Dr. Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan) needs a vacation. Unfortunately, she’s not going to get one in Coroner Season 3, following her and Liam’s (Éric Bruneau) split, COVID at the beginning of this season, a major event from her past coming up, and much more. But there will be some light-hearted moments as well.
“We try to infuse a bit of the comedy into the darkness because we are a pretty dark show, but we like the comedy,” Swan tells TV Insider. “When it’s awkward and it’s dark in my life, I usually make a joke. It’s a coping mechanism. I wanted to find more of those beats for Jenny. There are some mishaps between her and Liam, her and her dad [Nicholas Campbell].”
There’s also some fun to be had for Jenny and Detective Donovan McAvoy (Roger Cross) in the premiere, thanks to an encounter with weed brownies. Watch TV Insider’s exclusive sneak peek above, then read on for scoop on Coroner Season 3.
How is Jenny doing when it comes to handling all the trauma she’s been through and more probably coming her way? Same as always?
Serinda Swan: Sort of the same as always. It’s been a rough three years for her, let’s be honest, and then she hits a pandemic. There’s a really honest scene in the first episode where her dad looks at her and she just goes, “I’m so tired.” This season was about trying to allow the honesty of how she was feeling, which is overwhelming and tired and frustrated and angry and in a pandemic. We really show [what] it’s been like for her, with the number of bodies and the toll it takes and having to be isolated from the family. We do it all in one to two episodes. We bring COVID in so we can set the stakes for the audience to know it’s a character that will be in the season, but it’s not the main character, so we will still have the ability to be able to turn on the show and escape into this fun world, as a show called Coroner can be. We’re really facing a lot of that for her this season of that overwhelm and this underlying honest of “it’s not fair.” This season is really about allowing her to get a little angry about her circumstances.
How close is Jenny to figuring out things in her personal life?
Oh God, will Jenny ever figure out her life? I haven’t even figured myself out as human talking to you, and I haven’t had half of the things that have happened to her happen to me. She is coming out of the second season in a place where there’s a lot up in the air. Especially with Liam. There is this undoubted love between the two of them. They’re like two magnets, but they’re flipped the wrong way and they just cannot seem to connect even though they are meant to be together. This season is both of them deciding to take time to heal because the saying is “I need to take time to fix myself so that I can be ready for love.” We start to look at, do you have to fix yourself alone or can you be in a relationship with someone and build love together, not only self-love but also love for another? You see that question come up throughout the season for the two of them.
There’s a lot that she has to deal with this season, with the murder of her sister being brought up again and her being able to reframe it as it wasn’t murder in the fact that something as simple as two siblings playing turned into such a horrible ending and how that isn’t fair. That was the mantra for the season for Jenny to come up against — it’s not fair — and allow her to move through that journey.
Is Jenny more optimistic or pessimistic about her relationship with Liam?
It ebbs and flows as it does with every relationship. Some days you’re feeling super confident and you’re like, “yeah, he texted today. Everything’s going to be fine.” Then you go see him and you’re like, “I feel like s**t, this is terrible.” With any relationship that’s not solidified, it’s a little rocky. This whole season is what we’ve called two ships passing in the night, but the ships are trying to meet at the same little island in the middle of the ocean. It’s this journey between the two of them to see if they can make it back to one another.
That relationship is anything but stable, but I feel like Jenny and Donovan’s partnership is maybe the most stable part of her life?
Yeah. And at the end of Season 2, they’ve really started to come together. One of the things I’ve always loved is being able to show the friendship between the two of them. It’s something we talked about at the beginning: It’s either you have them being quirky and kind of at each other, or it’s a love interest a couple of seasons away. We just really want to show a friendship between a man and a woman in a way that they can support one another and it’s an actual friendship on-screen. This friendship is dropped into one more level this season, and they really have to rely on each other for professional, but also personal issues as well.
Preview some of their cases.
We have some interesting ones actually pulled from the headlines. We have some that are a little more sci-fi science-y. Those are fun. There are some pretty, pretty high tension scenes near the end where we start dealing with a family — everybody starts to get sucked into their world. We do have a new character [Clark, played by Mark Taylor] coming in who is interested in Jenny in more ways than one and makes waves as he does and tries to turn her eye this season, which is very interesting. They have to work together because he’s a crown prosecutor. There’s no rest for Jenny. Jenny doesn’t just get to solve crimes by being a coroner. She literally has to solve her entire life.
If there’s one character on TV who needs a vacation, it’s Jenny.
100 percent. We always joke on set, “Next season, it’s Coroner on the Beach. She goes to Hawaii and nothing happens.” She needs a break, but one of the beautiful things about her is that life isn’t easy, there are always things moving and happening, and we are able to have this very hardheaded woman [who] whether or not she thinks she can handle it, she does.
From the beginning, everybody was like, “She’s broken.” And I was like, “I want to be really specific. She’s cracked. She is not broken.” And those cracks are not something that she sees as or that makes her incompetent or unable to do her job. It means that she has life that is happening to her and she is happening to life and it is all part of it. But nothing has broken her. That’s one of the things that we all love about Jenny. Once we really made that line, you can throw things at her and it might chip her a little bit, but she’s not going to break. That moves into where we are [in Season 3].
But it seems like if she went on vacation, she’d come across a body on the beach that ties into trauma from her past.
Have you been reading Season 4? Exactly. She is reframing how death is in her life. For a while, she thinks that she can avoid life by investigating death, and then she realizes that death and life are intrinsically connected. Then she not only tries to find the truth of that for another person but realizes that the truth of it for herself is starting to come up. In Season 3, you start to really see her have to face the truth of the death of her sister. And the truth of the potential death of her father as he’s getting older and family and life. There’s some loss in this season and there’s also a lot of light in it as well.
I absolutely love her son [Ehren Kassam’s Ross] and her father. What’s coming up?
With my dad having Lewy Body Dementia, it is a difficult thing not only for Gordon, but also for the family and feeling angry and resentful, and feeling guilty for feeling angry and resentful, and watching this start to happen to him. Ross is starting to grow and move out and have a boyfriend and fail forward and fail backward. He’s obviously gone through a lot with losing his father and now with Liam — one of his best friends — not being at home anymore, he finds himself a little lost. It’s a lost family trying to orient themselves within this new reality. You get to see them trying to find footing, not only as individuals but also as a family.
That’s just more for Jenny to deal with — helping them and how it all affects her.
Totally. It’s one more thing for Jenny. I remember when I was breaking down the scripts, at one point it was a 42-number list of things that were currently happening in her world. I just started laughing hysterically. “Oh my gosh, this poor woman.” I was wondering why I was coming home from work all the time tired.
Then I thought about it. There is so much not only physically, but emotionally and mentally to hold for this incredibly complex character, and then there’s the weekly case on it, and the research I do in order to be able to make sure I can represent a woman that is currently going through anxiety or panic attacks, or the evolution of mental health and the ebbs and flows of good days and bad days. And making sure I do hold that line of capability and capacity and make sure we are showing that you can be capable and this is something that you can be crying on the floor one day and then you can be at work solving a crime the next. It’s just part of life. There are days that you don’t have the capacity to do that. We just try to show a really honest portrayal of what that looks like.
What else can you tease about Season 3?
[The last] few episodes are really going to change everything for Jenny. It’s one of those times that I get to have a solid “dun, dun, dun.” [Laughs] There are some big things that we’re working up to.
Coroner, Season 3 Premiere, Thursday, August 19, 8/7c, The CW