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The Case of the Missing FBI Agent on 'Absentia'
February 2, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Stana Katic (top), whose Detective Kate Beckett was both hunter and hunted through eight seasons in the good-natured Castle, now finds herself back in that same situation on a much darker show called Absentia.

In Absentia, whose 10 episodes become available Friday on the streaming service Amazon Prime, Katic plays Emily Byrne, an FBI agent who disappeared six years earlier while trying to nail a serial killer.

She was finally declared dead, leaving behind her devastated husband Nick (Patrick Heusinger, top), who is also an FBI agent, and their toddler son, Flynn (played "present day" by Patrick McAuley).

The serial killer she was chasing, Conrad Harlow (Richard Brake, below), was convicted of her murder, though not the serial killings. Nick has remarried, to an understanding woman named Alice (Cara Theobold) who has become a good mother to Flynn.

So the world has been sort of taped back together when Nick gets a call saying that if he hurries to a remote cabin in the woods, he just might be able to save Emily’s life.

Huh? What? But sure enough, there she is, she’s rescued just before she drowns and okay, everybody, whatta we do now?

You see the problem for Nick. And for Alice. And for Flynn. But it soon turns out Emily has the biggest problem.

She doesn’t remember anything that happened over the last six years. That’s inconvenient because evidence surfaces that would seem to implicate her in some very shady business over that time. It’s tough to mount a defense without any idea what really did happen.  

Nick, as if he didn’t already have enough complications in his life, is assigned to the case that could lead to Emily’s arrest and incarceration.

Fortunately for Emily, Katic – who is also an executive producer of Absentia – is ideally suited to play her. She exudes a kind of cool detachment that suggests she knows what she has to do and she’s not going to let side issues like emotions divert her.

It doesn’t always make her warm and cuddly, though the viewer will definitely be rooting for her. The more she tries to figure out the missing six years, the better we understand her, and the better the story gets.

Absentia contains echoes of the recent Jessica Biel series The Sinner, in which a woman can’t remember a traumatic part of her past whose consequences may determine her future. The absence of that information leaves it unclear to the rest of the world whether she is victim or perpetrator.

Absentia doesn’t reprise The Sinner. It’s a different story, with different nuances and consequences. Emily Byrne is a different character, more pro-active.

What matters most is that Absentia tells its story well. It moves at a fast clip, filling us in on complicated premises and outlining the upcoming mystery by the end of the first episode.

Katic, Heusinger, Theobold, and their colleagues make the known parts of the story credible, while giving us no obvious clues to the twists that lie ahead.

If you’re looking for a midwinter binge, consider Absentia a strong candidate.

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Roseann Milano
The premise of this story sounds just like Castle when he disappeared for a few months/years (I can't remember). And when he does come back he can't remember what happened. It think they milked that for most of the season. (Again I can't remember how long it was milked.)
Feb 2, 2018   |  Reply
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