With all the missing/murdered persons mysteries hogging the rows and columns of television schedules worldwide; everything from Denmark’s seminal Forbrydelsen to its remake The Killing, to Broadchurch to The Five to The Missing to Top of the Lake, one wonders when the sub-genre will run out of steam.
With such a bland, uninventive title as The Disappearance (even in its native French), I thought perhaps this marked the end of the sub-genre’s saturation, I mean, it’s like deciding against The Sopranos as a title in favour of The Mafia, right?
Big, fat, bloody wrong. The six episodes that took me to 4am last night are testament to how bloody wrong.
Here’s why The Disappearance hooked me from the first five minutes.
The set-up is simple yet effective—an enigmatic young girl named Lea doesn’t return home on the night of her 17th birthday, and everyone except our protagonist, devastated mother Florence, has something to hide.
The first twenty minutes of the pilot deftly handles the calm before the storm. As the story revs its engine, we meet each player in Lea’s life and immediately flag each as a suspect, and by the time episode one is done we’re strapped into the ride whether we like it or not.
Julien is the affable owner of a local speakeasy, and when Lea pops by the bar on her way out on the town, we learn that Julien plans on playing poker with his mates after work.
Curious though, why Julian feels he has to turn off his mobile phone during the game.
Tasked with ensuring Lea gets home safely, Thomas Morel could just be your typical brooding, too-cool-for-family teen, or is his mind consumed with something sinister?
Either way, Thomas doesn’t live up to his end of the bargain, and instead of playing chaperone, or at least accompanying her home at the end of the evening, he goes off and does who-knows-what, returning home without any idea where she is.
Chris, Lea’s best friend and party sidekick is usually reliable when it comes to night’s out in Paris, but this time something’s a little different. It seems she’s a little uncomfortable with Lea’s new boyfriend, to the point where she opts to leave Lea in his company, and head home.
Father to Chris, Jean (Laurent Bateau) works alongside Julien at the bar, and somehow we get the sense he’s not on the level while he’s doing the lovely thing of gifting a birthday present to Lea.
Oh, that and could-be-concerning stares.
The new Boyfriend
The last to see Lea alive, Romain is obviously a prime suspect, especially considering the two had fought prior to her storming off. Whether he chased after her is anyone’s guess, though it does seem like he’s telling the truth. Seem.
The Waiter and The Package
It’s only a ten second moment, but Nicolas’ manhandling of Lea and his forcing a mysterious package into her hands is enough to pique our curiosity.
Get ready to lose roughly eight hours
Binging on The Disappearance isn’t a choice. If you manage to catch the set-up, only those with other-worldly willpower will walk away. The rest of us will let the show become the center of our worlds for eight episodes.
If I didn’t have to get up and write this, I would have had no choice but to watch the final two episodes.
Which I’m off to do, right now.
The first season of The Disappearance is streaming now on SBS On Demand: