In 2014 the first season of the searing UK mystery The Missing we were there every step of the way as Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) searched aimlessly for this kidnapped son Oliver, with Detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo).
Despite it’s vague, some might say unsatisfying, ending the series returns with a new case and new characters, save for Baptiste as the anthology link.
Turning 180 degrees, our story now opens with the unexpected arrival of a missing girl, 11 years after her disappearance. It’s an approach 2016 UK drama Thirteen also took -and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tackled with comedy.
The backdrop is a British military base in Germany, 2014. Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham) stumbles into the town square, barefoot and dazed before collapsing. Her parents Gemma (Keeley Hawes) and Capt. Sam Webster (David Morrissey) cannot believe the news they had long given up on: Alice is alive. With son Matthew (Jake Davies), the family struggle to deal with a range of emotions. Is this Alice? How is it possible? Where had she been?
“11 years we’ve waited. I can’t believe it,” says Gemma.
French detective Julien Baptiste is contacted when German authorities realise Alice was held hostage with another missing girl, Sophie Giroux, one of Baptiste’s unsolved cases. Despite his years in retirement, he cannot help but involve himself in a case that may yield answers and closure.
But writers Harry and Jack Williams never take the easy options with their work. The Missing takes place across two time periods, asking the audience to keep up with its layered tapestry. They only reveal jigsaw pieces of their complex tale and if the first season was any indication, there will be plenty of twists in store.
Tchéky Karyo is once again wonderfully introspective as Baptiste, bringing gravitas and flaws to a role that rises above routine crime hero. Keeley Hawes ensures we empathise with a mother whose world has upended, David Morrissey signals how far these ricochets have impacted his life, and Jake Davies suppresses the anger of a teenage brother and son.
Director Ben Chanan, who helms all 8 episodes of this saga, roots us in an icy forest setting, and fills the screen with striking scenery.
The Missing remains gets off to a dense and satisfying opening. Highly recommended.
The Missing premieres 8:30pm tonight on BBC First.