Disparue/The Disappearance Episodes 7 and 8- Analysis

Episode 7

THE PENDENT IS IDENTIFIED. This could be the development that puts us in motion of finding out the killer. In typical writer’s fashion we’re still not going to be privy to this information – at least not in the opening of the episode. OK, I was wrong. Two minutes into the episode and they’ve cornered Mr Berti, the racetrack manager. When it’s pointed out that they looked in love when he bought it for Léa, Berti responds with “oh we were just mucking around”. OK . . . strange sense of humour to have between instructor and pupil no? He still maintains that he was in Grenoble; nowhere near her murder. Road trip! Rose sneaks her way onto this trip with her father. Awww father-daughter bonding. All Rose has to do is say that she prefers to spend time with him rather than her friends, at the cinema, and he’s dropped the brood and melted into a satisfied smile. Take note, Camille *ahem*.

Camille is busy questioning Mrs Berti about her husband’s activities and whether he spoke about Lea. A man infatuated is most likely to never stop going on about the object. Mrs Berti plays it cool though. They never discuss work matters at home – clever. How, convenient. Poor Romain is left with multiple truth bombs in terms of photos. Lea had some saucy shots in a hotel room with Berti, both in their nightgowns and kissing! Quel scandale! In one picture Berti’s looking at the camera like he thinks he’s some sort of player. Well, he’s married so technically he is. So, after the way Léa flipped out about Romain’s one-time thing with Chris, she was doing the exact same thing more than once. After confronting Berti about it, Romain takes the evidence to the police. Berti is questioned and Molina drops the pregnancy on him, expecting him to have been keeping it a secret (thus it being the motivation), alas he’s actually shocked. Naturally, hearing that Berti is in custody, Julien once again launches into investigator mode. Only, he pinches the file on Léa’s murder when Camille’s called away. How is he able to get away with all of this? Yes, it’s an interesting way of writing – but still. Julien finds out about Léa’s pregnancy in the worst possible way. It triggers his feelings on Florence’s abortion and he separates from his wife. The children aren’t gluey enough. Molina is way too soft on Julien, admitting he would do the same if he were in his position. OK, but this guy’s numerously obstructed the case; he should at least get a formal warning. Julien’s learned nothing. In fact: he’s turned the restaurant office into a creepy Léa’s-murder den, which Florence doesn’t stumble upon; it’s the friggin’ restaurant office!

Meanwhile, Thomas explodes at Chris for taking over Léa’s life. He doesn’t want to be “like a brother” to her, he wants his sister back. Julien is also contemptible towards Chris, especially when she says she’s not going to England anymore after Léa’s death, having not posted the money. The only people who are happy to have her around, are Zoé and Florence. It’s only when she brazenly dates Romain that you begin to understand Thomas’ anger. Yeup. That’s right. They’re dating as If nothing’s happened. I suppose it’s easy for Romain now, knowing that she was having affairs behind his back.

Mrs Berti admits she checked her husband’s emails because she knew he was having some fun on the side. Léa said she had news and wanted to meet him at a hotel. Could this woman have thumped her for being the mistress/mistress-with-the-bun? She tricked Léa into meeting up so that they could have it out. Despite being in the wrong, Léa acts like a wronged brat. Any remaining sympathies on the audience’s behalf are draining quickly.


Episode 8

So basically, after the previous episode, we’ve worked out Jean was behind the murder somehow. He knows Léa was hit by a brick and that’s something that is only known by those who’ve read the file. He phones Chris who’s waking up from a “fun night” with her dead cousin’s boyfriend, checking up on her. It’s pretty clear who is behind Léa’s death. Now we just await Molina’s ability to close the case. Chris really looks like Romain’s the cream. I suppose it’s all OK now because Léa cheated on Romain. Everything is now OK!

