As if in response to a complaint I made last week, the characters in ‘The Returned’ actually started talking to one another in the latest episode. Although not all secrets are out in the open yet, we at least have a little more indication of why some of these secrets are being kept in the first place.
We start with another flashback, this time to seven years ago. It’s Halloween, and two girls in masks (clearly girlfriends) flirt and make out a little, then part and go their separate ways. One walks home through that super-creepy “Oh my god, why would anyone ever walk through this awful murder trap?” tunnel we saw in the pilot episode, and gets attacked and stabbed, as you’d imagine probably happens on a regular basis in there.
Cut to the present day, and it’s clear that the victim was Dr. Julie. Of course, we surely all already made that connection last week when she showed the stabbing scars on her stomach, but the point is hammered home again to show that she got the scars in the exact same way that recent victim Lucy did. In fact, when she’s informed that there’s been another stabbing in that tunnel, Julie has a panic attack.
Police deputy Nikki Banks stops by Julie’s apartment to check on her, and we quickly realize that this is her former girlfriend. Julie pushes her away and asks her to leave.
From across the hall, Julie’s nosy neighbor spies through the peephole. The next day, she knocks on Julie’s door and asks what the police wanted. Julie tells her to mind her own business. The neighbor (whose name I haven’t caught yet) tells her that she knows Julie’s secret. She believes that the little boy is an illegal adoption, and she threatens to call the cops. Julie tells her to screw off. The neighbor doesn’t follow through on her threat.
Later, because the boy has eaten her out of house and home, Julie has to leave Creepy Victor alone in the apartment while she goes to the store. As soon as she’s gone, Victor walks across the hall and knocks on Nosy Neighbor’s door. The woman invites him inside, and we leave things there. I don’t imagine this will end well for the woman.
Along with what seems like half the town, Claire and daughter Lena attend the funeral of George Goddard, the elderly man who committed suicide by jumping off a dam. The pastor (Carl Lumbly from ‘Alias’) mentions in his sermon that George’s wife Helen had died a couple decades earlier. Hiding behind a tree just out of sight, Helen (Michelle Forbes) watches on silently.
It seems that Lena has told her mother about Simon, the man she suspects is also back from the dead. Claire in turn tells her boyfriend Peter (Jeremy Sisto), but they don’t share this information with anyone else yet. They’re also still keeping Camille hidden until they figure out what to do about her. Claire’s ex-husband Jack wants the whole family to pack up and start over again somewhere else.
Lena has a scratch on her back that gets progressively worse through the episode, until it’s a nasty gash by the end. She doesn’t want to talk about it. Strangely, she also refuses to put a bandage on it, much less see a doctor to get it stitched up.
Tired of being cooped up in the house, Camille asks her mother if they can go to a mall in another town where no one will know her. Claire agrees. Unfortunately, while there, Claire runs into an acquaintance who’s dumbstruck when she sees Camille. Thinking quickly, Camille introduces herself as “Alice,” Lena’s cousin. The woman comments on the remarkable resemblance.
Emboldened by this success, Camille sneaks out of the house that night and follows Lena to the bar, where she likewise introduces herself around as Alice, including to the boy Ben she used to have a crush on (and whom, unbenknownst to Camille yet, Lena lost her virginity to).
Lena has been awfully pissy about Camille’s return for a while now. Things come to a head at the bar, where she outright tells her sister that, “I want you gone.” Lena then starts to have dirty bathroom sex with Ben as if to spite Camille, until he sees that wound on her back, and she runs off embarrassed.
Having heard about Simon, Peter does some digging and learns that he’s in police custody. He talks the police receptionist into releasing Simon into his care so that he can bring him to the halfway house at the community center. Apparently, this is something he does for other “transients” who’ve been picked up for panhandling or other nuisance offenses. The receptionist, unaware that Simon was being held for questioning about the attack on Lucy, lets him out.
In the car on the way to the center, Peter tells Simon that he knows he has returned from the dead, and that’s he’s not alone. In fact, he says that he knows someone else this happened to in the past. Assuming that he’s not being coy and really referring to Camille, that’s a pretty big revelation. How much does Peter really know about what’s going on, and how many people has this happened to before? Simon demands that he pull over, and gets out of the car.
Sheriff Tommy is very upset when he finds out that a potential murderer was set free without anyone so much as telling him, as he should be. What kind of incompetent police department is he running? When questioned about where Simon went, Peter is very selective with his facts and plays dumb about knowing that there’s anything unusual about Simon.
Tommy is obsessed with his fiancée Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and spies on her with the security cameras in their home. It turns out that he has good reason. Simon visits her again, first at the library. He pretends to be a ghost and tells her that he’s come to say goodbye, and that it’s OK for her to move on. What a nice guy, right? Well, after Rowan informs him that he has a daughter and shows him the girl (from afar), Simon has second thoughts about leaving. He returns to the community center and apologizes to Peter for running off. He may want to stick around after all.
Just as she thinks she’s finally made peace with her ghosts, Rowan receives a visit from Lena, who mentions that a guy named Simon was looking for her and asks if he ever caught up with her. Now, remember that Lena has already figured out what Simon is. This “Oh, by the way, your dead boyfriend stopped by yesterday” act is a seriously bitchy move on her part. What does she have against Rowan?
Rowan is of course now struck by the fact that Simon must be real if someone else saw and spoke to him. When he shows up at her house again, she’s overwhelmed and kisses him. Naturally, Tommy sees all this on the security camera. I’m guessing that’ll put a strain on their relationship.
Other People Whose Names We Don’t Know
I find it a little annoying when a show introduces new characters but doesn’t bother to tell us their names. This episode has another storyline where some young guy returns to a dilapidated house in the woods and finds it closed up. For some reason, he kills a wolf and leaves it hanging from the ceiling. I don’t know what that’s about.
An older guy shows up, who’s either his father or older brother, I’m not sure. The young guy comes up to him and asks what happened to the house. Older guy freaks out and hits him with a shovel. Young guy gets pissed and hits him with the shovel, then grabs a shotgun and demands to know where his mother is. Older guy tells him that she’s dead – she died two years ago… with him.
I’m sure we’ll learn more about these characters in a later episode, but they don’t play a huge part in this one.
Edit: Since I wrote this post, I found it pointed out on another site that the older guy is Tony the bartender, who was questioned by Sheriff Tommy about Lucy’s stabbing and reacted in shock, as if he knew who the attacker was. This suggests that his son (?) was the stabber, and the attacks stopped when he died.
With the third episode, the show is slowly trickling out and deepening its mystery. I may have some little qualms about it, but I generally like where this is going and am intrigued to see more. I have still not watched any of the original French series to compare, and don’t plan to until at least this first season is done. I’d like to give the American version a fair shake on its own merits. Also, I hear that they start similarly but will eventually diverge and go in separate directions.