The Canadian Wire
What, you haven't watched Intelligence?
Intelligence largely rejects fantasies of national innocence and victimhood. Canada deserves protection by Mary Spalding, and Mary is redeemed by her efforts, not because Canada is pure of heart. Indeed, if Mary herself is any sign, Canada has a nasty streak it's rather proud of. Canada deserves protection because it's Canada. What Mary defends her country against is disrespect, the blatant violation of Canada's sovereignty by agents of its southern neighbor. Mary doesn't complain about this disrespect, or even mention respect at all. She merely claims a degree of it back through stealth and orneriness.
Mary's rivals are thus defined by their slavish cooperation with the U.S. Her sleazy colleague Ted sics a murderous DEA agent on Jimmy, forcing Mary to shield him from both the rogue DEA and the arrogant FBI. And then, late in Season 2, she learns of a shady American conglomerate called the Blackmire Group. Blackmire has CIA ties, a network of lackeys in Ottawa, a lust for Canada's natural resources, and a leading role in the "North American Unification Movement" (NAUM). Sleazy Ted moves back into the show's good graces by standing with Mary against this group, stepping up and naming NAUM for what it is: the first step in "a silent coup d'état."
OK, so the "O Canada" thematics get a little ripe with the Blackmire storyline, and this subplot points the show in a self-romanticizing direction as well. But Haddock has the good taste to use a vaguely Freudian symbol for Canada's threatened virtue, instead of invoking it directly. Thus, the resource Blackmire covets isn't the gunky tar-sands of Alberta. It's those clear and frigid Canadian waters—glacial ice and alpine snowpack, virginal meltwater freshly trickled in from Canada's pure arctic heart.
But if Haddock resorts to a corny water-virgin figure of Canadian innocence in this storyline, he plays to harder feelings in a parallel subplot involving Jimmy and his fellow dealers. While Mary is bugging Blackmire meetings and learning of America's illicit thirst for Canada's bodily fluids, Jimmy hears that a dangerous new gang is moving into the Vancouver drug trade. This gang is—you guessed it—American, up from Los Angeles and willing to kill for a piece of the action. The second and final season of Intelligence thus ends with a string of episodes in which the phrase "the Americans" is used exclusively to denote a ruthless and possibly brainless criminal invasion.
For Jimmy and his competitors, "the Americans" are not a moral or legal threat, to be denounced by Anglican vicars, enjoined by the International Court of Justice. They are an existential threat, which demands merely brute solidarity, a steeling of communal will. So Jimmy calls a meeting where Vancouver's drug bosses pledge to set aside their grudges and fight the fucking Americans. It's a rousing moment for all Canadians, real or—like me when I'm watching this terrific show—imagined. When the biker guy raises his glass to toast the new alliance, you can't even remember when you thought he was kind of a fascist, and he can't even remember when he wanted to kill the Vietnamese guy for killing his nephew, and the Vietnamese guy has completely forgiven him for killing his cousin, and that beefy Arab-looking dude is totally someone you'd want on your side when confronted by an existential threat, and seeing the show's dealer-hero accept the mantle of leadership at the head of the table is thrilling: Comandante Jimmy.
Haddock is making a boldly antinomian statement here. He's restaging the social contract as a war council, a criminal sit-down. He's saying Canadians, each and every one of us, should identify with these brave and violent felons. We need to wake up and face our ancestral frenemy. The Americans have breached the southern border. It's looking like 1812 all over again.
Correction, July 5, 2011: This reference to Ian Tracey originally misidentified him as Ian Scott. (Return to the corrected sentence.)