Molina did f*** up the case a little bit, in the sense that he jumped on the Nicholas/Nico bandwagon so mercilessly that he didn’t look for any possibility that he could be innocent. Just in case. Fortunately, his long-suffering girlfriend Elodie kept most of his things, demonstrating a mixture of foresight and denial. It’s up to Camille and Molina to clear his name. Speaking of crappy boyfriends: Jean really is a piece of work isn’t he? He’s been stringing his bit on the side for two years now, going to her place when he needs to “get some” and then pretending she doesn’t exist. Although, a couple of episodes ago, Camille gave her a look that said: what the Hell are you doing with him? Why are you accepting this? You’re asking for it. I agree with all if the above. But the majority of the blame lies with Jean. A**hole. Said A**hole has the police turn up to arrest him, so the truth is underway. Julien tells Thomas not to tell Chris about the arrest as he hurries off. No problem. He hates her anyway.

Jean admits to orchestrating the whole thing. Manoeuvring Léa’s body, getting shot of Jenny the Prostitute, bumping off Dead Nick. Well, there’s 30 minutes of the episode left so this is not the whole story. The sequence of the whole family finding out is eerie. The press’ suggestion that the operation was haphazard is brilliantly shut down by Molina, who uses a journalism analogy about the content of an article being more important than trying to just fill up lines. Like a boss he leaves his supervisor to deal with them further. No love for a man who does what Molina basically criticised; cutting corners.

Chris’ presence in the Morel household continues to get to the men. Disparue 47Thomas is making an effort to be civil at least. Julien, on the other hand, is getting testier by the minute. Florence has to remind him that Chris isn’t taking Léa’s place *snort* and it’s not her fault.

OK. Breathe. There’s a woman with a sparkly top remarking on Molina’s apartment while he’s popping open the champagne. Could this be . . . ? YES. Camille and Molina on a DATE. I called it from the very beginning, and was quite satisfied when I first saw this scene. Fanservice. Yes. Molina finally stopped being a grumpy sourpuss. Well, for now. And, because he’s intent on pulling, he’s showing off his cooking skills having made them his mother’s paella recipe. Camille: you’ve hit the jackpot. Rose is invited to the date, of course. Rose and Camille get on; it’s clear that Molina has a “we come as a package” rule, which any responsible parent does. Although, on their first date? He’s lucky Camille is cool with it. I do love Molina’s reaction to Camille’s impressed look. He’s like: yeah, that’s right. I’m the man. They both ditch Rose when it becomes apparent during their date talk that Jean is covering for someone.

Pesky little Zoé actually serves a purpose other than being by turns cute and irritating. Her insistence on helping herself to anything owned by Léa or Chris has resulted in Florence seizing Chris’ earrings and putting two-and-two together. Her approach towards Chris is filled with tension; Florence’s face is what propels it. It dawns on her why Chris was behind it as she watches Chris merrily dance away in Lea’s room. What we figured out all along: she wanted Léa’s life. All of it. Chris evades capture, losing her life for it. The next scene, like that of the discovery of Léa’s death, is extremely challenging to watch. It’s absolutely heartbreaking that Chris calls Florence “Mum”. Chris has to be one of the first villains (if you may) whom you can really sympathise with. Particularly due to the fact that Léa provokes Chris by taunting her about her dead mother. It just kills off any last feeling for Léa. Yes, Chris inserted herself into the family as Léa’s replacement, however she only did so because she longed for that family unit. Léa, up until this point, has made it quite plain that she was an awful person. Chris’ mind is completely caput. ‘Chris hurt me’ she tells Florence while reaching for her hand. Her death is poignant: both Morel men understand what it is to lose a daughter.

Ahh. But it’s all well that ends well. Camille and Molina flirt their way into Disparue 50the future. The restaurant runs as usual. Florence and Julien make it work for their kids and themselves. Florence’s co-worker blooms in pregnancy. Everyone has their closure.

Disparue/The Disappearance Episode 3 and 4 – Analysis

Episode 3

Léa’s supposed recent voicemail opens the episode, providing hope for the emotionally-tested Morel family. While they are literally practically clinging to this voicemail as a sign, Molina isn’t convinced. What he does promise is an increased surveillance of the family’s communications, but he’s not jumping on any theories. It appears harsh, however the family are obviously too involved to think objectively so he must provide that objectivity. An amazing feat since he has a daughter the same age and yet Disparue 15isn’t allowing that to cloud his judgment. It technically is a requirement of officers to remain professional, but allowances should be made for their humanness. So far, Molina is coping well. Cracks do appear when they’re trying to analyse the voicemail; both faces are softened. Only now is Molina considering a kidnapping. Still, Molina’s not convinced it could be Léa’s voice. He surmises that they could be hearing what they want to hear, and when Camille questions if he would react the same if it were his daughter, he reckons after days of separation that he would mishear.

