Review: The Disappearance (S1 E5&6/8), Saturday 11th June, BBC4


CkR0IgmWYAAC81GWe left The Disappearance after last week’s double bill with a body. A very dead body floating on the banks of the lake at Miribel park. It was just a case of whether it was the corpse of Léa Morel’s or another false alarm to give us – and her family – a fright. In quick-smart fashion, that question was answered and it wasn’t good news for the Morels. For us? It amped things up to a new level because now, instead of just potentially a kidnap, we were now embroiled in a murder case. The Disappearance had turned into a classic whodunit.

I’m always interested when a series decides to drop in key plot propellers. Some reveal the killer right at the end of a series; some reveal the killer half way through the final episode or even earlier to focus on the capture and the emotional aftermath. Here, the discovery of the Léa Morel’s body exactly half-way through the series ramped the story up a notch or two. If we weren’t already on her parents’ side, we very definitely were now. The discovery of the body also had an another effect – with DNA testing in full flow, new clues emerged to drive the plot and provide a credible source for them.

Up until that point, a whole heap of suspects had been set up and processed, but now the discovery of Léa’s body made us look again – every expression, outburst or comment from a character made us suspicious of them.

As the case continued with renewed vigour (the discovery of a dead body can do that), the fifth episode was a muted, emotional affair. First Molina, who had softened considerably since his grumpy, first appearance in the first episode, had to tell Julien and Flo of the grim discovery. It’s always difficult to watch parents in crime dramas come to terms with the loss of their child, and these scenes were handled sensitively and with great emotional impact. Flo was almost non-emotional, trying to hold everything in, while Julien wept and was wracked with soul-crushing grief.

Their differing ways of handling things continued throughout episode five – during the funeral Flo put on the bravest face she could and soon felt the need to get back to work; Julien, on the other hand, had set up an office in the basement of the restaurant to continue his own, personal investigations.

Attention turned to Léa’s school teacher, who, it was revealed, had already had an affair with a student at a previous school. He suddenly jumped to the front of the queue of suspects, while unstable Nicolas gassed himself in his car. He had had an emotional outburst outside the restaurant with Jean rushing outside and, in the full glare of the funeral party (including a suspicious Molina), calming the young waiter down. I wondered – like Molina – not only what Nicolas said to Jean, but also what Jean said to Nicolas. Did this confrontation have something to do with why Nicolas gassed himself.

Or did he gas himself?

It was soon revealed that scene was made to look like a suicide, but Nicolas had been murdered. He had left behind a detailed suicide note, too, but Molina wasn’t quite buying it even though pretty much everyone else had decided to accept it and move on.

There were more revelations. DNA tests on Léa’s body found a certain type of plant that didn’t correspond with her final resting place. More searches took place in the park, and a grave was eventually found – a neatly constructed pile of stones marking the spot, the killer obviously treating the body with care and respect, albeit post-mortem. Was this an accident perpertrated by someone close to Léa? Molina and Guérin found a dolphin pendant inside the grave, and the search was on to find out who gave it to her. At the end of the sixth episode, a jeweller had identified the man who had bought it for her.

Also, DNA tests on the baby Léa was carrying came back, revealing that everyone who they had tested had come back negative as being the father. That left three people they hadn’t tested – Julien, Thomas and Jean. The father, the brother and the uncle. A possible incest storyline was now beginning to take shape. Julien? Who knows, but he has certainly acted like the grieving father, determined to find her killer. Why would he hunt himself? Thomas? He enjoyed a close relationship with his sister, but that close? And then there’s Jean… who is, at this moment, the most likely out of the three to be the killer. He comes over as a nice guy, but there’s something slippery and evasive about him. What’s more, I have my eyes on Léa’s best friend and his daughter, Cris. She is in love with Romain, and often snaps out disparaging remarks about Léa, and by the end of the episode she was wearing one of her friends’ t-shirts at Zoe’s eighth birthday party. She had also been spurned by Romain during lovemaking because he couldn’t stop thinking about Léa. Could she be that person, constantly living in her dazzling, best friend’s shadow, consumed by enough jealousy to have killed her? We’ll have to wait and see.

I enjoyed Molina and his daughter Rose’s evolving relationship, and we also saw some smiles from the frowning detective in this episode. But we didn’t get too many smiles over at the Morels, where Julien and Flo’s relationship continued to ebb and flow in complex fashion.

Flo was diving head-long into her job, much to the concern of her colleagues. We saw her swimming – that well-used visual metaphor that signifies movement and a psychological moving on – and, then, necking back the wine and going out on a boozy date. I got it – Flo wanted to be jolted away from her crushing reality and needed new thrills and new company to make her forget. Everything at home reminded her of Léa. Except, in this case, when she got some distance (she ended up snogging the guy) reality came crashing down all around her. She forlornly crawled back into bed at home.

But if Flo was ready to patch things up with Julien, he wasn’t willing to meet her half way. Julien had also needed to feel the warmth of connection, and was spotted by Flo having a drink with his ex-mistress Anne. After a tense discussion back at home, Flo said something to her husband that inferred that when she found out he was having an affair she got rid of a baby she was pregnant with. I think I was right in the meaning of that exchange and, if so, these old wounds now open and weeping once again look as though they’re going to destroy this relationship.

Paul Hirons

For our episodes one and two reviews, go here

For our episodes three and four reviews, go here


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