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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Missing misses the mark

On this week's episode of ABC's Missing, "Ice Queen," the plane lands without Michael (Nick Eversman, Vampires Suck, The Runaways) on board. The CIA questions the woman who is on the plane, Sloane (Victoria Smurfit, Trial & Retribution), but she plays dumb. Giancarlo (Adriano Giannini, L'ombra del destino) gets Becca (Ashley Judd, Sisters, Heat, De-Lovely) out of CIA custody. However, before Becca can get information from the also-released Sloane, Mary (Aunjanue Ellis, The Mentalist, Ray) shows up, making herself a pawn in the game. Meanwhile, Michael is placed in seemingly comfortable surroundings.

Missing would like to be a cross between Alias, 24, and Taken, but it fails to reach those aspirations. The action is pretty exciting, and Judd excels at her performance, as always. The overall tone is enticing, and the pace is fast enough. In short, it's fairly enjoyable.

It is more than a simple spy show, or a basic kidnapping story. Given the format of series television, Missing can afford to toss in back story, mystery, and some twists. But it does it so clumsily that it fails to live up to its potential. The fault of Missing is not with the actors, who are all at least adequate, or the locale, which is usually beautiful, if CGI-enhanced. No, the real issue with Missing is the plot. There are so many plot holes and developments that just don't make sense. It becomes incredibly distracting for those trying to enjoy the story.

For one thing, why doesn't Becca just come out and tell Mary the truth? She wants to protect Mary and maintain their friendship, fine. Then confessing her past to Mary would not only spare Mary's feelings, other than a bit of betrayal for not having been told sooner, but would get Mary home safely and not force Becca to act like an "Ice Queen." Instead, by lying at first, Becca sets Mary up to keep digging until she is taken by Sloane, putting her in real danger. Not to mention, Becca asks Giancarlo to pose as her lover, but then doesn't give him the chance to until after Mary doesn't follow through with Becca's wishes. So Becca knows Mary well enough to know that she just won't go home? Then why even attempt that route?

The scene in "Ice Queen" where Becca and Sloane have their final confrontation is also weird. A sniper takes out Sloane to keep her from spilling the beans after Sloane tells Mary that the man who killed Becca's husband, Paul (Sean Bean, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones), has Michael. The sniper is in position long before he pulls the trigger. It's understandable that he doesn't shoot while Ashley Judd holds the diamonds over the water, but only if he then goes after the diamonds, which he doesn't do. It's unlikely this shooter can hear the girls, anyway, so why doesn't he kill Sloane sooner? The timing is strange.

Additionally, Dax (Cliff Curtis, Trauma) keeps telling Becca and Giancarlo that he will help. Yet, he seems perfectly willing to let the CIA send Becca home until Giancarlo breaks her free. Then he changes his mind and decides to intervene, though he claims total support for her. So which is it? Is Dax following CIA orders or assisting Becca? Because those two purposes do not run parallel.

Lastly, it doesn't make any sense for the Big Bad to be consulted about shooting Michael to warn versus harm in "Ice Queen." Clearly, the plan is already in place to have Oksana (Tereza Vorísková, Znamení kone) tell Michael that he will be injured if he attempts escape again as part of the plan to get Michael to trust her. It's a solid scheme, but it makes the early scene unnecessary and weird. If the scheme isn't developed until after the warning shot, which seems unlikely given the level of planning the villains show in Missing, then the logical thing to do when the Big Bad orders the next shot to hurt Michael would be to tell him this immediately.

In summary, Missing could be good if the writing gets smarter. Until then, it's popcorn fluff, with story continuity taking a back seat. Missing airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. In Columbus, ABC is found on channel 6 (antenna), 386 (satellite), or 1006 (high definition cable).

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