Meanwhile, Chris has taken over the care and occupying of little Zoé. It seems like cousin/niece doing a good thing in times of familial turbulence. It also seems opportunistic. As will later be shown, Zoé starts to play up so Chris’ help is needed. Camera shots also set up Thomas as someone who’s plagued by hidden secrets. Medium close ups of him present an intense face. The poor guy is bearing the brunt of his parents’ stress. What doesn’t help the atmosphere at home is Florence replaying the voicemail message repeatedly (not exactly fun for the viewer either). Julien deals with this a different way by stalking police activity, enabled by the restaurant waiter Nick, who gives him a police scanner. This catapults Julien into a cape-less crusading vigilante pursuing justice for his daughter. Or is he covering his own back? Hmm. He’s lucky he’s self-employed with his brother, otherwise he would be ordered to take leave. It doesn’t help situation that Julien kicks off at the police. Molina and team trace the phone call to the train station where prostitute Jenny smokes outside her van. She’s taken in for questioning. I side-eyed her appearance: do prostitutes even look like that anymore?

Following the interrogation is another delicious scene from an analytical point of view. Molina and Camille pay forensics a visit on the van. The Disparue 17forensic scientist, a woman, just about maintains her professional state – her eye contact reveals that she is interested in Molina *ahem*. Camille’s face looks unimpressed, her eyes rolling from the scientist to the evidence. I love how she’s just about in the frame, pushed out of an exchange she would rather be involved in rather than just observing. Their (Camille and the scientist) parting exchange is priceless: Camille is literally looking at her in a way that screams “Back off, he’s mine”. Lo and behold, the following day (I presume) Camille strolls in with a pink top and curly hair free to fly. She Disparue 19looks quite nervous as well *wink*. I like this, she’s upping the game. You go girl, get yo man! The moment moves aside for a serious discovery: at 3 A.M. Thomas is spotted on CCTV leaving the train station – something he never revealed in his statement. Thomas is in trouble now; the fact that he’s been secretive certainly works against him. Unfortunately, a discovery of Jean Morel bringing his car for a part at a garage (weakening his alibi) sets Molina’s temper off, taking out his frustration on Camille that the whole family keeps lying to him.

Following on from that is another meet up with the lady forensic scientist again, this time just Camille. After she questions the team, Camille is pulled back by the forensic scientist who asks ‘Molina’s not bad, is he?’. Camille’s reaction is an amusingly lofty ‘I’ll hook you up if you want. That is, if you like the autistic type.’ Despite being put off by his “autistic” type personality, she’s still not happy with the forensic lady’s encroachment.

Rose Morel actually assists the investigation by relating the mind of a teenager; offering suggestions and the like. The tattoo is a lotus flower, symbolising purity etc. You can tell that she’s going to be of use later on.

Episode 4

A man named Mr Dupuis moves things around on the table in the interrogation room at the same pace that the plot is running. While Dupuis acts as a red herring, he is actually slowing down the pace and not for the better. Molina’s aware that this man is messing them about, however he still has to pursue this line of inquiry for the tiny percentage of him telling the truth. To the viewer it’s quite clear that the man is lying and obvious to all that he’s not mentally sound. It’s just a red herring we have to ride until the real suspects return into the picture. Following this, Nico/Nick, the Morel restaurant worker, is flicking through his secret pictures of Léa rather enamoured. Attention shifts to him as a possible suspect and the Disparue 22plot is driven forwards. He has a long-suffering girlfriend who’s told not to be so paranoid. Well, if you’re obsessed with another girl then she has plenty of reason to be suspicious. When Julien questions Chris about him, she once more becomes the Oracle/punch bag. Chris is the keeper of everything Léa related; one wonders how she truly feels about that. Nicholas has tried it on with Léa in the past.

