Absentia – Episode 7: A & B
Starring: Stana Katic, Patrick Heusinger, Cara Theobold, Angel Bonanni, Neil Jackson
Director: Oded Ruskin
Writers: Antoinette Stella
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Last episode ended with Emily in a pretty dire situation. Unsure if she’d get out of it and convinced Jack had something to do with her abduction, she called him, hoping to get some answers. As this episode starts, we find out that the cavalry, in the form of none other than Jack, came to Emily’s rescue. Fortunately, Emily survives another day (or another episode) to continue solving her case.
After six episodes, Emily finally has an ally, someone who not only believes her, but is also willing to sacrifice their own safety in order to help her out. Jack has bought into her story and decides to help in any way he can. Being an ex-surgeon and having connections in the medical industry networks is certainly beneficial. Looking up the pacemaker’s identification number, the one Emily found on the dead body, gives her another clue to pursue: a name.
Though Emily does not recognize it, she finds out that he worked at the same orphanage where she spent some time. (Recall that in the episode Dig, we found out that at least part of the answer to Emily’s situation lies in her past.) The only problem is that he’s dead. But never underestimate the writers! This dead man has a living brother. Needing answers, she visits him, at which point things begin to escalate.
After a mid-season slump, which thankfully lasted only one episode, Absentia has returned to its frantic pacing and core mystery.
I still stand by comments made about last episode (Nobody’s Innocent), that it really wasn’t necessary to the narrative arc. Jack doesn’t need to be a suspect and given everything that has transpired in this show so far. He isn’t even a credible one. The BPD (the FBI appear to have stepped aside, choosing to focus entirely on Emily) is hell-bent on spending time and resources investigating him. Until that episode, nothing indicated Jack was involved. Every red-herring clue was just force-fed to viewers within the span of one episode. The truth is, Jack the suspect is boring. However, Jack the alcoholic, Jack the broken man, isn’t.
There’s no arguing that this show is about solving the mystery behind Emily Byrne’s abduction. But this whodunit plot doesn’t evolve in a vacuum. Most of the characters were affected to varying degrees by Emily’s abduction and the subsequent declaration of death in absentia. Jack, Warren, Nick, Flynn, her coworkers, they all had to deal with it in their own way, and it taints their interactions and behaviours. Even though the directors have given us glimpses of the impact her return has had on some of them, like Alice’s marriage, it feels like there’s a missed opportunity to do so in more depth.
Stana Katic continues to give a great performance. Whether sad, happy, angry, or fearful, she does an excellent job at letting us feel the same or at least sympathize with her. The emotional wounds Emily carries are critical to Katic’s performance, and she hasn’t let us down. Neil Jackson (Jack), especially now that he’s gotten more screen time, does a great job as well. His struggle with both Emily and his place in the family is visible. I found his change of heart a little sudden (though that’s more of an issue with the writing than the performance).
I’m still disappointed with Nick and Tommy. Nick’s story has been tiresome for most of the show so far. There just isn’t much substance to this character. He’s the one person who was closest to Emily, the mother of his child, his ex-wife, yet he can’t get himself to help her, let alone believe her. Admittedly he’s emotionally torn as he never got his closure regarding Emily. He’s still ineffective as an ex-husband and as an agent. He’s not assertive when he undoubtedly should be. And Tommy? Though he does get things done, his brooding approach is overdone. He’s like Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, but without the confidence and personality. It would be nice to see them play logical and sensible roles, trying to understand Emily rather than blindly hunting her like a posse.
Verdict: Continue to watch!
Emily is finding more pieces of her mystery puzzle. There’s a feeling that soon they’ll line up and fit together. With the BPD and the FBI on her tail, it’s a race against time to make sure she can uncover the truth before anything happens to her or anyone else.