Review: The Missing (S1 E4/8), Tuesday 18th November, BBC1

7298210 / Television - The Missing

As good and as wrought and as thrilling as The Missing has been in places, I’ve been finding it hard to make an emotional connection with it. Which is a strange thing to say when you consider the emotional storyline it starts with. I’ll be writing a separate post on this in the near future (you lucky people), but for the moment let’s concentrate on last night’s episode, which (thankfully) offered more narrative drive. The series is starting to emerge from the fog of an over-egged set-up and that’s a good thing. Finally, the story is starting to go places and half way through, there are tangible lines of enquiry.

With Julien and his team’s sting laying in tatters, the likelihood of finding Oliver’s apparent abductors is now surely up in smoke. And with the forlorn sight of his informant laying on a train platform, his throat slit, Julien knew it all too well.

In the present day, Julien had found more interesting things on the same video tape he showed Tony at the end of the last episode. After some nifty detective work, Julien managed to extrapolate from visual evidence a name. Karl Zieg. Suddenly there was something and someone solid for the wily detective and the dogged, exasperated father to grab onto. A face to a name. A face to a crime.

But there was a new character to observe and weigh up. Kind-faced, soft-voiced schoolteacher Rini (who visibly jumped every time a door shut or at any sudden noise) was soon revealed to be someone Julien had had contact with eight years ago. She was linked to the criminal gang (she was the sister of a key member) Julien and his team investigated eight years ago.

We whizzed back to 2006 and saw Rini (Anamaria Marinca) as a very different person – lank-haired, palid-skinned and strung out on smack. Julien – with the ghosts of his own junkie daughter’s detox swirling around him – locked her in a hotel room toilet in an intense cold turkey session. He settled down into an armchair, ordered room service and set himself up for the long haul. He knew what to expect. When she screamed, offered herself to him in return for her release, retched black bile into the toilet as her body purged itself of poison he didn’t panic. He had done this before. He knew it was necessary.

This was a terrific scene. To begin with we weren’t sure of Julien’s motives. Could he have been on the make, too? Could he be some sort of pimp-like creature, crawling around the city, luring junkie hookers to hotel rooms? When the toilet door opened, and the frail, sick woman emerged, there were smears of vomit and shit caked onto the bath and around the toilet pan. You could almost smell the heavy, sickly stench of addition. Julien proved himself in this scene to be the series’ best character. The person he helped, Rini, may well turn out to be perhaps the second best.

We also saw Tony do some detective work of his home. Back in 2006 he was piecing together Vincent and Ian’s relationship. With Ian desperately trying to pal up with Tony and deflect any attention away from Vincent, you felt that it was only a matter of time until this relationship was going to blow up. But not now. We saw Vincent, in the present day, searching for Ian Garrett only to be told that his old acquaintance had disappeared. Eight years ago.

So once more, there were lots of things going on (I seem to say this in every review I write of The Missing) and the timelines danced merrily and teasingly once again. There is slight progress in the narrative, but how long they can keep the duel (and sometimes triple) timelines until we’re desperate for them to converge.

But still, the emergence of a character – Rini – to help propel the narrative forwards is a good thing. I felt it was beginning to be bogged down in too much multiple timelining. Too much set-up. But now we have a clearer path. Let’s hope it hurtled along.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

For our episode three review go here




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