One aspect of The Missing that I haven’t yet mentioned is that it is yet another entry to the “one director” trend on TV that has yielded exceptional results. Others have included True Detective (Cary Fukunaga) and The Knick (Stephen Soderbergh); like True Detective, The Missing also features the same writer (or pair of writers: Harry and Jack Williams), which adds a really beautiful cohesion to the material, both visually and narratively (which is so important given its dueling timelines). Hit the jump for why guilt is a cancer.
There were several things to love about the way “Gone Fishing” was crafted. After such an intense third episode (that included Antoine’s murder, as well as Tony and the police seeing the video of a crying Oliver being pulled away from a window), “Gone Fishing” slowed things down, and opened up a new narrative path.
I’ve mentioned in the past the The Missing has always done a great job of following, to the fullest extent, the lives of those who may seem like one-offs, or minor characters. Those explorations also tie back into the main narrative. It wasn’t unexpected that the school teacher, Rini (Anastasia Hille), who we saw in the first few moments of the episode, would play some key role in the investigation, we just didn’t know what. Her history as Antoine’s girlfriend illuminated really interesting things about her personality, as well as Julien’s (and his methods for getting the truth). It also brought to light a struggle Julien and his wife face in the present timeline with their drug-addicted daughter.
Ultimately, Rini felt moved to assist Julien and Tony in their search for the gang her brother used to be (and presumably still is) connected to. A man also connected to that gang is/was the owner of a cleaning service whose van was seen early on Sunday morning at the house where Oliver was being kept. Later, to drive home the importance of this connection, we as viewers saw that same man keeping tabs on Said as he re-investigated the crime scene (after Julien distanced him from other work, correctly suspecting him of leaking information to the press). Said appeared to have found some evidence in the sewer drain, though we don’t yet know of its significance.
Tony, though, has made his own connections. Him shuffling back and forth between Ian and Vincent made him realize that those two know each more than either is letting on. Ian keeps trying to steer him away from Vincent, and both men repeated a quote to Tony that affirmed his presumption that Vincent knows more than he is saying (like his quote “I will not say anything,” instead of “I don’t know anything”). But just when it seems obvious what is going on — that Oliver was taken by a sex trafficking ring — there’s another twist. Julien presses Tony about his regrets, and Tony asks what he thinks he’s done. This could have referred to anything — his assault, him angering the wrong people, his divorce — but at the end of the episode, Vincent discovers that Ian disappeared eight years ago, and was presumed dead. Did Tony have something to do with that? Or was Ian eliminated by the gang as a threat? What happened to Oliver has no straight-forward answer.
Per usual, The Missing was also packed full of character moments. Emily learns that Mark is giving up his job, which he said is because he essentially gave up his career when he got into a relationship with her (which he doesn’t regret, but wishes she acknowledged). Julien and his wife suffer over their daughter and her addictions, and Tony apologizes to Emily in 2006, saying he knows she blames him (though he also urges her not to create distance between them).
Rini has a very interesting trajectory over the eight-year timespan, as Julien notes, and Vincent seems to have a new lease on life after his hormone suppressants start to take effect (him eating ice cream gleefully and being able to break away from his regiment was strangely a touching moment). Then there’s Ian, with his bachelor pad and his many drawings of a little girl. He says it is his daughter, who went missing like Oliver, but the truth is uncertain. Is it that, or is it his daughter who he abused and killed, or is it just another little girl he abused? (And then disposed of?)
“Gone Fishing” continued the show’s dark, hypnotic, and deeply personal feel, and also made it impossible to wait until next week’s episode. There is almost no hope that Oliver is still alive, but there is the possibility that Tony and Julien could uncover the machine that led to his disappearance.
Episode Rating: A
Musings and Miscellanea:
— There are so many great small moments in this show, like Julian handing Rini the lollipop (although for good reason).
— “It is one of life’s great pleasures” – Julien about novels. And TV, Julien, and TV!
— I like that The Missing takes time in exploring the lives of characters like Vincent and Rini. It’s unexpected, but it never feels like stalling. It almost always has a purpose.
— Now that Vincent knows that Ian is dead, might he try and contact Tony or the police? Or just live his life in peace?
— “Guilt is like a cancer. You can treat the symptoms, but not the cause” – Ian’s father.
— I worried that Tony becoming a signatory on the account Ian set up was basically setting him up. It could look like he was accepting money for “selling” Oliver off, which Ian could use to blackmail him and keep him from going to the police. That could have sent Tony into a murderous rage …? We’ll see!
— Very interesting revelation from Mark that Malik’s words were true for him as well; the worst day in Emily’s life was the best day for him (because that’s when he met her. And for Malik, it’s what led to his burgeoning career as a journalist).
— I’m really surprised Malik got a job interview with the Telegraph and not the Daily Mail, honestly.
— The directing and cinematography is so dense and gorgeous in this series that I really feel like I am there in France (*even though it was filmed in Belgium).
— Unfortunate that Vincent’s doctor gives zero fucks about anything relating to his mental or emotional state, since that’s what they’re hoping to cure.
— “Em, if we keep shutting each other out, were going to lose each other. And if that happens, what else is there?” – Tony.
— “Just bad luck” – the mechanic.