This review contains spoilers.
2.8 The Mountain
Just think, if Switzerland had joined the single European currency, Adam Gettrick might still be at large. That roll of forgotten Swiss francs he patted his pockets for outside the toy shop last week was his downfall.
What am I saying? Julien mother-flipping Baptiste was his downfall. The moment Sophie accidentally drew Baptiste into the investigation by uttering her real name in that ambulance, Gettrick’s days were numbered. Julien was relentless in his pursuit of Sophie and Alice’s kidnapper, crossing continents, playing fast and loose with the rules, paying no thought to his own safety and stopping at nothing.
Until, that is, he did stop. Minutes before apprehending Gettrick, Julien broke character and urged caution. After two years of dogged commitment to the idea of catching the man who took those girls, all of a sudden rationality returned to Julien Baptiste. Let’s wait, he said. The police will be here soon. They’ll take care of it.
It may have felt odd, but was a necessary bit of contrivance from the writers of The Missing. Had Julien not warned Sam Webster against charging up that mountain, he’d have ended up with Sam’s blood on his hands, and thus replaced his guilt over Madame Giroux’s suicide with another death, leaving him back where he started. As it was, the writers allowed Julien to keep his promise to Sophie’s parents and benefit from a cathartic replay of Mme Giroux’s death scene with a happier ending.
It wasn’t a happy ending all round, of course. The TV thriller gods demand a sacrifice and that spinning arrow landed on Sam Webster. It was the least sad choice (in the moral scheme of things, Sam was punished for the affair but rewarded for being a loving dad by learning Alice was alive and safe before he died) and one we should have predicted from the moment he told Gemma that he never stopped loving her or the kids. A confession of that sort is generally the prologue to a shock TV exit.
Sam’s death was the only real shock in The Mountain, which focused less on surprising viewers than answering any lingering questions they may have had. It was the right decision; after the cliffhanger endings of episodes four, five and seven (Sophie being alive, Gettrick being the culprit, Alice being alive) this series had already provided its fill of twists. The result was a wholly satisfying hour anchored by terrific perfomances from the cast, that filled in almost every gap arising from its elliptical, non-linear storytelling.
We saw Gettrick hatch his plan, learned why he made Sophie pretend to be Alice (so she would stay in Eckhausen rather than being taken back to her father in France), and witnessed him murder Henry Reed. There was even time left over for Julien to interrogate a gloating Gettrick, Kristian Herz to be freed, a pregnant Eve Stone to take her father home, Lucy to meet her grandfather, and Julien to go under the knife. (All that and a bonus nod to series one with that phone call to Mark Walsh, now of Interpol.) It all played out at just the right pace, not too fast to enjoy, nor too slow so as to frustrate. You might say the perfect balance.
The satisfaction provided by this finale was guaranteed three episodes ago when the writers savvily chose to break with formula and reveal the culprit just over the series’ half-way point. That left them room to manoeuvre and to resolve the multiple story threads.
It also allowed us to spend more time with Adam Gettrick, something that both worked for and against the series. Despite his sickening acts, familiarity with Gettrick over the past two weeks had diminished his danger as a villain. That was quickly restored in the finale by having him attack Alice so soon into the first flashback.
We were left with a few things to ponder: did Daniel Reed survive? Were “the girls” Adrian Stone reminisced about to Gettrick also underage? Did Adrian Stone know Gettrick had murdered Henry Reed? How much was he putting on the symptoms of his dementia to evade difficult questions? Were Gettrick and Sophie communicating while she was at the Webster home? And finally, how many other girls were there? None of that, however, gets in the way of this being a thriller exceedingly well-told.
One surprise that did come in the finale was learning that Sophie viewed Gettrick, and not just Lucy, as her “family”. That rebellious line of French she spoke to him in episode six convinced me she was biding her time until she could take her daughter and get her glorious revenge on him, but apparently not. Gettrick’s mind was warped enough to believe that he loved Sophie. It seems as through he’d warped her mind enough for her to believe it too.
Speaking of minds, or rather, brains, that was a classy final scene. The French epilogue segueing into Julien counting backwards on the operating table left us with the hope that he, of a stronger constitution than most, will survive for series ‘trois’. Of course he will. He’s Julien mother-flipping Baptiste.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, 1991, here.