“Why are you being followed? And what’s all this got to do with Alice Webster and Sophie Giroux?” God old bearded journalist Stefan Anderssen, asking the exasperated questions we probably all were during episode two of The Missing.
UPDATE: Check out our recap of episode 3 of The Missing
After a blistering first episode, The Missing had to ease up this week to deal with the barrage of plot thrown at us. Episode two was slower, with detective Julien Baptiste's drive across the Iraqi desert leading down a dead end – for now.
So, what questions need answering after episode two? Let's start with the big one. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU'VE WATCHED EPISODE 2
What is Brigadier Stone up to?
Roger Allam's character had, up until the closing moments of this episode, barely made an impression on the series. But that's very much changed now.
In the final scene of this series, Stone goes outside to sit with Alice Webster, ostensibly to try and talk her into identifying her captor.
Instead, what follows is an incredible threatening fable about a turtle, and Alice, petrified, replying, "How can you live with yourself after what you've done?"
Here's the fable in full, just to give you the chills.
“Did you ever hear that fable about the turtle? He lived in a tiny pond at the foot of a mountain, swimming in circles, playing with frogs.
"The thing he loved most was when his friends the birds came to visit. They’d tell him about their adventures: snowy mountain peaks; lush green valleys. He desperately wanted to go with them, but he couldn’t, they said, he didn’t have any wings.
"He replied, ‘You could be my wings.’ And the birds came up with this idea: they got hold of a long stick, and clasped either end of it in their claws.
"The turtle would be in the middle of them, and he’d clench his jaw around the stick. Then they’d be able to take him up into the sky. Up he went, higher and higher. And when he looked down and saw the tiny place he used to call his home, he said, ‘Wow...'
"Opening his mouth, he fell back down to earth, cracking his shell into a million pieces.”
Alice is the turtle in this equation, yes? Taken out of her place of captivity into the big wide world...
But who are the birds? Who are the people who have offered her a way out – but only if she does exactly as they say? Stone is telling Alice to keep her mouth shut, but who is he trying to cover for?
Here's our working theory, based on admittedly scant evidence. Stone knew dead military man Henry Reed well – he said as much while raving in the retirement home (that scene took place in the 'present day', timeline fans).
Henry Reed also knew the wife of the butcher currently under suspicion, ex-Army officer Nadia Hertz. She was at Henry's funeral, and in a brief scene this episode we saw Henry's son Daniel quizzing her about their past.
So, a kidnapping conspiracy involving high-ranking British Army officers and a son who goes into hiding in Iraq once he learns the truth about his father? Already it sounds complicated – but it's still way too easy a solution for The Missing.
Is the butcher guilty?
His name is Kristian Hertz, and you do have to admit he looks an awful lot like the e-fit issued by police at the end of episode one.
Alice reacted strongly to his image, and even if there is a wider conspiracy, he could have a connection via his formidable former Army wife.
However, when Alice told Stone at the end of the episode, "Yes, it's him", that could just be her saying what he wants her to say – remember the turtle?
A receipt belonging to the butcher was found in the World War II bunker where Alice was supposedly held – although, oddly, the police appeared to find no other evidence of human habitation.
The fact is, all these events take place in 2014 – and we know Julien is still trying to discover the truth in the present day. Best not to get too lost in the woods at this stage...
Is this really Alice?
Yes, it's the same question we got worked up over in episode one, and it looks like this poser's here to stay.
She immediately calls her brother Matthew by his nickname "Midget", and knows that they argued over a freaky toy monkey. She has the spider tattoo. She calls out her Mum when she gets her childhood art teacher's name wrong. If she isn't Alice, she's clearly been doing her homework.
Julien is adamant that she is in fact the other missing girl, Sophie Giroux, thanks to the nervous gesture she makes with her fingers. Mum Gemma Webster too is beginning to doubt her identity; the scarf felt like a test.
(Oh, and for those asking asking after episode why no one did a DNA test? Good work, you're asking exactly the same questions as Julien Baptiste.)
Who is the man following Julien in Iraq?
He was in the market when Julien first arrived in the Middle East, and now he's giving Julien the shivers in the middle of an Iraqi war zone. Who is he?
Not an insurgent, it seems. The picture of missing soldier Daniel Reed is the thing that brings him out into the open, so we can only assume that Julien is on the right path. Let's see where that lorry leads next week...
Just how broken are these families?
Yes, there's a mystery that keeps us guessing, but this is an episode that began with a mother's suicide and led to a girl asking her brother to lock her in a freezing shed overnight. There a bigger, emotional questions at play here.
A grieving father's affair with a woman who appears to have lost her child too. A retired general suffering from dementia; a mother who can't believe the girl who returned after 11 years is really her daughter; and an old policeman with an incurable brain tumour, who, rather than live out his last days with his loving family, chooses instead to risk his life pursuing a case long since given up on.
Just like series one, don't expect the answer to the mystery to give these characters closure.
What's your reaction after The Missing episode two? Let us know in the comments below – and join us next week to pick over episode three's evidence