STARZ has a tendency to release miniseries that quietly turn out to be great programs that are much better than their more high profile regular series. The Pillars of the Earth comes quickly to mind (featuring pre-fame performances from Hayley Atwell and Eddie Redmayne), and STARZ’s latest miniseries (which is now a limited series considering it was renewed for a second season with a new cast), The Missing, certainly follows in those footsteps.
The Missing (a time skipping mystery series about an obsessed father trying to find his son that disappeared on a family vacation in France) certainly has its faults, but amazing performances from its main trio (The Hobbit’s James Nesbitt as the father, Frances O’Connor as the mother and Tcheky Karyo as a detective brought in to find the son) make this a compelling series. Nesbitt always came across as a guy who deserved a meatier role than the paper thin Bofur in The Hobbit trilogy, and this series certainly shows that as his character is such an interesting lead. Nesbitt perfectly plays the very gradual descent into madness that gives so much darkness and power to this series. O’Connor also is quite effective and more than justifies the many times the series will cut away to her character’s handling of the disappearance despite the show being more interested in Nesbitt’s character. Meanwhile, Karyo quietly delivers what might be the most effective performance in the miniseries. As the lead detective of the case his character is portrayed as the old master coming face to face with the ultimate evil archetype, but Karyo brings so many interesting subtleties to turn it into a memorable performance.
All that being said, the main trio covers up a lot of mistakes that this miniseries makes. While the time-skipping nature of the show works as a great hook in the early stages of the show, it becomes a hindrance by the end as the show uses it as a crutch to throw the viewer off the scent of the big show’s big mystery. Ultimately, it’s the fate of the main characters and not the reveal of the kidnapper that is the most interesting point of this series so this is a terrible miscalculation on the part of the writers. The series also has a tendency to delve into plot so deep that it is reminiscent of a Le Carre novel just without any of the precision.
Ultimately, a great cast overshadows most of the problems that The Missing comes across.