Alert: Missing Persons Unit isn’t reinventing the wheel with crime procedurals, but it encapsulates the strengths of the best and should find a comfortable home and audience.
By the midway of Alert: Missing Persons Unit Season 1 Episode 1, it delivered a solid cast, buoyed by two strong leads with great chemistry in Dania Ramirez and Scott Caan, fascinating premises for cases with supporting characters who compel you to learn more, and an intriguing mystery.
Is the teen they found really Keith? And if so, where has he been this entire time, and why is he back now?
The hour had its moments that were quintessential “pilot-y” and thus unavoidable as it tried to give us an idea of who these characters were and why we should be invested in them. Still, overall, it managed to introduce them to us well.
Ramirez’s Nikki is clearly the heart of this series and the heart of the MPU. Via flashbacks, we saw when she informed Jason about their son’s abduction. She mentioned that the MPU was the one to explain what happened.
And that pivotal, life-altering moment six years prior fundamentally shaped Nikki and how she chose to spend her life.
Incredibly, she managed to climb the ranks and lead the MPU in such a short time frame, and when you hear her talk about finding “babies” and the passion, compassion, and devotion she exudes on a case, you understand why she’s the perfect woman for the job.
Who better to lead a unit that focuses on bringing the lost home than a grieving mother who knows what that’s like firsthand?
Despite the tragedy in her life, she’s such a light and grounding character. And she’s wonderfully contradictory, making her relatable and distinctly human.
She’s a woman who wholeheartedly respects and relies on faith and sees it as an asset for this job, which is surprising in a sense when you see Kemi’s unconventional approach to prayer before every case.
But Nikki is also a guarded woman.
Mike: Kem, I love you, but we don’t have time for that.
Kemi: Sure, if facts were all that will find Chloe, but, as I believe, finding her is equal parts faith and fact. Time spent praying is time well spent.
Her easy faith isn’t synonymous with hope. She doesn’t give that freely. We mainly saw that when it came to Jason’s insistence that the information he received about their son was sound.
When it comes to Nikki, she shined in two different contexts within the premiere: her easy camaraderie with her ex-husband Jason and how damn devoted and good she is at her job.
Instantly, you know that she’s the type of woman on your case if you require the help of the MPU. When Nikki says that she’s bringing your loved one home, you believe her.
She was a total badass in the field, bringing some action via that pool jump and that intense fight scene in the elevator. Hopefully, that’s something the series can keep up and sustain, and that level of action doesn’t die down as the series continues.
Mike: We’re not going to make it in time.
Nikki: I’m not using the stairs.
Mike: What, what, what?! Bad idea!
They struck the right balance of making Nikki a badass without appearing like an unrealistic action barbie or superhuman. Her emotional groundedness and openness, as well as her vulnerability, are part of what make her so instantly endearing.
Every moment she spent with Chloe, you could tell she was such a mom and how motherhood adds value to how she carries herself and succeeds at the job.
It’s so common for crime dramas to have mothers where maternal lifestyle is viewed as a hindrance to their work life or drawback that it’s refreshing to see the total opposite here.
Interestingly, Mike and Jason are good at balancing what Nikki offers in distinctly unique ways. At the moment, one is far more compelling than the other, but it’s early yet.
Mike seems perfectly lovely. He’s handsome, funny, and charming. You can tell he’s also passionate about the job, and I’m interested in learning how he and Nikki came to work and date.
He worked on Keith’s case, and I wonder if he was instrumental in Nikki shifting to the MPU or if that case is what brought them together.
He’s the classic skeptic, more logical and sensible in demeanor and approach. Fortunately, he manages to be that way while also not hampering what others on the team have to offer.
In this day and age, the setup of Nikki running this unorthodox but elite unit with her now fiance is such an oddity that it requires some suspension of belief.
Not only do they not bother separating their romantic life from their work life, but the man serenaded her and proposed in the middle of the bullpen.
Dorky and cute? Sure. Unprofessional and weird? Also, yes.
And I respect that he recognizes the value Jason can add to the team and even suggested he join. He and Jason even get along well, considering the circumstances, something that’s also a refreshing change of pace for something like this.
Is that right? Your next husband wants to hire your ex-husband?
But it’s evident that he still feels insecure about Jason and Nikki’s close relationship, which will only grow more concerning for him now that Keith has returned.
You can understand some of his position. Jason and Nikki are some of the most cordial and loving exes you’ll ever encounter.
It speaks volumes that they have only just signed divorce papers after six years, even when they’re both in relationships.