Now the pace is being propelled by the discovery of Jenny the prostitute’s body. Julien continues his vigilante antics of stalking police activity, but is certainly relieved that it’s not Léa’s body. How has this man not been cautioned for going around and punching people and stalking police? Disparue 23Questions now arise as to her links with Léa, and if she was killed because she knows something about her whereabouts while Nico listens on. These bits of dialogue combined with camera shots of telling looks toy with us. Meanwhile, Molina and Camille are trying to piece these links together. They examine Jenny’s belongings only to find Léa’s phone. How does Molina know? His daughter informed him about the symbolism behind the lotus that Léa had tattooed behind her ear. Rose may cost him credit card bills but she proved her worth by relaying insightful information. A nice Disparue 20moment of Molina asking Camille if this is the first dead body she’s faced. Their eyes lock in silent communication, with his lingering on her when she breaks it. He cares! Not so autistic-like anymore, hey Camille? They question Dupuis further and conclude that he’s an opportunist git nit behind Jenny’s murder or Léa’s disappearance.

The pimp makes the mistake of sizing Camille up for his business. As if a policewoman’s going to give up her career to have to deal with a potato like you. Yes, it’s obviously an attempt to one-up her. There’s still some element of him acting like a businessman. Regardless, it proves his worse mistake. Camille has her revenge by emptying coffee onto his lap. I’m sure Molina would back her up, as would her other superiors. It’s worth appreciating that Disparue doesn’t make a meal out of gender and sexual difference. It acknowledges that it happens but deals with it in a way that suits the genre of the programme and is true to the character. Camille will deal with it in a swift and smart way. And she does. That’s not to demand that women (and sometimes men) deal with this situation exactly how she did, but merely to highlight that it avoids cliché.

Meanwhile, Florence is holding out for a miracle; that includes not allowing anyone to sit in Lea’s chair. Because it would insult Léa. I jest, it’s because she believes that by leaving things “open” so to speak, Lea’s more likely to come back. Everyone looks as if they want to say something but know they Disparue 21shouldn’t. It’s an understandably delicate situation. Do they stand back and spectate in fear of tipping the boat, or do they confront her behaviour and save Florence from herself? She is having to pull everything together and hold it there for Zoé’s sake. The girl is asking more questions about her sister, and is absorbing whatever the other kids say at school.

Another suspect enters the fold: Léa’s French teacher. He too is very concerned by her disappearance. Nothing suspect there. But he appears fond of her. Well join the queue! Léa seemed to have men, whether familial, platonic, peers or teachers enamoured with her. On paper it would sound like a dream come true, however in reality it can only be dangerous as one of them is bound to feel wronged by her breezy nature.



Disparue/The Disappearance Episodes 1 and 2 – Analysis

Episode 1

We open with the subject, Léa Morel, getting ready for her birthday in the presence of her younger sister Zoé and cousin Chris. Léa is confident in her skin as she dresses and applies her makeup. The confidence only spills over into self-absorption when Léa complains that she’s worn all of her clothes

Disparue 3

and tries on her mother’s. In typical fashion Léa asserts her teenage independence from her mother Florence, who has just noticed that Léa had a little tattoo done behind her ear. So far Léa is presented as a teenager who does typically teenage things such as lying about tattoos and informing parents that their lives are their own and no one else’s. We’ve all been there. While it is to be expected, where Léa is concerned, it feels like a deeper personality flaw. Judging by what we later find out about her, this attitude is the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, the father Julien is less of an

Disparue 4
Wrapped around Julien’s finger.

enemy and grants her extra time to stay out. It all makes no difference because, as this opening scene points out, Léa’s destiny is set in stone based on hints of her personality. Léa has her father Julien and her uncle Jean wrapped around her finger. At this point, Chris is merely Léa’s shadow. Something to keep an eye on.

