Roush Review: Tragedy and Terror in Baptiste’s Final Affair | Characteristics
Exceptionally dark and action-oriented for a Mystery of the masterpiece! series, the international thriller about missing persons Baptist (a spin-off of the hit Starz Missing) sends its intense Gallic hero Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) to Budapest for a second and final captivating season. Unlike more lenient European procedures, such as its Masterpiece companion Grantchester, this is not intended for casual viewing, insisting that you pay close attention as the action continuously moves back and forth for 14 months.
In the present, it’s clear that the world has seriously gone wrong for Baptiste, who behaves like a madman and a wildly bearded hermit, and also for his suspicious client Emma Chambers (the great Irish actress Fiona Shaw, of Kill Eve and Chip bag glory), the British Ambassador to Hungary. Much of the suspense this season stems from knowing that terrible things must have happened during his investigation, as flashbacks fill in the gaps.
The mystery begins in the mountains of northern Hungary, where Chambers’ family goes missing while hiking on vacation. Tragedy and horror soon follow a series of shocking twists and turns, reminding us that few actors can deliver a primal scream with the power of Shaw, who howls in despair and rage in nearly every episode. “I’m nobody,” she insists. “I’m not important… so why me?” Why my family? The answers, when they arrive, are as devastating as they are unexpected.
Baptiste is also overwhelmed with grief and guilt, which he hopes to atone by offering his expertise, often clashing with local authorities as he uncovers the bottom of a plot involving anti-immigrant terrorists. “We share the same horror stories, don’t we? The sardonic Chambers mused. Baptiste’s grumpy response: “These are not stories, these are black holes.”
Baptist, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday October 17, 10 / 9c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)