My Thoughts on the Finale of BBC’s THE MISSING (SPOILERS!)
Like so many others, the last eight weeks have all been about THE MISSING, BBC One’s brilliant but harrowing drama series about the disappearance of Oliver Hughes, a young boy who is taken from his parents in a small French town in 2006, and the effect that his vanishing has on his parents, who deal with his unsolved disappearance in completely different ways.
James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor were incredible as the unluckiest parents in the world, and their performances are even better when you consider that the series jumps back and forth in time from 2006 (before and after the abduction) to 2009 and then the present day. They both deserve BAFTA’s at the very least. Golden Globes wouldn’t be a surprise either.
The huge twist – spoiler alert, obviously – of the drama was that poor Olly Hughes was the victim of horrendous misfortune and the panicking nature of others, not at the hands of a paedophile ring or at the hands of a dodgy hotel owner. As it happened, Olly was mowed down by a car, and the drunk driver at the wheel panicked and put into motion a chain of events that was painful to watch because it felt so real.
That has been the best part of the show. The writers have focused more on what guilt, remorse, anger and sorrow does to people – and parents in particular – than creating a murder-mystery with a satisfying conclusion.
Ah, that conclusion. Incredible. It’s going to rub people up the wrong way – and great endings always should – but it was perfect. James Nesbitt’s character was never going to accept the truth, he’s too far gone. Look at what he’s done to get to where he is now: He’s killed Ian Garrett, beaten suspects half to death, broke several laws, and it was all topped off by watching the love of his life move on – accepting Olly’s death – and marry somebody else.
The final scenes, with Tony (Nesbitt) following a half-lead all the way to Russia and finding himself arrested for harassing a child that looks like Olly as he would look now (a masterstroke of sleight of hand by the writers/director), are as heartbreaking as you would expect. The scenario reminded me of Guy Pearce in Memento: chasing leads that don’t exist and going round and round in circles.
The ending has split people right down the middle, and after reading the #TheMissing Twitter feed, I applauded the series creators for pulling off a brave and realistic conclusion that was never going to have easy answers for everybody. You’re either in the Tony Hughes camp – desperately searching for a comforting end – or you’ve accepted the painful truth, as Emily has.
It’ll be a long time before any series punches you as hard in the gut again.