Departure official poster

‘Departure’ Season 1 Recap & Review

Recently, a new British-Canadian show called Departure dropped on Peacock. The show centers around a team of professionals searching for a plane that went missing over the Atlantic Ocean, specifically, Flight 716.

Initially, the premise reminded me of Manifest, but Departure doesn’t incorporate any supernatural elements and everything occurs within weeks after the plane goes missing. Not to mention, the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 serves as the show’s inspiration. Except the show ends with a resolution, whereas Flight 370 is still missing as well as still a mystery today. After learning more about Flight 370, the show incorporates many of the public’s conspiracy theories.

Full Recap

(from left) Dom (played by Kris Holden-Reid), Nadia (played by Tamara Duarte), Howard (played by Christopher Plummer) and Levi (played by Peter Mensah) in 'Departure'

Ultimately, Departure goes through multiple differing theories, like a terrorist attack and pilot suicide. But the resolution they land on is actually pretty clever. The team, led by TSIB investigator, Kendra Malley (played by Archie Panjabi), consists of Howard (who’s overseeing the entire investigation), Dom, Nadia, Theo, Levi, and MI-5 agent, Janet. Additionally, Kendra’s stepson, AJ, also investigates the case on his own.

The obvious solution would be to look at the black boxes, but they need to find the missing plane first. Based on the plane’s trajectory, they discover the plane’s most likely in an area of the ocean owned by Pavel Bartok of Bartok Airlines. But for some reason, he won’t let them dive there. Meanwhile, the team looks into the passengers, staff, and possible theories.

Initial Theories

Captain Donovan (played by Allan Hawco) in 'Departure'

First, they look into the pilot, Captain Donovan, because it turns out that he’s living a double life. He has a wife and daughter in London but a husband and new baby in Dublin. For a long time, pilot suicide is the reigning theory, and the team almost commits to it near the end. Another big theory they hypothesize is a terrorist attack. When looking at the plane’s manifest, Janet points out a man named Harold Rossi. His real name, however, is Hassan Esmalli, a man on the terrorist watchlist. But this theory’s debunked when a Mossad agent tells them that he’s one of their agents.

Then, they find a surviving passenger: Madelyn. She somehow survives while floating on a raft in the ocean. She’s badly injured but she makes out the word, “Moses” before passing out. While this find is miraculous, it does, initially, add to the terrorist theory. Specifically, because she’s seen receiving a package on CCTV from the airport, from someone with darker skin. Plus, her fiancé, Ali, is Muslim and has a slight criminal record. But turns out Madelyn just left a package in her Uber and her driver was nice enough to get it to her. And the package was a vintage vinyl record she bought for Ali. But whoever’s behind the missing plane doesn’t want anyone to figure out what really happened. While she recovers in the hospital, someone disguised as an orderly tries to kill Madelyn. But her father intervenes and the orderly kills him instead.

AJ’s Involvement

AJ (played by Alexandre Bourgeois) in 'Departure'

AJ, throughout, suspects Bartok as being somehow involved, as he financially benefitted. But he doesn’t find any proof to support his suspicions. But he does eventually find definitive evidence that there’s a larger conspiracy. He hacks Kendra’s email and watches Janet talking on the phone. Her conversation suggests she knows more about the missing plane than she’s letting on. Furthermore, AJ also sees Janet (again) talking to Ethan Moreau, the airline owner. But they’re also talking to someone else off-camera. Because AJ knows too much, Moreau and Janet send the orderly to “take care of the problem” (i.e.: kill him).

While running, AJ runs into the street and a car hits him. People rush onto the street to call an ambulance so the orderly leaves without getting spotted. While Kendra stays with him in the hospital, AJ tells her that he’s the one who hacked her email. He also stashed his laptop in the woods with video evidence so he tells her where to find it. Unfortunately, the orderly’s already looking for it and gets to her. With the laptop, nonetheless. But not all is lost. Kendra asks AJ how he hacked her laptop and he simply explains that he sent out a trojan horse to one of her email groups. And only one person opened it: Howard. That then fills in the gaps. In the video, Moreau and Janet were talking to a third person. And that third person was Howard.

It All Comes Together

The team goes back to Madelyn to see what they can figure out and discover that some kind of signal interference may have caused the crash. She mentions the man sitting across from her, who says something suspicious. His name is Hoffman, and it turns out he previously worked for Moreau and the airline company. His job involved finding insecurities in the airline’s systems, and he apparently found a big one. They eventually find Hoffman’s gaming console, and with it, all of his files. Additionally, Bartok (who AJ also found suspicious throughout the whole investigation) finally lets them dive to find the plane and black boxes. And it finally all starts coming together.

Hoffman found a big weakness in the airline’s system, previously called MOSIS (which Madelyn said when they first found her) but now called NAVI. Moreau didn’t want to pay to fix it, so Hoffman planned on proving it. But one of Hoffman’s friends, Tark, gave him a video game to play, which contained a virus. So, when Hoffman tried to demonstrate the system’s vulnerabilities (in a small way), it malfunctioned. The entertainment system stopped working and the plane started going down. Hassan Esmalli, with pilot knowledge, goes up to help. Captain Donovan goes to turn the engine back on manually but runs out of oxygen beforehand. And the plane goes down.

But That’s Not All

Pavel Bartok (played by Sasha Roiz) in 'Departure'

The team finally has all the evidence and presents it to Howard and Moreau, and Howard, asks for a deal for his cooperation. And they’re then arrested. But even after everyone thinks it’s over, there’s still something suspicious: the virus. Furthermore, AJ apologizes to Bartok about suspecting him and Bartok’s response is strange. He says that he knew Kendra would figure it out if she “stuck with Hoffman”. When AJ tells his stepmother, Kendra discovers Bartok’s involvement.

Bartok must’ve been the one to convince Hoffman to carry out his simulation. If it weren’t for Tark’s virus, it would’ve been just a small simulation and everyone would’ve been fine. So the team looks into Tark to find a connection between him and Bartok. As luck would have it, Tark and Bartok survived another crash a long time ago. Kendra confronts Bartok but he says there’s no proof he had any involvement. Even though they arrested Moreau and Howard, Bartok is still responsible. But he gets off scot-free.

Final Thoughts

Howard (played by Christopher Plummer) and Janet (played by Claire Forlani) in 'Departure'

I’ve gotta admit, I love a good conspiracy. And Departure is no exception. It’s interesting that the show only has six episodes, yet so much happens. The story pulls you in every way which way, yet the resolution is still very satisfying. If there were to be another season, it’d have to involve trying to take Bartok down. If anything, he was probably the biggest suspect in the beginning, but Moreau, Janet, and Howard made it clear that there was more to this plane crash. If they hadn’t worked so hard to cover it up, the team may not have figured it out. And everyone, including Bartok (assuming he wouldn’t let them find the black boxes), would’ve gotten away with all of it.

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