In October I reported that I considered the second TV series Missing important because it tackled the problem of child abduction for sexual purposes in a serious manner although it was dramatic fiction designed to entertain a wide evening audience at 9pm. The series has now ended and confirmed my expectation that it would one of several significant programmes during 2016. At the end of October I had written – “I remember well the first series of the British American Missing with James Nesbitt seeking to recover an abducted boy so I decided to watch the second series which commenced on October 12 with the 3rd episode on October 26th. I am covering some of the work of James Nesbitt when writing about the latest series of Cold Feet after an absence of over a decade.
As with Ivy in Thirteen, a daughter Alice, aged 11 years who disappeared while her father, an army officer was stationed in Germany in 2002, dramatically reappears when she walks out of a forest 12 years later and where it emerges she has held with another girl Sophie Giraux, a crime investigated by a French Police detective Julien Baptiste. He had promised to do everything to find the child but without success, he had failed to prevent Mrs Giraux committing suicide from a building in the presence of her husband who understandably has never forgiven Baptise for his failure, something which Bapriste has also failed to do.
Alice is disorientated and in bare feet when she is discovered and from the outset there are questions about her and her story. The father is played by the established actor David Morrissey who has had a long and outstanding stage, TV and film career and plays an officer no longer on active duty because of incident which has left him disfigured from burns. While he is immediately convinced the girl is Alice, his partner is not convinced. As with Ivy the father and the victim want to return to their home but her behaviour is intended to alert us that something is not right. She persuades her brother to lock her in the garden shed at night she cannot cope with the normality of heated room, soft bed and family sleeping times. I briefly had a similar experience after months of hard bed in a cell with a light always on so a check could have been at intervals throughout the night. It also brings back the hours I spent as child kept in room and told to be silent while visitors from the homeland of my birth and care mothers were in their home and were not to know of existence.
With help in which the Amy can join forces with the German police the place in which for a time the two girls are believed to have been held together in a WWII bunker. There is a private meeting at one point between Alice and the commanding senior officer and from their conversation it is possible to say that he was somehow involved with the disappearance. A receipt discovered at the bunker leads them to a local butcher whose wife had served in the army with history yet to be revealed but where the commanding officer appears to have some hold over her. Alice identifies the butcher from a series of photos. The man is arrested and subsequently convicted and imprisoned.
The French Detective retired and suffering from terminal cancer abandons his wife determined to fulfil his promise to Mrs Giroux and her husband and persuades the parents to allow him to talk to Alice and given the similarity between the two girls when they were abducted he begins to question which girl has reappeared, doubts which the mother has already tried to voice. He speaks to the girl in French but she appears not to understand. He suggests to the mother a DNA test which Alice overhears. Baptiste contacts Mr Giroux to persuade him to go with him to Germany. Understandably he refuses. Alice kills herself by setting fire to the garden shed with herself inside.
The series switches between 2002, 2014 and the present when the son appears to have become embittered and right wing carries out a request from Alice to visit the man she accused in prison and say sorry on her behalf. Baptiste is in Iraq in search of an army officer who he had met at the time of the original disappearance and who has joined one of the warring groups. He persuades a journalist with connections to take up into an area of conflict and on their way from a deserted village where there was evidence the army officer had been present they are taken by the Peshmerga soldiers and brought to their frontline where they meet up with the army officer who although appears to know something refuses to help. Back in Germany the mother comes across a video which appears to show her daughter, alive “
Rather than continue to describe what happens as the story unfolded episode by episode I am going to explain what became a difficult story to understand because of the device of constantly switching between different time periods. The following is a test of how much of the series and plot I understood, remember and cared about
Whereas in the first series everything was focussed around the role of David Nesbitt, the role of Captain Sam Webster, played by David Morrissey, it is the Detective. Julien Baptise, played by Tcheky Karyo who is the hero of story alongside Keeley Hawes as Mrs Gemma Webster who must cope with a guilt-ridden son and cheating and fire disfigured husband.
