“Alert: Missing Persons Unit,” the latest in Fox’s directory of investigative procedural dramas, just completed its first season with a convoluted, anti-climactic finale. While the series had its moments, especially in some of the emotional complexities and real-world reflections regarding some episodes, questionable character writing, a predictable central plot, and a horrible screenplay contributed to an overall experience that the audience would like to forget if they haven’t already. However, individual performances in an ensemble of stereotypical character portrayals helped momentarily keep the sinking ship afloat.
Nikki Batista works as a deputy officer in the Philadelphia Police Department, and her family of four consists of her husband, private military contractor Jason Grant, and two adopted kids, Keith and Sidney. Tragedy strikes when Keith goes missing, and the agony of loss eventually takes its toll by tearing the family apart. Jason and Nikki get separated, and Nikki joins the Missing Persons Unit of Philly PD to help families in the circumstances she had to face, thereby alleviating herself from the guilt and desperation to some degree. Six years after the incident, Jason finds a lead about their missing son and joins the MPU to assist his ex-wife in her efforts and also to track Keith. The narrative progression of the series goes with the case of the episode basis, while the mystery of Keith’s abduction moves in a parallel way. Except for the ex-couple, the MPU team consists of officer Mike Sherman, technical wiz and basically the unit’s brain Kemi Adebayo, and forensic genius C. Let’s go through the key characters of the series and take a look at their roles in the narrative.
Actor Dania Ramirez, of “Heroes” and “Entourage” fame, plays the role of the primary protagonist, officer Nikki Batista. The headstrong, daredevil leader of the MPU unit often gets into trouble for the way she risks her life at any given chance during a high-stakes scenario. After her separation from Jason, she falls in love with and later gets engaged to her MPU colleague Mike Sherman, and their relationship gets momentarily strained over her risk-taking tendencies. Nikki struggles to maintain a balance between her private life and professional one after ‘Keith’ returns and changes the relationship dynamics with the people she had to work under the same roof with, her ex-husband Jason and fiancé Mike. Nikki is also more sympathetic, understanding, and kind with the victims and the perps than the rest of the hard-boiled bunch. But this also contributes to another of her shortcomings, i.e., associating her personal tragedy way too much with the cases they are working on, a problem that persists through the first few episodes of the series. She also proves to be a caring, loving mother to her children, although she sometimes gets blinded by love to the point that, despite being an investigative officer, she couldn’t catch the imposter Keith’s obvious ruse.
If the name wasn’t suggestive enough of the usual loose-cannon badassness of the protagonist, Scott Caan plays the role of an often blunt-minded hot rod named Jason Grant. During his years in the private military, Jason gathered some significant contacts that let him maneuver especially tough situations, by bypassing security or legislative obstacles, legally or otherwise. Jason’s penchant for bending the law according to his liking to get results comes in direct conflict with his ex-wife, Nikki’s fiancé, Mike. Jason blames his absence as the reason for his son Keith’s abduction, and after suddenly getting a lead that concerns their missing son’s whereabouts, Jason seeks a chance to redeem himself by joining MPU. Jason is also apparently oblivious to personal boundaries and unwillingly continues to encroach upon Mike and Nikki’s lives, which, thankfully, by the end of the season, he rectifies. Jason’s short temper also makes it challenging for Nikki to stop him from ending up harming himself or others; as seen in the finale, he almost contemplates gunning down the culprit who allegedly abducted Keith. Jason’s denial and self-blame hamper his relationship with his current partner, June, and he ends up getting abandoned in the end.
The straight arrow of the unit, Mike’s complete adherence to the protocol often puts him on a collision course with the occasional callousness of the two leads, Nikki and Jason. Even though Mike loves his fiancée Nikki dearly, his unspoken insecurity creeps up after the imposter Keith’s return reunites the Batista-Grant family for a brief while. Unfortunately, Mike’s loyalty and mild-mannered demeanor lead him to get betrayed by people who are close to him. Mike’s father was an honorable police officer who got incriminated by two of his colleagues, and unknowingly, Mike abandoned his relationship with his father and looked up to one of the orchestrators his whole life. Mike cares about his professional ethics and follows the dictates of his mind over his heart, as opposed to what Nikki sometimes does. By the end of the season, he and Jason form a sort of bromance, which is honestly one of the very few positive highlights of the series.
Kemi’s intellectual and technological prowess is only matched by her ardent adherence to her cultural roots. Most of the cases the unit tackles get solved majorly due to Kemi’s adept skills; however, her insistence on performing Hausa rituals in the workplace and involving the families of victims or unit members in them can become a bit too distracting at times. Kemi’s traumatic childhood memories of being abducted and sexually abused became her motivation for joining the MPU. The charismatic and charming member shares a special bond with Sidney and C and assists the unit in her role as a spiritual healer too.
‘Alert’ Season 2 Possibilities
The central case of Keith’s disappearance gets solved at the finale of “Alert” and leaves no scope for further exploration. No major clues or hints have been provided for future installments either. However, a major plot point has been left unattended as we see Kemi’s father in cahoots with her former abductor. If a second season eventually gets made, we will be made aware of the causality. Mike’s effort to patch up the broken relationship with his father, Jason and June’s estranged love life can also be some minor focal points in the upcoming season, although the possibility of a continuation is very slim.