs. John Cardinal and the team suspect that someone is trying to replace the gang in the drug trade. The mental health of his wife still worries him. Musgrave thinks he has finally found the evidence he is looking for.

Season 3: By the Time You Read This[edit]

The suspicious death of Cardinal's wife Catherine coincides with a double murder, and Delorme is ordered to take the lead in the murder investigation. Reluctant to believe that Catherine committed suicide, Cardinal begins investigating other possibilities, whilst dealing with a succession of anonymous letters blaming him for the event. Noelle Dyson, recovering from the death of her sister, tries to reason with another prospective suicide and is devastated when she fails to prevent him killing himself.[7]

Season 4: Until the Night[edit]

After a prominent politician's husband is abducted and then left to die from exposure, Cardinal and Delorme suspect that a hired killer is targeting those close to four people, out of revenge for a cover-up in their past. Cardinal and Delorme grow closer but this case will be their last together as Delorme takes a new job in Toronto.

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Billy Campbell as Det. John Cardinal
  • Karine Vanasse as Det. Lise Delorme
  • Kristen Thomson as Det. Sgt. Noelle Dyson
  • Deborah Hay as Catherine Cardinal (Seasons 1–3)
  • Alanna Bale as Kelly Cardinal
  • Glen Gould as Det. Jerry Commanda
  • James Downing as Det. Ian McLeod
  • Zach Smadu as Det. Ash Kular (Season 2 – present)
  • Eric Hicks as Const. Derek K. Fox
  • David Richmond-Peck as Sgt. Malcolm Musgrave (Seasons 1–2)
  • James Thomas as Det. Hannam (Season 1)


Introduced in season one[edit]

Introduced in season two[edit]

Introduced in season three[edit]

Introduced in season four[edit]


SeriesTitleEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1Forty Words for Sorrow625 January 2017 (2017-01-25)1 March 2017 (2017-03-01)
2Blackfly Season64 January 2018 (2018-01-04)8 February 2018 (2018-02-08)
3By the Time You Read This624 January 2019 (2019-01-24)6 March 2019 (2019-03-06)
4Until the Night66 April 2020 (2020-04-06)11 May 2020 (2020-05-11)

Season 1: Forty Words for Sorrow (2017)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateCanadian viewers
11"Cardinal"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon25 January 2017 (2017-01-25)1.38[8]
The body of a missing young girl is found in winter in a disused mineshaft in Northern Ontario. John Cardinal and Lise Delorme investigate what transpired.
22"Delorme"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon1 February 2017 (2017-02-01)1.30[9]
The Algonquin Bay Police Department attempts to make amends with the community for the botched investigation into Katie Pine's disappearance. Delorme risks exposure of her investigation of Cardinal.
33"Edie and Eric"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon8 February 2017 (2017-02-08)1.04[10]
Concerned that Cardinal is on to her, Delorme digs into the reasons behind her secret investigation.
44"Woody"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon15 February 2017 (2017-02-15)N/A[11]
A criminal breaks into Eric and Edie's basement and finds Keith, their next intended victim; Cardinal takes risks in the investigation.
55"Keith"Daniel GrouRuss Cochrane22 February 2017 (2017-02-22)N/A[12]
A discovery by the police leads Cardinal to Eric.
66"Catherine"Daniel GrouAubrey Nealon1 March 2017 (2017-03-01)1.04[13]
Cardinal wonders if he and Delorme are still missing a piece of the puzzle; Delorme concludes her investigation of Cardinal.

Season 2: Blackfly Season (2018)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateCanadian viewers
71"Red"Jeff RenfroeSarah Dodd4 January 2018 (2018-01-04)1.08[14]
Detective Commanda finds a confused young woman, alone at a roadside bar. The red-haired woman has no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who shot her. Even after the bullet is removed, "Red" can't remember anything. Commanda turns the case over to Cardinal and Delorme, who must protect Red while trying to uncover her identity and find her shooter.
82"Kevin"Jeff RenfroeJennica Harper11 January 2018 (2018-01-11)1.12[15]
Cardinal and Delorme find a connection between a local biker gang and the shooting of "Red".
93"Terri"Jeff RenfroeAlison Lea Bingeman18 January 2018 (2018-01-18)0.99[16]
John and Lise uncover Red's identity; a shooter looks to finish the job.
104"Toof"Jeff RenfroeJennica Harper25 January 2018 (2018-01-25)N/A
John and Lise work with Terri; Delorme gets a major break in the case.
115"Northwind"Jeff RenfroeAlison Lea Bingeman1 February 2018 (2018-02-01)0.93[17]
John and Lise connect evidence from a new crime to a ritualistic murder and Terri's memories help make a connection to a possible suspect.
126"El Brujo"Jeff RenfroeSarah Dodd8 February 2018 (2018-02-08)N/A
John and Lise race to find Ray before he kills Terri and her brother. A betrayal threatens Cardinal and Delorme's case and their lives.

