Cardinal: By The Time You Read This. – Season 3 on BBC4

Beware – there be SPOILERS ahead for the previous seasons

Our quietly spoken hero, John Cardinal, has always seemed troubled but when we meet him again at the beginning of season 3 he’s now mourning the loss of his beloved wife Catherine, after the shock ending of season 2. Despite her struggles with illness, it was still an unexpected twist in the season finale of Cardinal: Blackfly Season (unless you’ve read the books of course). While we were all biting our nails and wondering if Ray would in fact get his final sacrifice or indeed if Kevin and Terri would survive, the writers gave us only moments to recover before we were at the scene of an apparent suicide, a jumper, watching Cardinal find out who it was. It was the sort of finale that made you rewind what you’d just seen and check the TV schedule to make sure there wasn’t another episode. There wasn’t, but tonight we’re back with John and co and unsurprisingly he’s refusing to accept Catherine would kill herself. His doubts are reinforced by a series of nasty poison pen letters, blaming him for her death and understandably, he can’t let it go.

Meanwhile, the ever impressive Delorme steps in to take the lead at work. Whilst shouldering the majority of the caseload of two seemingly unrelated cases, she still manages to carry a much more subdued Cardinal who is barely operating above a whisper now but is still working to keep himself busy. A possible murder scene with no bodies is just the distraction he needs and along with an ATM robberies case the pair are back up and running, if understandably, not quite at full power.

Written without any romantic cliches or any of the other more often used tropes, Cardinal and Delorme have become an impressive double act over the first two seasons and ‘By The Time You Read This’ feels like it’s going to be as much about their partnership as it is about who did what and why.

Cardinal: By The Time You Read This begins tonight Saturday 11th May at 9pm on BBC4

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