The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Birthday Boy

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This miniseries is going to be a tough one to handle.

An adorable blond-haired moppet vanished on The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1.

Parents watching The Disappearance are now going to do one of two things: either refuse to watch any further or get ready to relate to the emotions which Anthony's parents and grandfather are experiencing.

Precocious Child -- Tall - The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1

I'm choosing to do the latter.

This atmospheric production filmed around Montreal is the latest gem WGN America has imported from Canada.

Tension at School - The Disappearance

It's actually inheriting the timeslot previously filled by the underappreciated Pure, which is still waiting for a Season 3 renewal.

The show's creative team made viewers fall in love with Anthony instantly.

Related: Peter Coyote on The Disappearance, His Complex Character, and His Long Career

The curious, precocious child did things the hard way. Assigned to do a report about an area and its culture, Anthony didn't just hop on Google.

Instead, he got his hands dirty, literally, and went old school, taking photos of his subjects with a Polaroid camera. (It couldn't have been easy to find film for that.)

Yes, he did invade people's privacy. A lot.

Examining His Neighborhood - The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1

And I'm betting his sneaking into that house under construction may well have something to do with his disappearance. If not, why spend so much time on his flashback?

Man, was he organized, with copies of his reports, including the artwork, for everyone in the class. If he hadn't set off alarm bells with those, he might have gotten through his report before his teacher caught on.

But after he got in trouble for being "inappropriate," only Henry, and to a lesser degree his wacky Aunt Catherine, stood up for him.

Instead of praising him for being innovative, his parents Luke and Helen toed the societal line. Even Henry, after learning Anthony had done some illegal entering, reinforced that there are boundaries he shouldn't cross.

It was also apparent that everyone loved Anthony, despite being caught up in their own issues. Despite his propensity to stick his nose in where he shouldn't, he's a lovable boy.

Sweet Moment - The Disappearance

Henry and Anthony share a special bond, one Henry obviously doesn't have with either of his children.

Peter Coyote portrayed retired judge Henry as aloof, authoritative, and opinionated. But he was also a man adrift after his wife Maggie died, so much so that he moved in next door to Luke and Anthony.

Related: Pure Season 2 Episode 6 Review: Wedding

Henry, who spends the most time with his grandson, has a kindred soul in Anthony, and he's a totally different person with him, goofy and playful.

It was almost like Anthony was the son Henry never had. And that was a problem since Luke is his son.

It's also clear that everyone in the family, including Anthony, has secrets.

Odd Present - The Disappearance

Anthony's room is sure to play into this mystery, as it appeared to be one big map or some kind of code. You just know that that cat he drew on a sticky note will come into play down the road.

Henry's biggest secret was revealed during the flashbacks with young prosecutor Henry and rape victim Maggie, who would become his wife.

Luke wasn't Henry's biological son but rather a product of rape. It didn't seem that Luke knew that, however. So that's likely one major reason for the tension between them.

Maybe Maggie was always a buffer between them, one that is now gone.

If, as Luke claimed, Henry only drops by during the weeks Anthony stays with Luke, there are definitely unresolved issues between them.

Analyzing Report - The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1

It wasn't made clear what Henry's problem is with Catherine. In both cases, I suspect it has to do somewhat with not living up to his exacting standards.

Like doing the work to stay married, regardless of the obstacles, as he acidly explained to Helen after she and Luke signed their divorce papers.

In fact, Henry, who thought that an encyclopedia set was a great birthday gift for Anthony, was wrestling with the world passing him by.

He had been exiled to the garage, just like the encyclopedias, as a form of intelligence from another time. And that hurt his considerable pride.

That was a challenging treasure hunt which Henry set up for Anthony, another pleasure from a bygone time.

Birthday Celebration - The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1

At some point, Henry is bound to blame himself because Anthony was abducted during the hunt which he had created.

Also not yet revealed was what split Luke and Helen apart. They seemed like capable co-parents, whatever Henry felt, but both have moved on to new relationships. Luke dating Anthony's teacher seemed, well, inappropriate.

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I was as frustrated as the family as the police kept asking the same questions over and over to different people, looking for inconsistencies, and falling back on assuming that Anthony ran away because of the looming divorce.

It certainly felt like time was being wasted unnecessarily. The cop finding Anthony's abandoned bike and camera proved the family was correct.

Working Mother - The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1

Here's a couple of sure things that will happen in the remaining five episodes.

First, Henry will use his legendary reputation and his relationship with the lead detective to insert himself into the investigation, probably hindering more than he's helping.

Second, the family's secrets will all come out. It's a miniseries, after all, so no cliffhangers.

To rewatch the opener, watch The Disappearance online.

Did something Anthony saw lead to his abduction?

Or was it something a family member had done?

Did Anthony leave clues behind?

Comment below.

Birthday Boy Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (4 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Disappearance Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Henry: So do you want to tell me your version of events before she gets here.
Anthony: I didn't do anything wrong.
Henry: That's your story and you're sticking to it?

Little wiseass.

Henry