Baptiste heads deeper into the underworld

Sunday: Baptiste; (BBC One, 9pm)

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 5:00 pm

With a corrupt cop son in prison, a recovering addict daughter, a baby granddaughter, a pronounced limp, and a great many other demons, you could say Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) is at a low ebb.

However, as we have found out over the course of two series of The Missing and the previous run of Baptiste, the grizzled detective is very good at his job – finding missing people – despite what is going on in his own complicated life.

“He gives his blood to every case, in the heat of every case,” Karyo explains. “Julien is dedicated and eager to solve those cases, to find the truth. That’s what makes him so good.”

Julien Baptiste and Emma Chambers

The long-awaited second series of Baptiste made its debut last weekend, and viewers are already gripped by his latest case. Played by the wonderfully understated Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve, Fleabag), British Ambassador Emma Chambers was on holiday with her bird watcher husband (Adrian Rawlins) and two teenage sons in the Hungarian mountains.

At first, the quartet seemed like your typical happy family unit, but cracks soon began to show. We witnessed Emma and her husband arguing over her workaholic tendencies at dinner, and Emma telling a fellow guest that her phone-obsessed son Will (Conrad Khan) has been permanently mute for the past two years. Waking up the next day to find her husband and kids mysteriously missing from their hotel rooms, panic begins to set in for Emma, and the usually calm diplomat snaps when she realises that Will’s mobile has been left on his bedside table.

Enter Julien Baptiste – the man who makes it his mission to find the missing, although he’s in a very different mental (and physical) place these days. After learning he had a secret son (who went on to murder his own mother) in the series one finale, Baptiste is now staying in a dilapidated hotel room and ignoring messages from his worried wife Celia (Anastasia Hille).

“Julien has reached the bottom of himself,” Karyo explains. “He’s filled with anger, bitterness, pain, and he no longer knows where’s north or south. Julien’s lost; he gets aggressive, he loses his temper and brings a lot of pain to his loved ones at home. That is how we discover him at the beginning of the series. Then we flip from different time periods to understand where he is coming from and eventually see how great his capacity for resilience is.”

Eventually, we Julien spotted Emma’s case in the news and offered his services for free. And so began his latest case.

In tonight’s second episode, Julien and the Hungarian officer in charge of the case, Zsofia (Dorka Gryllus), head deeper into Budapest’s secretive and corrupt underworld to track down the tattooed man, but he gives little away. However, things escalate when the police receive a hostage video, and Emma takes drastic action for her family.

If you can’t wait for next week’s episode, the full second series is available on the BBC iPlayer.

But savour it while you can, as it doesn’t look likely that Baptiste will returning to our screens again.

Creators Harry and Jack Williams have all but confirmed that they are not bringing the character back in the future.

Harry said: “It’s about doing the right thing for the character and not going ‘Hey, we’ll be back next year with more crazy adventures’.”

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