The penultimate episode of the emotionally charged mystery miniseries brings us one step closer to the truth.

By Carolyn Todd
January 04, 2015 at 03:01 AM EST
Jules Heath/Starz
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Just two episodes left and we have to wonder… Are we really going to pull this off here? Can The Missing neatly tie up a season’s worth of subplots and intrigues into a satisfying and plausible resolution, without rushing or cutting corners? Will the final two hours give justice to the mystery that started it all? And will we see Ollie again? By the end of “Return to Eden,” the penultimate episode in the miniseries, you’ll feel even more doubtful of this than ever—and grateful that there’s just one more week of head scratching left. “Return to Eden” is one of the best episodes—not because it brings us closer to solving Ollie’s disappearance, but because it offers both elegant character studies and meditations of the The Missing‘s central theme: the desperation of parents who’ve lost their children.

At the end of last week, we witnessed the crime that put Ziane in prison. He beat up Baptiste—permanently damaging his leg and giving him his signature limp—trying to keep the file revealing his true identity as the murderer J’ean Martin out of the detective’s hands. (Suri had sent it to Baptiste.) We open at Ziane’s prison in present-day France, where Baptiste, Tony, and Emily visit him confidently armed with the sole but crucial shred of knowledge that the manipulative weasel by the name of Karl Sieg revealed for the sum of 15,000 euro. He witnessed Ziane bag a piece of evidence at the scene of Ollie’s disappearance that he never filed with the police.

Tony and Emily plead with him. “What did you take? It takes you nothing to tell us, and it means everything to us!” In a turn of cruel irony, though, Ziane refuses to tell them a thing until they bring his estranged son to see him. Ziane is being selfish and sadistic here, yes. But in another sense, isn’t he just a father, using the only leverage he has in his marginalized position, to see his own son—who has effectively disappeared from his life as well? His son wasn’t kidnapped, but Ziane is, not entirely unlike Tony, a man willing to do anything for his son, including withholding information that could help the Hughes find Oliver.

Elsewhere, big trouble: Tony gets a call from Malik Suri, who never bears good news. He claims he knows what happened to Ollie: Ian Garrett did it. But, as much of a creep though he may be, he has a rock-solid alibi. What’s Suri getting at? Tony argues that Garrett was cleared by the police. “But you didn’t know that when you killed him, did you Mr. Hughes?” Oh s–t. So somehow—in part because of Vincent Bourg’s testimonies about Tony’s violent criminal behavior—Suri knows that Tony killed Garrett, even though he destroyed the single remaining piece of evidence, his bloodied shirt. (Only later in the episode is it revealed that Suri hacked Tony’s voicemail and heard Emily refer to “what he did to Ian Garrett.”)

In typical Suri style, he plans to blackmail Tony into giving him the scoop. Whether he does or not,  Suri is going to go to the press with both components of his newly concocted story—that Garrett killed Ollie, and Tony killed Garrett. Okay, so he’s half right. He acts like he’s doing Tony a favor by giving him a chance to defend himself against the murder allegations that Suri is going to levy against him. “Any parent in your position… People will understand,” he teases. “But only if you tell your side of the story.” Now we’ve got this ticking time bomb, as it’s just a matter of time before Suri publishes the story.

NEXT: Another boy disappears in Chalons du Bois.

“Return to Eden” adds a new timeline into the mix, filling in the gaps behind the devolution of Tony and Emily’s marriage—and throwing a convincing red herring into the mix. It’s 2009, midway between the past and present timeframes. There’s a depressingly familiar sight on the TV: a press conference of two parents, pleading for the return of their boy who has disappeared. The boy disappeared in the same place and way that Ollie did. Tony and Emily rush to Chalons du Bois—the Return to [Hotel] Eden—under the presumption that this case is connected to Ollie’s.