I believe the way to explain and unravel the story and its wider significance is to begin with the villain, a paedophile, that is someone unable to have a relationship with an adult woman and the only way to satisfy his need for sex and for a family is to obtain, abduct and rape female children. We do not learn the full extent of past actions of Major Adam Ettrick. Press Officer based with British army stationed in Germany, but as Julien suspects he has raped and abducted girls throughout his life. Julian’s investigations take him to post invasion Iraq as the British army is about to leave and he uncovers that Gettrick was a young officer who appears to have gone A.W.L and two other officers, the subsequent Garrison head in Germany, Brigadier Adrian Stone and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Reed, find out where he had headed and go to bring back. They find him imprisoned in a local compound because he has raped a child who has escaped. In freeing their colleague, they kill his captor and believing no one else is in the compound set it on fire killing a younger sister asleep upstairs despite being warned of her presence by her brother. Not only do all three cover up the event but so does their commanding officer at the time and this is where the story is unbelievable who happens to have become the wife of the local butcher in the town close to where the garrison is based when the daughter Alice appears to re-emerge despite this knowledge and her continuing connections she stands by when her husband is framed, prosecuted and imprisoned for the abduction of Alice when first a receipt is found in the former Wold War II bunker in the nearby forest and then Alice identifies him as her captor before her own assumed suicide.
The reality is that Gettrick has separately abducted three children, Alice, an earlier girl Sophie Giroux and one other whose back story is not disclosed. Baptise investigated the disappearance of Sophie and his failure to find out what happened to her leads to her mother committing suicide when Baptiste fails to persuade her not to jump of the roof and she dies before her husband who understandably blames Baptiste and then rejects the request to travel with him to Germany when Baptiste believes that in fact Alice is Sophie. He right because now a woman with a daughter in effect acting as the wife of Ettrick at his homes in Germany and isolated in hillside forest in Switzerland, she developed appendicitis and needs medical care.
The idea is that she should get help as Alice and then disappear but the plan is thwarted when first her mother and then Baptiste challenges. The Webster’s have a shed in their garden and before the operation Sophie pretends she cannot cope with sleeping in a bed because of being imprisoned sleeps first on the floor and then in the garden shed persuading her brother to lock her in. After the successful operation for the appendix she returns to the Household but again persuades her brother to lock her in shed where it appears she sets on fire and kills herself unable to face the reality of being home and being doubted. The family are distraught, the son blames himself and is disowned by his father. His father blames his wife and commences an affair with the daughter of the Brigadier Stone (he has retired, developed severe contemporary memory loss with psychosis and is placed in a home when his daughter who works for the army alongside Ettrick cannot cope anymore. She has also become pregnant by Sam Webster and leaving his wife and commencing new family is very much on the cards when Baptise reappears believing his has the basis for uncovering the truth of what happened and at that point convinced it is Sophie who has died and Alice is alive somewhere.
He discovers that the wife of the man convicted for the abduction of Alice served in Iraq commanding Stone and Reed and eventually persuades her to tell him her part of the story. This leads to Baptiste discovering that Reed had paid regular sums to someone in Iraq and this is found to be the brother of the sister who perished in the fire. Reed is found to have committed suicide but contact with a prostitute friend of Reed leads to establishing the man had been murdered and we learn that the murder was committed by Ettrick and that Stone had knowledge in helping the clear up.
While the army and German police prevent the involvement of Baptiste placing obstacles, he gains the assistance of a young police officer who acting on initiative without Baptise visits Ettrick and comes across the man’s daughter with Sophie. Because it is evident that the officer has grasped aspects of the situation Ettrick murders the officer and hides the body and goes on the run to his secret home in Switzerland where we have come to know Sophie is now based and he leaves the shuttered German home with their daughter and we only later learn with Alice hidden in the boot. Wait a minute if Alice and Sophie are alive who was the murdered remains in garden shed? This a third girl brought dead to shed and exchanged for Sophie (as Alice) and with Stone having a hand in switching DNA samples to that of Alice from this third girl.
