New CTV crime drama 'Motive' focuses on the ‘whydunit’

New CTV crime drama 'Motive' focuses on the ‘whydunit’
Louis Ferreira (Oscar) and Kristin Lehman (Angie) in a scene from 'Motive'
by: Sheri Block

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Forget ‘whodunit.’ In “Motive,” it’s all about the ‘whydunit.’

Unlike other crime dramas where audiences have to wait until the end of the episode for the offender to be revealed, in the new CTV original series, both the killer – and the victim – are revealed in the first few minutes, turning the classic procedural on its head.

“There’s nothing on the landscape right now like it and the storytelling, it’s challenging and dynamic for a viewer to see, but I think it’s (also) very compelling because it’s sort of a reverse mystery,” says one of the show’s executive producer Rob LaBelle. 

“Motive" stars Kristin Lehman as Det. Angie Flynn and Louis Ferreira as her partner Det. Oscar Vega. As two of Vancouver’s best homicide detectives, the pair must piece the clues together to identify the killer and find the “motive.”

“The game for the viewer is how did Person A come to murder Person B and what’s the connection between these two people? For the viewer it’s pretty much a straight line, they know A killed B. But for Angie, she knows the victim is dead, obviously, but what’s her path to the truth? It’s not nearly as of a straight line,” says James Thorpe, executive producer and show-runner.

But just because the killer is revealed early on, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any suspense along the way.

After the opening vignettes where the victim and killer are revealed, a series of flashbacks reveal the pair’s shared backstory, which builds the tension as the detectives – and the audience – try to figure out what happened. 

“Each episode is like a high-wire act because we do give so much away at the beginning . . . our struggle as writers is to hide the why, really save that last hurdle of surprise, that final reveal, the hidden motive until the end,” says Thorpe.

Another element that makes “Motive” unique, according to Thorpe, is that its killers are everyday people – from housewives and teenagers to family members and friends of the victim.

“Our killers are nice, normal, everyday people who find themselves one day in an extraordinary situation and instead of turning left, they turn right and it results in murder and their lives are changed from that point on,” he says.

Because the show focuses on otherwise good people, Angie often finds herself feeling sympathetic to the killers.

“People make these terrible decisions obviously but what gets them there? Angie’s character is supposed to be very empathetic and she is – that’s how she solves these things and figures them out because she gets to know the people and figures out where they’re coming from,” says executive producer Rob Merilees.

Lehman says her character Angie feels the deep weight of humanity when she encounters these “everyday” killers. 

“My heart breaks for the people and it’s not that they’re wailing and reacting to the person being dead, what I get is people who are deeply flawed and it can lead to so many sorrowful things and they’re so ill-equipped,” she says.

“Motive,” which also stars Lauren Holly as medical examiner Dr. Betty Rogers, Roger Cross as Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom, Brendan Penny as Det. Brian Lucas and Cameron Bright as Angie’s teenage son Manny, is shot on location in Vancouver, but according to Merilees, it’s a side of Vancouver that is not often seen in crime dramas. 

“We’re trying to show the post-Olympics Vancouver. The modern-ness of the city and the city of glass, the multiculturalism of Vancouver and just that it’s more than the Downtown Eastside. The Downtown Eastside is a fascinating place . . . but it’s been done,” says Merilees. 

“Every time we see a show about Vancouver we’re down in the dirty and the darkness so this is more a show about everyday people who get caught in a situation where they feel like they have to do it (and the setting reflects that).”

"Motive" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV. Full episodes are also available online at


About SheriSheri Block has been covering entertainment for since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!



Next Episode

Tuesday at 10/9c on CTV

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