Riveting Plotting of “The Returned” Moves To Horror Genre
“If you like tragedy, you’re in the right place.”
The creepiest episode of “The Returned” to date (which is quite a title to claim if you think about it) aired last night, setting the stage for a final pair that promises to truly terrify. “The Returned” is moving away from its dramatic roots to something more traditionally of the horror genre, which is not meant in any way as a criticism. The show’s writers are making the genre turn so smoothly that it’s maintaining what works about both its character-driven dramatic roots while increasing the number of chill-inducing moments at the same time. One of the best shows of 2013 just keeps getting better.
Who’s up to the plate this week? Lucy, the latest returned, now recovered from the stabbing attack by Serge in the first episode. We learn that Lucy is an outsider, which I think is important given her unique abilities. Did she bring this entire event down on this small town? She arrives in town a year ago in the opening flashback, gets a job at Toni’s bar, and quickly seduces Jérome. During their sex, Lucy looks up and “sees” Camille (although we never see her, making how exactly Lucy envisions the dead mysterious). Lucy had a connection with Camille before they both returned. She may have seemed like an average victim at first but she now seems like she could be the most extraordinary character on the show, the catalyst to it all. And isn’t that what the show is about thematically? Normal people made abnormal by defying death? Turning the viewer expectations on Lucy is just one example of the brilliant plotting here.
Two events that we had to get to eventually happen early in “Lucy.” One, someone finally checks Camillle’s coffin and finds it full of water (a wonderful visual motif given the flooding of the power plant that has plunged the town in darkness). Two, Camille has her coming-out party, being introduced to the rest of the support group run by Pierre. At first, I was nervous about how the parents would respond to her but Camille seems encouraged to offer support to the grieving loved ones whose children are not members of the returned…yet. She claims to remember other children on the other side but it’s clearly just comfort. Perhaps this is why she came back? To offer hope to those who grieve beyond comprehension? Or perhaps not given that the episode ends with two of the parents she tried to help hanging themselves, perhaps to see their loved one on the other side. Will they stay dead?
What about Simon, shot at the end of last week? He is in the morgue and Thomas keeps staring at him in case he wakes up. He asks the coroner to look for anything odd and tells Adéle’s daughter that Simon won’t return because now he knows they don’t need him. Is that true? And is that why all of the returned came back? Because people needed them? Chloe definitely still has questions that Adéle can’t answer about why Simon killed himself. And then, as if on cue, Simon’s morgue tray door opens and he “re-returns.” Simon is intercepted by the increasingly-creepy Lucy, who goes to him in the hospital, takes him back to the apartment from the first scene, and seduces him in the same outfit she wore for Jerome. She has a vision of him hanging himself. Or does she? The producers play a beautiful trick here, intercutting her vision with the suicides of the parents of Camille’s classmate. What exactly does Lucy see? And what role has she played and will she play in the final arc of the season? I’m betting it’s a significant one.
What of Victor, the creepy and yet oddly lovable boy who seems returned to save Julie more than himself? He doesn’t get much time this week, except for a beautiful scene in which he calls his new guardian a fairy, but he movies with Julie to Laure’s house after Pierre comes looking for the him. What is Pierre’s end game? Is he a good guy trying to help others or is there something still malevolent underneath a man who was there when a family was murdered?
And then there’s the strange and riveting saga of Serge and Léna. The serial killer is still tending for Léna, healing her back wound quite successfully. He gives her the clothes of his dead mother, creating confusion for Toni, who reveals Serge’s secret through a confrontation with him. Lena is naturally terrified, brandishing a weapon at Serge before sleeping with him, raising the question of whether or not zombies use protection. The cops come looking for Serge after Lucy identifies her attacker, and poor, confused Toni pulls a gun, wounding one of them. Serge, who seems to really care for Lena, knows that the authorities are going to descend on their farm and tells her to flee. She comes upon a bunch of VERY creepy people in the woods, standing around a fire. Are they more returned? Why haven’t they re-assimilated? What are they burning? Why am I so scared?