TV Review: ‘Absentia’
Written by Christina Godfrey on March 20, 2018
Sitting in a dentist office waiting room, I sift through the piles of month-old magazines. Amid the sexy golf fashion magazines (who knew those existed?) and a soap opera playing at an inaudible decibel on the flat screen, I settle on People.
It is here where I find an announcement for Absentia, a 10-episode drama centered on a freed FBI agent after being abducted for six years, basically coming back from the dead—that isn’t cliché; they have a headstone for her and everything.
Emily Byrne (the agent) is investigating a series of murders, possibly on the killer’s heels, when she goes MIA. Byrne’s husband and young son, along with her brother and dad, are left to mourn the loss although her body is never found.
In the middle of the night—six years later— Nick (the husband) receives a phone call from the man who supposedly killed his wife, and he’s got an hour to save her.
The rest of the series takes a turn, for although Byrne is safe, she now has to clear herself of murder and prove her innocence.
As a whole, I thought the casting was fine. Stana Katic (Byrne) is believable when it comes to looking like she could kick ass. Many may know her from the ABC show Castle, where she played a sarcastic cop working with a writer to solve murders. This type of physicality was not a stretch for her, although this show is much darker in nature. Patrick Heusinger (Nick) also looks the part of a muscled FBI agent, yet his character needed a good punch in the face.
However, the one woman in charge of the Boston Police officer on the case COULD NOT ACT. It was painful sitting through the few lines she had, and it became impossible not to imitate her. I hope no one else auditioned and she was the only choice, because if she was the best, I’d hate to see her competition.
Unfortunately, this was not the only pitfall of the series. In an attempt to clear her name, Byrne has to go through many unbelievable situations, many of which I have bulleted for easy readability:
- After wading through water, in the middle of the night, in frosty temperatures, somehow she fails to get hypothermia.
- The next morning (and in several other scenes where she’s on the run), her hair is still perfectly curled.
- Since she has escaped said hypothermia with perfect hair, she finds the one truck driver who hates the police (she is a fugitive at the point) and decides to give her a ride bake to Boston.
- When Byrne hotwires a care and needs a club look, the glove compartment conveniently has makeup in it.
- Even though this woman was abducted and tortured for six years, people are annoyed she’s back and somehow her ordeal is more of a pain in the neck for them, especially for Nick’s new wife.
- In order to get valuable information, Byrne sneaks into an asylum. Out of all these people, there is no security, and she finds the one “sane” person who agrees to create a distraction so she can talk to another person, which she easily finds.
- Something Tim Goodman for The Hollywood Reporter couldn’t get over was the fact Bulgaria failed to pass as Boston.
- And to top it all off, in the last episode where everything is resolved and they’re having a child’s birthday party, somehow they tried to force a romance/ sexual tension between Byrne and the goofy-haired Boston Police officer. That may have been the most uncomfortable scene, and that’s saying a lot for a show with flashbacks of a woman being tortured in a tank of water Houdini style.
As a dramatic thriller, does the show keep you guessing? Yes and no, but overall if you have nothing better to watch and want to get through a series quickly, I recommend it—even if it’s accompanied by multiple eye rolls.
You can watch all 10 episodes of Absentia on Amazon Video with an Amazon Prime subscription.