The following contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of Fox’s Alert: Missing Persons Unit.
Alert: Missing Persons Unit, with Monday night’s double-episode finale, tracked down the woman, Beth Colt, who had abducted/held prisoner Keith and a kid named Max — as well as several other ill-fated lads before them!
Alas, any sense of joy was fleeting for Nikki and Jason. As Keith exited a family celebration with his friend Oliver, a car mowed him down in the street, after which the driver threw him into the back seat and sped off. The MPU team, working off a partial plate and threatening texts that Keith had received from someone he listed as “H.” in his journal, quickly found the woman. Keith tried to calm down this woman who he called “Mom,” because, it turns out, she is his mother. And “Keith” is really, as theorized for weeks, an imposter named Lucas.
The standoff with the police led to Lucas getting shot, fatally, by his own mom. Afterwards, the team learned that it was actually Oliver who had been held captive/used as a “human blood bag” by Beth Colt for two years, before he escaped. NotKeith then passed off Oliver’s own story as his own, while making use of newspaper clippings (and swapping the tuft of baby book hair) to pass himself off as Keith.
TVLine spoke with Alert: MPU showrunner John Eisendrath (also of The Blacklist) about the season-ending twists, the character that some fans found puzzling, how any possible Season 2 might be different, and more.
TVLINE | Me, I’m glad that Keith turned out to be NotKeith. When it appeared last week that he was Keith, I was like, “Well… that’s nice, I guess? The family gets closure.” But I was very glad to have another shoe drop.
Well, I appreciate that. I feel like the fact that he’s not Keith does a few things. First of all, it speaks to an incredibly heartrending young man who felt that he had to pretend to be someone he’s not in order to be a part of the type of family he never had. That is incredibly emotional, and painful. I mean, here’s a kid who fantasized about being part of a loving family, and when we reveal that that is his reason for having done something that otherwise might seem villainous, might seem evil, I hope it makes us not only understand his journey but really feel for him. And I believe that that’s how Nikki and Jason are ultimately going to feel.
It’s incredibly sad for them, that he is not their child, and yet I think it affords them something they’ve never had, which is the opportunity to mourn the loss of their child. Like in the way you have a child who’s a soldier and is missing in action, you don’t really mourn the loss until you know for sure.
TVLINE | One thing I am a bit unclear on: Lucas/Keith’s friend Oliver, the actual “One Who Got Away.” Did they know each other before that support group?
No, they didn’t. It was a tightrope to walk, so maybe it wasn’t as clear as I had hoped, but in a story like this obviously you can’t say out loud some of what is going on. There was a scene or two when they were together earlier in the season — in the car, sort of joyriding — where the friend opened up to Keith about his story. I think that in [Lucas’] mind, he was thinking, “I need a story, because I know I’m going to have to give one to my parents.” And in that moment with Oliver, he said, “You shared with me your truth; now I’m going to share with you mine” — and we cut away. That’s the moment he told his truth.
I feel like in the end, the reason [Oliver] agreed to help with the deception is because he genuinely did feel badly that he left a kid behind, and he genuinely did feel badly that a person is out there continuing to take advantage of other young people. This was an opportunity for him to square his own circle, and it was an opportunity for Keith to continue to misrepresent himself while at the same time helping to capture a really terrible person.
TVLINE | I half-jokingly theorized in a recent column that Kemi is so specific a character that someone probably had built a TV pilot around her and it didn’t get picked up, and she ended up getting added to this show. What do you want to say about including such a specific and unique character?
What I will say is that I love that you were guessing at that. You are wrong, but she is specific because I, too, have a shaman in my life. And I am personifying her in the character of Kemi.
Not that you need to know how I come to have shaman in my life, but… my kids are now in high school, but when they were little we hired someone to help look after them, a nanny. And in our case, it’s a woman who is from Guatemala who has now been with our family for over 20 years, and she is 100-percent a shaman. In her village in Guatemala she is sought after, to this day whenever she is down there. And here in Los Angeles, in her community, people come to her all the time. The irony is that I was so clueless that it was years later when my kids would say, “Rosa was doing rituals with us in the backyard,” and I was like, “Wait, WHAT?” Everyone in our family has been rubbed with eggs, everyone has had flowers that they burned and then put them in a bag to take them way far, far away….
TVLINE | So, everything Kemi did was authentic.
Totally, 100-percent, straight up shaman. Yes. Everything she has done is by the book. It’s funny, because the more I thought about it, halfway through the season I was thinking, “It would be great if that was the central character in a TV show,” a cop who was a shaman.
TVLINE | She just had soooo much going with the past lives and the past lovers, and setting small fires in the office….
If you don’t mind me asking, did you think it was over-the-top ridiculous? Did you enjoy it, was it too weird…?
TVLINE | I think the consensus among viewers was, “This is a little weird.”
TVLINE | But also, have you checked the price of eggs these days? She was going through a lot of them.
Well, we started the show before the avian flu.
TVLINE | There were at least two jokes about Jason’s hairline, including in the finale. Does that come from Scott Caan?
No. No. But he was seemingly good-natured about it. It was not meant in any malevolent way. I can’t remember what the genesis of it was, but… he rolled with it.
TVLINE | Lastly: Given all that happened in the finale and the closure that Nikki and Jason got, if there is a Season 2, would Alert become more of a straight-forward procedural?
Good question. Again, if you don’t mind, I’m super-curious: Were you surprised the Keith story ended? Did you like that it ended as opposed to carrying forward?
TVLINE | As I said, I was hoping for another shoe to drop, and I got that. I’m good.
It’s interesting, because I’ve never done a show where a serialized story ended at the end of a season. And we had a lot of discussions about it, if there’s a Season 2 would it be better to have no potential barrier to entry for new viewers? It was a very big risk to take, one way or the other, and I understand both sides. [On The Blacklist, Alias and other shows] I’ve always done it the other way, so I was like, “Well, let’s try it this way.” I think that absent the Keith story, to answer your question, no, I do not think Alert will ever be just episodic, case-by-case. I think that within each season it should have a story that is as deeply personal and emotional as Keith’s was this season.
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