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Review of 'Absentia'

In Your Face and Worth Watching

I binged Absentia the past few days—it was on AXN in 2017 and is now on Amazon Prime. It starts out with a scenario we've seen before (FBI agent Emily Byrne, played Castle's Stana Katic, shows up after presumably being held hostage for six years, and declared dead), but soon takes off in vivid and less conventional ways. Her husband Nick Durand (well played by Patrick Heusinger), also an FBI agent, has happily remarried, and the two are raising the son Durand had with Emily. Like The OA, The Missing (season two), Thirteen, and other reappearance stories, Emily's return continues or sets off a new series of terrible crimes.

But Emily Byrne is a much more powerful character than the "victims" in those other series, with the exception of Prairie in The OA, who is powerful, but in a more mystical rather than Criminal Minds way. Emily soon becomes both the hunter (of the person who held her captive) and the hunted (she's implicated in a string of new murders), and the narrative plays it so close to the vest that's it's not easy to tell which she is—at least, on the basis of logic—though I never lost faith in her.

And lest you think that's a spoiler, it's actually still not clear, at the very end, what she did and didn't do during her years in captivity. Clearly, as she herself recognizes and tells her husband, she's not the same person she was before she was kidnapped. Is it just her mind that's not quite the same, or has she acted on those dark fantasies (assuming they're fantasies not memories)?

Katic does an outstanding job in this role. The supporting case is memorable too, especially Paul Freeman as Emily's father, Neil Jackson as her brother, and Cara Theobold as Nick's new wife. The plot is tight—I guessed some of the suspects, and was proven wrong just about every time. Highly recommended, but not for little children.

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Review of 'Absentia'
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