Season 3: By the Time You Read This (2019)[edit]

No. in
Title [18]Directed by [19]Written byOriginal air date [18]Canadian viewers
131"Sam"Daniel GrouPatrick Tarr24 January 2019 (2019-01-24)N/A
The murder of a wealthy couple in a remote island cottage leaves little clues for Cardinal and Delorme, who is also dealing with a prolific ATM robber causing carnage across town. Meanwhile, Cardinal sets out to prove that his wife did not commit suicide.
142"Roman & Irena"Daniel GrouNoelle Carbone31 January 2019 (2019-01-31)1.02[20]
Cardinal and Delorme struggle to identify the murder victims, and look into a number of unresolved cold cases in an attempt to identify a connection. Sam continues to find herself under Jack's watchful eye, while Noelle struggles to contain her emotions when a young boy takes his own life right before her eyes.
153"Jack"Daniel GrouPatrick Tarr7 February 2019 (2019-02-07)0.87[21]
Sam finds herself being targeted by both Jack and Randall, leaving her no option but to approach the police. Cardinal continues his investigation to identify the sender of the mysterious cards.
164"Lemur"Daniel GrouShannon Masters14 February 2019 (2019-02-14)N/A
As tensions between the siblings begin to erupt, Lemur finds himself firmly in Delorme's sights. An eye witness report from a security guard at a storage facility finally gives Cardinal and Delorme the breakthrough they've been looking for.
175"Mama"Daniel GrouAaron Bala, Noelle Carbone, Patrick Tarr21 February 2019 (2019-02-21)N/A
Mama is furious when she learns that Lemur has been murdered. Cardinal and Delorme head to Toronto, where Cardinal speaks with a former patient of Catherine's psychologist, Dr. Bell. Jack breaks into Jerry's home in one final attempt to silence Sam.
186"Helen"Daniel GrouPatrick Tarr6 March 2019 (2019-03-06)N/A
Closing in on Mama and her children, Cardinal and Delorme are drawn into a dangerous hostage situation, while Jerry finds himself walking straight into a trap. Dr. Bell is brought in for questioning over Catherine's death when new photographic evidence appears to confirm his involvement.

Season 4: Until the Night (2020)[edit]

No. in
Title [18]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date [18]Canadian viewers
191"Robert"Nathan MorlandoPatrick Tarr6 April 2020 (2020-04-06)1.037[22]
202"Adele"Nathan MorlandoSarah Dodd13 April 2020 (2020-04-13)N/A
213"Barry"Nathan MorlandoPenny E. Gummerson20 April 2020 (2020-04-20)0.908[23]
224"Neil"Nathan MorlandoPatrick Tarr & Jordi Mand27 April 2020 (2020-04-27)1.089[24]
235"Scott"Nathan MorlandoSarah Dodd4 May 2020 (2020-05-04)1.018[25]
246"John & Lise"Nathan MorlandoPatrick Tarr11 May 2020 (2020-05-11)1.162[26]


The first season was directed by Daniel Grou, and produced by Sienna Films and eOne Entertainment.[4] It commenced production in Sudbury, Ontario in February 2016, with some additional location filming taking place in North Bay, Nipissing First Nation and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek.[3] The first season was given a production budget of $1,800,000 per episode.[27] Locations included the former studios of CBC Northern Ontario and the North Bay Public Library, which served as the Algonquin Bay police station.[28]

The second season was directed by Jeff Renfroe, and was produced primarily in North Bay.[29]

The show's theme music is adapted from the song "Familiar" by Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel. Background music featured in the series is composed by Toronto-based Todor Kobakov.

Vanasse, who is Québécoise and had previously appeared in the American television series Pan Am and Revenge, commented that Cardinal is the first time in which she is playing a Québécoise rather than a European character in an English-language television programme.[30]

International transmission[edit]

Episodes from the second season premiered a day in advance of their television broadcast on on-demand service Crave TV.[31] Filming on the third season completed in July 2018,[32] and the season began airing on January 24, 2019.[33] The fourth and final season was broadcast in 2020 with its finale airing on May 11, 2020.

In the United Kingdom the series was broadcast on BBC Four for the first three seasons and BBC Two for the last season. It was broadcast on C More in Scandinavia, Calle 13 in Spain, Hulu in the United States, SBS in Australia, Magenta TV in Germany, Canvas in Belgium and Channel 11 in Israel. In Brazil, the tv series premiered on Universal+, streaming belonged to Universal TV, NBCUniversal's channel.[34][35][36][37]


John Doyle of The Globe and Mail praised the series, calling it "a gripping, superbly made crime drama" which ultimately lands as "landmark Canadian TV".[38]

The series received 12 Canadian Screen Award nominations at the 6th Canadian Screen Awards in 2018. It won six awards, including Best Actor in a Limited Program or Television Film (Campbell),[39] Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Program (Macdonald),[40] Photography in a Drama Series (Steve Cosens), Editing in a Drama Series (Teresa De Luca), Music in a Fiction Program or Series (Todor Kobakov) and Best Casting (Jon Comerford and Lisa Parasyn).

