Wednesday 26 November 2014

Darragh McManus: We’ve reached the end of Amber – did we get the ending we were looking for?

Published 22/01/2014 | 23:05

A scene from the new RTE drama 'Amber'. Photo: Patrick Redmond
A scene from the new RTE drama 'Amber'. Photo: Patrick Redmond

We’ve reached the end of Amber – though as feared, there wasn’t really an ending.

Not a criticism, per se; in life, things don’t tie-up neatly and make perfect sense, and this show has been resolute in reflecting life truthfully.

Still: you wanted a definite conclusion. The mind might appreciate these aesthetic choices, but the heart wants clarity, even a happy ending.

Amber provided neither, in the chilling final shot of the girl walking a lonely country road. Parked car nearby, gentle breeze, Luas passing in the foreground, Amber looking around abstractedly…normal life going on, until it stops going on.

The episode centred on Ben (David Murray), jumping ahead six months – a year since the disappearance. Sarah is living with a new man, trying to get on with things, but Ben remains obsessed in finding the girl, willing to go to any lengths.

Convinced that Amber was sold into sex-slavery abroad, he goes down the rabbit-hole of the Deep Web, trading illegal pornography. Finally, he hears an Irish voice on video: but while this helps rescue abducted girls, his daughter isn’t there.

Jump ahead another six months. Ben isn’t allowed see son Eamon anymore; he appears to be jobless, spending his time photographing dodgy-looking men. A slave to his obsession, but as a parent, he maybe didn’t feel he had a choice.

Ben’s story was reminiscent of James Ellroy’s true-life book, My Dark Places, about trying to solve his mother’s murder. Years of investigation, endless theories, piles of evidence, fresh trails ultimately leading nowhere…the fixation nearly killed him, and the same seems in store for Ben.

He’ll never get over it because he’ll never find out the truth; they often don’t in “missing persons” cases. At this stage I reckon Amber fell into a ravine and broke her neck; her body lies there still. No bogeyman predator, no human-trafficking conspiracy. Just the worst kind of back luck.

That closing shot of her walking home left it open to interpretation, the possibility of that happy ending – but it’s a slim possibility.

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