I was prepared to write a review of last night’s fifth episode of BBC drama The Missing once I’d finished watching it. This did not prove possible. Instead, I experienced the writing equivalent of being speechless. It took me the twenty four hours that followed to gather my thoughts together about what I had seen.
I enjoyed the episode, largely because the disappearance of young Oliver Hughes was referred to only obliquely. In fact, the episode was almost a self contained little vignette. It was in many respects an impressive two-hander between James Nesbitt and Ken Stott, by way of their characters, Tony and Ian. The strange dance that was played out by the two men to its inevitable, darkly violent conclusion left me with more questions than it answered.
It was only as I dropped off to sleep that I realised we had not been told what was found in the drain near the public pool where Oliver was taken. This nugget, we are expected to keep lodged in our subconscious until some future instalment, when it will no doubt prove to be a crucial piece of the puzzle.
We are having lines of inquiry resolved and others opened up with a dizzying pace. Yet the central story strands continue to develop. We discovered, for example, that British policeman Mark Walsh has a living, breathing ex-wife, her absence up to this point representing the eclipsing of his previous existence brought about by meeting and falling in love with Emily Hughes.
There is so much going on in this drama that it makes the competition feel flat. Nothing else on TV at the moment comes close to the intensity of watching it. When the series has finished I know I will have to get the box set for Christmas and watch it all again, so that all aspects of the story can be fully appreciated. But it will still not be a purely enjoyable experience. It actually feels as if following this drama for the full eight weeks is something of an ordeal, in the classical sense.
Scenes from The Missing float around in my head for the next week. I’m facing unpleasant truths about the world that I know I really should face and I’m holding my children a little tighter when we kiss goodnight. The experience of following #TheMissing may not always be a pleasure but, my goodness, it’s certainly remarkable.