At the 7th Canadian Screen Awards in 2019, the series won the awards for Best Limited Series, Best Lead Actor in a Drama Program or Limited Series (Campbell), Best Lead Actress in a Drama Program or Limited Series (Vanasse), Best Editing in a Dramatic Program or Series (Matthew Anas), Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-series (Renfroe), Best Music in a Fiction Production (Kobakov) and Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-series (Sarah Dodd for the episode "Red").


  1. ^ a b Tony Wong (January 25, 2017). "Cardinal could be The Killing for Canada". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Marie-Josée Roy (January 23, 2017). "Karine Vanasse, détective aguerrie dans "Cardinal"". Le Huffington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "CTV and Super Écran Partner on New Serialized Drama" Archived 2016-02-15 at the Wayback Machine. Broadcaster, February 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "eOne, Sienna Gets Greenlight For 'Cardinal' Murder Mystery Drama at Canada's CTV (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter, November 13, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "CTV's Cardinal gets two more seasons". Toronto Star, March 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "Cardinal season 5: Why the hit crime show is cancelled from Hulu and BBC!". 4 June 2020.
  7. ^ Barry Didcock (12 May 2019). "Barry Didcock's TV review: Cardinal, BBC Four". Herald Scotland.
  8. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  9. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  10. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  11. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  12. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  13. ^ Numeris Top Programs – Total Canada (English)
  14. ^ "January 1, 2018 - January 7, 2018 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. January 15, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "January 8, 2018 - January 14, 2018 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. January 22, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "January 15, 2018 - January 21, 2018 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. January 29, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "January 29, 2018 - February 4, 2018 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. February 12, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c d "Cardinal - Episode List". TV Maze. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  19. ^ David, Greg (20 December 2018). "EXCLUSIVE: SEASON 3 OF CTV'S CARDINAL RETURNS ON JANUARY 24". TV, Eh?. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  20. ^ "January 28, 2019 - February 3, 2019 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. February 11, 2019. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  21. ^ "February 4, 2019 - February 10, 2019 (National)" (PDF). Numeris. February 21, 2019. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  22. ^ Top Programs - Total Canada (English) April 06, 2020 - April 12, 20 - numeris
  23. ^ Top Programs - Total Canada (English) April 20, 2020 - April 26, 20 - numeris
  24. ^ Top Programs – Total Canada (English) April 27, 2020 - May 3, 2020 - numeris
  25. ^ Top Programs – Total Canada (English) May 4, 2020 - May 10, 2020 - numeris
  26. ^ Top Programs – Total Canada (English) May 11, 2020 - May 20, 2020 - numeris
  27. ^ Marc-André Lemieux (January 10, 2017). "La série Cardinal avec Karine Vanasse : un thriller fort efficace". Le Journal de Montréal. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  28. ^ "CBC Sudbury's former office transformed into a police station for TV mini-series". CBC Northern Ontario, January 17, 2017.
  29. ^ "Cameras rolling in North Bay on Cardinal season two". Playback, June 1, 2017.
  30. ^ "Karine Vanasse takes on Canada and the U.S. as a French-Canadian actress". q. January 25, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  31. ^ "January CraveTV Highlights: SHOWTIME®'s new drama series THE CHI from Lena Waithe and Common, new spy thriller COUNTERPART starring J.K. Simmons, and STAR TREK: DISCOVERY returns – Bell Media". Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  32. ^ Stein, Charlotte (2018-07-27). "Cardinal TV series writer from North Bay speaks in Parry Sound". ParrySound. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  33. ^ "CTV Announces 2019 Midseason Schedule Headlined by Hit Original Series THE LAUNCH and CARDINAL in January". Cision. December 20, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  34. ^ Roxborough, Scott (February 9, 2017). "Berlin: eOne Sells Hit Canadian Series 'Cardinal' Across Europe". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  35. ^ Mitchell, Robert (February 10, 2017). "BBC Four Picks Up Canadian Crime Drama 'Cardinal'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  36. ^ Vlessing, Etan (May 10, 2017). "Hulu Nabs 'Cardinal' and 'Gap Year' in Multiseries Streaming Deal with eOne". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  37. ^ Kreuzer, Gine (October 4, 2017). "Play By Day: Serienstart von Cardinal bei EntertainTV". Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  38. ^ "John Doyle: New CTV series Cardinal is landmark Canadian TV". The Globe and Mail, January 20, 2017.
  39. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards 2018: Maudie, Anne, Kim's Convenience win top prizes". CBC News, March 11, 2018.
  40. ^ "CTV’s Cardinal cleans up on Night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards". Toronto Star, March 8, 2018.

External links[edit]