We’re strung along thinking this case is connected throughout the episode—though it seems strange that the show would introduce an entire new murder in the second to last episode—and suffer the same letdown when it’s revealed that the case is entirely unrelated. The boy’s own father kidnapped him, staging it to look similar to Ollie’s disappearance. Why? He was going to lose custody of the boy in a nasty divorce with his wife. He abducted him because he loved him and would do anything for him, even stage a fake kidnapping.

Tony and Emily’s reactions to this news are telling of their fundamental approaches to life after Ollie’s disappearance. Emily’s grateful that the couple hasn’t actually had their child taken from them, while Tony’s disappointed that their new lead turns out to be a ruse. (I’m not ashamed to be on Team Tony, here.) Emily accuses Tony of giving up on rebuilding a life worth living, and Tony accuses Emily of giving up on finding Ollie. Emily accuses Tony of being an alcoholic, while Tony accuses Emily of popping pills to forget the past and cover her pain. “Surprised you even noticed with the amount of medication you’re on,” he says. Ouch. They realize they’re doing each other more harm than good by staying together and decide to get a divorce.

While their marriage is dissolving in 2009, Tony and Emily are reconnecting over drinks in the present.”You’ve clearly been spending a lot of time with Julien. It’s good for you,” Emily tells Tony, an insight I hadn’t noticed before but is certainly true. Baptiste keeps Tony calm and positive. Tony concedes that he pushed Emily away: “I couldn’t even see you anymore.” Emily admits that she and Mark called off their wedding—and that she often wonders whether trying to build a new family with Mark was just her way of covering up the pain of losing her old one. On the night she lost Ollie, “I didn’t just lose him, I lost you too,” she explains. It’s wonderful to finally hear Emily explain things from her viewpoint. She continues, “I thought we could survive anything… that something that horrific would make us stronger.”

NEXT: The lost evidence is finally revealed

Hearing Emily crystallize her grief—not just for Ollie but for her marriage, her entire life—makes her seem more warm, knowable, and sympathetic than ever before. This is the first time we’ve seen Tony and Emily truly relying on each other for support since Ollie disappeared, and, given the icy distance they’ve maintained for years, it’s truly comforting—a small victory in itself, a tiny bit of a dead relationship recovered. It’s as if she and Tony can both feel they’re getting close to the truth about Ollie and realize that if they’re going to keep hope alive this time they need to be on the same team. Indeed, they share a sweet kiss in the snow.

Ziane’s son finally agrees to come see his dad in prison—but right as he arrives with Tony and Emily, another inmate stabs Ziane to death in the abdomen. Evidently, someone there knew he was about to talk about the case. This is becoming more conspiratorial by the moment—whoever kidnapped Ollie seems to have eyes and ears everywhere, including in prison.

They have one last hope, though, for recovering the mystery evidence: Malik Suri. Mark has proof that Suri hid that evidence, and makes Suri a deal: He won’t send him to prison for obstruction of justice if he hands over the evidence. Thankfully, Suri agrees. So, what is this long sought after item? A bloodstained sobriety coin. We saw one of these a couple of episodes ago, when the hotel owner Sylvie showed her 20-years-sober husband’s coin to Emily or Tony—in what at the time seemed a trivial, irrelevant conversation. “A reminder of how proud he made me that day,” she had said. Alain is his name, and we’ve only seen him in passing a few times in what seemed to be completely unremarkable exchanges.

So did he take Ollie? Possibly. We’ve got an entire finale left, though, and given the rapid plotting of The Missing, I can’t believe it’s really that simple. Besides, he’s probably not the only person in Chalons du Bois with a sobriety coin. But all the same… that seems like too much of a coincidence to not be the case. Tony, for one, is confident: “I know who it is. I know who it belongs to.” Did Tony just solve the mystery? We’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, take comfort in the fact that The Missing has to solve the mystery for us next week, one way or another. I can’t wait to see how this all comes together in what is shaping up to be an explosive finale.

This limited series on Starz explores the lives of people who are affected by a boy’s disappearance eight years later.
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