When The Missing‘s finale aired in the U.K. a few weeks ago, there was an uproar over the ending. Was it clear? Was it ambiguous? As I said last week, The Missing‘s true ending was in “Return to Eden.” That is where the show laid the foundation for each of the characters moving forward, which it stuck to throughout “Til Death.” The Missing‘s crime has defined it, but it was never beholden to the outcome. There were only two choices, and it picked the right one. Hit the jump for why “you are a monster!”
From the first episode, it was clear there could only be two endings to The Missing: Oliver was either dead or alive. The plausibility of the latter seemed to slip away almost instantly, though, the more we learned about the show’s twisted world (an exploration of that other possibility, though, will potentially be the focus of The Missing‘s second anthology season).
Presuming Oliver was dead, what was left was the truth of his death (and what happened between him being abducted and it happening), and what closure for Tony and Emily would look like. “Til Death” provided that.
Alain, whose connection to the crime was hinted at throughout the miniseries, but only definitely connected in “Til Death,” gave a deathbed confession (a tired device, but at this point, we’re all emotionally tired). In a horrible twist of events, Oliver followed a fox into the road, and Alain hit him. Believing him dead, he called his brother, Georges (the mayor, former detective) to help him. Georges’ first reaction was to call in a favor from the Romanian he had helped out years before (who knew Rini’s brother, and who slit Rini’s throat), with an order to dispose of Oliver’s body. But though Oliver was actually alive, and the hitman decided to kill him anyway, and dispose of him per his instructions, without consulting Georges. It is also only Georges who sees Oliver’s body at that point, which we’ll come back to.
The reactions in the hospital room as Alain told this tale were devastating, as they were intended to be. Throughout the series, it has seemed absolutely obvious that Oliver’s kidnapping was a crime of premeditation and opportunity, and that he was funneled to sex traffickers. It was unlikely he could still be alive, but as Julien says to Tony after Alain’s confession, isn’t it better that he died rather than be subjected to that?
Of course, what really is the most horrible thing is that there was no grand scheme. It was a tragic series of accidents and bad decisions that led to the death of a child that could have, and should have, been fine. At any point before the blood on the floor in the basement, Oliver could have been released. Alain could have driven away, Georges could have released him or made up a story about finding him, or the Romanian could have let him go. Instead, things continued to spiral needlessly out of control. The most frustrating thing is not that it was planned, but that it wasn’t.
So that should have been the end, right? Georges was confronted and killed himself; Vincent Bourg ended his struggle by his own hand; Malik and Rini continue their lives with their families; Ziane’s son prays at his grave; Julien and his wife reestablish their relationship with their daughter, and Alain dies with Sylvie by his side, with her not knowing the truth (at least, not yet). Emily marries Mark, but is still struggling with healing. It is Tony, though, who finds his home where Julien told him it would be: “it’s whatever in your life stops you feeling alone.” For Tony, that’s searching for Oliver.
The Missing opened “Til Death” with a tantalizing teaser: a man harassing some kids on a Russia playground, and Oliver’s picture drawn on an icy pane of glass. But that, like so many things in The Missing, was a red herring. It was Tony who is drawing this calling cards all over Russia, and how he ended up where he is, who knows (as far as whatever leads took him there). The boy he confronts is not the first; the police tell him Tony has been confronting children all across Russia. Is it completely out of the realm of possibility that Oliver is alive and in Russia somewhere? Or even that he is one of the boys Tony has seen? No. But since The Missing is not planning on exploring that further, I think what we are meant to take from it is that for Tony, there is no closure, regardless. He will be haunted forever. And that, worse than being ambiguous, is desperately, desperately sad.
Miniseries Rating: A
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I didn’t dislike the finale, but I didn’t feel like it stuck the landing quite as well as it could have.
— So, if Vincent actually wasn’t involved with Oliver’s disappearance at all, why did Ian pay for his alibi? And why did Vincent tell Malik “the truth” about Oliver? What did he tell him?
— I’m glad they addressed the fact that Oliver actually wasn’t wearing the scarf when he disappeared, because I didn’t think I remembered it.
— The Missing‘s first season was exceptional, and I am really looking forward to its second (which will feature a new case, though one that also spans two timelines).
— Though I appreciated Tony and Emily reconnecting in “Return to Eden,” I think Emily wanting to spend time with Tony and not Mark at her wedding was odd. I know she’s choosing to move on with Mark, but it seems like a wedding was maybe a little premature (it was lovely, though).
— I did like that Rini’s story had an important impact on the fact that the Romanian guy who hurt her also hurt Oliver.
— Emily, losing it for the first time: “You’re a monster.” Alain: “This cancer is my punishment.”
— PLEASE let Julien be in the second season. I don’t know that it would make any sense, but I need it to happen anyway.
— “You’ve always been there, and that’s what’s kept me going” – Emily.
— “You can’t live on your doubts, they will destroy you, tony” – Julien.
— “Home is not just a place, Tony, it’s whatever in your life stops you feeling alone” – Julien.
— “Trust me. Just don’t give up. No matter what” – Tony.