A roller coaster from beginning to end
The Missing has been a rollercoaster from the beginning to the end and I feel as exhausted as the parents. This series explored a missing child case in Chalin Du Bois, France. After a busy football world cup came, the boy, Olly, disappeared from his father’s side in a crowded place. Child disappearances like this are already scorched into our memories with Madeleine McCann in living memory, and this provides insight into how such cases are dealt with. From then on it was a knuckle-whitening journey chasing shadows and weak leads, until 8 years had passed. What this drama so cleverly portrays is the anguish of the parents, which is dynamic and multidimensional. The uncertainty of what happened and the lack of closure caused palpable pain for the parents, felt by the audience. Unlike most British drama series which have 6 episodes, this had 8, and without creating an interminable wild goose chase, each aspect of the story was well linked within the web of mystery.
The main character, James Nesbitt, shines in this drama, he plays the role of a traumatised father racked with guilt and blaming himself for the disappearance of his son, who from the start is a happy, curious child. Co-starring is Frances O’Connor, who plays the mother, a quiet delicate woman, who is softly spoken and vulnerable, yet somehow internally strong by the end. She is equally traumatised and progresses on a volatile dangerous path less objective in finding her son. The drama represents two different approaches to dealing with the disappearance of a child and the uncertainty that investigations in foreign countries provide. It has been nominated for a Golden Globe award and rightly so.
The search started with a small clue, a scarf, which was teased out and unravelled like a yarn of wool of gripping crime drama. All this being said, this drama is not suitable for the whole family. It is dark and shocking, with upsetting images and vivid scenes which fortify the sincerity of the story, but does make you feel uneasy.
The concluding episode of The Missing was watched by 7 million viewers, and at first was disappointing. The clues brought Tony and Emily to a suspect closer than expected, and all was revealed. However, the lack of evidence meant I was clutching at the TV with 10 minutes left, saying, “this doesn’t add up, this can’t be the end”, although loose ends were slowly definitively tied up. It seemed like a bit of a cop out, but what this drama expertly does is envoke empathy. The lack of evidence makes you never stop questioning, thinking through and searching for answers. In this way you become James Nesbitt’s character, unable to let go and never being able to stop searching. The end was inconclusive, echoing similar past cases, but its main objective, to impact the audience, was achieved expertly.
You can currently watch episodes 4-8 of series 1 on BBC iPlayer