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Finale Spoiler! My wife insisted that I had to watch the ABC primetime show Missing, in which former spy Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd), married to supposedly dead spy, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean), is always searching for their kidnapped son Michael (Nick Eversman). She was sometimes hindered and sometimes assisted by Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis) at the CIA and Giancarlo Rossi (Adriano Giannini) at Interpol. There were lots of evil-looking Eastern European types wielding black semiautos, friendly but cutthroat double agent Martin Newman (Keith Carradine) and cute but deadly double agent Violet Heath (Laura Donnelly). And of course Paul was not really dead, or the walrus.
As in most series with a lot of shooting, people hardly ever run out of bullets, and major characters usually manage to avoid getting shot. Like Emma Peel, or April Dancer, or Ziva David, Becca and Violet were the sorts of slender women that could, and did, regularly beat the crap out of much larger men, often two or three at a time. Maybe that's why my wife liked it. Hmmm. I'm sure Judd would have liked to beat the crap out of critics who called her face too puffy for a female lead.
It wasn't a bad series, but ABC canceled it last week. And given the plot of the finale, I'm not that sorry. Becca kept flashing back to an assignment in the Chechen warzone, 1997, when she and Paul delivered a man to torturers. Within ten minutes she decided that torture was not what she signed up for, and convinced Paul to help her rescue the man. Which was a piece of cake.
But in real time, it comes down to only attractive but evil Violet (right) knowing where Michael is being held, and she ain't talking, so torture is back on the table. Becca explicitly explains the breaking of fingers, pulling of teeth and electrocution that is about to happen, but Violet assumes she is bluffing. Becca cracks a pinky with pliers, and before you can say melted butter, Violet gives her exactly the information she needs. Becca tells Paul, “I found our son.” And it all works out because it is TV.
Once again, torture is being sold on television as an unpleasant but necessary tactic in a world of criminals and terrorists that kidnap, kill, blow things up, but never lie to their torturer. Sometimes they hold out, but they always spill just in time.
The reality that torture is actually a means of making people confess to real or imagined crimes is what is actually Missing.