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The Returned

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This looks like shaping up into a real gem

 

Just as BBC4 seemed to have cornered the market on European drama with its smorgasbord of Scandanavian delights, Channel 4 serves up The Returned.

 

It's the kind of sparse, tense, surprising, original and coolly beautiful drama which would never be made in Britain or America. Not in the same way.

 

4 years ago a coach carrying schoolchildren back from a trip goes over a cliff in a picturesque Alpine French town, killing everyone on board. In the present day the camera closes on a display cabinet of pinned butterflies. One of them suddenly flutters into life and the glass smashes as it flies gently away.

 

Then the children start returning.

 

It's not a ghost or zombie story. At least not in any sense that we would typically understand it. In fact, for much of it I actually wasn't primarily focused on the mystery of why this is happening. The heart is in the human drama and the reactions of everyone concerned - including the children, for whom it is effectively the day of the accident, of which they have no memory.

 

The first three quarters is strangely languid in pace, then suddenly there's a murder out of the blue, and then revelations thick and fast, with some glorious surprises that left me gagging for the next episode.

 

Clearly the return reignites many things from the past and I suspect flashbacks are going to become even more frequent in later episodes.

 

It's highly naturalistic , in the best traditions of European drama, which frames this supernatural set of events in a beautifully fresh way, given the kinds of drama we're used to seeing featuring this kind of story. It's also very slim on dialogue, which is another huge strength.

 

It's moving, strange and quite hypnotic. If you haven't seen it, grab it on catch-up. Or by any means you can if you're not in the UK!

 

Embedding doesn't seem to be working, so if you'd like to see the trailer, you can do so

.

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The only problem is that whenever you get to a suspensful bit there's a (long) ad break. I'm thinking of recording it so I can fast forward through them because they really aren't a joke.

 

I'm watching it with my daughter who's already seen the original on French TV and she says it stays every bit as good as the opening episode.

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The only problem is that whenever you get to a suspensful bit there's a (long) ad break. I'm thinking of recording it so I can fast forward through them because they really aren't a joke.

It's rare I watch anything live these days - and that's one of the incentives! Plus with many series I like to save them up and have a splurge. But I don't think I want to wait with this one.

 

I'm watching it with my daughter who's already seen the original on French TV and she says it stays every bit as good as the opening episode.

Excellent!

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Almost felt the need to take notes watching last night's episode, working out who belonged to who etc but it is addictive.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this as well but when will directors learn having so much 'action' in the dark isn't atmospheric just annoying and confusing. I realise that the Returned came back in the evening but did nearly every house need to be living in near blackout conditions?

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I'm enjoying it, on top of what has been mentioned already it has an excellent, atmospheric score.

 

Everything is building gradually and interconnecting well so far, so I hope that the conclusion is a good one.

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I really can't see where it's going and I love that! Even better, they're in the middle of making another series.

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I started watching it about four weeks after it started, and was able to splurge - as David puts it - four episodes in three nights. Now I have to wait for a week between episodes, which is agony.

 

As David summarises, the premise seemed to be that the children from the crash gradually came back, but Camille appeared to be the only one - until the closing moments of last week's episode anyway...

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I started watching it about four weeks after it started, and was able to splurge - as David puts it - four episodes in three nights. Now I have to wait for a week between episodes, which is agony.

 

As David summarises, the premise seemed to be that the children from the crash gradually came back, but Camille appeared to be the only one - until the closing moments of last week's episode anyway...

Bill! You're back!  :)

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Bill! You're back!  :)

 

Yes, it's good to see BGO's father posting again!  I think Hazel's excellent FB page has been a good way of luring him back!

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One of the things I'm really enjoying about this is the moral ambiguities throughout.  We're not at all sure about whether the return is a malign thing or not and there's an interesting difference between the individual returned in relation to what they seem to know.  Camille seems completely in the dark - and indeed her pretence at knowing the truth with the grieving parents led to a terrible consequence.  Victor, on the other hand, had that extremely sinister air about him at first when he was silent.  Then we learned more and he became more identifiable and vulnerable, but after showing Adele's daughter a vision of her bloodied mother he now seems something else again.

 

Madame Costa gives the impression she knows a lot more - and seems the oldest of them in terms of date of death - but then she says different things to different people.

 

However, the chilling shot as Lucy enters the Lake Pub to see a host of backlit, eerie characters was glorious.  It's been an uncertainty throughout why so few dead people have come back - suddenly there are many more apparently gathering in the wings!

 

Of course it all seems to be wrapped up in the gradually emerging village, as the lake drains, which leads to inevitable theories:

 

 

Are they all actually dead?  The apparently living existing in a purgatory of sorts?  Was the village actually flooded in a disaster?  Certainly the fact no one can leave indicates this isn't a wholly real-world place.  But I still can't see how that knits together.

