TV review: Baptiste, BBC One
- Henry Northmore
- 11 February 2019
Tchéky Karyo takes centre stage in this dark spin off from The Missing
Baptiste opens with a shocking murder, setting up a grim atmosphere that saturates the entire series. This is actually a spin off from The Missing with Tchéky Karyo returning as dogged, almost obsessive, French detective Julien Baptiste. A specialist in missing person cases searching for a girl (Anna Próchniak) who has possibly been abducted, with her uncle (Tom Hollander) anxiously searching for her among Amsterdam's red light district.
There are double crosses, fake identities and pseudonyms linked to sex trafficking and exploitation. Baptiste is obviously a fiction but it reminds us of the darkest aspects of human nature; where people are viewed as commodities. Treated like cattle, their lives just measured in monetary value. And as episode one comes to a close we realise all is not as it seems.
In many ways a study of obsession from multiple angles, the story twists and turns with every revelation but stays grounded in a gritty reality. The cast are universally excellent bringing this bleak downbeat story to life. It's hard to go into detail about Hollander's character without revealing too much but he gets to flex his acting muscles and once again, as so ably demonstrated in The Night Manager, proves he can be menacing, frantic, weak; effortlessly and believably switching emotions.
The reason for the change in title is that Baptiste is now front and centre (in The Missing the relatives of the missing person were often the focus). In a subtly mesmeric performance, Karyo captures the determination and grind necessary to wade through such a dark murky world in a desperate, sometimes futile, attempt to save the lost.
Episodes watched: one and two of six.
Baptiste starts on BBC One, Sun 17 Feb, 9pm.