Saturday EuroCrime: The Disappearance parts 3 & 4

As this series runs for only eight episodes, we are now already at the halfway mark, and two further episodes have led to the almost inevitable discovery that Lea Morel is dead. Not only dead, but discovered, floating in a lake, wrapped in plastic, after further revelations that she wasn’t the sweet, blonde, happy, lovely kid that everyone seemed to think she was. I know I made the Laura Palmer connection last week, but this is taking the comparison entirely too far.

So we have the Twin Peaks cop-off as the crime that represents the spine of the story, but The Killing 1 is equally as prevalent as the latest two episodes spend a considerable amount of time on how Florence and Julian Morel are taking this situation. He, being French, is volatile and compelled: the lack of action, the lack of answers, the fact that nothing seems to be happening drives him into frantic bursts of energy and temper (though he’s finally beginning to accept that Commander Molina is working the case as best as possible).

But poor Flo is definitely going down the same lines as Pernilla Birke Larssen and her moods are spooking more than one member of the family. She’s heading for a crack-up, investing her emotional energy in  a clairvoyant whose unnatural assumption of hopefulness becomes too much for the slowly despairing Julien to bear, leading to ructions and separate beds.

That this will only get worse is slightly telegraphed by devoting the Morel family’s time to little Zoe’s School Fair. The Morels arrive separately to the Pirate Pantomime, the atmosphere of which relaxes Flo enough to take Julien’s hand, even as we intercut to Molina’s heedless 15 year old daughter Rose being the one to find Lea’s body.

Not that I think Rose has any significance in this save as a detail to the somewhat perfunctory glimpse we have of Molina’s ‘troubled private life’. Though it’s not out of the question: these two episodes are predicated upon the fact that everyone’s lying to the Police about something, especially if their surname is Morel. Jean, the uncle, sneaked off to his lover of two years who he dare not breathe a word of to daughter Chris (played by Zoe Marchal: I looked her name up in the credits: I have my shallow side like everyone else), whilst Thomas, the elder brother was off vandalising the new Hi-Speed Train, putting ecological concerns ahead of protecting his little sister, for which Flo cannot forgive him.

Yes, very Pernilla.

The plot develops without haste or melodrama. Lea’s voicemail message to her father takes both episodes to be proven a fake: it was left by Jenny the prostitute, who dealt drugs from her van to Lea regularly, whilst also taking money off boyfriend Romain in her other, older profession. Someone kills her with a metal bar to the head, but who or why?

And then there’s Nicolas, waiter at the Morel Cafettiere, who has/had a major crush on Lea, now being bitterly described by the lovely Chris as a major-league prick-teaser (or is that just because Romain’s backed out of the language trip to England because he won’t have Lea to fuck, whilst Chris no longer wants to go because she won’t have Romain to fuck?)

Nicolas has been enough of a red herring and whilst he hasn’t been cleared, I don’t think it’s him as he’s come to light too early. At the moment, such suspicions as I have are focused upon Lea’s French teacher and Form Master: Flo gets a letter from the school (because Lea’s not around to intercept it) warning of falling grades, bad attitudes and unauthorised absences. But her Form Master, at whom she smiles coquettishly in flashbacks, hasn’t noticed a single problem and gave her 85% in her last literature essay: not bad for a girl who her mother couldn’t get to read a single book.

But there are still four episodes left and time for at least two more red herrings, and anyway, I’m really no more invested in this series that I was last week.

There’s nothing wrong with The Disappearance. It’s well-made, well-acted, and the mystery is being handled carefully, with little dribs of information being released. But on the other hand, there’s nothing particularly right about it. It’s a French version of The Killing with an overtly Twin Peaks victim and it doesn’t bring anything else to the party. I can appreciate it for its refusal to turn itself into a melodrama at any point, to indulge itself in hysteria. I admire it for not employing a ‘maverick’ detective consistently bending rules in the most stupid of fashions. I like the growing efficiency of the relationship between Molina and the slightly out-sized Guerin. It can indulge in close-ups of Zoe Marchal any time it wants.

