‘Motive’ Review: ‘6 Months Later’

‘Motive’ might have been dropped by ABC, but it’s still one of the best cop shows on TV. Let’s look back at the third season that aired this past spring.

If you’re a US fan, you’ve been missing Motive. ABC quietly shut down its stateside broadcast of the CTV procedural this year, leaving American audiences in the dark while the show has aired its third season, been renewed and is at work on a fourth cycle.

This just isn’t cool, especially since the Kristin Lehman-fronted drama is still a very good show. So thanks to friends north of the border, I was able to get my hands on the most recently aired episodes and I’ll be spending this spring catching myself – and you, dear readers – up on Season Three.

As the title indicates, “6 Months Later” picks up half a year after the explosive Season Two finale, in which Angie Flynn (Lehman) and her supervisor Mark Cross (Warren Christie) were forced to deal with an old case from their past. Angie walked away from Homicide and is now doing recruitment duty in the saddest office that’s ever been seen on television.

But when socialite London Montgomery (90210‘s Jessica Lowndes) is killed, Angie is pulled back into the game. Motive has used her absence to shake up its dynamic: former rookie Lucas (Brendan Penny) is now a seasoned investigator, his former love interest Wendy Sung (Valerie Tian) is gone, and Cross is out from behind his desk and working cases. As for Angie’s former partner Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira), their relationship is strained at best.

London’s death is really just the way for Motive to introduce another season-long subplot; her father Neville Montgomery is a very dangerous businessman. Having another running story might be a bad idea if Neville wasn’t played by Victor Garber, who can make anything watchable. It’s his performance and those of Motive‘s reliable core cast that keep the episode going.

The show has recognized that it needs to make some changes in the dynamics of its characters, without getting too far away from what made it work in the first place. Most notably, it’s great to see Season 3 actually make more use of Warren Christie, who spent too many episodes having just a scene or two. Lucas isn’t a rookie anymore and so the series stops writing him like one, as well as jettisoning Wendy, whose only purpose most of the time seemed to be to keep Lucas busy.

At the same time, the core partnership between Angie and Vega is still a major part of the show. Though it, too, has changed, Lehman and Ferreira are still the heart of Motive and we get to see plenty of awkward interactions between them, plus learn more about Vega’s family and get a new bonding scene between Angie and Dr. Rogers (Lauren Holly).

Motive has established itself as the cop show that you go to if you just want to watch really solid performances. By revealing the victim and killer at the start of each episode, it’s not a whodunit. It’s just a show that cast a great main ensemble and then keeps landing fantastic guest stars. “6 Months Later” picks up in just the right place, and proves once again that they don’t make them much better than this.