Léa fails to turn up in the allotted time. The moral of this story is always listen to the worrier; don’t dismiss them because they could be right. Then again, how are we to know that our kids will severely p*** someone off(!) Florence and Léa’s older brother Thomas go to Le City nightclub as the starting point of their investigation, and funnily enough Thomas is too embarrassed to be seen with his mother in a club for youths. It’s not like she’s going to be whooping, flirting with young men and dancing on the tables, Thomas. When that amounts to nothing, attention falls on Chris. She lets the cat out of the bag that Léa was seeing someone on the quiet. Scrutiny then shifts onto the boyfriend. It’s a bit of a slap in the face that she hid this from her parents, another slap when they meet Romain’s mother, whom is already acquainted with Léa. The final blow is delivered when Romain confesses that they’ve been together for six months. Dun. Dun. DUNNNN. Léa did the “Meet the Parents” only with her boyfriend’s side and not her own. Another bit of information they didn’t know about their daughter.

A clever little exposition technique I appreciate is Léa’s parents leaving the police station at the same time as the new investigator Bertrand Molina swaggers in. They pass each other not knowing that they are about to see a lot of each other. Molina’s superior arrives to welcome him, and a wonderful contrast is shown using costume. Superintendent Louvin enters in a polo shirt with visible sweat patches, while Molina is suited up and cool as a cucumber. One can take the heat and one can’t – we know who our leading man is going to be.

Despite it being obvious that Léa’s not going to show up, her family prepare her birthday party. Well it wouldn’t be The Disappearance if she magically appeared when desired. Julien later gives some information to Molina about Léa’s situation before her disappearance: ‘She is a good student. She gets on with everyone. She’s very sociable.’ Hm. A way of countering the not-so-glowing picture we were just beginning to get of her. Like stashing little packets of cocaine in her drawer. A terrible idea since she has a little sister who wants to be like her and would probably explore her room when it’s vacant. As for ‘sociable’, sociable people just have more people to upset or offend, so that hardly discounts her not having any enemies. I must say, when Julien starts getting a bit confrontational with Molina he handles it quite well. He just has to give Julien “the look” and Julien takes it down a notch. I think that clip should go on a workplace training video on How to Diffuse a Situation. Alas, Molina will empathise with Julien to some degree because he too has a daughter. They both have soft spots for their little girls, and Molina knows what it’s like to have his distance herself from him. He lights up when Rose exits her school, waiting for her to pick up her phone so that he can surprise her. She snubs him. His attempts at masking his disappointment are fruitless. Even being daddy’s girls doesn’t prevent them from straying.

Léa’s boyfriend Romain becomes our chief suspect for the latter part of the episode, with him reluctantly revealing that they had a fight before she disappeared. In the midst of amorous activity, it’s revealed that he’d also engaged in amorous activity with her cousin Chris. Ahhh young love. You almost feel sorry for Molina having to delve into the world of youth. His

Disparue 6
Molina’s so done.

expression is a picture: he’s trying to remain serious but this isn’t his favourite part of questioning. It gets a bit too intimate when you know the ins and outs of the lives of both the victim and the relatives. Camille Guerin comes in to save her superior Molina from having to shoulder this responsibility of knowing everything. Molina also requires someone to challenge his hunches; there’s an instant stare-down after their introduction regarding Romain’s innocence. Most of the time my guesses as to who’ll end up an “interest” of some sorts is right. My radar buzzed the moment Camille made her first appearance. I do like, however, that it’s not immediately obvious as a setup. Molina doesn’t take his eye (figuratively) off the case to initiate anything between them. There

Disparue 7
Conversation shut down.

might be a connection between them, but it takes a backseat to the case for both of them. A delicious interaction between Camille and Molina is in the car when she asks him how he’s finding Lyon. His flat ‘It’s alright’ prompts her to stare at him for derailing her attempt at small talk.

Molina’s meetup with his daughter on the bridge gave away more information than first absorbed. Rose reveals that Molina’s ‘only in Lyon because of some trouble in Paris.’ Oooh no reply from Molina. The writers can’t just throw us a juicy titbit like that and expect us to be fine with it. They can’t just leave it at that. Aha! I think you’ll find they can. My hunch: in episode 2 it’s revealed that his experience working in the minors department has exposed him to incest being behind crimes such as these. Given how quickly he jumps to Lea’s father having possible inappropriate relations with her, it’s a topic which, because he has faced it many times, can sometimes cloud his ability to consider all angles. Perhaps Molina’s “trouble” stems from him being personally affected by these cases to the point it challenged his professionalism? His “trouble” couldn’t have been serious because he’s still retained a high-up job in the police force, just in another location. Perhaps it was less a professional problem and more a personal one. It’s not something that’s examined further within the series.

