The Missing finale review: James Nesbitt shines again as the drama reaches its shock conclusion (Spoilers)

by Matt D
James Nesbitt Frances O'Connor

James Nesbitt Frances O'Connor

I’ve always maintained that The Missing wasn’t just about the mystery behind Oliver Hughes’ disappearance but instead the emotional toll it had had on both of his parents. Whilst others were conducting their own theories I was happy not to let the mystery bother me too much primarily as Jack and Harry Williams had made me really care about their cast of emotionally fractured characters. As a result of following them for the past seven weeks; I was hoping that Tony and Emily would receive some sort of positive news however their ultimate discovery was bleaker than even I could imagine.

I was shocked just how quickly the movements of Oliver on that fateful night in 2006 were documented so swiftly in the first half of the episode. Although I suspected that the sobriety coin found by Zian did link Alain to the disappearance in some way, I didn’t believe that he was anything more than a secondary player in the incident. So I was certainly shocked when it was revealed that Alain ploughed down young Oliver with his car whilst he was drunkenly driving home. I really enjoyed how the Williams brothers recreate the memorable sequence from the first series but this time from Oliver’s point-of-view as he left his father’s side to chase after a fox. The fact that Oliver wasn’t snatched from his father’s side was an amazing revelation in and of itself but the car accident itself was truly heartbreaking. This scene was made all the more emotional by hearing Tony’s screams as Alain sped away with what he thought was a dead five-year-old in his boot.

James Nesbitt

As many people deduced Alain and mayor Georges are indeed brothers and the former called upon the latter to help him clear up his mess. This is where the whole puzzle connected together with Georges phoning in a favour from a member of that shady Romanian gang to dispose of Oliver’s body. However, as we’ve already seen, Oliver wasn’t dead and had in fact tried to alert others that he was in the house that belonged to one of Georges’ former flames. The scene in which Alain revealed all of this information was perfectly pitched as the camera panned around the faces of the assemble characters as they gradually realised what had occurred. The final devastating blow that Alain delivered was that the Romanian, acting on Georges’ instructions to dispose of the boy, had murdered him with the body never to be found. However, the Williams brothers kept us guessing that; as it was only Georges who had seen the body, Oliver could still be alive.

Running alongside these revelations was the tragic end to Vincent Bourg’s storyline as he finally realised that he couldn’t be cured of his affliction. The character of Bourg has been one of The Missing’s most interesting and his paedophilia is certainly a controversial theme for a prime time BBC drama. As we saw last week, the course of treatment Vincent was on was having negative affects as he started throwing up whenever he saw a young child. With science not being of any help, Vincent turned to religion but found a support group at his local church just wasn’t for him. Finally, having nowhere else to turn, Bourg decided to hang himself in a rather bleak scene that was another triumph for The Missing. As well as praising the Williams brothers for creating the character of Bourg I must highlight the brilliant work of Titus de Voogdt who has given an astounding performance. I’ve found him captivating throughout the series and his portrayal of Vincent’s final moments was just outstanding.

Emily’s remark about Vincent giving up to soon was an interesting one as she always criticised Tony for having an obsessive personality. It almost felt as if she egged him on to find out if Georges had actually seen Oliver’s dead body which was made all the more hard when the disgraced mayor shot himself with a hunting rifle. The fact that Tony could never let Oliver go provided somewhat of a tragic conclusion as we found him in Russia still searching for a boy who had more than likely died eight years ago. Oliver’s picture of his father, which once acted as a symbol of hope, now looked oddly ominous as it represented the haunting fact that Tony will never be able to see his son again. The final scenes definitely left me emotionally drained as the camera lingered a little bit too long on the latest little boy that Tony believed to be Oliver. I feel the Williams brothers wanted us to feel as confused as Tony to Oliver’s ultimate fate and I believe that’s why I still feel a little uneasy when thinking about The Missing’s final scene.

James Nesbitt

One thing I do know is that The Missing has had one of the best ensemble casts in a drama this year and they’ve been utterly enthralling over the past eight episodes. Praise must go to James Nesbitt for giving one of the best turns of his career as the emotionally tortured man who has found himself unable to move on. Nesbitt was particularly haunting in the final scenes and his facial expressions as he was separated from the boy he thought was Oliver told more than pages of dialogue ever could. Frances O’Connor has acted as the light to Nesbitt’s shade and tonight proved that with her brilliant speech as Emily finally married Mark. Tcheky Karyo has also been a consistently interesting screen presence as Julien as his dogged French detective became one of the highlights of each episode.

It’s interesting then that it’s Karyo whose most likely to return in the second series of The Missing, which was announced after the credits rolled on series one. Whilst I liked the character of Julien, it does appear to me that The Missing is simply continuing due to the fact that it’s one of BBC One’s highest rated dramas of the year. It just feels that this second series can’t hope to match The Missing series one and that it’s been created purely to capitalise on an in-built audience. Although I’m sure Jack and Harry Williams will write another gripping piece; The Missing’s return is the latest in a worrying trend of dramas, such as Broadchurch and Happy Valley which have seemingly been recommissioned due to the high ratings of the first run.

But for now at least I’d like to praise the Williams brothers for their fantastic work in piecing together a truly great TV drama. The Missing has been one of the most perfectly-paced intricately-plotted dramas that I’ve seen all year and it’s one that required the viewer’s full attention for the full hour. I’m sure I’ll be remembering moments of The Missing for years to come and I feel that that’s the true mark of any great drama.

What did you think to the final reveal in The Missing? Do you think the second series is a good idea?

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