“The Missing” is back on Starz with its second season, made up of an entirely new mystery. The only holdover from the critically-acclaimed first season is Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo), the French detective who led the Oliver Hughes abduction case in Season 1.
As with the first season, the new iteration of “The Missing” is about a missing child, but a twist on the circumstances forces viewers to focus more on the mystery than the overwhelming despair and sadness of the Hughes case — which is a welcome change.
It’s not that Season 1 wasn’t good! It was very, very good — with some stellar performances on the parts of James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor as Oliver’s parents — but, like “The Killing’s” first couple of seasons, there’s something inherently awful about a missing 5-year-old and wondering what could have happened to him, combined with the very bleak ending to the season. Hard, if rewarding, to watch.
Season 2 focuses on Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham), a now-22-year-old woman who was abducted walking home from school when she was 11. She stumbles back into her town of Eckhausen, Germany, Ronette Pulaski-style, and immediately draws the attention of local authorities — not only because a missing girl has reappeared after 11 years, but because she claims to have been held captive with another missing girl, a French girl named Sophie Giroux.
That’s how Baptiste is brought out of retirement: As lead detective on the Giroux case, hearing she may be out there alive somewhere make him desperate to find her — not tom mention the obvious baggage he’s still carrying from his failure to find Oliver Hughes all those years ago.
The fact that Alice has seemingly returned, and that her harrowing tale is told by the grown-up version of her (as opposed to watching it happen on screen to the 11-year-old version) makes Season 2 fascinating, while avoiding that constant pit-in-your-stomach feel of Season 1.
Plus, the premiere alone raises so many questions, bouncing back and forth between 2003 when Alice was kidnapped, 2014 when she returned, and 2016 when Baptiste is still on the case.
Why does Baptiste think this girl isn’t the real Alice Webster? Why does his investigation take him to Iraq, and is he going to die at some point? What happened to the baby Alice/faux Alice apparently had to at some point? How does Alice’s father (David Morrissey) go from being married to Alice’s mother (Keeley Hawes) to sleeping with the Sgt. Eve Stone (Laura Fraser), the investigator on Alice’s case when she returned?
What happened to Alice at the end of 2014 that killed her? Is that the real Alice or the fake Alice in that grave? What promise did Alice’s brother Matthew (Jake Davies) make to Alice? Again, was that the real or the fake Alice? Does he know she was a fake and his parents don’t? Is she even really a fake?
That is about 10 percent of the questions the premiere leaves us with, and it’s a lot! Season 1 was the same way, it had a lot going on — but between the twisty mystery and the slightly less bleak beginning, we’re a lot more excited to dig back in.
The eight-episode second season of “The Missing” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.