I’ve been enjoying this series of The Missing. I have, honestly. I know I’ve been gobbing on about lack of emotional connection with the characters (because of the dual timeline approach), but I have been enjoying it: it has been innovatively told, very well acted and full of edge-of-your-seat twists and turns. This episode – episode five – was the one I was really impressed with, providing us as it did with a bold and daring twist right at the end, and some deeper characterisation.
NB: Spoilers, spoiler, spoilers. And more spoilers.
We left last week’s episode with confusion in the air, as we saw who we thought was Alice Webster (now deceased) sitting in a cafe in Switzerland. If Alice Webster did indeed perish in the shed fire, who was this young woman sitting here? I think it is Alice Webster, and that she shoved someone else into the fire – the ‘third girl’ Gemma Webster had found in the photograph at the theme park.
During this episode it was confirmed that this third girl did exist, thanks to Gemma’s tenacity and the work of young local police officer, Jorn Lenhart, who started to come into his own towards the end of the last episode, offering Julien a way into the case. During this episode Lenhart became more and more involved, and the two formed a likable pairing as they walked the streets in the 2014 timeline on Christmas Eve, trying to find out what really happened to Henry Reid. As they trudged through the snow, carols echoing through the streets, they visited bordellos and interviewed a transgender sex worker called Ilsa. These sequences were great because the two-timeline approach was beginning to level out and we were afforded more time to get to know characters and enjoy extended scenes of investigation and dialogue. These scenes with Baptiste and Lenhart were the closest the series has come to a straight-ahead procedural.
Elsewhere, there were some beautifully played, emotional scenes that really fleshed out the characters. In the present day we saw Sam and Gemma come to terms with his affair with Eve and contemplate a move back to the UK, and then, back in 2014 (or at least the last throes of 2014) we saw the moment when Sam and Eve first met. It was outside the hospital as Eve, who had just given birth after some serious complications, was sitting in a wheelchair, while Sam was walking out, waiting for Gemma to take him home. They spoke about family, loss and love. Tears were shed. It was quite the chance meeting. The sequence where Eve gave birth was like an episode in itself: there was tension, there were moving moments between her father, dodgy Adrian Stone (even more agonising because we knew he was dodgy and she didn’t, at least at that time), and we found out that, after an emergency caesarian, she was actually a surrogate mother for her sister. Twists within twists within twists.
Before we get to the big end-of-episode twist, there was a mesmerising scene involving Baptiste and Stone, in the present day. Two world-weary men, both suffering from devastating diseases, came face to face in Stone’s nursing home. Baptiste had come back from Iraq and, armed with the knowledge that Stone and Reid had been responsible for something awful, he was determined to tease the truth from him. It was supreme acting from Tchéky Karyo and Roger Allam – Karyo the soft aggressor; Allam the dementia-wracked husk of a man who, for a flicker, did confirm that he had done something awful. But not just him: there were three men.
Three missing girls; three bad men.
Which leads us neatly onto the end of the episode, where the identity of the kidnapper (and perhaps killer) was revealed. Unlike the first series, the Williams brothers have decided to reveal the man who did it early. This is daring and bold, and for me it was a great move – it answers some questions, keeps the momentum going but also gives the last three hours of this series room to answer the other questions fully. We’ve seen army press liaison officer Adam Gettrick pop up a few times, helping the Websters deal with the media during their ordeal in the 2014 timeline. He’s not had much to do (which is about as big a clue – the only clue – as there has been that he’s going to be a character to watch out for) but he’s been earnest and helpful, with perhaps a touch of creep about him. But now we know his game.
The scene where Lenhart visited Gettrick was as shocking as it was terrifying. As I mentioned earlier, we’d been getting to know him a bit during the episode and he had been sweet, intelligent and immensely likable. He gave Eve a CD he had made of his own music. We began to fall for him. And, of course, this was a classic build ’em up, knock ’em down set-up from the Williams brothers. As soon as he entered Gettrick’s house and showed him the photograph of the three girls on the rollercoaster and asked him why he knew the third girl’s family (her name was Lena), a sense of dread coursed through me. It reminded me of the scene in LA Confidential where Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) had found out something crucial in the case he was working on and went to see crooked cop Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) to relay information no one else on the team knew. Smith, fearing he had been rumbled, shot him there and then.
The same thing happened to Lenhart. As he was speaking with Gettrick, a little girl came down the stairs holding a picture she had drawn. She explained to Lenhart that it was a picture of her and her mum in the basement. It was Alice Webster’s daughter. (I think.) With this Gettrick wrestled Lenhart to the floor, reached for any household appliance that was near (a cordless drill, handily) and did a spot of DIY SOS on Lenhart’s cranium. A shocking scene, which ties up some narrative paths, but opens up more avenues.
For all our news and review on The Missing, go here