Absentia – Episode 10: Original Sin
Starring: Stana Katic, Patrick Heusinger, Cara Theobold, Angel Bonanni, Neil Jackson, Lydia Leonard
Director: Oded Ruskin
Writers: Matthew Cirulnick, Gaia Violo
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS.
After nine exciting and mystery filled episodes, this is it. The finale. Resolution. Recall that at the end of the last one, Emily had found what she suspected was the place where Alice and Flynn were being held captive. Furthermore, she was convinced that the kidnapper was also the one who orchestrated all of the recent events, including her abduction. However, fully aware that backup would be helpful, she calls Nick. But Emily suspects the perpetrator somehow knows everything that happens (whether through the use of an insider or some sort-of communications interception isn’t clarified), so asks Nick to come alone. Of course. And without waiting, she heads down into the dark tunnel. Smart move? Stupid move? Well, judging from the opening few minutes of Original Sin, it feels like the latter.
As suspected, given the clues found in the last few episodes, the reason Emily is being cast as a killer can be traced back to her past. Specifically, events that took place while she was at the orphanage. And the major catalyst was Dr. Chen. However, given his body was one of the six found in Nottingham Park and only a few belongings were left behind, Emily, nor the FBI and BPD for that matter, can piece everything together. Until now.
A mystery or puzzle requires an answer. It’s in our nature to want answers. But the degree to which we are invested in getting them is variable. Realism, logic, and a strong storyline are important factors. As clues are given throughout the story, it’s highly rewarding when viewers are proven right, even if only partly. However, this was one frustrating aspect in Absentia. With a bit of lucky guessing, it was possible to deduce some of the solutions from the clues. However, the actual perpetrator wasn’t, nor the motive. That reveal isn’t divulged until this episode. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant ending, one that ties up all of the loose ends.
Original Sin was one packed episode. So much had to be accomplished. In fact, the perpetrator is identified within the first ten minutes. The rest covers the motive, the escape, the rescue and the fallout of it all. And for good measure, there’s a scene at the very end that may be setting the groundwork for a second season. It’s a what the heck moment, in which we’re left wondering if what was shown on screen was fully accurate. Given that the story is mainly told from a first-person perspective, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibilities. If the producers could pull that off in the next season, without it coming off as a gimmick, it would be an absolutely brilliant twist.
Though Absentia is an excellent show, it’s not flawless. Nick was especially frustrating. Not the actor, but the character. Believing Emily to be responsible for Alice and Flynn’s abductions was ridiculous. Even when he finds them in this final episode, he still believes Emily to be responsible. He goes so far as violently pushing her aside when all she wanted to do is help save Flynn. It’s only after the evidence is collected and the events explained that they (Nick and the FBI) realize how inept they’ve been. There’s an attempt at humour when Tommy reminds Emily that he was the “second kind of cop,” the one that actually solves cases instead of closing them. It’s funny because throughout the show, he never fully objects to any of Nick’s accusations aimed at Emily. Keeping him quiet during the show felt contrived and makes his advances seem misplaced.
Another misplaced or rather odd reaction involves a moment between Nick and Emily at the hospital when he asks her to forgive him for not believing her. And after everything that’s happened, she does. What? Stop the presses! Are you kidding me? The man treats her no better than he did Harlow or any other criminal. And she accepts? With that classic Stana Katic smile? That was a weak piece of writing. It’s understandable that Emily would want to move on from this ordeal and a peaceful resolution would make her involvement in Flynn’s life easier. But some emotional response from her vis-à-vis her treatment at the hands of her ex-husband would have been more credible.
If you’ve watched the first nine episodes, you won’t be disappointed by this last one. It’s another great entry in the series, one in which the mystery is resolved more than satisfactorily. Emily is as relentless as she’s been and finally gets to meet her nemesis. The mea culpas and the birthday party are a fitting end to this intense show. It’s certainly not to be missed. After an edge-of-your-seat journey, a breath of relief can finally be taken.
Absentia is an excellent show. In a crowded whodunit/whydunit market, it doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, nor does it rely on gimmicks to lure in viewers. Instead, it focuses on delivering an outstanding show and doing all the things it does right. For the most part, the writing and directing are outstanding. The story moves at a frantic pace, moving from start to finish without much time to take a breath. Stana Katic is brilliant in the show and is surrounded by a great supporting cast. It’s a must watch thriller. One that doesn’t play out as individual episodes, but rather as a movie cut into nine parts. Though as of this review there’s been no confirmed renewal, it’s believed that Amazon Prime will soon announce a second and third season order.