Huge major spoilers for Series One of ‘The Missing’.
I’m late to this TV show, I think it is about 2-3 years old but was just introduced to it through my brother’s DVD of it. James and I watched all 8 episodes within a week.
The end of the series hit me so hard. But thinking about it as a whole, and especially the set up in the final episode, the genius of this series is the way it makes you go through the same emotions as the father, Tony.
The way I watched ‘The Missing’, I was sure we would discover Olivier alive. And the final episode opened with a confusing scene in Russia, but we saw on the glass the stick figure drawing Oliver had made on the day he vanished and in the basement of the house he was kept in. I saw no option but to believe he was in Russia.
This meant the rest of the episode was quite confusing. As we listened to Alain explain the series of events that took place, starting with hitting him with the car, we knew that incident couldn’t have killed him as we know he would later create the drawing and be seen on film in the empty house.
So this was Alain falsely believing Oliver was killed, and his brother arranged for someone to dispose of the body. Finding the boy alive, this man then killed Oliver to complete his task, the boy had seen his face so he couldn’t let him go.
At this point I was still optimistic as we knew he was in Russia, and there was the whole side plot of something being smuggled to Russia, so I couldn’t even invest in that moment with Tony and Emily learning their son was actually killed and his brutal final moments. I looked at the clock and knew there was still time to fine him.
As the time passed though I started to groan, ‘oh Series Two will be them tracking him down in Russia, I want the reunion now!’.
Then we saw that scene, Tony in Russia following children around and pestering them with the photo.
(And on a side note, if Tony was trying to find his son who hadn’t seen him in 8 years, why have that beard? Even I didn’t recognise him right away and he’d been on the screen a minute previous!)
Anyway, was this going to be that reunion moment? No, the police arrived and took Tony away, explaining to the boy that he had been pestering other boys too.
Then everything hit me. What the programme had tried, and in my case, been successful at making us feel. I went through this whole programme with Tony. Clutching at evidence, discussing theories, without a body on a TV show you have to assume the character is still alive. And so did Tony. And within that final few seconds after the programme finished I realised that Oliver did die. He was killed in that house, why else would the cleaning company be there but to clear up the blood we saw. There were no more theories, the story is complete.
I started this post thinking the programme was intending to make you understand Tony, but perhaps in the end you’re either a Tony or an Emily. You believe that boy in Russia is Oliver and keep hope he is alive, or you believe Oliver was dead as you were told, and feel relief you know what happened.
I think this is why this programme was great. I’ll watch Series Two at some point to see what new story it brings, but I for one did appreciate the ending of this one.