But unless the second half has some comprehensive surprises in store, it’s not going to go down as great, or compelling, or memorable. It’s not going to be fatuous or risible, for which many thanks, but by the same taken I’m not going to be clamouring for a sequel, whereas I’d happily sit down with Andri, Hinrika, Aesgir and that gorgeous Icelandic scenery for another ten episodes any day.

Not that Lyons isn’t lovely in itself. The pan shots along the Rhone, with all its bridges, make me want to visit.

No, The Disappearance is good in its own way but insufficiently distinctive for anything except the age old question of What Happens Next? Some more of that is due next Sunday morning: it’s not going to keep me away from the football on Saturday night.


10 thoughts on “Saturday EuroCrime: The Disappearance parts 3 & 4

  1. It’s in the nature of the blog, Mike. It’s extraordinarily hard to watch something just for the fun of it, without thinking of what I’d say about it. That’s why I’m enjoying Person of Interest so much – into season 3 by now.

  2. Great Review as always! Honestly, I do enjoy reading your blogs.

    I agree with your theory on who killed Lea. I think that Cris killed Lea and Jean covered it up.

    Cris probably always felt in Lea’s shadow and especially after Lea’s relationship with Romain (as you said Lea had Romain, and Cris didn’t). Cris felt jealous,the two probably had a fight about Romain (Considering that same night Lea had found out that Cris also had a relationship with Romain) or something else (your theory about Jean being the dad of Lea’s baby is plausible) and in a moment of anger Cris killed Lea.

    In a panic, Cris calls Jean and he buries the body. Jenny probably witnessed this and Jean puts Lea’s body in the lake.

    I don’t see it being as straightforward as that though, I am pretty sure there are still many twists and turns to come. There are still many unanswered questions/loose ends that still need to be tied up during the last two episodes.

    Who went to the jewellery shop with Lea?, the expression between Molina and Guerin was definitely one of shock/confusion when the shop owner recognized one of the photo’s. What did Nicholas know,? (I feel he has more to do with the story than is being let on). Who killed Nicholas? (If our theories are right and Jean was involved, maybe Nicholas found something out?. During the restaurant scene where Jean hurriedly decides to take Nicholas out, we saw that there was an inaudible conversation between Jean and Nicholas, this has to have some significance, what was said? When Molina asked Jean about the conversation, I am pretty sure Jean had lied. Lea’s pregnancy I feel is another story in itself. I have no idea where this revelation will lead us, however as it has been mentioned, there will definitely be some significance regarding this and her murder. They initially accused Julien of having a relationship with his daughter in episode 2, maybe she had a secret past with Jean/Thomas (highly unlikely with the latter). I also couldn’t help but realise the similarity of how Flo was two months pregnant at the time of Julian’s affair and Lea was also two months pregnant when she died, maybe I am looking at this in too much detail.

    These are my thoughts!. I am very interested to see how this story will conclude. I have enjoyed it so far, I do hope that there will be a clear-cut ending.

    1. Hey Vee, thanks for the kind words and thanks for a spot on analysis (we’re both going to look pretty stupid if it turns out to be someone completely different next Saturday).

      I’m not sure I agree with you over Jean being involved on the Saturday night. His alibi held up over the one period there was doubt, thanks to his lover, which accounts for his movements and precludes him from being available for Cris. Had his lover lied, I’d have expected her to have brought it up by now, especially when he was so casual towards her when she’d clearly cooked for him. But otherwise, I agree that he’s almost certainly involved after that, especially as he was the only one to hear what Nicolas wanted to say to Julien: just wanted his job back, lame lie.

      I don’t know if the coincidence of both Lea and Flo being two months pregnant has any meaning, beyond perhaps that it’s a point in the pregnancy cycle where it is certain that the woman is pregnant (and has not merely missed an erratic period) yet has no visible physical characteristics. For differing reasons, the two women wanted to keep their pregnancy concealed and that’s a time when the possibility is very plausible. I can’t imagine what other connection there may be: in a more original series I’d be looking for something to come out of left field, but maybe not here, with so little time left.

