'Departure', on the trail of the missing plane

Departing from New York to London, British Global Air Flight 716 suddenly disappears from all tracking devices while flying over the ocean. So it begins Departure, the Canadian-British series in six episodes broadcast free-to-air by Rai 4 for three Wednesdays (the first two episodes, which debuted on June 8, can be found on Rayplay). The task of investigating the mystery falls to Kendra Malley, an officer of the Tsib, the institution that deals with shedding light on the disasters involving means of transport. Gifted detective, Kendra (Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife) is in mourning for her spouse, who died in a car accident, and has to take care of her stepson AJ, a computer-savvy teenager who does not pour sympathy. When he reluctantly accepts his assignment from his mentor (the veteran Christopher Plummer, here at the last television appearance), finds himself at the head of a team including Dom Hayes; to which he blows, in fact, the role of leader of the group.

A plethora of leads immediately emerged, for the most part false. The catastrophe of the vector, found at the bottom of the ocean, could depend on the suicide of the pilot, a man with a complex private life; from a terrorist act; by the international secret services; by the cynical interests of the Russian oligarga Pavel Bartok or more. Unexpectedly, the young passenger Madelyn Strong is found alive, adrift on a dinghy; which, however, only thickens the fog. Also because her Pakistani boyfriend, Ali, is the prime suspect of her.

The disappearances of passenger aircraft have morbidly fascinating precedents in the chronicles (the mystery of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which disappeared in 2014) and in television series: from some episodes of Twilight Zone to Lost And Manifest. The creator and screenwriter of Departure, Shiao winshas drawn relentlessly on the repertoire, combining elements of many yellow and conspiratorial thrillers of recent years and expanding the catastrophe to a geopolitical dimension.

If the course of events is not very original, the merit of Shiao and the director TJ Scott is to ensure a sustained pace, providing several twists at the right moment to keep the viewer’s attention alive (see the titles: “Disappeared” for the first episode, “Survivor” for the second and so on … ). The point of view is constantly focused on the side of the investigators, leaving the victims in the shade and sparing us tearful or pathetic episodes. Perhaps there is a wasted opportunity: the potential rivalry between Kendra and Dom, who initially seems hostile to the woman but then participates in the investigation with a collaborative spirit.

In the countries where it was distributed, Departure has found a good response from the public. So much so that they have already made a second series, also in six episodes, where Kendra goes to America to investigate the mysterious derailment of the Apollo, an experimental very high-speed train.

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