Review: The Missing (S1 E6/8), Tuesday 2 December, BBC1

James Nesbitt as the anguished Tony, in a rare uncontorted moment in The Missing. Photograph: Jules

Last week we were plunged into a new world of moral ambiguity when Tony Hughes – desperate to find any clues about his missing son – smashed the head in of paedophile Ian Garrett. This added another murky layer of wattle and daub to an already convoluted, albeit thrilling, hut of a plot. How would we now feel about Tony – lest we forget the supposed hero of the piece – after knowing he was a killer? 

While Tony was desperately trying to get rid of the body and all his murderous detritus, Julien had telephoned Emily and told him that they had found an alibi for Ian Garrett, meaning he could not have taken Oliver. But with all his homemade videos did Tony’s emphatic and vigilante justice mean that he did the right thing? Can murder ever be justified?

“Tell me the world’s not a better place without monsters like Ian Garrett.”

That’s what Tony asked Emily when she was almost forced to lie to the police for him. After they left he spilled the beans, or at least partly. It was an accident, he said. He saw Garrett’s stash of awful homemade videos and they got into a struggle, he said. He thought Garrett had killed Oliver, he said.

How long and how heavily would this new layer weigh upon us? Not long, as it turned out.

In the present day Julien, having found some of Tony’s belongings at Garrett’s place (the embargo had been lifted on his place so renovation work could start immediately), made a judgement of his own. Once upon a time he shopped his own daughter, he told Tony, hoping that her incarceration would lead to better things. One step back to go forwards. He trusted the system, but in the end her condition and her behaviour got worse. He realised now that the justice meted out by the system did not necessarily mean decisive, healing justice. No, he realised Tony had been in “a prison” since Oliver had been taken and that he had suffered enough. He would not be reporting Tony to the authorities. I also got the impression that there another thing that underpinned his decision – he was locked into this case; he needed it as much as Tony.

Tony, thanking his lucky stars, took the evidence from Julien and breathed a sigh of relief.

An interesting scene, one full of moral scruples and plenty for us to ponder. Does one crime excuse another? Is the murder of a paedophile ok?

With this bubbling in the background, I almost forgot about the case in hand.

In the present day Tony and Julien found Karl Zieg running a seedy bar in Brussels. He wanted 15,000 Euros to talk, so Tony telephoned Emily for help. Initially sceptical she couldn’t resist – especially after Tony sent her the video footage of Oliver in the window of the house. How could she not get involved, even if this link was a shot to nothing.

It almost proved to be a shot to nothing. Karl Zieg, quite happy being wined and dined and with a fat bag of money sitting next to him told Tony and Emily (now back in the fold after opening herself up to the possibility that her son was still alive) his story. He was a bag man, a cleaner-upper and a fixer for the criminal gang. He did indeed visit the house where Oliver was held. It filled in some blanks but it was hardly revelatory stuff, but it was enough to give them momentum. And some hope.

Elsewhere, the story of ruthless journalist Malik Suri and police officer Khalid Ziane developed. We found out that Suri was blackmailing Ziane for information into the case so he could get his scoop. If he didn’t supply evidence he would expose Ziane’s past life as a killer back in Morocco. When, eventually, Suri sent Julien an envelope containing proof of Ziane’s true identity he was attacked brutally, his leg repeatedly smashed by a car door. (We now know the cause of Julien’s limp.) His attacker was revealed to be Ziane himself.

So there we have it. We have two episodes left and although still gripping, I felt there was a quickening of pace here. New characters and lines of enquiry and plot twists were being introduced and tied up quickly. Some would argue too quickly.

But despite all of these cul-de-sacs, the question still remains: what happened to Oliver Hughes?

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

For our episode three review go here

For our episode four review go here

For our episode five review go here


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