Last week I found it interesting reading the theories that some of you had left regarding the disappearance of Oliver Hughes on The Missing. I’m personally not sure who to trust but what I do know is that writers Jack and Harry Williams have extended the scope of the episode again. With the discovery of Oliver on the videotape last week it appears as if Tony has finally had the breakthrough he’s been hoping for. These modern day scenes took Julien back to the continuation of the Antoine case in 2006 and introduced us to yet another new character who began the episode.
At first we are unaware of the significance of the English teacher reading Alice in Wonderland to a group of French schoolchildren. It takes about twenty minutes for us to learn that the woman, Rini Daica, is the Romanian girlfriend of Antoine who was unaware of her beau’s undercover cop status. Her relevance to the Oliver Hughes case is explained in a roundabout way and is related to the Romanian gang that Antoine was infiltrating before his death. The video footage that we saw last week continues to be useful as Julien reveals that the camera was accidentally switched on the next morning and captured footage of a van outside the house across the street. The van belonged to a cleaning company owned by Karl Sieg; a man who is thought to have connections to the Romanian outfit even though he himself was never arrested. With Tony and Julien eager to question Sieg, it appears that the only person who may be able to discover his whereabouts is Rini.
However the Rini of the present day, who is excited to be moving in with her boyfriend, is completely different from the girl Julien meets in 2006. Here she is a drug addict who is only willing to help the police with their enquiries if she gets a fix first. However, instead of complying with her wishes, Julien makes her go cold turkey as he locks her in a hotel bathroom while he calmly reads a book. I felt that this sequence was incredibly powerful and was the episode’s best by far. The editing between various moments, in which we hear Rini’s various attempts at bargaining, were deftly handled and director Tom Shankland gave the segment an eerie quality throughout. These scenes also revealed that Julien’s daughter is a drug addict and that he’s been through the same thing several times before. Although there have been hints to his daughter wanting money, it was interesting to finally learn a bit more about Julien’s family life as it makes his character feel more sympathetic. Rini’s reluctance to help Tony and Julien is more than understandable, with hints that her life was in danger before, but she eventually accepts to go to Paris with them.
One element of this episode that I particularly enjoyed was its focus on the relationship between Mark and Emily. Up to now Mark has operated as somewhat of a plot device as he’s almost acted as a roadblock in Tony’s attempts to contact his ex-wife while his appearances in the 2006 scenes have been equally sporadic. But for the first time we learn what life has been like for him stepping on eggshells around Emily for the past eight years. The revelation that he’s quit his job, as he was never able to talk about cases with the grieving Emily, allowed the character to really talk about his feelings for the first time. We also saw him reference an earlier conversation with Malik Suri; who hardly appears in this episode at all, in which the journalist tells him that the worst day of Tony and Emily’s life may have been the best of his. The fact that Mark feels that this statement applies to him as well makes his character slightly more likeable and at least allows Jason Flemyng to stretch his acting muscles a little more.
The only aspect of this episode that I wasn’t particularly interested in was the scenes in which Tony met up with Ian Garrett in 2006 and tried to convince him to get the judge to reinvestigate Vincent Bourg. While I initially found both characters intriguing when they first appeared, they feel like extra pieces to the puzzle that don’t really need to be there. Tony’s realisation that Bourg and Garrett are connected was fairly anticlimactic seeing as this has been the information that the property developer has been trying to conceal for some time. The fact that the final scene was devoted to present day Vincent learning that Ian had gone missing in 2006 was a mistake in my opinion and didn’t have the same shock value as the series’ previous cliffhangers. However, even though they don’t feel relevant right now, I’ve got faith in the Williams brothers that both Bourg and Garrett will somehow fit into the final reveal of what actually happened to Oliver.
Despite his character not being particularly relevant at the moment, Ken Stott was absolutely brilliant tonight especially when he delivered a rather creepy sermon to Tony. One thing that this episode did was highlight how amazing The Missing’s supporting cast are as some of them got the chance to really showcase their abilities. Tcheky Karyo was particularly strong tonight as he made us sympathise with Julien over his daughter’s drug addiction and I thought he was rather brilliant in the 2006 scenes with Rini. As Rini, Anamaria Marinca was great at showing the progression from the 2006 drug addled incarnation of her character to the stable English teacher that she is today. I found that Marinca was particularly great at demonstrating Rini’s fears about dredging up the past and in making the audience understand her character’s reluctance to help Tony and Julien. As always, praise must go to both James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor who continue to deliver emotionally charged performances as Tony and Emily.
Of the four episodes of The Missing, this was possibly my least favourite so far primarily due to the time spent on the seemingly irrelevant Ian Garrett/Vincent Bourg storyline. However, this instalment also proved how strong a series The Missing is when its worst episode is still of this high a standard. Some of the highlights for me including the introduction of Rini, Emily and Mark’s subplot and the fact that the plot is definitely moving in the right direction. I’m sure, after tonight’s episode, some of your theories may have changed somewhat but I’ll still be interested in hearing what you think happened to Oliver Hughes.
What did you think to tonight’s episode? Are you still enjoying the series at this halfway point?
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