Dread. If there is one word we would use to describe one of the pivotal moments of Absentia episode 3, this is it.
Does anything good happen to Emily Byrne? At this point in the season, we started to wonder. In episode 1, she came back from the dead to realize that her husband Nick had married someone else — and that her son Flynn was calling another woman his mother. In episode 2, meanwhile, she learned that she was under suspicion of being a killer.
Given that Conrad Harlow’s death was the pivotal moment leading into episode 3, you would hope that things would be better. Emily was free of her apparent captor! Yet, she was suspected for his murder and she had a pretty darn good motive. It was also difficult to understand precisely who she was in the wake of her six years away.
As scary as all of this was, none of this was anywhere near as scary as watching Emily and Flynn drive around that go-cart track. As the engines roared and you could feel the cars moving faster and faster down the road, it was clear that something terrible was going to happen. Hence, the dread. Emily’s go-cart stalled, Flynn’s cart ran into her, and before she knew it she found herself trying to pull him out of there. He turned out to be okay, but what transpired from there was a game of emotional tug-of-war with Alice infuriated that Nick left her boy alone with her while the two did a fairly-dangerous activity — especially knowing that she was a suspect in the murder. Alice was starting to get frozen out of her relationship and soon after that, Nick found himself running to the Harlow crime scene with Emily. He was willing to break the rules with her but wasn’t willing to clue her in with the latest information on the case.
There were some moments during Nick and Emily’s investigation into the crime scene where we started to actually get a sense as to what their lives may have been at one point. They were exceptional sleuths, navigating through every nook and cranny of that scene without detection.
In the aftermath of their dalliance at the crime scene Nick focused back in on his other objective: Trying to prove there was a mole within the FBI.
The story of Jack Byrne
After he was missing in action for most of episode 2 we saw Jack, in the wake of her return, slip back into alcoholism. Jack is a terrible person when he drinks — he’s angry, cruel, and he basically told Emily that he didn’t miss her at all when she gone.
After spending her time with Jack Emily went off to a hotel, where she eventually met up with Nick and more bad news was delivered: Emily did go out again that night after Nick dropped her off. The twist is that she went back to see her old life — she was the noise outside that had Alice so concerned in episode 2. Stana Katic’s monologue, one in which Emily poured out her heart to Nick about her pain and her suffering, was one of the most powerful ones of her career. This smashed our heart into pieces watching it.
Nick tests his theory
Nick eventually found his way back to the FBI, one in which he was reminded that Emily was a suspect — and that she needed to turn herself in. This is when, in the midst of a conversation with Radford, he started to tip the scales of him as the secret accomplice of Harlow’s. Granted, this was the second person Nick had accused in this episode, and with that, it was hard to take it as seriously in the moment as we would have otherwise.
In the midst of this conversation, Emily decided to venture over to his home and take a look. This all seemed to be going well for her at first, coming across what could have been a very valuable clue — that is, until she started to bleed out all over his house … presumably. She saw the book with the eyes and as a result of that, the blood started to drip from her eyelashes.
Yet, it was all an allusion. Were the books some sort of trigger? It absolutely felt that way upon reflection. This moment gave you a better sense that there may be deeper psychological torment at play here, but we’re not sure how much Emily was thinking about that as she did her part to try to escape from Radford’s home. She eventually did, but not before accidentally leaving one final slice of evidence behind: A slanted certificate. It does seem right that Radford is involved after seeing this, but there is still no proof.
While Absentia episode was far from the happiest story in human history, it was probably the strongest overall episode that the series has delivered to date. The title here was “The Emily Show” and it fit, given that much of everything tended to be about her. She didn’t want it that way, so it was almost The Truman Show without all of the comedy and Jim Carrey.
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