The tangled web of secrecy, suspects, and sins surrounding Oliver's disappearance grows more tangled.

By Carolyn Todd
Updated November 30, 2014 at 03:00 AM EST
  • Movie

This week on The Missing, we learn more about just how far the tragedy in question seeps into the lives of those involved—even years later—as the tangled web of secrecy, suspects, and sins surrounding Oliver’s disappearance gets bigger, and the aftershock of these revelations begin to spiral outward.

“He’ll want it when he comes back,” Emily tells her husband Tony as she frantically rummages through the hotel room. It’s just been a few days since her son disappeared—we’re in Chalon du Bois 2006—and she’s talking about Oliver’s stuffed animal fox. Detectives Baptiste and Zaine knock at their door and inform the couple that they need to question Tony down at the station. (Last episode, we saw Baptiste uncover something unseemly in Tony’s past involving bank statements and a bloodied man.)

Fast-forward to present day France, where Baptiste, Tony, and Laurence are relaunching the investigation after getting the go-ahead from the town’s incumbent mayor, who is desperate to keep the story out of the press. A forensics team is already checking the basement where they found Ollie’s drawing. Tony looks more alive and colorful than we’ve ever seen him, in the present at least. When Laurence gives Baptiste a new police ID, he no longer seems reluctant to dive back into detective work, but proud.

We then switch to an alarming scene: Detective Zaine is in prison. Resident pesky journalist Suri has come to visit him because he wants to get some dirt on Vincent Bourg, who was locked up in the same prison until his recent release. Zaine is less than thrilled with his guest. “Did I not help you enough back then?” he asks angrily. We know he was passing Suri insider info on the case back in 2006. It’s likely that he’s in jail for that crime—or for whatever dirty secret he had that Suri threatened to release if he didn’t cooperate with him. If you were wondering why Suri is so intent on talking to Bourg, Suri drops the bomb on Zaine, as stunned as we are when Suri says: “He can help me. Because I know what happened to Oliver Hughes.” What new evidence has Suri uncovered that’s led him to believe he really knows what happened to Ollie? Is he bluffing?

We head back to 2006, where a belligerent Tony is sitting through being questioned about the disappearance of his own son. Baptiste shows Tony the photographs of the bloodied man. His name is Greg Halpern, and Tony paid him a large sum of money after beating him up so badly in 2000 that he broke several of his ribs and required him to get stitches—why he did this, we still have no idea. Curiously, Tony was never so much as questioned by the police about the incident. Emily’s father, a lawyer, helped Tony get out of trouble and conceal the incident from Emily. Tony is bewildered, as this skeleton in his closet seems to have nothing to do with his case.

It turns out that the incident with Halpern is just one piece of a larger case Baptiste and Walsh are making against Tony. “Are you a violent man, Mr. Hughes?” Baptiste asks him. He brings up the time Ollie went to the hospital for a broken ankle in 2004. And then he cuts to the chase and makes his point clear. There are nine minutes at the time of Ollie’s disappearance that are unaccounted for in Tony’s story. “Where were you?” Baptiste asks, awfully confident for accusing a man of kidnapping or harming his own son. Baptiste brings up Tony’s stressful job and the car trouble he and Emily had that landed them at Hotel L’Eden in the first place. “A man with a history of violence under stress. Was it too much?” Tony seems literally unable to comprehend what he’s hearing. “Nine minutes would give you time,” Baptiste says casually as he all but outright accuses Tony. Time to steal his son—is Baptiste serious? Yes, he is: “If you speak now the procurer will be easier on you,” he tells Tony.

NEXT: An unexpected new lead on Ollie’s kidnapper

Tony, as expected, spirals into a fit of rage. He’s especially pissed at Walsh, who he thought was supposed to be helping him and his wife, not incriminating them. Knowing Tony and Walsh resent each other in the present day, this antagonizing must be the event that sparks the souring of their relationship.

We feel strongly for Tony here—the police are wasting time stringing together unrelated incidents in an attempt to make a contrived case against him, while Tony knows that the real perpetrator is still out there. By now, we’ve learned Tony can be emotionally unstable and shady at times, yes—but much more than that, we know he’s a loving father desperate to find his son. We don’t doubt his innocence for a second, and it doesn’t seem that the writers tried to make us fall for Baptiste’s implausible theory either—the viewers are squarely in camp Tony. To us, Baptiste looks dumb trying to pin this on Tony. Perhaps he doesn’t really think Tony did it, but is just grilling him to rule him out as a suspect.

