'Absentia' season 2 review: Stana Katic as Emily Byrne captivates viewers as she struggles to solve a puzzle from her past
In 'Absentia' season 2, Emily Byrne tries her best to get a handle on the life that she has got a second chance at, but she cannot shake off the fear that someone is still out there to get her.
Would you want to relive a horrific past enough to drug yourself, enough to take yourself to the same place that you were once terrified of, all in the name of unchaining yourself from the past? Well, former agent Emily Bryne (Stana Katic) is well past what one would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and moves into the territory of fighting her fear head-on. While everyone around her tries to write her feelings off as an after effect of a traumatic past, Emily is not convinced. In fact, she is certain that there is more than what meets the eyes.
The common thread between the first and second season of 'Absentia' is Emily's hunch about 'someone being out there', someone who was left unpunished and may come back to find her and her family. This is what leads her to a new case, a killer who she needs to find to know the truth about someone.
Just as it did in the past, the case and her personal life get intertwined as she tries to navigate between her memory loss when she was abducted, handling her PTSD and taking unprescribed drugs to try and get her memories back from when she was captured.
Amid her rogue investigation into her own abduction in an attempt to find any possible loose threads that may lead her to the truth, there is a gas attack at FEMA (one of the buildings of FBI) which results in a number of people dying. Their insides are turned into liquid because of a gas that they inhale and this results in a panic attack across the city. Was FEMA the only target though? Even as Nick continues to investigate the terror attack, the case that she is picking apart leads to a time in her past that she doesn't remember.
She finds out that the death of someone she was following for leads is not a one-off incident as was initially portrayed but is connected to a serial killer. The killer is a professional who is targetting specific individuals and one of them struck the interest of FBI and this leads Emily to her former workplace. She manages to join the search despite knowing that she is not fit to serve in her current state of mind. She is desperate and grabs at all possible straws and the only thing that would give her a chance at unearthing the connection between her, one of the victims of the serial killer and her past. She begins to work with special agent Cal Isaac (Matthew Le Nevez). The two work together to find the killer and the only thing that connects all of the victims is hives on their skin that could have possibly been caused by poison ivy.
From beginning to end, we follow Emily not really because we are rooting for her, but because we are curious. Was she really right about everything? Or was it all made up in her head after the abduction?
Throughout the season, what stands out the most is the way that Emily dealt with her panic attacks. The brutality of it and what it means to lose yourself in the presence of your son when the entire city is panicking about the gas attack. The necessity of Emily having to hold it all in is clearly visible when her ex-husband Nick Durand's (Patrick Heusinger) wife Alice (Cara Theobold) come by one day to inform her about a family councilling session and warns Emily about being sober in their son Flynn's (Patrick McAuley) presence. It only shows how important it is to show the world that you are in control of everything to be trusted. She makes sure she does everything to keep her son safe, but underneath it all, there is a deep level of struggle that Emily is fighting to win and this struggle that unravels over 10 episodes is fascinating.
The show premiered on Amazon on June 10.