THE MISSING Recap: “Episode Two”

     November 22, 2014

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In its second episode, The Missing continued the taught and emotional storytelling of its first.  “Episode Two” also showed that the series is not looking for quick answers, and yet, it still (thanks to its dual timeline) moves at a very fast pace.  A hint at the end of the hour also suggested that there is more to Oliver’s case than just a rogue kidnapper, but that is, of course, only one small part of the story.  His the jump for why “we need to get a heartbeat out of a building that died over three centuries ago.”

the-missing-posterThough The Missing still kept its focus on Tony and Emily, and their struggle in the wake of Oliver’s disappearance, it also introduced several new characters that not only helped open up the case (for viewers), but also showed that The Missing is interested in telling many stories.  Vincent Bourg, for instance, was given a lot of time in the present day, battling his pedophilia.  Though he was innocent of Oliver’s crime, he’s connected somehow to the potential ring of offenders who did actually take him.

Anyone who watches a lot of crime dramas would have spotted from the beginning that Ian being introduced as a jovial and likable character was a red flag that he’s probably somehow involved in the abduction.  Further, him appearing out of nowhere to offer a huge reward for information on Oliver, and giving a vague reason as to why he would, should have raised further flags.  Finally, him threatening Vincent, and cutting off their relationship, was a mysterious coda that suggests Oliver’s disappearance has even larger implications.

At this point, though, it doesn’t add up to much.  The main thrust of The Missing is really about the fallout in 2006, and Tony’s dogged pursuit of clues in 2014.  To that end, the show does an excellent job of making Tony’s frustration fully felt by viewers.  When Laurence noncommittally says she guesses she sees some resemblance in the drawings, I wanted to scream at her like Tony did.  When the mayor said he wouldn’t reopen the case for political reasons, I wanted to shout and storm out like Tony did.  Thankfully, he has Julien, who, despite his initial reluctance, has been fully drawn in to the case.  But those visceral reactions point to the strength of James Nesbitt‘s portrayal, as well as the precision of the writing, all of which (among other things) make The Missingunmissable.

Still, Tony is thwarted at every turn, particularly in regards to Emily.  Mark wants to protect her, rightfully, especially since her father has just passed away.  Julien, too, cautions Tony not to bring Emily into things until they have real answers.  But Emily may be connected to some clues herself, particularly regarding an awkward man she sees at the nursing home, who, briefly, it is suggested, Tony may have assaulted in the past (was that the thing Emily’s father was referring to in the first episode?)

the-missing-frances-oconnor-james-nesbitt2006 and 2014 have a lot of connections that are still strong, and The Missing weaves them together in a brilliantly engaging way, while never straying far from the emotional weight that Tony and Emily carry with them, both then and now.  They feel so impotent with the investigation, which causes them to easily fall for Malik’s tricks, as he passes along info from Khalid that the police were not yet sharing.  Later, they accuse him of “hurting them,” though Emily inexplicably still keeps up a relationship with him.  Cryptically, he tells her that he knows what she and Tony did, and he plans to uncover the truth.  More red herrings, or a dark portend?

Small scenes like Julien talking to his wife on the phone, or the grandfather mistaking James for Oliver, and even Vincent’s trouble at work and his decision to take hormone-repressing drugs shows that The Missing is interested in all aspects of its characters, and not just the ones that relate to the crime itself.  And yet, the show never feels like it’s spinning its wheels.  Instead, it continues to build a rich and dark world.  Like Tony, I feel desperate to explore it further.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Even if Oliver isn’t found or isn’t found alive, there’s a chance for Julien and Tony to uncover and stop an evil sex ring.  Maybe.  I really haven no idea.

— Pedophiles on TV shows are usually portrayed as such one-note characters, so it’s different that The Missing makes Vincent a surprising portrayal both in his youth and looks, as well as his dedication to stopping his impulses.

— But what kind of person lets their kid just crawl on top of the counter at a fast-food place and put their hands all over the person working there?  Seriously.

the-missing-frances-oconnor– Julien is such a fantastic character, and always full of surprises.  He seems to go by the book in many respects, but then comes up with things like the Interpol trick with Mark.  He goes through the appropriate channels with Laurence to to get the case reopened, but then waylays the mayor during his afternoon drink, to convince him (through some light threats about media exposure) to do the right thing.  Also, his dedication to his bee hive is adorable.

— Malik is the worst.  Between him and Renee from Gracepoint, journalists are being portrayed as the worst kind of amoral muckrakers on TV these days.

— I liked the scene where Tony is treated with hostility by the cafe owner, when eight years ago he was offering him croissants on the house.  Time has passed, things have changed.

— “I love you too, although sometimes I don’t know why” – Julian’s wife.

— Also a nice little detail that Tony has learned enough French to at least read it at this point.  Essential.  The show has done good work with the sparing use of subtitles. too  When Emily and Tony are together, many scenes and conversations are translated by those around them, or repeated in English.  When it’s just Tony, though, or Tony and Julien, there is no sense of what is being said.  It adds to Tony’s frustration, and how the foreign locale adds to the difficulty of the case.

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