Over at the station, we hear from an undercover officer who’s infiltrated a local crime ring and thinks he might know something about Ollie’s disappearance. He explains to Baptiste that his crime bosses have been occupied by some mysterious package they are transporting to Thailand. Before we have time to connect the dots—and become sick to our stomachs—he says it: sex trafficking. The informant tells Baptiste that the transaction will go down in a nearby warehouse at 3 p.m.

The next scene has nice guy Ian Garrett alone in his house, painting and listening to music, when he calls the mayor to talk about the 100,000 euro reward he is putting up for information about the Hughes’ son; The mayor tells him he may want to hold off because Tony is being questioned. While this occurs, something’s off about Garrett, though we can’t quite put our finger on it. It’s subtle but noticeable—he almost seems like he’s playing a different character here. Instead of jovial and warm, he looks gray and cold, even menacing—even his potbelly is no longer endearing, but gross. As we’re pondering this, Garrett speaks the most disturbing two words spoken in the show so far. “Hello, sweetheart,” he says as he looks at the painting on his easel (we can’t see what it is). Shudder.

After last week’s closing scene, where Garrett met Bourg to tell him he paid the witnesses that corroborated Bourg’s alibi—thus clearing his name—this confirms our suspicions that Garrett is not the saint he presents himself as. Maybe Garrett is involved in the child sex trafficking ring mentioned earlier. He has both a tremendous amount of wealth and a connection to a known pedophile.

Meanwhile, a hysterical Emily is demanding to know why her husband is being detained by the police. She sobs and tries an emotional appeal on Walsh, asking him to imagine how he would feel in her shoes.

We stay with Emily and Walsh but move to present day, where the two are a couple. Emily tells Walsh that Tony has found a new clue in Chalon du Bois—a fact Walsh is already keenly aware of, having withheld calls from Tony from Emily. “I knew,” he tells her. Emily is furious he lied to her, but Walsh counters with the fact that Tony has called with supposed “news” many times before, never amounting to anything.

NEXT: The results of forensics’ sweep of the basement

The forensics team has finished sweeping the basement where they believe Ollie was held, and the purported crime scene is clean. “I think perhaps too clean,” Baptiste says. We immediately wonder, then, why someone would erase all their prints from the scene, but leave the drawing on the wall behind. Baptiste notes this inconsistency: “It is strange to leave that behind, no?” Maybe the drawing is a red herring, then—an insignificant breadcrumb that won’t lead anywhere, meant to distract Tony and the detectives from some other clue. The next step is to find anyone in the neighborhood who might’ve seen something—neighbors, the mailman, etc.

We head to a cottagey shed in the middle of the marshy woods, where Baptiste is leading a crew of SWAT team-like cops as they stakeout the criminal “transaction” the undercover officer told them about. But nothing happens, and the place is empty—save for a surveillance video camera inside the shed. Clearly, somebody wanted to keep an eye on the “stakeout”—so was this all a ruse to expose the undercover informant as a mole?

Tony, meanwhile, is getting a drink with Garrett, who to his knowledge is still just a kind stranger. He shares his frustrations about how the police are questioning him after letting Vincent Bourg go. In his own self-interest, Garrett assures Tony that Bourg is not their guy. Tony asks Garrett what we’re wondering, too: Why get involved in the case at all? Garrett is vague in answering. “I’ve been kicked before. I’ve been laid low. I don’t want that for you,” he tells Tony. We’re not convinced his intentions are so golden.

Later he dodges the paparazzi as he heads back to the hotel. Suri pops up, brandishing a newspaper with the headline “Dad’s history of violence revealed” and saying Tony should’ve given him that interview he asked for when they first met back at the hotel. “But it doesn’t matter, I got you your front page,” the ruthless reporter taunts. He’s not pretending to be the nice guy with the Hugheses anymore—that method didn’t work, so he’s resorting to blackmail: Talk to me, or I’ll make you look bad in the media. For a moment, it looks like Tony is going to knock Suri out. He doesn’t.

When Tony gets back to his room, Emily and her parents are there, reeling from the discovery of Tony’s violent episode with Greg Halpern. Emily seems more angry with her father for helping Tony cover the incident up, than with Tony himself. We learn that Emily kissed Halpern, setting off the jealous attack by Tony that landed him in the hospital. They get into a nasty war of words, and for the first time, Emily blames Tony for losing Ollie. “If you’d been paying attention, our son wouldn’t be gone!” Anger-prone Tony doesn’t even look mad though—just heartbroken.

