Having never watch the original French version of The Returned (Les Revenants), I came into this with no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew is people are coming back to life (in more than one manner of speaking). Other than that I had no expectations and no idea what kind of shape that concept would take. I have to say, so far I am extremely impressed.
This episode begins four years earlier, on a bus trip with Camille, and we go abruptly from seeing her staring out the window to an outside shot of the bus careening off of a cliff for no apparent reason. I really appreciated the fact it’s very clear from the outset that there’s something off about the accident, and that there’s only a tiny hint given at the end. When the next scene opens four years later, the last thing I expected was to see Camille climbing over an (apparently) newly built barricade, looking exactly as she had four years ago. I don’t know why I was surprised since I knew the whole premise of the show, but there’s something about the nature of a person not only coming back looking just as they used to look, but with their clothing also completely intact as if nothing happened, that makes it even more mysterious and unnerving. (Also, I’m a big fan of the fact that they just wasted no fucking time getting to the good stuff.)
I will say, as much as I appreciate how great the acting is when she returns home and each of her family members has to cope with her sudden reappearance, it really, really bothers me that nobody has explained to her how long it has been since she disappeared. I understand it’s a lot to handle, but she already can tell something is wrong, and she’s asking to see a doctor because she thinks there might be something neurologically wrong with her. That warrants a sit-down and an explanation. It’s also really puzzling to me why Claire calls her ex-husband, but she doesn’t call her daughter. Lena comes home with no idea about this going on, and understandably has a bit of a breakdown when her sister just wanders into her room. What’s the deal? I really hope this sort of lack of communication isn’t indicative of what the entire show will be like, because it is probably my number one pet peeve in plot lines.
Then we have Dr. Han, who has picked up a young boy she sees sitting at a bus stop, and is later standing outside the vestibule in her apartment building when she gets her mail. This little boy is somehow terrifying. He doesn’t speak, and she being a doctor can explain why she invites the strange little boy into her house. But I think it’s crucial to the plot that she be a doctor, otherwise I would not buy her letting this boy in, not calling the cops, and letting him stay the night, because who knows what kind of crazy he’s bringing into her house. The look on her face when he tells her his name is Victor makes me wonder if she will be reconsidering this decision anytime soon.
Um, can we talk about the neighbor across the hall, Annie? She’s watching through her peep-hole to see every move Dr. Han makes, and immediately comes out asking about the little boy and who he is. There is a tone Dr. Han has with her that indicates this is not the first time this woman has been spying, and that Annie is somebody tough to get rid of. Maybe she was the mother of one of the children who was lost, and she is having a hard time coping? I don’t know, but she’s making me nervous.
While we’re on the subject of coping, let’s talk about Jeff, Camille’s father. He is obviously having a harder time than Claire dealing with the death of his daughter. He is obviously also the type to lash out and blame people because when something like this happens there’s really nobody one can assign responsibility to, and that can be incredibly frustrating. I find it interesting Claire is either remarried or dating the counselor running the grief sessions at the community center. Could that be why she is coping better? Not just because she has somebody in her corner, but that he is really well-trained in dealing with grief?
Jeff is sleeping with a woman named Lucy, who appears to have a business above the Dog Star bar; she tells people that she can channel the dead while she’s having sex with them. It is an incredibly bizarre little storyline, and I really wish she hadn’t been killed so I could find out more. Considering there are people coming back from the dead on the show, I don’t even want to rule it out that she was telling the truth about what she can do.
Of course that’s what Jeff thinks. He believes he’s been conned for years and taken for every cent he could spare, but things are so fucking weird already that I don’t want to take anything for granted. As angry as Jeff is, and despite his clear tendencies towards blaming outside forces in order to have somewhere to direct his anger, I was still shocked by the fact that he kills her in that underground walkway. It was a brutal, sad moment, and part of me is hoping that even though I heard his voice, it wasn’t actually him. I don’t want to think that he’s that guy. He’s unreasonable to a degree, but a murderer? That’s a whole other deal and I really don’t want it to be true. (Also, holy creepy with fucking her while accusing her of being a con artist. Was Lucy telling the truth about Camille coming back for Claire, or is she just full of shit like he thought? OHMIGOD IS SHE GOING TO COME BACK FROM THE DEAD AND TELL EVERYONE HE KILLED HER?! SHH DON’T TELL ME.)
Another character that intrigues me is Rowan. A (previously dead) boy named Simon is looking for her at the Dog Star, and when Lena shows him where Rowan lives I just wanted to slap and shake her. How the fuck you going to show this complete stranger how to get to a woman’s house that you barely know? Fucking really? It’s not like he’s a recent ex-boyfriend or even a friend, because he would’ve known the way there himself. Ugh, Lena, have some goddamn caution. Christ.
Obviously a lot has changed since the last time Simon was here. Even more interesting to me is the fact Rowan seems to be the sole character with a history of mental problems, which apparently include having visions. When Simon sees her through the window, she is trying on a veil, so she is engaged with a child, but not yet married. Would she toss her new love aside for Simon? It really is a heartbreaking moment when Simon pounds on the door demanding to know what’s going on, and she screams at him to go away. Obviously he has no idea why she’s brutally rejecting him the way she is, so for him this must be absolutely devastating.
And of course, there’s an older man we see joined by his presumably late wife in bed. He wakes up absolutely terrified to see her laying beside him, and she doesn’t say a word. She actually doesn’t speak once in the few scenes that we see her in. Something about that feels sinister, or maybe it’s just an indication of the fact that their relationship wasn’t very good even before she died. In any case, he calls Dr. Han, presumably to tell her he thinks he’s losing it, but changes his mind at the last second and instead goes and jumps off a bridge. I really don’t think that I expected him, in my heart of hearts, to actually go through with it. However, I appreciate the fact that the show is dealing with something as traumatic as the return of a loved one after so many years in as realistic a way as something like this can possibly be dealt with.
And was it just me, or are Lena and Camille twins? In the present day they don’t really look that much alike, but in flashbacks they look almost identical. Lena is interested in the same boy as her sister, and they have made an agreement with each other not to pursue him on their own, but he tells Lena he’s in love with her and she promptly loses her virginity to him. Can’t really say I blame her. That face.
What’s fascinating about that is the moment they begin having sex, Camille is on the bus and looks up and seems to have a sudden premonition of what’s going to happen. She runs to the front of the bus screaming for them to let her off. The driver is distracted by her, and for a moment – and I thought that was what caused the crash – but then we see from the driver’s perspective, and there is that creepy-ass kid “Victor” standing in the middle of the road, staring. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say Victor isn’t human, and if he ever was he was probably a nasty piece of work. I could be totally off base here, but that’s my first impression. This little kid is a fucking demon.
He seems to have intentionally caused the crash, and for what reason? And why is Camille the only one who comes back? And does he have anything to do with everybody else who is also returning? Also, what was with the power outage? I am completely fascinated by the show already. 100% on board. Can’t wait for next week.