The Missing series 2 episode 6 review: Saint John

The Missing series 2 delivers its best episode yet, an emotional and tense instalment focused on Julien Baptiste…

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

2.6 Saint John

Thematically and emotionally, The Missing series two struck all the right notes this week. The multiple plot strands coalesced in an episode that was alternately sickening, thrilling and moving. Sickening in the scenes showing Gettrick’s home life with Sophie and Lucy; thrilling in every step closer Julien came to discovering Adam and what really happened in Iraq in 1991; and moving just about every time Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey were on screen.

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Choosing to reveal Gettrick as the culprit last week turns out to have been a killer move. It switched the narrative rails from the short-lived question of ‘who’ to the more darkly fascinating question of ‘why’.

We have to assume The Missing’s writers have done their (harrowing) research, but it’s nevertheless uncomfortable that the chief hint as to that question feels as though it demonises survivors of child abuse. It’s hinted that Gettrick was abused as a boy by his uncle, which was what kick-started his own paedophilia and paranoid obsession with keeping his twisted ‘family’ safe from outsiders. Add in Sophie’s callous treatment of the Webster family in their convoluted identity-switch plan, and sexual assault survivors aren’t being done any favours here.

Sophie may have ridden roughshod over the Websters’ feelings by pretending to be Alice, but in Lucy, she has the ultimate motivation. Remember her telling the Websters in that captivating dinner scene that her baby made her life worth living “no matter where [she] was”? Perhaps that was the truth amid the lies. As Gemma told Eve a couple of episodes ago, “you’d do anything for your kids. Absolutely anything”. Even if that involved taking on another girl’s identity, framing an innocent man, faking your death and then existing off-grid in a Swiss shack for a year until your abductor delivered your daughter to you.

Can Sophie really want to live out her days with Adam? That stab of rebellion when she told him he could trust her in French to him said it all for me. Surely she’s biding her time and playing him until Lucy is in her arms and safe. We saw in Sophie’s dealings with the Websters what a talented actor and manipulator she can be. We also saw, in her scene with the psychologist as ‘Alice’ in week two, what looked like real emotion, her deny sharing a bond with her abductor and explaining “the truth…the honest truth is that I feel sorry for him.” There’d be a certain poetic justice if Sophie were the one to finish Adam off in the finale.

Before we come to that, there’s still a tangle of questions to answer about that strand (not least how it relates to whatever happened Iraq in 1991, which Nadia Herz left us tantalisingly on the edge of revealing). What happened to Alice and Lena? Which one of them was burnt in that shed? Is anyone in that second boarded-up room in Gettrick’s house? There must be clues in those stick-figure drawings of Lucy’s, if we could only inspect them more closely…

We do know now that Gettrick released Sophie because she needed the appendectomy, and that he came up with the identity-switch plan to stop people looking for Alice, who was geographically the closest victim to him and, I suppose, therefore his strongest chance of detection. (We also know it must have been him who leaked the news about Alice’s death to the German press to speed that along.) We don’t yet know why he calls Sophie ‘Alice’ when they’re alone…

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Patience, Mellor. Two whole episodes remain.

Elsewhere, other questions were answered, though admittedly, none of those were much more than admin by this stage. Who attacked Nadia Herz? Those skinhead twins. Why had Sam been demoted to desk duty? Covering for his joyriding son. Why did Mattie hate his dad? He saw him kissing Eve. Tick, tick, tick.

Gettrick and Sophie’s story may hold a sick fascination, but really, this was Julien’s episode. His deteriorating health, deathbed mission and estranged family were its real subjects. Without Jorn Lennart to bounce off, Julien was forced to play against figments of his subconscious. He did have one flesh and blood ally in the form of Gemma Webster, a kind of mirror character to Julien this week. Both had distanced themselves from their spouses, both were being urged to move on and let go, something neither was able to do.

Tchéky Karyo took very well to centre stage as the unravelling “grand detective Baptiste”, whose obsessive investigation is taking increasingly unorthodox routes (stealing from an army database and threatening a suspect with her own knife is certainly beyond the professional pale). Not that it’s about professionalism for Julien, this is a firmly personal quest.  

And this was a personal episode, one anchored, as always, by the Websters. Casting Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey has paid such dividends to The Missing. Whatever else is going on, those two have bedded this sensationalist story (abducted girls! scarred men! Army conspiracies! Tell the time by the haircuts!) in emotional honesty.  

If it keeps up this standard for the next two hours, The Missing might just follow in Happy Valley’s footsteps as a UK thriller whose second series not only didn’t disappoint, but equalled and even exceeded the first.

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