Missing: Dead or Alive Season 1 Review – A decent but flawed true crime docu-series

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4


1500 people go missing every day in the US alone. When you expand that out to the world, it’s estimated that around 8 million children go missing each year. The numbers are staggering but thankfully, a large percentage of those people are found. But why do people go missing? What circumstances lead them down this path? Step forward Netflix’s new docuseries, Missing: Dead or Alive.

The four episodes on offer are conveniently broken up into four separate cases, with a format that plays on the idea of being a fly on the wall while these investigators work to try and solve cases. We follow two predominant investigators, Vicki Rains and J.P. Smith, as they search for clues, question key witnesses, scour through audio and video footage, as well as physically checking locations.

At times, the show does feel like a cable TV crime drama, with a few scenes in particular feeling staged. What are the odds of a camera crew being in the house when a family receive good news from the key investigators, capturing their elation? Similarly, a few conversations between detectives feel inorganic, especially after one particularly trying case where the result is less than favorable and Vicki is reminded that she’s a good detective. These sort of instances give the feel of this being more dramatized than it should.

Beyond those gripes, the show actually does a pretty decent job of showcasing how these investigators operate, including the trying ordeal of having to root through the history and details of each person, and as Vicki Rains herself says at one point, you end up becoming attached to these people and really want them to be found.

So who are these four people we follow? Well, the first case concerns mother Lorraine Garcia, who disappears and the prime suspect seems to point to her son, an Iraqi War veteran that may be mentally unstable.

Next up we have Amira Watson who goes missing following a custody battle dispute, leaving the poor father scrambling for answers. The third case involves David Taylor, whose truck is found abandoned but he happened to be in possession of a $10k winning lottery ticket and his phone.

Finally, the show rounds everything out with a final case involving a missing Sierra Stevens, a kid that might be mixed up in sex trafficking.

To give much more away about each case would be a disservice to the series but it is worth noting that Amira Watson’s case is actually wrapped up off-screen, which is a bit disappointing.

Overall, the show is gripping and does a decent enough job of capturing the highs and lows that those on the Missing Persons Unit have to go through. It does feel a bit staged in places though but the episode lengths are just about right. The cases themselves are diverse and gripping enough to see through to their conclusions too. It’s certainly not the best true crime series of the year, but it is a solid watch all the same.

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  • Verdict - 5.5/10

2 thoughts on “Missing: Dead or Alive Season 1 Review – A decent but flawed true crime docu-series”

  1. For the first episode featuring excellent detectives, there are so many glaring mistakes it’s cringe worthy. A first year law school student could poke holes in any evidence found and probably get it thrown out.

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