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'Departure' Makes Its Arrival to the U.S. on Peacock
September 17, 2020  | By David Hinckley

In the absence of the new U.S. dramas we would normally be seeing this month, the Canadian miniseries Departure fills in admirably.

Departure, which becomes available Thursday on Peacock, spends its six episodes tracking down the mystery of a plane that disappears over the Atlantic Ocean en route from New York to London.

It's one of those miniseries that comes in at the right length, with enough time to weave a complicated story and still maintain a quick enough pace, so there's always something developing.

Its main asset is Archie Panjabi (top), who was so memorable in The Good Wife and here plays Kendra Malley, the lead investigator into the disappearance.

Kendra is fair and pleasant. She's also impatient when other agencies try to muscle in on the investigation. On the personal side, she's roped into this gig against her will as she's been on leave from the job since a serious incident sometime earlier where she apparently resolved a situation and suffered a personal tragedy.

When we meet her, she's channeling her frustrations into strenuously rowing along a London river. Her boss, Howard Lawson (Christopher Plummer), bullies her, to a degree, into climbing back in the saddle, saying she's the only person he trusts to crack the case.

The disappearance of British Global Airlines (BGA) flight 716 is a big deal. The plane has 256 people on board, which would make this the biggest tragedy BGA's history.

It also might sink BGA, since the plane that goes down is a new model, and BGA has just sold 100 of them to the Saudis and Chinese. If the plane now seems suspect, those deals would be off, and BGA itself would go down.

Kendra doesn't have much to work with when she arrives at headquarters. The plane sent no mayday message, simply vanishing from radar surveillance. Potential rescue ships have been mobilized, but the possible crash area can't be pinpointed closely enough to give them anything other than a long-shot chance of finding it.

Departure spends some time giving a lesson on how current technology can work to locate a lost plane. It spends more of its time on a couple of human dramas.

Those include the backstory of passenger Madelyn Strong (Rebecca Liddiard), who was on the disappeared flight because she missed her earlier scheduled connection, and pilot Captain Richard Donovan (Allan Hawco), who has some secrets.

It also includes the interplay among Kendra and various other investigators, including Dominic (Kris Holden-Ried, top), whose presence she initially resents, and Levi Hall (Peter Mensah), an old colleague.

Kendra meanwhile juggles drama at the home she shares with her adopted 18-year-old son AJ (Alexandre Bourgeois). He's a teenage boy. Do the math.

Panjabi's character isn't as shadowy here as she was on The Good Wife, but she's no less interesting. She still wears boots.

Departure arrives, let's admit it, as one of the many substitutes networks have had to find for the original programming they couldn't produce because of the COVID pandemic. Happily, it's quite ready for the Lower 48.

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