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Missing (ABC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review
The new ABC action drama series ‘Missing’ premiered on March 15th. The series is written, created and directed by Gregory Poirier. ‘Missing’ follows a mother, Rebecca Winstone (Ashley Judd), on her search for her missing son Michael (Nick Eversman).
Ten years ago, Rebecca’s husband Paul (Sean Bean, ‘Game Of Thrones’) was killed in a car-bombing while he was in Vienna, Austria, with Michael. Rebecca was on the phone with Michael right when it happened, just after she went on the cheesiest run through the park ever.
Now, Michael has decided he wants to go back to Europe. He has applied for a summer architecture class and only tells his over-protective mother after he gets accepted. That’s not really what you’d expect of the average teenager, but we’ll allow it. To make things worse, he designs a special code he can text his mother to tell her he loves her, without his new friends finding out what he is doing. How lame is that?
While Michael is in Rome, Becca is working in a flower shop and doing other things PTA moms do when their children have spread their wings, such as going to a restaurant to drink a cup of coffee on her own. Everywhere she goes, she is texting with Michael to check up on him, probably like most mothers would do. Then they have the most unrealistic video phone conversation you can ever imagine, and he tells her all about his apartment, which lies right across from the famous Trevi fountain.
When Becca doesn’t hear from Michael in a couple of days, she gets extremely worried. Another few days later she gets a call from Rome, that her son is being expelled from his class because he has missed three lectures. While most students make a habit about missing at least three lectures a week, missing lectures is apparently not acceptable in Rome at all.
Immediately, Rebecca is convinced that something bad has happened to her son. This is the point where most people would call the police, but not Becca Winstone, she calls a travel agency. Of course, if she did call the police the show would become quite boring since she is the main character, but that’s not a reason to throw all sense of reality overboard.
Upon arriving in Rome, Becca goes to the Trevi fountain, and after some thorough detective work, she finds where Michael’s apartment is. When she is in the apartment (did she have a key or something?) a guy comes in with his gun drawn and tries to kill her. However, Rebecca manages to kill him with a phone cord, and she takes a picture of the dead man’s face.
Immediately afterward she hears police sirens howling. Who has alarmed the police so quickly remains a mystery, but it seems like the entire police force arrives at the scene. Becca escapes via a drainpipe which is placed conveniently right beneath the only window out of sight from the police.
A little later, Rebecca meets an old friend on the famous Forum Romanum after driving by the Collosseum; why not visit the tourist attractions while you are in Rome anyway, right? Becca shows her friend Giancarlo (Adriano Giannini, ‘Swept Away’ opposite Madonna) the picture she took. He immediately recognizes the guy she’s killed; don’t you just love it when someone knows everything about somebody seconds after you show him a picture? Giancarlo says that the dead man is a former SISDE agent (Italian intelligence); he left the agency four years ago and disappeared without a trace. That isn’t really surprising since that is when the SISDE officially shut down. Get your facts straight, ‘Missing’!
Meanwhile, the CIA subdivision in Paris finds out Rebecca has killed the nameless guy, and they set up a manhunt to find her. That seems a little harsh, but it turns out that up until her husband was killed, he and Becca were the very best CIA agents, trained by no one less than CIA legend Martin Newman (Keith Carradine, ‘Dexter’). After the bombing, Becca turned into a perfect stay-at-home soccer mom, working at a flower shop. That sounds familiar, right?
While the CIA is now after her, Rebecca takes her time and searches for Michael’s girlfriend. Francesca works at a nightclub, Rebecca is very clever and phones her while in the club. It might just be me, but I can’t hear my own phone ring while I’m at a club, let alone someone else’s phone on the other end of the room. Anyway, Rebecca finds Francesca, who tells her that Michael spent a lot of time in a sports bar.
Rebecca goes to the sports bar in the middle of the night, and not very surprisingly, the bar is closed and no one is around. Except of course for the two men who came to kill her, but Rebecca, being the clever woman she is, manages to escape once again. She steals a scooter from a store, which she’s able to jump-start within a second, and races off through the window. She is followed by the two men on motorcycles, but manages to shake them off. Mystery remains how they knew she was going to be there; has Francesca tipped them off? We’ll never know, because the girl got killed for talking to Rebecca, even though she really didn’t give her any useful information.
After this whole ordeal she turns to Giancarlo, who takes care of her cuts and bruises. It turns out there was a time when those two were romantically involved. This information makes the next few scenes with her being naked in the bathtub and him cleaning her back even more awkward. Later that night she looks through the photos on Michael’s phone, and discovers a surveillance camera right across the street from his apartment. She goes to check the camera for any information on who kidnapped her son.
