Sunday, January 8, 2023

REVIEW: 'Alert: Missing Persons Unit' - Nikki and Jason Receive a Clue to Their Long Missing Son in 'Chloe'

FOX's Alert: Missing Persons Unit - Episode 1.01 "Chloe"

The Missing Persons Unit (MPU) investigates the abduction of a young child, whose abduction is likely revenge related to her father's work.

"Chloe" was directed by Michael Offer with story by John Eisendrath & Jamie Foxx teleplay by John Eisendrath

Nikki has devoted her life to reuniting parents with their missing children after being denied that some grace herself. Her son was abducted six years ago. Her family was broken because of that. Everything changed as a result of that moment. Their past and future may only be restored once they find Keith. Of course, the narrative wants to present some mystery with that story. Jason is given a reason to believe Keith is still alive. He receives evidence and a ransom after all this time. Nikki doesn't want to get her hopes up. She knows that if she pursues this investigation once more it will only end in despair and disappointment. She has resigned herself to praying and hoping for answers one day. She is powerless. She can't do anything to receive closure. The universe simply has to produce that for her at some point. She may never receive clarity. As such, she had to find purpose elsewhere. She is devoted to her job. She takes risks in the name of reuniting these missing children with their loving families. She requires them to be completely honest with her. This is a complicated job. Some children are targeted for a reason. In Chloe's case, it's all about retaliation for the CIA work her father was doing. He conducted drone strikes overseas. And now, the family member of someone he killed has arrived to exact his revenge. It's truly scary to watch as one abduction doesn't stop this plot completely. Nikki has to remain diligent even when it seems like this case has been closed. She found Chloe. She rescued her. This daughter gets to reunite with her parents. That joy provides so much relief to everyone involved. And then, it happens all over again. This story is more complicated than it initially seems. Of course, it still provides a long enough break for Nikki and Jason to make a quick trip to Las Vegas to pursue the lead to their own son. That's a priority for them as well. Mostly though, the narrative just wants to show them working well together. This mystery tore them apart but they never really moved on. Sure, they are with other people now. Nikki happily accepts Mike's marriage proposal. However, Jason is always close by ready to re-enter her life in a meaningful way once more. That's all simply inevitable.

This entire premiere comes across as a concoction of various tropes frequently seen on broadcast network shows. It follows a procedural format with a serialized mystery meant to play out across a season. It features dysfunctional leads with an inherent tragedy in their personal lives that's ironic given the jobs they have. It provides justification for ever tactic police use in the name of it all working out in the end. It includes a tortured love triangle where Mike just so happens to see Nikki and Jason celebrating and being happy together once more. And finally, one character gets to exist solely as a mystery. The audience receives that glimpse of Keith destroying evidence in his notebook that may suggest he was closely monitoring this family. He may not actually be Nikki and Jason's son. That's the hook meant to tantalize the viewer and make us intrigued to see more. However, that too feels like the expected twist. That comes from the build up of Nikki not wanting to get her hopes up. She must do so regardless though. This story plays out no matter what she wants to do. Her feelings and actions have no merit whatsoever. She simply has to get caught up in the moment. The one thing she thought would never happen actually has. As such, she just wants to be happy and go along with everything. She has to be inherently skeptical at her job. She has to be discerning about what information matters. She trusts the people she works alongside. She understands that she needs her ex-husband's expertise in order to continue helping families in this particular crisis. At the end of the day though, this all feels like a story happening to people instead of being driven by characters who are actually engaging. It's a premise in search of a connection. That may come with the benefit of time. That also requires the various cases-of-the-week to be exhilarating and thrilling. That simply threatens to come across as too outrageous in the name of going big instead of finding the inherent drama and twisted nature of examining those who abduct the most vulnerable in our society.