‘The Returned’ 1.04 Recap: “Life Forces You to Keep on Living”

Credit where it’s due, unlike some other supernatural mystery dramas (including some from the same producers), the American version of ‘The Returned’ has already been willing to provide answers to some of the questions it raises, even if the big ones remain open.

Victor

This week’s episode, for example, delves deep into the origins of the creepy mute boy. Although we still don’t know his real name yet, we learn that he died 29 years ago when he and his mother were murdered by home invaders. As he heard his mother being shot downstairs, the boy hid in a closet (not the best hiding place, but he didn’t exactly have a lot of time to improvise). One of the masked intruders was less evil than the other and tried to help him stay hidden, but the partner wouldn’t have any of that and coldly shot the kid. That’s certainly not a happy story.

In the present day, Dr. Julie’s annoying neighbor is found dead in her own apartment, with her tongue cut out. I think we can guess who’s responsible. As the cops come to investigate, Julie’s ex-girlfriend Deputy Nikki questions her about the victim. The subject changes quickly when Nikki spots Victor and wants to know where he came from. When Julie is unable to concoct a convincing story, she begs Nikki not to report her. Nikki tells her she can’t do that. I’ve gotta say, I’m with Nikki on this. How Julie thought she could get away with keeping a strange kid in her apartment without telling anyone is a bizarre character flaw.

Nevertheless, most of a day goes by without anything happening, which seems problematic. Had Julie been a kidnapper, she could have taken the boy and ran. Fortunately, she doesn’t. Victor colors some gruesome drawings of bloody dead bodies, so we know he’s totally well-adjusted. Eventually, Nikki comes back to take him away. Do they not have any social workers in this town?

Nikki brings Victor to the community center, which is apparently a catch-all shelter/half-way house for people who have nowhere else to go. Peter (Jeremy Sisto) introduces himself, and says something that Victor recognizes from the night of his death. Was Peter one of the intruders?

Camille & Lena

At the start of the episode, Claire, mother of the twins, tells her ex-husband Jack that she might be ready to move their whole family away and start over fresh somewhere else after all. Those feelings change, unfortunately, when the cops ask Jack to come to the police station to be questioned about the attack on Lucy, the fake psychic/hooker.

Older daughter Lena, whose uncared-for wound on her back is just getting worse, passes out and falls down the stairs. Claire rushes her to the hospital, where the doctor (Francois Chau from ‘Lost’) tells her that Lena’s injury appears to be a puncture wound, yet it’s inexplicably spreading and he doesn’t know how to treat it. Lena blames Camille. She says that her sister’s return is killing her.

Just in case she thought her day couldn’t get any worse, Claire’s boyfriend Peter (yes, the one who might have been responsible for Victor’s death) helpfully informs her that Jack burned through Camille’s entire college savings fund on the psychic/hooker. Jack is unapologetic, and explains that he was messed-up after his daughter’s death and took solace wherever he could find it. Yeah, Claire is definitely not moving away with him now. She’s not too happy with Peter for telling her about this either.

In a flashback to four years earlier, young Lena and a couple of her friends (including boyfriend Ben) break into the morgue so that she can get a good look at her dead sister’s body, because she blamed herself for Camille’s death. The corpse has a puncture wound on its back just like the one Lena has now. Interesting…

Simon & Rowan

Sheriff Tommy continues to spy on his fiancée Rowan with the hidden security cameras in their house. He catches her having sex with Simon, and yet Rowan acts like the aggrieved party and lays a guilt trip on him after she finds his cameras. Tommy tells her that Simon’s death six years earlier wasn’t an accident. He committed suicide by stepping in front of an 18-wheeler on the morning of their wedding. Rowan doesn’t believe him.

Rowan also finally introduces her daughter Chloe to Simon, the girl’s father. She says that he’s an angel.

Helen

After her husband’s suicide, Helen Goddard (Michelle Forbes) has nowhere to live and nowhere to go. She cleans herself up in the church restroom and sees blood gurgling up from the sink. (One of our other returnees saw something similar.) That’s pretty creepy.

She approaches Pastor Wright (Carl Lumbly) and bemoans having come back from the dead. “The finality’s for a reason,” she says. The pastor thinks she’s a crazy homeless person and, kind and generous soul that he is, offers to set her up with a place to sleep at the community center. (Why do I get the feeling we’re going to learn dark, horrible things about Pastor Wright?)

While there, Helen sees Victor. A look of recognition crosses her face. I don’t know whether she literally knew the boy (it’s possible if she died around the same time as him), or if she can just tell that he’s another returnee like her.

Despite having one of the shortest storylines, Michelle Forbes makes a big impression this episode. She exhibits a lot more personality than her previous, non-speaking appearances. She seems bitter, even pissed off at being back from the dead. I’d like to know more about her and how she died. Based on the season’s episode titles, we may not get that until Episode 9.

If Victor died 29 years ago, yet also caused the bus crash four years ago, does that means that he’s returned twice? Did he die again, simply vanish after the bus crash, or has he been hanging around for the past four years without aging? These are questions I will eventually need answered.

Overall, this is a good episode. Although nothing stands out to me as being exceptional, it progresses the narrative and the mysteries well. I’m digging this show the more I see of it.

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