Now back in the present, Tony and Baptiste are hosting a small town meeting asking anyone with any knowledge of the case to come forward. Given how much the townspeople despise Tony, it seems odd they would try to go this route, and unlikely that it will pay off. Emily, who’s just arrived in Chalon du Bois, walks into the meeting, and her and Tony go outside to talk. She is stuck on the fact that there is no DNA and no solid evidence. Emily is more impassioned and articulate here than we’ve ever seen her, and it’s refreshing to see her come alive with something—until now, she’s seemed resigned to the situation and emotionally guarded in the present. Even in the scenes from the past, she’s been passive and quiet in her desperation to find Ollie. “You’re looking at shapes in the clouds and you’re trying to turn them into things,” she tells Tony, a sentiment we’ve heard from other skeptics before. “And you know that I need to see them as much as you do.” She is upset with Tony for taking advantage of her desperation and dragging her back into the case, only to break her heart every time. “I’m not strong as you. I can’t survive in a nightmare the way that you do… I have to try and have some kind of a life.” Tony’s feelings have been made explicit from the first episode, but this is the first time we see Emily explain her side, and why she’s chosen to deal with the tragedy so differently from Tony.

NEXT: What news does Baptiste’s informant have?

We visit Bourg at his sad little flat in London (present day). He’s watching football, decked out in his England jersey, when Suri knocks on the door. Suri uses his classic line, one that’s proven to be a lie every time: “I just want to talk to you.” Bourg doesn’t open up his door—a literal portrayal of Bourg’s attempts to lock out the past that keeps coming back to haunt him. Even though he wasn’t involved in Ollie’s disappearance—we think, at least—it is still affecting the reformed life he is trying to lead years later.

Back at the police station, Baptiste, Tony, and Laurence keep hitting dead ends—no one seems to remember seeing anything out of the ordinary in the neighborhood that day. Tony sees Laurence with her baby girl, and the look on his face gives away his disbelief, jealousy, even anger that she is able to enjoy parenthood while Tony still pines for his own son after years. It’s as if he’s reminded that he is the only one in the investigation whose life depends on the outcome. Laurence has her family, and for her this case is really just a job, not vital to her wellbeing—for Tony, his life depends on it. Baptiste gets a call from his undercover officer who wants to meet up at the train station later in the day.

We return to 2006 for a pair of scenes that again illustrate the difference in how Tony and Emily are handling Ollie’s disappearance. Tony breaks into Bourg’s apartment looking for evidence on his laptop, apparently still convinced he has something to do with the case. He slices a deep gash in his hand breaking the glass, dripping blood all over Bourg’s kitchen. Bourg comes home and notices the trickle of blood and open sliding door. He grabs a knife, and Tony confronts him. “I know what you are,” he says, pushing a terrified Bourg to the floor. “I do not let my dreams become reality,” Bourg insists, referring to his pedophilic desires. Tony screams at him asking where Ollie is—nearly choking him before coming to his senses and leaving.

Meanwhile, Emily is at the pool complex where Ollie was lost, clinging to the ground and sobbing—she is hallucinating being reunited with Ollie. Again, Tony is willing to take rash and dangerous action to charge ahead with the investigation, while Emily spirals into a deep depression.

Baptiste goes to the train station to meet with his undercover informant. He sees him on the other side of the platform and crosses under the tracks to get to him. But in the short time it takes for him to reach the other side, somebody slashed the officer’s throat. The criminal ring discovered his true identity, and the transaction tip-off from earlier was probably just a test to confirm he was leaking information.

Baptiste sees someone fleeing and a dramatic car chase ensues. Baptiste fails to catch the man, but we realize that this is the first bit of pulse-racing “real” crime-solving action in The Missing—while so many other shows and movies in the genre are chock-full of it.

Back to the present one last time for another shocking closing scene. Tony arrives at the police station, where everyone is crowded around a monitor and buzzing about something. Tony asks what’s going on. “Are you sure you want to see this?” Baptiste asks, already knowing the answer. They obtained a video of a football-watching party in the living room of the neighbor next door to the house where Ollie was taken. When Baptiste zooms in on the background, a fuzzy but distinct image of Ollie at the window of the other house appears, and then a man grabbing him away. It’s a mundane few seconds, but supernaturally eerie in the same way that the clincher of the premiere was, when Ollie’s drawing was discovered.

It’s rare to have a show of this genre that doesn’t traffic in over-the-top action scenes and campy emotional exploitations—but is still able to shock your system with its big reveals. It makes the scenes that move the investigation forward and pique your enthrallment, like this one, all the more chilling.

Episode Recaps

The Missing

This limited series on Starz explores the lives of people who are affected by a boy’s disappearance eight years later.
  • Movie
  • R
  • 130 minutes
  • Ron Howard