When Sophie as Alice in the home she discloses that she and this third girl had a moment of freedom on an adventure park day out. I cannot remember how a photograph of this event comes into the possession of Mrs Webster but there is also a video and she goes to the park to see if anyone recognises the girls and they also work out there is a third girl in the outing. As the net close Baptiste and the Webster’s break into to the home of Ettrick and discover his dungeon there and can trace him to a town in Switzerland when after a fruitless day of searching they are at a restaurant bar where the waiter recognises Sophie when she visited and he remembers her leaving across a bridge which leads to a pathway through wood to the hillside home, where Ettrick, Sophie and their daughter live openly but with Alice kept locked and a prisoner. They go in search and although calling for backup they continue without waiting. Ettrick spots their arrival and shoots and badly wounds Sam Webster, but who lives long enough to see the rescue of his daughter.
Sophie Giroux’s also finds that his daughter is alive but she after nearly committing suicide like her mother is persuaded by Baptiste not do so. She is in custody and no doubt facing some prison because of her complicity but is unable to face her father but he is introduced to his granddaughter who responds.
The brother of Alice guilty ridden, rejected by his father who in turn he rejects because of knowing about the affairs with Stones daughter has become a right-wing skin head. He visits the man convicted of the abduction in prison because Sophie had asked him and say sorry. He also beats up Stone at the residential home on over hearing about his complicity and about which Baptise is arrested and then released. He now founds that he killed no one and that his sister is alive and unbelievably resilient to her years of ordeal.
It is not clear how much Stone is faking it or has become insane through illness but his daughter who I found another of the unpleasant and stupid characters in the story, wilfully obstructive in protective prepared to have an affair with Sam knowing the distress of his wife finally faces the truth, confronts her father and realises it is too late for him to face justice for his crimes, as guilty of the murder as a soldier and of rape and abduction and sent an innocent man to jail. Quite righty this man ignores his traitorous and cowardly wife on release from prison to find her waiting for him at the roadside wife, another who deserves to burn in earthly mental hell for an appropriate length of time.
Mrs Webster has her daughter back and her son although it looks as if she is going to befriend her husband’s mistress. I cannot remember if she is having or terminating Sam child’s which if she does he or she must adjust to the crimes of his grandfather and mother’s stupidity so I cannot see friendship with Mrs Webster lasting, despite losing and then getting her husband back, so to speak, before his death.
And what of my hero, a man in desperate need of an operation for a brain tumour which is his only hope of survival but where survival is questionable. He is driven to solve the mystery before accepting his fate at the hands of the medical profession and the risk of secondary infection. He has risked his marriage as well as his continuing survival in the search for truth. The series ends without us knowing.
In real life, there is need to give those who wilfully cover up or stand by a fair hearing before passing judgement and if guilty deciding on an appropriate punishment. Accepting acting under orders, families under threat or blackmailed are aspects needing to taken into account when deciding on punishment.
The importance of this fiction is the focus that while allowance must be given to those who give their lives, risk life changing physical and mental health on the line on our collective behalf deserve special consideration there can be no blank cheque or get out of jail card was the Blair administration arranged in relation to bringing peace to mainland UK on the situation in Ireland. It was good to see the new Prime Minister appear to resist the pressure from with the services, members her own party and from some on Opposition benches to insists that the truth must be explored as in fairness has she and the new Home Secretary insisted should remain the situation in relation to one aspect of historical abuse. However how far she will be able to resist pressures having caved in on austerity and the pressure from the global capitalists will become apparent over the coming weeks and months. The issue is tied in with a volatile political situation with a swing to right which the far right is exploiting and he issue of the future of European Economic Community and our relationship with the rest of Europe.