Kristin Kreuk leaves behind the superhero world of Smallville and the supernatural world of Beauty and the Beast to play Joanna Hanley, a lawyer in CBC’s Burden of Truth who, according to CBC’s logline for the show, returns to her small hometown of Millwood – a prairie town with an industrial past and uncertain future – to represent a major client in a case against some sick high school girls.
We do begin our story at Millwood High School’s girls soccer game. In the crowd is Billy Crawford, the uncle of Molly (Sarah Thompson), one of the girls playing in the game. Taylor (Anwen O’Driscoll), a cheerleader is in the middle of celebratory routine when she drops to the ground convulsing.
The action switches to the big city of Toronto and Joanna’s apartment where her boyfriend/colleague Alan Christie (Benjamin Ayers) is practicing his opening arguments in an injunction case against their client, Bordox, from holding an HPV clinic because that vaccine is being blamed for the sick high school girls.
Joanna tells Alan that winning this case would be huge for their law firm, Carver, Thatcher, Stokes (CTS).
Joanna’s client asks her to head to Millwood over Alan to represent his company. If Joanna wins, Bordox will make CTS their primary counsel. Joanna’s dad, David Hanley (Alex Carter) is reluctant to send her to Millwood but Joanna is insistent on going as she believes she can win.
One of Joanna’s first stop is to make a doctor’ss appointment with her family doctor back in the day but it turns into her questioning the doctor about the link between the vaccine and the seizures the girls are experiencing. The doctor brings up privilege but Joanna then asks for the HPV vaccine herself and asks for its side effects.
Her next stop is Millwood High School, where she meets up with her old friend, Diane (Nicola Correia-Damude) who is now the school’s counselor. Diana thinks Joanna is there to represent the girls as Billy is trying to stop the clinic from others getting sick. Diana describes the symptoms as including no motor control, loss of balance and ticks. Diana feels guilty because everything began after she spearheaded the vaccine clinic. Diana questions whose side Joanna is on and kicks her out of the school.
Next Joanna gets Alan to draft up settlement agreements and admits that things could be worse than they thought. However, once agreements are signed then Joanna can move on.
Joanna visits one of the girls with the settlement agreement and an offer of $50,000 for her care. Joanna gets two of the families to sign the agreement. Billy tries to stop Joanna but since he didn’t get a retainer, he has no leg to stand on. Joanna pretty much tells Billy he is going to lose if he continues to go after her client.
However, when Joanna goes to visit Taylor’s father, he refuses to settle. Joanna ups it to $100,000 but Mr. Matheson still refuses. Outside, Joanna meets Taylor, who blames her condition on the vaccine but Joanna holds still on how there is no proof that the vaccine caused her condition. We see Taylor twitch and when she mentions that she didn’t think this would happen to her when she turned 18, Joanna sees an opportunity as Taylor is no longer a minor and gets her to sign the settlement agreement for $50,000.
Diana is appalled at what Joanna has done to the families but she tells her it was done to avoid bad press for her client.
Once at the hospital, Joanna talks to Molly’s girlfriend Luna Spence (Star Slade) and asks if the vaccine caused her symptoms but Luna tells that Molly never got the HPV vaccine. Molly confirms the story. Joanna is pleased to know that her client is blameless and suggests to Billy to find the cause by searching for the common link between all of the girls. Billy tells Joanna he doesn’t have the resources as he is flying solo so she offers her services for an hour.
At a bar, Billy tells Joanna of another girl who got sick and the two brainstorm as to who is patient zero, whom they believe is Taylor. When Billy takes a call, Joanna gets punched in the face by an unknown woman when she confirms she is David Hanley’s daughter
Billy drives Joanna back to her motel and the two catch-up and she asks why Billy decided to return to Millwood after school. Billy can’t really explain why but that he just needed to come home.
At night, Joanna visits her childhood home when a cop asks is she is alright. When Joanna mentions that she used to live in the house, the cop mentions her father’s name. I am curious to know what the town has against David Hanley?
Once Joanna returns to her hotel, Taylor is there to say her parents are fighting over the settlement she signed. Joanna breaks the news since Bordox was absolved that there is no payment. Taylor is upset and wants Joanna to represent her to help her find out what is getting her sick. Joanna tells Taylor that is not her kind of law so Taylor yells at her for taking advantage of her.
In a montage, we see Peter opening up his law office, other girls making fun of Taylor’s twitching and Molly’s mom holding a bedside vigil. While Billy is on the phone, he mentions to whoever he is speaking with that Molly is going to need a CT scan. Joanna arrives and tells Billy that all the girls will need a CT scan, blood work, and other tests to find out why the girls are sick. It looks like Joanna is staying in Millwood to help Billy get to the truth.
A pretty solid first episode that definitely held my interest. Kreuk is way better here than in Beauty and the Beast where I never bought her as a detective. And like Joanna, I’ve become invested as to what is the cause of the girls’ sickness.
What did you all think of Burden of Truth? Sound off in the comments.