A&E’s American remake of ‘The Returned’ closed out its first season this week. The show’s ratings have been borderline for most of its run, and the network hasn’t yet announced whether it will be renewed or not. If this winds up being the last we see of the series, it’s a very disappointing ending.
Honestly, even if this is just a season finale, it’s pretty underwhelming.
Last week, Peter revealed that he died 29 years ago. I questioned whether that meant he drowned in the flood or was killed by his partner-in-crime. As we discover in this week’s opening flashback, it was the latter. After the botched home robbery which resulted in the death of the young boy Henry (a.k.a. Victor) and his mother, Andrew (his real name) and Rich hide out in the woods. Overcome with guilt, Andrew decides that they need to split up because he just can’t be around Rich anymore. Rich takes this very badly. He had a fantasy that they’d travel the country like Jack Kerouac and Dean Moriarty. Rich pulls a gun. He and Andrew struggle. The gun goes off and Andrew lies dead. Rich leaves him in the woods with a copy of ‘On the Road’ in his hands.
Back to the present day, Tommy shows up at the community center and arrests Peter on charges of fraud, identity theft, accessory to kidnapping or anything else he can make stick. Essentially, Tommy can’t stand Peter and will trump up whatever excuse he can to keep him locked up for a while. Today is Tommy’s wedding day, and he won’t let anything ruin it.
Claire visits Peter in jail. He admits that his real name is Andrew Barlett, but lies and says that he died in the flood. An upset Claire calls him a coward for using her daughter Camille.
Lucy & Jack
Lucy passes by the mural for the flood victims and hears voices again. She goes to Jack at the bar and tells him that the spirits of the town’s dead have been trying to send warnings that something bad is about to happen. Jack says that he believes her, but that nobody else will. Figuring that he’s probably right, Lucy does absolutely nothing with this information.
Jack is busy, anyway. He’s just learned that Tommy and Rowan booked the bar for their wedding reception, and with Tony dead, all the work of preparing for that falls on him.
Rowan & Tommy
Rowan tells the pastor that she has a bad feeling about the day. Her last attempt to get married didn’t end so well. As the ceremony begins, the church door swings open and Rowan is terrified for a moment that Simon has burst in. Fortunately, no, it’s just a late guest. The wedding actually goes off without a hitch.
At the reception afterwards, however, the power blacks out. Lucy sees blood in the sink again and hears more voices. She’s drawn toward Rowan, and tells her that she has a message from the man who fathered the child in her belly. “He’ll be here soon. When he comes, you need to listen.” Rowan’s just never going to get Simon out of her life, is she?
New Girl in Town
A mysterious stranger visits town, asking about electrical disturbances and looking for the Winship family. Her name is Kara Pine, and she says she’s a journalist (really stretching the definition of that word) for a podcast called “Truthfox.” Ugh, really? Everything about that sounds terrible to me.
Kara saw the Facebook posts about Camille. She first visits Claire, who turns her away. She then stops by the jail to see Peter. He doesn’t want to talk to her either. Kara tells him that, “You’re not the first, you know?” She reads off a list of places, including the Roanoke Colony, that reported instances of the dead returning to Earth. The commonality all the places have is that they all ceased to exist overnight.
Lena & Camille
Some of Lena’s friends come to the house to apologize to Camille. They invite both sisters out to a local swimming hole, where they meet up with Hunter (who says he regrets the Facebook posts and has taken them down) and Ben.
Ben tries to reconnect with Lena, but she tells him that she met someone else. (Adam, I suppose?)
The other kids decide to do magic mushrooms. Camille partakes, but they don’t have any effect on her. Hunter, on the other hand, trips balls. He blathers on about how Camille is “not human,” then pulls a pocket knife and cuts her arm to see if she’ll bleed. She does.
Furious, Camille runs off into the woods. Her sister and Ben chase after her and get separated. Night falls before Ben finally runs into Camille. She gets super horny and forces herself on him. Ben resists a little, but then doesn’t resist anymore.
Lena can empathically feel her sister having sex. Just then, she sees a vision of Adam in a hoodie.
When Camille finishes, she turns back to Ben and finds that he has died. That’s a hell of a way to lose your virginity.
Julie & Victor
Julie’s girlfriend Nikki has survived her fall down the stairs with just a broken wrist and a concussion. An upset Julie drags Victor out to her car to lecture him about not hurting others. He acts bratty and keeps turning on the car radio and ignoring her. When she gets really impatient with him, he turns the stations with his mind to demonstrate his power.
Julie drives Victor to his old home, which is still abandoned. She brings him up to the closet where he died, then explains to him that she’s not the magic fairy his mother told him about and they can’t be together anymore. Victor conjures a vision of Julie’s hooded attacker, who grabs her throat. She tells Victor she loves him but begs him to let her go. Suddenly, Victor and the vision vanish.
Julie returns to the hospital. Nikki has woken up and is being released. Julie tells her that Victor is gone.
Later, we spot Victor walking along the road out of town. A car pulls up, and a woman asks him where his parents are. Once again, he doesn’t speak. The woman invites him in her car. Victor has found his next mark. This kid is evil incarnate.
After stealing the load of dynamite, Helen sees a vision of her dead husband (as a young man), who apologizes for not listening to her before and agrees with her that there’s something wrong with the town and only she can fix it.
Helen spots Simon hitchhiking on the road and picks him up. She mentions that she recognizes him from the community center. They don’t get very far before a tire bursts and they nearly crash. Helen says that the damn town is trying to stop her from doing what she needs to do. Simon sees the bag full of dynamite in her back seat. Before he can say or do anything, she clocks him over the head with a tire iron.
Undeterred, Helen makes her way to the dam. A door to an access tunnel is completely unlocked, which is remarkably convenient for her. However, as she skulks around through the dimly-lit tunnels and finds her spot to place the dynamite, the matches she brought to light the fuse won’t strike. She tries again and again until she finally gets one lit, upon which a gust of wind immediately blows it out. The ghosts of the town really must be trying to stop her.
Simon wakes up and runs back toward the town to save Rowan. Still miles away, he comes to a spot that overlooks the whole area and witnesses an apocalyptic image of the dam bursting and a giant flood of water flowing down the mountain and washing away the city.
Then, after a second, it goes away and Simon realizes that it was just a vision. He continues running.
Seriously, that’s it. This is incredibly anticlimactic. The episode doesn’t so much end as just stop at a seemingly arbitrary point. I realize that the producers must have wanted the season to end with their big, expensive visual effect (which isn’t the same as saying that it’s a good visual effect – it looks very computer generated), but they immediately undercut any point the scene had by revealing that it was just a vision. As a cliffhanger, it offers very little suspense.
I don’t regret watching the series. I enjoyed most of it. If it does come back for another season I’ll probably watch again, but this finale episode feels very half-baked.
Have any of our readers watched the original French series, ‘Les Revenants’? How does it differ, and does it end better than this?