This review contains spoilers.
“This doesn’t make any sense” Julien told Eve this week in his remarkably unfazed response to the news of Alice Webster’s suicide. No, Julien, and it’s not likely to for a couple of episodes yet. The Missing series two is still busy planting mysteries; resolution and answers are a way off.
You’d be forgiven for feeling a touch of twist-fatigue at the close of episode four, most of which had delivered precisely what I missed in last week’s packed instalment, namely, room to breathe.
Instead of flitting urgently from one plot development to the next, The Missing took some time this week to let its capable cast do what they do best. Keeley Hawes’ talent for quietly captivating an audience (see Line Of Duty for more of that) was showcased in a couple of monologues that gave an insight into the Webster family, which is so far this series’ most gratifying strand. Pairing Gemma with Eve, and Sam with Brigadier Stone, created natural tension even if it took a bit of narrative fiddling to move all four pieces onto the same squares of the board.
From its mournful guitar-song opening onwards, Statice was the calmest, most reflective series two episode we’ve seen. The Websters grieved and allocated blame, Julien did police work, and family drama was prized over thriller revelations.
Until the final moments, of course, when we saw Sophie Giroux alive and well in Switzerland, and learned that she and Alice had another companion during their abduction. Yup, there was a third girl. She was seen in the rollercoaster photo wearing the bird-shaped necklace seen both around Sophie’s neck and that of the charred corpse in the shed. The corpse, remember, whose DNA was a match with Sam Webster.
The options on that count seem to be as follows: either that was the real Alice or the unnamed Third Girl in the shed. If the latter then either the DNA test was faked or Sam Webster had another daughter the same age as Alice and Sophie who was kept with them.
That’s an unlikely but not preposterous option considering that Sam has previous when it comes to adultery. What does feel preposterous is that said Third Girl could have gone missing and the police didn’t link it to the Giroux and Webster disappearances. Unless her disappearance wasn’t reported?
And what role did Henry Reed play? Who really killed him? Is the nine-year-old Iraqi girl from 1991 still alive? How much does Brigadier Stone really remember? And how did Sophie escape a shed that had been padlocked from the outside?
It’s all headache-inducing, the best treatment for which is to resign graciously from the responsibility of from thinking it all through and enjoy a nice biscuit until it’s explained in four episodes’ time.
Sitting back and eating biscuits wouldn’t make us much of a thriller audience though. The Missing thrives on our theories. It needs them to exist. Without us wondering who it benefitted for Sophie to pretend to be Alice, or considering whether the plan was always for her, in urgent need of an appendectomy, to get surgery and then rejoin her captor in Switzerland, it may as well not have bothered.
Here are my wild punts then: Third Girl in the shed was the secret daughter of Sam Webster and Nadia Hertz, conceived on duty in Iraq in 1991. Alice is alive and reunited with her lover Sophie in Switzerland. Sophie killed Henry Reed. The skinhead twins attacked Nadia. And Hilda the parrot masterminded it all.
Well, it makes as much sense as anything else at this stage. Your turn.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, A Prison Without Walls, here.