      I cannot wait to find out who’s in the photograph the jeweller identified…

      1. When it comes to who committed the crime, I think I am confident that it was Cris. (Embarrassing if it turns out to be someone different, yes)

        To be honest, having seen the show and the constant flow of lies which have been unravelled by everyone in turn, I will not be surprised if someone who initially had an “alibi” for the night of Lea’s murder turns out to be involved. Hence why I initially thought Jean, despite his lovers statement which confirmed his movements that night.

        I am going to make a point about the pendant which I am not sure is even important. What if the pendant is a red herring, it seems entirely convenient that the necklace was found at the grave made for Lea, naturally if the person who removed her body from the grave wanted to distinguish all connections to Lea, they would have ensured that there were no clues. Unless they were in a rush to remove the body. Or someone placed the necklace at a later stage. What is your opinion regarding this? Am I just going off track, Haha.

        What I did find interesting was the way Lea had responded to Cris’s question regarding the heart-dolphin pendant in the flashback. After having been told that it wasn’t necessarily her style, Lea smiled and touched the pendant while saying “that’s why I like it”. I guess once we find out the identity of the man, Lea’s reaction might make sense. THIS PENDANT BUSINESS IS MESSING WITH MY MIND. I have too many opinions on this.

        I also think that Jenny and Nicholas are somewhat connected. I mean both seemingly had information regarding Lea and both ended up murdered. Jenny definitely did, this was confirmed in episode 2 when Julien went to the park and when shown the picture of Lea, we instantly knew that Jenny had recognised her. We knew Lea had drugs. I don’t actually remember weather it was confirmed from whom she got the drugs? Was it Jenny? Jenny was also killed in a similar fashion to Lea. Blow to the head I recall. In comparison, Nicholas also seemed to have known something regarding Lea (restaurant scene), he was also killed shortly after, although in a different fashion to make it look like suicide.

        Thank you for the pregnancy clarification, yes, probably absolutely no connection.

        Going back to Cris, there has been something off about her even since the 1st episode. Even with Lea, she never necessarily seemed “happy” from what we saw of her and lea together. Her obsession with Romain and her being more involved with Zoe and the rest of Lea’s intermediate family seems a bit odd. Even wearing Lea’s top after she had gotten hers dirty. She also always seems lost in thought and detached.(probably her way of grieving, or its her remorse).

        (I thought I had uploaded my comments on your blog post for episode 5&6, but instead it’s been uploaded here). Ooops, sorry!

  3. So many speculations! We’re both agreed upon Cris, and I think you’re right about her having felt ‘off’ right from the start. I think somebody’s got to be helping her and I can’t see past her Dad, I just don’t think he came into it on the actual Saturday night: after, yes.

    The pendant could still be a red herring: there are still two episodes to go which leaves room for whoever is in the photo to be a decoy. I’m inclined not to think that it was deliberately left in the grave, but overlooked on a panicky decision to chuck Lea’s body in the lake instead. It was only seen initially by Guerin because her torch glinted off it. But…

    As I said before, ‘The Disappearance’ has been a bit too conventional in many ways for me to expect a radical shift in the final week and I’m going with our joint theory. Then again, I was never that good at solving murder mysteries, with the notable exception of Josephine Tey’s ‘Miss Pym Disposes’…

  4. I’m convinced the uncle is involved, perhaps with his girlfriend who isn’t allowed to be a proper part of his life. Maybe the girlfriend thought she was ‘off-ing’ Cris, as they do look quite similar… and with Cris out of the picture, there would be nothing stopping the uncle openly being with her. A stretch though, perhaps! Maybe the uncle found out Lea was prostituting, taking drugs etc. and killed her out of rage, for not appreciating the lovely family life she has and which he couldn’t give his daughter due to his wife’s death…

    1. Oh, I agree Jean is part of this, but I hadn’t considered direct involvement by his girlfriend. If she had set out after Cris and got Lea in error, then she’d have to have invented a really good motive to have gotten Jean to help her, because she couldn’t have admitted she want Cris out of the way. As for Jean’s rage at Lea wasting the chance she had, it seems clear Lea wasn’t prostituting herself and just using Jenny as her source, but that wasn’t necessarily how it would have looked to Jean. So many theories!

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