Review: Up and Vanished: In the Midnight Sun

Review: Up and Vanished: In the Midnight Sun

Recently, I realized I was craving a mystery. I find I turn to true crime podcasts when this happens, even though there are a lot of mystery-related podcasts that don’t have to do with murder. However, it was a coincidence that the new season of Up and Vanished was premiering around the time I found myself craving mystery. 

This season of Up and Vanished: In the Midnight Sun follows host Payne Lindsay on a mission to uncover what happened to Florence Okpealuk. So far, episodes are around 50 minutes long and captivating. Season four dives into another place that could be considered a Vanishing Point, the Alaska frontier. A world apart from the rest of the United States, Nome lives on a system of rumor, hearsay, racism, and further systemic injustice that echoes the treatment of native people in Canada - something people have only begun seriously confronting in recent years. 

Florence Okpealuk went missing in 2020, and Payne Lindsey now investigates. He flies the hours to find himself navigating this culture particularly foreign to someone from an urban sprawl. As the team moves forward there is kindness, curiosity, the ferocity of family, and outright danger. All of this drama is folded into a gorgeous package of audio. It’s a flowing narrative, interspersed with interviews, phone calls, and re-enactments of people who don’t want to be associated with the show- but still want to help. Episodes are crisp, alluring, and are constantly pushing forward. Listeners get all the true crime anticipation, the mystery, the strong voice of a great host, and a compelling story that actually means something. This is a podcast with a purpose, and while there may be some element of gawking at the tragedy that sits so uncomfortably with so many people, the fact is that it is continuing to bring awareness to real cases, and real problems. 

Up and Vanished covers journalistic investigations of real missing people. This is the only season I’ve listened to so far, and honestly, I probably would have continued not listening to this podcast had TenderfootTV not released The Vanishing Point, which I covered here

The Vanishing Point focuses on missing and murdered indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest. An eerie parallel to the tundra of Alaska, the fact is that there has been a systemic failure towards these communities for generations. While both men and women go missing in these communities, often the fact is that women are the most marginalized, and the most affected by racism, and improperly investigated the tragedy. 

I can talk about how great this podcast sounds, how crisp the audio is at the right times, and how great the narrative delivery is, but the fact is: that it’s so powerful because it’s a journalist doing something about a problem. Payne Lindsey and the team are doing fantastic work using the podcast medium for a purpose, and getting in front of issues that mean something. This isn’t a true crime podcast to stare through a window at to get our “creepy on”. 

We know it’s far more likely that young white women disappearing will be investigated quickly and efficiently, I know because I’ve seen it for myself. Glancing over the last few seasons of Up and Vanished it seems like the production is maturing into even more than people justifiably getting closure, but also the most under and improperly investigated getting the publicity they need. There is nothing like public pressure to get a job done. 

While I’m eagerly anticipating the next, sure to be intense, episode of the season, I’m calculating how much of the backlog I can handle without going into a true crime spiral. Up and Vanished is a podcast worth listening to and supporting. 

You can listen to Up and Vanished here