Someone’s eye is watching this show. It just isn’t mine.
There’s little in life more disheartening than an Amber Alert — that message on your phone announcing that yet another child or teenager has gone missing. It happens far, far too often. And other than keeping an eye out, there’s very little you can actually do about it.
Meet the people who can.
In Alert: Missing Persons Unit, we follow the officers of Philadelphia’s Missing Persons Unit, the department responsible for tracking down the faces behind the names on your phone. It’s a tough job, and each member of the unit has their own individual motivations for taking it on — some being more personal than others.
Six years ago, during his posting in Afghanistan, Jason Grant got a call from his wife Nikki: Their 11-year-old son, Keith, had vanished. The Missing Persons Unit found no clues, no trail, no reasonable explanation for his disappearance … and finally, the unit was forced to declare it a cold case.
The tragedy drove Jason and Nikki to divorce. But they’re still together in a way: They both joined the MPU in the hopes of protecting others from the trauma of losing a child.
And maybe, just maybe, someday they might find Keith as well.
Child abduction is not a fun topic, especially in a procedural missing-kid-of-the-week format. Alert, however, handles the issue with a surprisingly delicate touch.
Of course, it’s inherently disturbing to watch men in ski masks drag a 9-year-old into a white van, but at the end of the day, the show and its characters are entirely focused on the protection of children—and there’s something refreshing about that.
“It’s like I always say,” Nikki says triumphantly to a kidnapper after rescuing his captive, “we get our babies back.”
While preservation of life may be the MPU’s main goal, that doesn’t always extend to the ones doing the abducting. More than one kidnapper is shot and killed by an officer in just the pilot episode, though always in self-defense or to neutralize a greater threat to life. Fight scenes can be bloody. We’re also privy to some mild (albeit network-friendly) language concerns and sexual innuendos.
Overall, however, Alert tries to show honest people doing good work while keeping the story relatively clean. Neither Jason nor Nikki are harboring sinister ulterior motives. All they want is to bring lost children home to their parents — and maybe find their own along the way.
While this procedural drama’s subject matter may not be for everyone, and despite a few content hiccups, Alert provides a story with a genuine heart about everyday cases that don’t always make the front pages. With a little pulse-pounding action thrown in for good measure, of course.
A kidnapping quickly escalates into a much larger threat when the Missing Persons Unit investigates the abduction of a tech engineer’s young daughter. Former police officer Jason Grant stumbles upon a new lead in the search for his missing son, Keith.
An opening flashback to Jason’s time in Afghanistan shows him and his partner attempting to disarm a bomb while protecting a young girl caught in the crossfire. The girl is sitting on top of the explosive, and if any pressure on the device is removed, it’ll go off. The extended scene is tense throughout and ends with an explosion consuming the building, though Jason and his partner get the girl out safely and seem to avoid any other casualties.
Security footage of a 9-year-old girl named Chloe being abducted outside of her school is shown multiple times. Armed men wearing ski masks grab her and carry her into a white van while she struggles. She’s soon rescued only to be taken again in a similar fashion, then found backstage at a concert with a bomb strapped to her chest. Neither scene is extensive or violent, but the endangerment of children—a defining theme throughout the show—could prove upsetting.
Nikki, Jason’s ex-wife and an officer in the MPU, gets into a fight with two men in an elevator. They struggle and punch each other, and while one escapes, Nikki shoots and kills the other. She also shoots through the windshield of a van while pursuing Chloe’s kidnappers, causing it to crash into a dumpster; everyone in the vehicle emerges unharmed. A photo of a dead body is shown with scarring on his face and a bloodstain surrounding the bullet hole in his shirt.
Kemi, another MPU officer, lights candles on a tray with oranges and flowers while praying for Chloe’s safe return. “I believe finding her is equal parts faith and fact,” she says. “My time spent praying is time well spent.” She joins hands with Nikki and another officer, then chants in a foreign language. While it’s unclear what exact religion Kemi is placing her faith in, gospel truth seems to have little bearing on her practices.
Jason, who’s attempting to have a baby with his girlfriend June, visits the collection room of a fertility center. He sits in an armchair and pulls up what is presumably a pornographic video on his phone; a woman smiles at the camera before Jason’s daughter calls him and interrupts. Later, Jason confesses to Nikki that Keith’s disappearance has made him reluctant to have another child, and he’s been “faking it” with June to prevent her from getting pregnant. This prompts a brief yet uncomfortable discussion on the topic.
Multiple shirtless men are shown at a celebration thrown by Jason’s army friends following a successful operation in Afghanistan. A bottle of champagne is popped and beer is distributed all around. One of the soldiers gives a toast, wishing that the target of the operation would “rest in h—.”
“A–” is heard once.
Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.
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