After an opening packed with plot and characters, episode two of The Missing eased off the narrative accelerator. Existing characters where fleshed out and two significant new players entered the scene. Continuing to use dual time frames, two fresh narrative strands arose. In 2006, the police believe they have a suspect in Ollie Hughes’ disappearance. Known sex offender Vincent Bourg (De Voogdt) has been placed in the vicinity of Ollie Hughes’ last known whereabouts. In the present, Ollie’s father Tony and retired detective Julien Baptiste attempt to reopen the case following their discovery of a faded child’s drawing scratched on a basement wall.
While Tony continues to be the main protagonist, more time was given to his now estranged wife Emily in this episode, showing her delayed reaction to Ollie’s disappearance in 2006, and her new domestic situation with partner Mark (who she met during the investigation) in the present. We discover that Emily’s father is now hospitalised with dementia, but will clearly have to wait to find out more about the hint in episode one that he and Tony have a secret which could reveal a motive.
Also in the mix is ambitious freelance journalist Malik Suri who offers the family confidential details of the suspect during the police investigation and has subsequently turned Ollie’s disappearance and the family’s misery into a career. Played by Arsher Ali, Suri is an odious and unprincipled discredit to the fourth estate, but one who has rationalised his actions to the point he feels discharged of moral obligations.
Quickly arrested, the character of Vincent Bourg was unusually sympathetic. In the present we find Bourg working nights in a fast food outlet. In an attempt to control his vile impulses he voluntarily agrees to chemical castration. As the past and present intertwine it becomes apparent that he is also feeling some kind of guilt related to Ollie’s disappearance – but was he directly involved?
A new character with an unclear role in the unfolding drama is Ian Garrett (Ken Stott) a wealthy property developer. Garrett sees the Hughes’ case unfolding on television and contacts the family to offer a substantial reward for information leading to Ollie’s recovery. His offer comes (apparently) without strings and is presented as an act of kindness. Stott’s high billing suggests it would be foolish for the audience to accept this at face value – everyone seems to be hiding something.
The real star of this episode was Tchéky Karyo as Baptiste. The detective is a man of tact and intelligence far from a standard crime fiction cliché. One of the pleasures of The Missing is in the procedural detail. Detective Baptiste is shown doing actual police work in 2006, and as an amateur detective in the present we see his skill in dealing with authorities. He deftly leverages the town mayor’s re-election campaign against a potential scandal and has the case re-opened. While Tony Hughes is (understandably) hot-headed and frantic, Baptiste is calm, methodical, but blessed with an acute gift for empathy.
As the episode ended on another sudden twist, it became clear that there is a greater well of darkness underlying the abduction of which the family and the police are unaware.
Directed by Tom Shankland
Cast: James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor, Tchéky Karyo, Ken Stott, Titus De Voogdt, Arsher Ali
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