I’m not entirely sure Jason wouldn’t be with Nikki in a heartbeat if the possibility presented itself again. And now that Keith is back, the representation of the very thing that essentially pulled them apart in the first place, I could see him reevaluating their family and reuniting it as it once was.
Nikki and Jason feel like best friends who know each other inside and out and love each other completely. Nikki and Mike’s relationship may be more stable, but while we haven’t met June yet, Jason only seems half into that relationship.
We got more than our son back. We got our past and maybe our future.
The poor woman wants children of their own. He’s been doing everything in his power to avoid that as part of his residual trauma from Keith’s abduction, but also likely because he doesn’t want this placeholder family over what he feels for Nikki, Sydney, and Keith.
You can already tell that boundaries will be one of the biggest obstacles for Nikki, Jason, and Mike. Jason still comes in and out of Nikki’s house at his own leisure, which will grow increasingly irksome for Mike if and when he moves in with the family.
The three will be working together, and that’s bound to introduce its fair share of conflict at times. Jason and Mike have a great rapport, but you can tell they’ll butt heads in the future.
Yet, what Jason offers to the team is invaluable. They clinched the case and located Chloe, specifically after the second abduction, because of his viewpoint as a former private contractor in Afghanistan, his knowledge of terrorists, and his connections to people in the CIA.
Chloe’s case was frustrating because they probably would’ve gotten things squared away sooner if Roger had been more forthcoming about his position as a spy and why Chloe got abducted in the first place.
Clearly, he didn’t have the CIA backing him in helping to find his daughter. He needed the MPU’s help but hamstrung them.
They didn’t shy away from war and the things the CIA and soldiers have done that may have instigated. The hour opened with Jason saving the daughter of a terrorist they had just murdered, and you could sense that others would’ve left her there if it came down to it.
And Roger revealed that he chose the targets for attacks against Libyans viewed as terrorists and that innocent villagers, including a target’s son (a nice contrast to before), were murdered in the process.
I don’t understand how you do that, Nik. I don’t understand how you search for other people’s kids when we never found ours. Some marriages could survive that type of loss. I’m sorry ours couldn’t. Keith would be 17 next week.
They didn’t try to make excuses to justify those things; it was just an acknowledgment of what happened and what it was.
Chloe almost paid for the sins of her father and the US government, and you can understand how that came to be. It wasn’t their job to unpack all the whys so much as to protect this girl.
And she got a happy ending despite the circumstances.
You can argue that Nikki and Jason have as well, but the situation with Keith is nothing short of complicated.
Why did someone send Jason that photo out of the blue after all this time?
And Kemi, who may quickly become a favorite character with her insane skillset, was instrumental in helping them track down where Keith was located in Vegas.
They must’ve had a hell of a turnaround with that flight to Vegas and back in the middle of the investigation.
The quirky C didn’t give them anything conclusive about whether or not the kid in the photo was really Keith. It’s hard to determine such things sometimes when it has been years.
But it doesn’t make sense that Keith’s abductor left a phone, demanded a ransom, and then seemingly let Keith go. It was suspicious enough that he reappeared after all these years when they presumed he was dead already.
But for Keith to suddenly reunite with his parents sans ransom? It’s too convenient.
They’re so excited about the prospect that Keith is back that they haven’t stopped questioning any of it.
For a teen who has likely undergone a traumatizing experience, Keith was too “fine” when they found him. And he immediately shut down, wanting to speak about who had him and where he’d been.
He also recited bits of information about memories in such an inauthentic way that it raised some flags. It was like he studied it. Of course, that was before he got home, and the dog didn’t seem to recognize or remember him.
The closing moments of his reaction to the scrapbook outlining his abduction, tearing out the pages and such, as if ridding the evidence of what he studied to become were chilling.
Who have they let into their home? Is Keith really their Keith, or is he an impostor?
Or is he their Keith, but he’s entirely devoted to his abductor now, and a new plan is to infiltrate their home? Also, who took him and why? Did it have something to do with Nikki or Jason?
Well, there’s your answer right there. That’s why I can’t invest in the hunt for Keith because whenever I do, I imagine that can be us, when I know it never will be.
After all, they reached out to Jason ahead of Nikki. With his experience as a private contractor overseas, what if someone knows him or assumes that he had access to or found money over there or something?
It’ll likely become one of the season’s biggest mysteries, and I look forward to how it unfolds.
Over to you, Alert Fanatics. What did you think of this premiere? Will you be tuning in? What are your theories about Keith?
Hit those comments below, and let’s hear your thoughts!
You can watch Alert: Missing Persons Unit online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.