Within minutes she’s gets inside the building with the camera mounted on the facade, disables the alarm and finds the footage from the surveillance camera. How great is it when you were a CIA agent 10 years ago, and that after this job in a flower shop your knowledge of alarms and computers is still entirely up to date?
The first clip she looks at is the one where Michael gets kidnapped, right in the middle of the frame. Can this still be attributed to her CIA skills, is it luck, or is it just plain ridiculous? Also, the kidnapping happened in broad daylight, and there are lots of people on the street. How come no one has called the police?!
When Giancarlo looks at the clip to see if he can find anything out about the kidnappers he isn’t wearing a shirt. How come every time Becca en Giancarlo talk, one of them is not wearing a shirt! Look we get it, they were romantically involved and they will probably get together sometime during the series, but please, for the love of god, get those actors some clothes! Even without clothes Giancarlo manages to pull up some French licence plate records, and the kidnappers’ van turns out to be linked to a warehouse in Paris.
Meanwhile the CIA in Paris is making progress in the hunt for Rebecca. They find out she broke into the store across the street from Michael’s apartment and they request the footage of the last few weeks. This means they will also find the clip where Michael gets kidnapped. The van used in the kidnap was seen crossing the border to France. Head of the department Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis, ‘Body Of Proof’, ‘Trauma’) orders his team not to let Rebecca cross the border.
Rebecca however gets on a night train to Paris, as she walks to her cabin through a dark hallway, she is followed by a girl. They have a fight and just when it seems Rebecca is winning, a guy suddenly appears out of nowhere and tasers her. They bring her to the CIA subdivision in Paris, where she is questioned by Dax Miller. “I am not CIA, I am a mother, looking for her son”, she shouts. Then, they go for a coffee to calm down and Dax gives her three hours before he has to put her on a plane home.
She uses the three hours to take a look at the warehouse, where she manages to sneak in. She finds the code her son designed to text her he loves her scratched in a bed. She now knows she’s on the right track, right after this a guard discovers her. She’s able to kill the guard and with that she discovers statues loaded up with what looks like coke. In a desk she also finds pictures from her son, taken over the course of many years, since his father was killed. She calls it in to the CIA and runs. A high ranking Washington official commands Miller to issue an agency-wide alert for Rebecca.
Meanwhile Rebecca is still roaming the streets of Paris for clues, pictures of her son lead her to a bridge across the Seine. She looks across the water when she hears someone lock and load a gun, when she turns around to see where it came from someone fires a shot at her. She wants to jump over the railing of the bridge, but gets hit just before she actually jumps. Becca ends up in the water and appears to be dead, but of course the main character of a show won’t be killed off in the pilot episode.
Surprisingly this show is actually pretty good, there is nothing wrong with the plot. However the execution is not that great. The pilot has a few weird moments that just don’t make any sense, such as the loudness of that phone ringing in the nightclub. It also seems that everything goes way to easy. Rebecca is breaking in and fighting bad guys like it’s nothing, immediately finds all evidence she needs and knows all about alarm systems and computers. However, it has been ten years since she last worked as a CIA agent, and in those ten years she probably hasn’t had a lot of field training.
What do you think of 'Missing'?
Something else that’s not really great is the Rebecca character. She is just not really that likable, partially because of the writing but also because Ashley Judd doesn’t make us feel empathy for her. She reads most of her lines like a robot, and portrays Rebecca as if she’s just a CIA agent on another boring kidnapping mission.
Having Sean Bean and Keith Carradine in cameos is quite promising, since it is quite obvious that they’ll be playing a role in the conspiracy that surrounds the kidnapping of Becca’s son, which is obviously not some random thing. Also, creator Gregory Poirier has promised that the kidnapping will be resolved in the tenth and final episode. (Should I have given a spoiler alert for that?) If the series would get picked up, the second season will revolve around some new challenge for Rebecca.
In conclusion, we don’t really have much to lose. The main plot will only last for ten episodes, which will probably give us an overview of some great tourist attractions Europe has to offer, with some great fighting scenes on the side. And who knows what kind of conspiracy is behind the kidnapping? With all that, we can forgive Judd’s weak emotional acting, which might improve over time. And otherwise, I’ll just make a comedy out of the show by making fun of its weaknesses.
Do you agree with me? What did you think about 'Missing'? Let me know in the comments section!
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