The Missing‘s penultimate episode, “Return to Eden,” laid the groundwork beautifully for its finale, but also took time to visually reconsider all that has come before. In the cold open, another child is abducted, close to where Oliver had been. It rips off the tentative bandaid that Tony and Emily had put over their lives, and also rips their relationship apart.
Meanwhile, in the present day, things are continuing (as they have been all season) to be put back together. The final scene of the meeting on the train platform was a culmination so many things. It went beyond a reunion of those who were all together at the beginning of the case, and actually married together the two key pieces of evidence and experience that will likely lead them to the truth next week. Hit the jump for why Baptiste deserves a spin-off series.
Every episode of The Missing is an extremely full, even overflowing hour when it comes to plot and character development, but “Return to Eden” may be the densest episode yet. It also focused a lot on Emily’s perspective, both in 2014, and in 2009, where the episode jumped to at the beginning.
The red herring of the second child abduction was horrible for the Hughes, because it was finally what broke them apart. Adrift since Oliver’s disappearance, the second abduction revealed Tony and Emily’s true trajectories. While he chastised her for “running away and hiding” ever since Ollie was taken, it’s more that Emily is simply finding a way to live in a world without him. She considered suicide, but returned from that brink wanting to live. She never wants to forget Oliver, but she felt that staying at the hotel where they were during the original investigation was punishment.
Tony, of course, wants to be punished, because he feels responsible for allow Oliver to be snatched (and as Emily heartbreakingly admits to Mark, Tony also remembers that she said she blamed him for it). The results of the second abduction showed a dark obsession continuing to brood in Tony (who also has Ian’s murder on his hands — more guilt from which he is desperate to be absolved). He is going to continue this on his own, and devote his life, whatever is left of it, to uncovering the truth. That life for Emily is untenable, and there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s just sad, and it also rings true.
The flashbacks to Emily growing closer to Mark, yet still desperate to hold on to Tony, were sad to watch unfold, but their rekindling of at least a friendship in France (and briefly more) was a lovely resolution. Tony admitting that Mark would be better for Emily is probably right, but it was beautiful how they both just wanted the best for each other, and can now support each other through this difficult second investigation.
As for that investigation, The Missing was unhurried in its revelation of what it was that Ziane had hidden, which Malik now possessed. It wound its way about Ziane’s past, where his wife died from a beating he gave her after he discovered her infidelity. Having Julien, Tony and Emily confront Ziane’s son was a way to really explore their pain, and also was about the braveness of forgiveness, and the distance between children and parents (a thread that has been running throughout).
It also gave time to show a more humanized side to Malik. He and his wife had their child, and he did have cystic fibrosis. But Malik loves him and cares for him gently, in a way completely different from his cold, ethically-bankrupt journalist side. But unlike Tony, Malik is unable to come to terms with the kind of person he is, divorcing himself from his actions. Because truly, what kind of person would hold back evidence that could have helped bring closure to a family, or possibly have saved Oliver (or at least other children)?
All of that is part of The Missing‘s complicated web of action and consequence. When it comes to wrapping things up, “Return to Eden” also laid some final groundwork that, in my guess, is important. I mentioned in my recap of the first episode that every single person (particularly men) that the Hughes’ come into contact with in the 2006 timeline could have dark portends. Whoever took Oliver had to have been keeping tabs on him, and had to have had access in some way. In “Return to Eden,” The Missing drove several things home, both narratively and visually, but mainly the hotel. Emily has a bad feeling about returning to that hotel, but Tony says they owe Sylvie. But what of her ever-smoking husband? The coin found was one of his sobriety coins, presumably, that she had showed to Tony. So was he involved with Ian, the Mayor, this grand scheme, too?
I could be completely off-base, and honestly, whatever resolution The Missing offers in terms of Oliver’s case may not be what anyone is expecting or even hoping for. The truth is, the resolution happened in “Return to Eden.” It was about Tony and Emily finding new lives for themselves, yet still acknowledging their own connection through their former marriage and through Oliver. It was about Baptiste still calling in to solve the abduction from his beekeeping, because he can never say no to a case. It was Ziane and Malik being punished for their self-interest, and about someone finally telling the Mayor to piss off. The Missing has always been about emotional exploration as much as about the case, so whatever happens next week, The Missing has already solidified itself as an excellent, deeply tragic and difficult portrayal of finding a path through unrelenting darkness.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Still, I was going to riot if they didn’t show the evidence before the end of this episode!
— Julien was out of control amazing in this episode. Him telling the Mayor what is what, explaining bees and flirting with his wife (“I still have one good knee!”), calling in who abducted the second child as soon as he saw the press conference, winking at Tony after he told him the good news (at the time) about Ziane’s son, and casually telling Tony that his choices are his own, and he is ready for the consequences … gentleman badass.
— Vincent Bourg had a really sad week. I can’t believe this show makes me feel bad for a pedophile. Him pleading with the (super rigid and cold) doctor was really affecting.
— As soon as that dude in the prison side-eyed Ziane when he said he would tell if they brought him his son, I knew he was dead. It’s the most obvious thing I think the show has ever done. But if there is a group inside of the prison working, somehow, with the sex traffickers, why aren’t they going after Malik, who actually has the real evidence?
— The SWAT team coming in to take the boy back from his uncle was amazing, especially since the apartment looked like Vincent’s in England, and also that they told the boy “shh!” as they were filing past the windows.
— Mark: “I see two people who have been through something dreadful.” Emily: “I see an alky and a basket case.”
— I liked the gingerly way that Mark approached Emily and was clearly always crazy about her, but took things very slow and cautiously in showing that. Also, that Emily just kind of went along with it, and was always seemingly more interested in James and establishing a relationship with him. As she said to Tony, that was all because she so desperately wanted a family again.
— I wanted to be in that French cafe with the snow falling outside so badly. The cinematography and set design on this show is incroyable.
— I have also never wanted Malik punished more than when he hacked into Tony’s voicemail, and deleted the message where Emily was trying to reach him. Also, I like that the show included that, harkening back to that actually having happened with the British press and the parents of missing children. Disgusting.
— “Just grab a life wherever you can. Just grab it” – Emily.