Episode 2

The writers attempt to tantalise our senses with a suspenseful opening; Léa fleeing helplessly in a dark wood. Sound and light indicates that she is

Disparue 8
Lea on the run.

being hunted by a vehicle. Will this give us a clue as to how she – nope. Fooled ya! It’s just Florence dreaming about her missing daughter’s possible demise. The fact that it happens in her personal office is significant because it demonstrates how much the disappearance is haunting her: it won’t even leave her alone at work.

Julien becomes the suspect target in the opening section of the episode. As alluded to in the previous episode’s analysis: Molina suspects that Julien’s relationship with Léa was an incestuous one. If anything, knowing what we know about the narrative’s outcome, this hypothesis only proves two things (OK, maybe three). One: that the writers are really trying to throw off our investigative skills, two: that Molina has been exposed to some gruesome happenings in his line of work, three: even a professional gets it wrong initially. Julien’s reaction to Molina’s suggestions in questioning, is to moronically go for him. Going for a policeman is worse than going for a civilian for obvious reasons.

While Molina turns up at the race track for some answers, we’re provided a nice interlude with Camille’s character being unwrapped. I sound like a Camille fangirl, but it’s difficult not to find her endearing. Her burger consumption is interrupted by her mother’s phone call, and she is forced to answer questions on her general state, love life and diet in the space of a minute. I’m sure we can all relate. Camille reveals that she recently broke up with her boyfriend because he’s an ‘arsehole’. Which opens her up. Do you see where I’m going with this? Afterwards, having questioned Lea’s brother Thomas, Camille recounts the meeting with Molina. I love their interactions. She brings him coffee, wondering when he’s going to drink it instead of letting it sit there. Only then does he admit aloofly that he doesn’t like coffee. Smooth. The best fictional couplings begin with scenes such as this. To add further humour to the situation, Molina’s ex-wife makes a short stop. Molina catches Camille observing, some brief eye

Disparue 12
Molina curious about Camille’s bin bags. (Not a euphemism).

contact, followed by Camille’s attempt to pretend she wasn’t watching. Later, Camille is found ordering bin bags not to be thrown out with a note. Molina clearly is intrigued by what she’s doing and why they’re there. In the end, he’s snapped out of his interest when she informs him about the case’s details. Her sarcastic reply to the emptied space before her shows her frustration at the lack of conversation. Or normal human interaction, for that matter.

Viewer’s alarm bells are set off simultaneously as Chris has a private conversation with Romain under the watch of Thomas. Chris proclaims her love for Romain days after her cousin’s disappearance. Classy. This does sound like the synopsis for an episode of 902010, however it also gives the audience insight into Chris’ motivations. Overlapping relationships seems to be the theme of this episode, with Julien and Florence’s marriage suffering the strain of their daughter’s disappearance and Julien’s previous infidelity. What is both worrying and entertaining to view: Florence goes mafia on the mistress by demanding that she tell the truth to the police, and then messes up her apartment. This family. This is a lesson to learn: if

Disparue 14
Molina’s so done. Again.

you plan on having an extra-marital affair. Don’t. Your mistress will cause problems for you when your daughter goes missing. You’ll end up a suspect. Since we’re on the topic of the mistress, Molina visits her as she wants to change her testimony. I like this scene as well because Molina looks so fed up with this merry goose-chase of a case. He desperately just wants to get to the bottom of the case and not be an agony aunt of sorts.

Romain is forced to drop the ball on keeping Léa’s secrets. The racing gloves don’t fit him because they’re not even his. Léa was a secret race car driver. Another secret revealed. Léa kept it a secret because she knew her parents wouldn’t react well – especially Julien whose brother had an “accident”. It seems vehicular recklessness is a hereditary thing. Well, once more Chris becomes the Oracle of Lyon; Julien corners her into revealing more about Léa’s secret life. Did she know about the coke? How much did she take? Did Chris know she was racing? Chris also suffers his outburst. She does well to remain composed, despite this. By composed I mean retain her doe impression. At the end of the episode, Julien in his vigilante antics, is rescued by Molina from a pimp. More to come of scenes with Julien on a rampage.

