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TV

'Where are the boys?' Inside ABC's thrilling new drama Mystery Road

'The stakes are really high...'

By Stephen Downie
Exactly what's been happening here? An empty car, doors wide open, is found abandoned on a cattle station deep in the heart of the Aussie outback. Whoever left it surely must have been in a hurry.
The police arrive – then a man in a cowboy hat. Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) has been sent to Patterson to find missing local boy Marley Thompson (Aaron McGrath). But how does anyone out here just disappear?
That's just one of many mysteries Jay finds himself attempting to unravel in the ABC's thrilling new six-part drama series, Mystery Road.
Aaron Pedersen returns as Detective Jay Swan for the third time.
The series is a spin-off of the acclaimed movies Mystery Road (2013) and Goldstone (2016). Chronologically, this new Mystery Road sits between them.
It's the third time Aaron has played Jay Swan, and the character is a firm favourite with the actor.
"I guess it's a bit easier for me to play this character than for some of the others in the cast with theirs," Aaron, 47, tells TV WEEK.
"I just put on the white hat, the boots and the gun belt and I'm him."
Mystery Road looks like no other series on TV. That's due in part to it being filmed in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Much of the series is shot in Kununurra. It's a spectacular part of the world that Aaron calls "paradise".
Judy Davis stars as the remote town's top cop.
In the opening two-episode premiere, Jay pairs up with Patterson's local cop, Emma James (Judy Davis), to find Marley. It proves no easy task: Jay's a loner, and Emma – whose roots in the town run deep – has her own secrets.
"Jay's a good man," Aaron says. "He has good intentions and he'll do anything he can to set things right."As they dig deeper into the case, Jay and Emma realise Marley was in the company of another boy, Reese (Connor Van Vuuren), when he went missing. Now, the search is on for them both.
And just when Jay begins to make headway on the case, his teenage daughter Crystal (Madeleine Madden) shows up in town. Why is she here? As we find out, Crystal is escaping some kind of trouble back home.
"The stakes are really high for her," Madeleine, 21, teases.
It's obvious Jay and Crystal don't have the best father-daughter relationship.
"She's always been in the way," Madeleine explains. "Jay sees himself as a community role model, but at the same time he's neglecting his family."
Complicating things further is Jay's ex-wife – the mother of Crystal – Mary (Tasma Walton). She comes to Patterson to bring her daughter back home.
Picnic At Hanging Rock's Madeleine Madden has turned in another superb performance, as Jay's daughter in Mystery Road.
Jay and Emma's investigation brings them to Marley's home. There they find his emotional, overwhelmed mother, Kerry (Deborah Mailman) and his furious brother, Cedric (Meyne Wyatt).
"There's a justified reason he's angry at this point," Meyne, 28, says of Cedric. "He has a lot of pent-up frustration towards other characters in the show."
Cedric's uncle, Larry Dime (Wayne Blair), is a paedophile fresh out of jail. Did he have something to do with the boys' disappearance?
Mystery Road premieres with a special two-part premiere on Sunday, 8:30pm on ABC.

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