Friday, 5 August 2016

TV Shows #9

The Returned Season One (2015)
Developed By: Carlton Cuse Starring: India Ennenga, Sandrine Holt, Sophie Lowe, Mark Pellegrino, Jeremy Sisto, Michelle Forbes, Mat Vairo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Douglas, Tandi Wright, Dylan Kingwell, Kevin Alejandro, Agnes Bruckner, Leah Gibson

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 43-46 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes

There have been a number of American shows in recent years that are remakes of foreign (often European) shows. The Killing is a great example, but the one I've watched most recently is The Returned. It's based on a French show called Les Revenants which itself is only a few years old and is set in a small, close-knit American town. However, like all small American towns in films and TV shows, it's a much more eventful place than it might first appear. For one thing, a surprising number of inhabitants have died over the years. Some perished in a flood when the local dam burst 29 years before but many others have been lost in a variety of incidents, some accidents, others not. This in itself isn't that strange, but what is strange is that now, some of them have inexplicably started returning without having aged a day.

Rowan is somewhat surprised to see Simon...

The first few we meet are Camille (Ennenga) who was killed when her school bus went over a cliff four years ago, Simon (Vairo), formerly engaged to Rowan (Winstead) six years before who is now engaged to Tommy (Alejandro), the local sheriff, and Helen (Forbes), one of the victims of the aforementioned flood. Most mysterious of all is the appearance of a young boy, alone and apparently mute, who may or may not even be from the town at all. He does, however, seemingly have a connection to at least one of the townsfolk who's carrying a secret from his own past he's been trying to atone for. The boy (Kingwell) is taken in by local doctor Julie Han (Holt) who names him Victor, but she soon starts to find that his refusal (or inability?) to speak may not be the strangest thing about him after he also begins to demonstrate some other rather unsettling behaviour.

Camille is back but it's Lena who's suffering...

Each episode is named after (and therefore focuses on) a particular character, with the first handful looking at Camille, Simon, Julie, and Victor respectively. In the case of the first two, it focuses on the circumstances surrounding their deaths, the shock of their sudden reappearances, and the effect on their families in both cases, while Julie is reminded of a traumatic event from her past as she tries to find out just who Victor really is. Before long we find that there are at least a couple of other 'returnees' as well, but there aren't many of them in total, and that begs the biggest of many questions this show throws up: Why them, and why now? It could have something to do with Helen who comes to much greater prominence later in the season. She believes the town is cursed and that the flood that claimed her life was an act of God. One that should be repeated...

Julie doing her best to look after 'Victor'...

Sadly, quite how this or any of the other story threads play out is not something we will get to see, for the show was cancelled after this one, solitary season. And that's a real shame as things were building up nicely. There are 20+ regular characters and they all have one thing or another going on. In addition to those mentioned, there is Lena (Lowe), Camille's identical twin sister who has a lot of trouble readjusting to her sibling's return, their parents Jack (Pellegrino) and Claire (Wright) whose marriage broke up from the strain of losing their daughter, Lucy (Gibson), a barmaid who supposedly starts hearing spooky voices in her head, Tony (Douglas) as the owner of the bar who was the suspect in a series of killings which look like they may have started again, Peter (Sisto) who runs a homeless shelter on the edge of town, and several others as well.

Peter holds a town meeting at his shelter...

There really is quite a bit going on here, with numerous interweaving sub-plots underway at all times. Some are fairly clear while others are far more subtle, but there's a nice sense of mystery and tension. Most of the characters are just as confused about it all as we are but the desire to find out just what is going on is strong. The cast was well chosen too - they all seem well suited to their roles and they all impress in them. It would have been great to see them and their characters grow as the more than bewildering reality of their situations became clear (or not!), but apparently it was not meant to be, and we're left with the frustration of a cliffhanger finale and a truckload of unanswered questions. It was a great show while it lasted though, I enjoyed it a lot and wish we could've seen it 'return' (tee hee!). I suppose the only option now is to watch the original French series.

RKS Score: 8/10



  1. The Returned looks great, but I can't justify investing the time in it, when it only lasts for one season. And Les Revenants only has two seasons, so I'll have to give this lot a miss :(

  2. Yeah, it's a real bummer. This is a great season but you will find yourself frustrated by the end of it, there are SO many unanswered questions...