TV Review: 'Absentia' Season 2 Premiere And Episode 2 Reboot Emily And The Show

Absentia Season 2 Art Emily Byrne Stana Katic Amazon
Stana Katic's Emily Byrne is back! “Absentia” starts Season 2 in a surprising way that finds Emily in the midst of an altered headspace. After seeming like her life was coming together at the end of last season, the revelation that ended Season 1, has changed everything.

Realizing she was the one who killed Harlow seems to have knocked her already slippery foundation out from under her. The Emily that viewers discover in Season 2 is shattered all over again and trying to put the pieces back together. I will admit, this is not how I saw “Absentia” returning.

Season 2 mirrors Emily's reboot in that the series itself has also undergone a total retooling. It feels like an entirely different show. Like Netflix’s “Black Spot,” it has moved forward in time while skipping some important beats along the way. There are positives to the move.

Mild plot developments for the first two episodes of “Absentia” Season 2, which some may consider spoilers are discussed below.

Gone is the negativity disturbingly aimed at Emily in Season 1. Her former husband, Nick (Patrick Heusinger), continues to remain emotionally distant from her during the premiere. Whatever exists between them now seems copacetic, without much feeling on Nick’s end. The tension between Emily and Nick’s new wife, Alice (Cara Theobold), has also dissipated.

The show is moving full steam ahead on the acquaintances-with-benefits relationship between Emily and Season 1 returnee, Tommy (Angel Bonanni). If that were not enough of a shake-up, the romantic goings-on of “Absentia” get an even more unexpected twist. The first episode opens the door to Alice and Emily’s brother, Jack, potentially being a thing.

Like Emily before her, Alice is feeling the change of not being in Nick’s spotlight. Unlike Emily, she is not losing ground to her husband's new wife. While a bit out of left-field, “Absentia” potentially setting up Jack and Alice does provide some human notes for the series to play.

Alice is still married to Jack’s sister’s ex-husband. In other words, Jack is Emily’s brother. Alice is his sister's one-time romantic rival. A coupling would be tricky.

As for Jack (Neil Jackson), it is nice to see him so supportive of his sister. Television cannot have enough brother/sister duos, in my opinion. Outside of family, Emily’s primary focus is getting to the bottom of whether there are any other threats she needs to worry about. In fact, that is her primary focus, period.

Is there anything left to really solve regarding her abduction? It is unclear. The Season 2 premiere seems to rule out the possibility of a co-conspirator. Emily tracks down all of the now-grown kids, she lived with during her time in the foster home to be sure.

Her own origin story is another part of the puzzle that is her identity, Emily shifts gears to that. Is this an attempt to continue avoiding plugging back into her life? Or is this really necessary? While watching, this viewer struggled to know for sure.

“Absentia” has clearly gone through a retooling since Season 1. It has brought with it good things and some not-so-good. The storyline with Emily’s husband and the evil machinations of a “Blacklist” style villain seems wholly disconnected from the rest of the series. As the season starts, there is no connective tissue between it, and what is going on with Emily.

The driving force of “Absentia” is her. Season 1’s mystery built off of that understanding, and it worked. As did the frustrating family drama that Emily returned too. It was rough to watch yet consummately intriguing. An emotional onion with loads of layers still left laying undone.

Alice and Nick’s marriage is clearly undergoing a strain. However, we never see them navigate it. “Absentia” is in full-blown procedural mode with a villain that is bringing Alice and Emily’s brother together. As of Episode 2, it is not currently threading together other aspects that gave Season 1, such a sturdy human hook.

Emily trying to get back into her life was the seamless piece that wove so much of what made Season 1 work. Without it, the procedural element has taken over. I wanted to see Emily struggle with the fallout of having her husband choose to stay with Alice.

As well as Nick wrestling with his guilt over doubting Emily in the first place. Again, his former wife and the mother of his child is not a priority. It cannot be said that it is not in keeping with the character.

With so much of the conflict gone, it is hard to remember there ever was one. If you had not watched Season 1, you would not even know there was much of a triangle between Emily, Nick, and Alice. Or drama elsewhere.

Unfortunately, aftershocks from the previous season are felt without much being said to address them. However, the Season 2 premiere ends on a shocking new note that will leave ardent fans curious to learn more.

It is fun to contemplate where it is all headed and if the season’s differing halves will combine to make an apparent whole. The first two episodes of Season 2 make it clear that viewers are in for a ride.

Armed with Stana Katic's constantly absorbing performance, “Absentia” is still a trip worth taking. Fast-paced storytelling and its compelling lead give way to a still-exciting series.

Rating: 7/10

Season 1 and 2 of “Absentia” are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

[Featured Image by Masha Productions / Sony Pictures Television / Amazon Prime Video]