Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(Canada, 2008)

Our Canadian/American friend Spider Robinson recommended this. I wonder if any SWAT team anywhere is as well-trained and compassionate as the one portrayed here, ostensibly in the city of Toronto?

On the other hand, my only experience is of fictional SWAT teams on TV, where they are invariably shown as cowboys to a man, ready to go in with guns blazing and chafing at the constraints imposed on them by namby-pamby superiors. Maybe on some level we want to believe they’re quick on the trigger, the police equivalent of the Marine Corps: “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!” And that’s what screenwriters give us.

Maybe SWAT teams are usually this careful and punctilious about not letting bystanders be hurt, and not taking out a hostage taker until all negotiating has failed. When you think about it, a lot more SWAT team activity happens live, under the media spotlight, than everyday police work. They know their actions are going to be harshly scrutinized if anyone gets killed, and they may not have the deniability of the cop in the squad car. That alone might temper the cowboy mentality.

On the other other hand, maybe they are all a bunch of stormtroopers.

We have just finished the first season. (Including #9, which guest-starred Tatiana Maslany when she was twenty-four, playing sixteen, which she did almost exclusively until landing the grown-up parts of Sarah-Alison-Rachel-Cosima-Helena-Tony-Beth-Katya-Jennifer-Krystal-Pupok the scorpion in Orphan Black.) Of the thirteen episodes, they only killed the bad guy/hostage taker twice, in the first and last ones. The rest of the time they were able to talk someone down, or trick him with a less-than-lethal device. The team made one spectacularly bad call, waiting too long before resorting to violence because a civilian was in harm’s way, resulting in not only losing the civilian, but allowing the scumbag drug dealer to flush all his coke and survive. And I kept telling them that it was way past time to take this fucker out! Why don’t they ever listen?

I lived in Toronto for six months while filming Millennium, and I loved the town. It’s interesting to see just how much the place as grown. Well, I guess just about every place has grown, right? But I was inspired to take a Google street view tour of my old neighborhood half a block off Yonge Street and a block north of the Eaton Centre. Just a few blocks north of my apartment building is a gigantic skyscraper, must be 60 or 70 stories tall. Where did that come from?