Waking The Dead: Missing Persons

Directed by Tim Fywell

Written by Declan Croghan

Starring Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson, Félicité Du Jeu and Tara Fitzgerald – With Beatriz Batarda, Justine Mitchell, Daniel Cerqueira, Angus Wright, Gemma Lawrence, Lucy Joyce and Marina Koem

The two-part ‘Missing Persons’ is the opening story of the seventh season of this successful BBC police procedural about a “cold case” unit – think a more gritty version of ‘CSI’ and ‘Cold Case’ with added oomph and less surface sheen.

The plots have become increasingly convoluted and, frankly, quite mad with each successive season and nothing has changed here, although there are no traces of the bizarre baroque embellishments that characterised season six.

Lore Carson (played by Beatriz Batarda) defends her daughter from a teenage purse-snatcher on a suburban railway station platform and then disappears from the scene. A sample of her DNA is found on the would-be mugger and this matches another sample found on an incinerated body discovered on an unsolved crime scene in the early 1990s. The cold case team, led by the ever-grumpy Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd (Trevor Eve), begin their investigation.

At first, the team suspect it has something to do with a prostitution ring and possibly a hard-core porn BDSM movie that went wrong – or even a snuff movie. However, it soon becomes apparent that operatives from several international terrorist organisations are somehow involved – including Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

At this point one might expect MI5, MI6 and other anti-terrorist units to take over, but this is the strange world of ‘Waking the Dead’ and Boyd blunders on, becoming increasingly angry and bad tempered the whole time.

As ever, most important are the characters and their relationship to one another. This episode concentrates primarily on Boyd, who discovers that his long-missing son has apparently been found and is being held for psychiatric evaluation. Psychological profiler Dr Grace Foley (the brilliant Sue Johnston), who acts as Boyd’s moral compass, knows there is something he is bottling up inside, but she holds back from pressing him too hard to find out what it is.

The forensic pathologist Eve Lockhart (Tara Fitzgerald) is struggling with her bid to give up smoking. Detective Inspector Spencer Jordan (Will Johnson) and Detective Constable Stella Goodman (Félicité Du Jeu) take a back seat in this story, although the strikingly beautiful Goodman does exhibit another sign of her decidedly unnerving steeliness when she convincingly threatens to take the face off the Algerian terrorist and pimp Brahim Haggiag (Daniel Cerqueira) with a piece of sandpaper.

I did wonder if there was an attempt to make a comment about world events at the moment, with the all-too predictably heavy-handed approach of America and Britain and the resulting renewed threat of terrorism. If there is a message, it isn't clear, other than the suggestion that fierce adherence to an unbending ideology can cloud ones thinking and people are capable of changing.

It doesn’t seem likely that new viewers will be enticed to check out the show at this stage, but ‘Missing Persons’ is a great start to the new season.

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