I have to admit I only watched The Missing because there was muttering that it had some resemblance to the Madeleine McCann case; curiosity got the best of me and so I watched the eight part miniseries. In general, I am not fond of watching murder mysteries because they are usually too far off of what I know to be true of real life criminals and investigations and I also don't really get much fun out of watching stuff that is work for me. The only kind of mystery stuff I like is Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie because they are more about the atmosphere and the puzzle and the graphic stuff is kept to a dull roar.
Anyway, I watched the series and here are my thoughts on it.
The acting was fine. I thought James Nesbitt was extraordinary as the obsessed father searching for his missing son; the way emotions played out in his face was incredible and I think this is what I enjoyed most about watching the series. But, acting is not what I am here to talk about. How real is The Missing and does it have anything to do with the McCanns?
Well, I would say there is a certain similarity between the McCann case and the case of missing Oliver in that the parents are away from their home country when their child disappears and I certainly believe the directors had Kate and Gerry McCann in their heads as they made the series, an innocent Kate and Gerry, mind you. Other than that, the series isn't a fictionalized version of the McCann case but it does have some interested elements in it which one could compare to the McCann case, like the behaviors of the parents, police, politicians, and pedophile predators.
Oliver goes missing while he is out with his father in a crowded location when his father lets go of his hand and is distracted.
This is a not uncommon way for a child to disappear. The parent is not necessarily being negligent but, in the course of moving about, the parent and the child get separated and a predator may take the opportunity to grab the unprotected child.
The behavior of Oliver's parents is totally believable from the moment he goes missing (well, at least up until the show goes off the rails - I will discuss this after SPOILERS AHEAD). Tony and Emily O'Conner are shellshocked, confused, devastated....bloody wrecks. They look like shit....they do nothing but stagger around trying to function; they do not look spiffy and well put together, they do not go jogging, they do not call the press. They are basket cases.
They search for their lost child, wildly running down streets and around in circles. In one marvelous scene, Emily thinks she sees Oliver and jumps out of a still moving car to pursue the child.
They fully cooperate with the police. In one scene - I think the finest scene with Tony where those emotions on his face speak louder than words - he is accused by the police of doing something to his son, Oliver. His reaction is spot on....like he had just fallen into an alternate reality. He is totally stunned, horrified, scared, and confused. He is almost paralyzed, but still he cooperates with the police.....because he has no choice....these are the people he is depending on to find his son. He doesn't call them "fucking tossers" and leave town.
Tony becomes aggressive in doing his own personal investigation and ends up breaking into places, beating people up, and killing one of them. All of this is ridiculous. In real life, one of the most amazing truths is that parents of missing and murdered children are incredibly nonaggressive towards possible suspects, always saying they want to be sure it is the right person and they want to see him in a court of law. Even in cases where I have presented ample evidence of the likelihood that a particular suspect has murdered their child, even when the police do not ever arrest the suspect, the family does not take any action against the person. They wait for the law to do their job, even if decades go by.
Tony and Emily finally do leave France and go back to England. They aren't running away; the police have shelved the case due to lack of any leads. Their marriage disintegrates due to alcohol abuse (Tony) and medication abuse (Emily), underlying guilt for losing his child (Tony) and underlying anger for him losing their child (Emily). Tony is also obsessed with continuing a daily search for Oliver; Emily wants to move on with a life, some kind of normal life. Marriages often fail after the abduction or murder of a child because the individuals can barely take care of themselves, much less a relationship.
The excessive police corruption isn't political (which is more likely in the McCann case) but the result of bad behavior within the department; I didn't particular buy the issues. The mayor didn't want to reopen the case after many years because he didn't want to wreck the economy of the town once again and he didn't want to ruin his political career...that made sense. There were many red herrings and the amazing evidence that is found is all ludicrous as is the final scenario of what happened to Oliver or what is theorized to have happened to Oliver. Here it is:
Oliver and his Dad enter a bar that is nearby the swimming pool they were at and Oliver is distracted by the football game on the television screen. Oliver, in the midst of the crowd, looks out the door into the dark and sees a fox standing there. Oliver is obsessed with foxes and so he leaves the bar to go see the fox and when the fox trots off nice and slowly, Oliver follows it. He not only follows it, he follows it into a wooded area and onto a road. Then he gets hit by a car.
Gets even stupider. The driver is the owner of the hotel where Tony and Emily are staying. He is an alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon after years of sobriety. He thinks he has killed Oliver and quickly dumps his body in the trunk without even being sure the child isn't alive or needs medical attention. Then he calls his brother on the police force to help him with the mess. His brother orders the hotel owner to drive to a house where he knows the owner is out of town and leave the body inside there. Say what? After he does so, the boy wakes up and the Eastern European criminal clean-up guy kills him because Oliver saw his face and spirits him away. Then, yet another man is called to clean up blood (why is there blood? Wouldn't the killer have just strangled him?) but he feels bad about the boy disappearing so he leaves a picture the boy drew on the wall so the boy's memory is there. Who wrote this crap?
Anyway, the hotel owner conveniently drops a sobriety coin from his collection which is found by another crooked cop who gives it to a news reporter who blackmails him for it yet never actually does any reporting on the hidden evidence of the case, so why he blackmails the cop for it I don't know. When that clue is figured out along with the location of where Oliver was kept (his lost scarf ends up in a thrift store where when it is sold and the owner writes down the buyer's name and address to send to the previous owner so they know their possession went to a good home....bwahahaha....meanwhile, they have a video of from a partygoer across the street that captures a few seconds of Oliver at a window). If only in real life such evidence existed.
The stupid scenario goes further amok; the hotel owner confesses (on his deathbed, of course), but his brother kills himself without giving up more information, so what Tony and Emily have is only the knowledge that Oliver was in that house and that it is claimed he was killed there. In a reenactment we see a big pool of blood on the floor, so that is supposed to show us all that Oliver is truly dead, but there is actually no evidence that there was any blood on the floor or that Oliver was killed. So, Emily accepts the ending and decides Oliver is gone, remarries and moves on with her life.
Tony, however, cannot accept the scenario as gospel and continues to search for his son. He is last seen in Russia accosting a young teen who looks enough like Oliver to leave a question in one's mind as to whether Tony, while crazy, is not necessarily wrong.
Emily and Tony's choices are not unlike real life. Some do go on like Emily and some never let go like Tony. And, one more thing is for sure; no matter how crappy and crooked and uncaring a particular police department might be, parents of missing and murdered children never stop calling them, working with them, and begging them to find their loved ones. Never. Even when they should.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
December 31, 2014
ThBy Pat Brown
Rating:Published: July 27, 2011
What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007? Was she abducted as the Gerry and Kate have claimed or did something happen to Madeleine on May 3 in the vacation apartment and the incident covered up? Criminal Profiler Pat Brown analyzes the evidence and takes the readers through the steps of profiling, developing a theory that is intriguing and controversial.