The Missing - An intricate jigsaw puzzle of a thriller

Sam Webster (David Morrissey), Gemma Webster (Keeley Hawes), Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham), and Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) are at the centre of a mystery in The Missing
Sam Webster (David Morrissey), Gemma Webster (Keeley Hawes), Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham), and Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) are at the centre of a mystery in The Missing
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My wife recently undertook an ambitious project – completing a 1,000-piece jigsaw of a marina near Marseille.

It took her quite a while – and meant we had dinner on our knees in front of the telly for a week, as the jigsaw sprawled across the dining room table, pieces of sky-blue water or watery-blue sky waiting to find their homes in the picture.

Every so often there would be a cry of triumph as she managed to finally fit that piece of wall in, or a curse as that boat hull piece just wouldn’t fit, no matter which way round she looked at it.

I was reminded of this jigsaw while watching The Missing (Wednesdays, BBC1, 9pm) this week.

The show told the story of Alice Webster and her family, and flitted across timelines and locations with a gay abandon.

Alice, a Forces brat living with her Army dad, mum and brother in Eckhausen, Germany, had been kidnapped in 2003. Eleven years later a young woman claiming to be Alice shows up stumbling out of woods near the same garrison town, while in 2016, grizzled French cop Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) arrives in Kurdistan looking for a lead.

Karyo is the only survivor from the first series of The Missing – which put James Nesbitt through the wringer as a dad whose son goes missing on a holiday in France – which doesn’t really make it a sequel, more another look at how people cope with grief, loss, uncertainty.

Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey were excellent as Alice’s mum and dad, unsure how to deal with their daughter’s return, while this first episode set up subplots galore. Clearly, in the time between Alice’s reappearance and the present day, ‘stuff’ has happened, and it’s definitely not pleasant, happy family reunion stuff.

The whole thing is a cracking mystery-thriller, repaying the attentive viewer with little clues, each scene a jigsaw piece you have to fit into place, the whole picture yet to be revealed.