Infuriated about being kept in the dark by the police as well, Julien marches to confront Molina. The stand-off is tense, but it’s Camille’s handling of the situation that stands out the most. ‘He’s worried sick about his daughter. Don’t be so hard on him.’ Molina counters this by saying ‘Better a grumpy good cop than a polite bad one.’ I really do love their interactions. Once more, they balance each other out: Camille’s response to that is ‘Neither has found his daughter.’ As I mentioned in the review, both act as voice of reasons to each other.

Disparue/The Disappearance – Review (No Spoilers)

Disparue (2015) is the French adaptation of the original Spanish version Desaparecida, so the trail expands. I haven’t yet seen the original Spanish version; I can’t comment on the similarities and differences. Hopefully, though, BBC 4 will continue to gift us European dramas that rival our own in terms of acting and production values.

Disparue 2
Lea Morel

Just-turned 17-year-old Léa Morel has disappeared on her birthday in her home city of Lyon, having attended a concert. Her brother Thomas (Maxime Taffanel) and cousin Chris (Zoé Marchal) left with her yet neither claim to know what transpired. At first Léa’s absence is dismissed as just teenage antics: she’ll return after she’s enjoyed herself, family and friends rationalise. Her mother Florence (Alix Poisson), as most mothers are, is beyond such thinking as her maternal instinct is buzzing. She knows something terrible has happened and seems the only one willing to accept it. Léa’s father Julien (Pierre-François Martin-Laval) is strangely blasé when Florence first notices that Léa hasn’t returned in the early hours of the morning. Granted, some of us are extremely groggy/like our sleep, but still. It’s rather suspicious. They both embark on a mission to locate her, following tidbits from the youngsters as to where Léa might be. “Oh, by the way, Léa has a secret boyfriend”. That’s the gist of how it’s presented during Chris’ questioning. The beginning of many “oh by the ways” to come regarding their daughter. It’s only when Léa completely misses her birthday celebrations at home, does the family realise that Florence’s worrying is justified.

Disparue 1
Commandant Bertrand Molina

Enter our detective: Bertrand Molina (François-Xavier Demaison). New in town. Blunt. Serious. One must be to be in charge of such operations in the police force. When asked how he’s finding Lyons, he replies rather unenthusiastically ‘It’s ok’. Regardless of his distant nature: he has arrived just in time to save the day. He also drives a motorbike and wears black which instantly makes him cooler, naturally. Molina only lightens up his stern demeanor as he awaits his daughter’s exit from her school, only to watch her reject his phone call. Lyon’s teenagers are not presenting themselves in such a good light – accurate, yes – but they sure have their parents dangling on tenterhooks for some communication.

Molina’s questioning of Léa’s relatives subjects the audience to a merry-go-round of potential suspects. Everyone looks equally guilty and suspicious of having something to do with her disappearance. This is an excellent device by writers to maintain the pace and suspicion throughout the entire series. Is it the father? Is it her brother? Uncle? Cousin? Secret-now-not-a-secret boyfriend? Teacher? An unseen enemy? As we and the police officers place the suspects under intense scrutiny, Léa’s little sister Zoé reminds us all of innocence lost through this incident. The family cushioning her throughout the investigation is difficult to watch at times, especially as she constantly wonders where her sister is. The little sister is arguably the one who will be most affected by the disappearance.

Special mention goes to supporting character Camille Guérin (Alice Pol), Molina’s second-in-command. She offers a variation in comparison to the other characters; a bit of relief without the laugh-out-loud comedy. Her compulsion to eat during anxious moments endears us to her. Additionally, she balances out Molina: both offer objective perspectives to each other’s respective suspicions during the investigations.

Disparue does well to introduce you to the character of Léa before the suspects are lined up. As the police probe more into Léa’s life, her parents discover that they knew more about her after the disappearance than before. Disparue doesn’t pretend to be anything but itself. It doesn’t try to compete with the more famous dramas, but that’s the beauty of it: it focuses on remaining consistent rather than trying to be gimmicky.