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‘Missing’ Review: “A Busy Solitude”

Missing
ABC

Last week ‘Missing‘ ended with Becca, Giancarlo, and Miller discovering Paul’s secret hideout — a cabin armed with a bomb. Is Paul trying to help Becca, or is this another elaborate trap? Back at the estate, Michael is still planning his escape with Oksana.

This week looks to complicate the plot a bit more, as Becca discovers a room in the cabin made up like a nursery we see for baby Michael in a flashback. She also finds a map with the date July 18 circled and various railroad routes implicating the trafficking of something by Asimov with Paul’s involvement. In a drawer she finds a fake ID for Michael that makes him appear to be an employee of Asimov’s corporation.

Those are the only clues our agents are able to recover before another officer sets off a bomb and blows up the cabin, effectively destroying any of the remaining evidence. Miller’s boss from the CIA in Washington shows up and orders an end to the search for Michael and Miller’s support of Becca’s mission. Becca pulls a gun and absconds with her helicopter to Russia, where she discovers a warehouse with people in Haz-Mat suits carting around a strange liquid. She tells Asimov she’d die to see her son again, so he orders her to be taken to the castle estate.

Michael and Oksana continue to pilfer enough insulin for Oksana so they can escape, but one of the guards discovers their plan. Oksana kills him and they make a run for the train just as Becca arrives. As guards shoot at Michael and Oksana, Becca shoots at them. Instead of shooting at Becca or the runaway couple, Asimov shoots at his own men who are trying to impede their escape.

It’s yet another near miss where Becca has been so close to seeing her son again only to have him whisked away right before her eyes. Oksana and Michael aren’t alone on the train, though, as one of the guards has managed to hop aboard. We discover the significance of July 18: Michael’s birthday. All of Paul’s clues for Becca tie into their relationship and the birth of their son — what is Paul trying to tell her? Or is he simply trying to get her to switch sides?

Episode’s end finds Paul on the road toward Germany and Austria, while Becca and Giancarlo are apprehended by the CIA, who still distrust her and think she might be working with Paul. ‘Missing’ now seems to be toying with the idea that Becca could be working with Paul, but that theory holds little water. If it were true, then everything in these six episodes would be null and void, an elaborate ruse put on by the showrunners to make us believe that Becca is just a widowed mother looking for her missing son, and sadly, the show just doesn’t seem that smart. It would take more compelling, clever writing for that conceit to pay off.

The focus works better when we’re questioning Paul’s loyalty and discovering the truth about his involvement with Asimov, which — as we saw in this episode — began before Michael was even born. A man who just wants to take care of his family and sees the opportunity to do so, even though it’s shady, landing him in a world of corruption and criminal activity that he becomes more involved in than he planned for is far more interesting than a double-cross that makes Becca a villain.

What’s been most interesting about ‘Missing’ so far is that, while it evokes nostalgia for Ashley Judd’s mystery thrillers of the 90s, it’s bucked the typical “men are evil dirt-bags who can’t be trusted and will take everything from you” formula in favor of a more complex male lead. Paul’s motivations are still unclear, and he could very well be a good guy who must carefully play both sides. And his intentions with Michael are a mystery that continues to fuel the momentum of the plot, even in the dullest moments.

This week is a marked improvement over last week’s banal procedural set-up, giving Becca more action and more enigmatic plot to untangle. Here’s hoping next week doesn’t spend too long playing with the idea that Becca could be a bad guy.

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