 

 

Not sure what the skin lesions are all about  - or why Lena's appear to have cleared after getting the balm from Serge.  One of the great twists from the first episode was Camille and Lena being twins and I wondered then if a comment they made about swapping places meant that Camille is actually Lena - the pretence of that day being carried on afterwards.  But nothing came of that so I guess not.

 

Another thing was Toni seeing his mother, then turning away briefly causes her to vanish.  More ghost than 'zombie' there.

 

Crumbs, there's so much to pull together.  Since there's a second series I hope they at least answer the main questions this time round.  I guess the final episode will fully reveal the submerged village.  Ooo-er!   :quiver:

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I'd recorded this series and just caught up with the most recent episode last night.  Having it recorded is good for jumping adverts but also for pausing it to ask for clarifications or propose theories.  I'm currently wondering if Lucy is the key to it all or if Pierre is a super-baddie.  But what's with the wounds that most of the Returned have, why did Lena have one and where has it gone?  And where did Serge go???

 

Please, please don't let this turn into another 'Lost'...

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I'd recorded this series and just caught up with the most recent episode last night.  Having it recorded is good for jumping adverts but also for pausing it to ask for clarifications or propose theories.

 

Indeed, but I was glad in one of the first ones I forgot to hit the fast forward immediately and suddenly noticed all the adverts had French subtitles!  I'm not sure they're doing that any more, but I thought it was brilliant!

 

I'm currently wondering if Lucy is the key to it all or if Pierre is a super-baddie.  But what's with the wounds that most of the Returned have, why did Lena have one and where has it gone?  And where did Serge go???

 

I suppose it was odd that all the mysterious figures in the Lake Pub almost seemed to be waiting for her, but it's hard to see a reason why she would be.  Still, I guess we're not supposed to yet!  I've looked at Pierre as just horribly over-protective, and of course given his job that's not a good thing.  (Not that it's a good thing in any job, of course...).  I must admit, I thought something was going to happen to Toni in the lake - I thought Serge was leading him to his doom, but instead he seemed to be pulled under by something!  Dunno what that means.

 

Please, please don't let this turn into another 'Lost'...

 

I don't think they will.  From what I've read the producers have clear ideas and went out of their way to define a European rather than an American way of approaching this kind of supernatural story.

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 I've looked at Pierre as just horribly over-protective, and of course given his job that's not a good thing. 

But what about his role in Victor's back story?  And Lisa with her visions?  Oh it's all too much - roll on Sunday night!!

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But what about his role in Victor's back story? 

 

Oooops!  Ignore my drivel.  I was thinking of Thomas!

 

Yeah, Pierre is interesting.  Is he carrying out his current charitable work because of guilt over what happened to Victor?  Or is it indeed more sinister?  I must say, even when it looked like he was being caring with Camille when she first returned I found him a bit creepy.

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Well, goodness - what a conclusion!

 

I very much liked the different feel to this one.  Each week the episode title has been an individual's name, but this time from the outset we have 'the horde' and a climactic sense of threat finally bursting into reality.

 

There were just so many great moments in this episode.  There's Victor reaching whole new levels of sinister by making Toni shoot himself.  Or the living characters who choose to accompany the dead into who knows what, each for reasons which aren't explained, as they would be in a Hollywood moment of heart-wrenching parting, but instead they've been so well drawn we simply know why.  Perhaps best of all Julie trying to save Toni finding herself with Serge again, and even comforting him - an incredible moment.

 

And, in another contrast with Hollywood there's no great showdown to be seen - in spite of our expectations given Pierre's armoury in the basement.  We just hear it from behind the shutters, along with everyone else.

 

But of course I won't pretend it wasn't frustrating.  I did love it; it all hung together (mostly) and felt right.  I didn't actually feel cheated, as I have done with Lost.  But the fact remains not a lot was answered.  And, indeed, even more questions were added!

 

Lucy does indeed turn out to be some sort of leader of the undead (well done, Jen!), but why?  What do they want with the other returned?  There had been hints from the likes of Mme Costa that they were coming back for revenge, yet they seemed to have no real interest in the living.  Why didn't they want Serge?  Also, what's the deal with Adele's unborn child - is that really the heart of it?  Chloe's hand over the baby at the end seems to hint at strong significance.  What about those skin problems?  And particularly intriguing, why do there appear to be different types of undead?  The feral man drinking from the toilet bowl who turns on Thomas is very different.  Is that what happens to the undead after time?  Do they progressively lose their humanity?  Are the skin lesions part of that process and will the living/undead baby provide some sort of protection?

 

And, of course, what happened at the end?  The police and the horde have disappeared and the town's flooded (presumably all that leaking water from behind the dam was being saved up for a tidal wave).  But what of the other people there?  It's quite a size and the entire population can't have been in The Helping Hand.

 

Well, the good news, of course, is that there will definitely be another series and we're promised lots of answers in the early episodes.  The very, very bad news is they don't even start filming until early next year and we won't see it until the end of 2014. 

 

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  :cry:

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We've really enjoyed this series and, as David suggests, its un-Hollywoodish treatment of the theme.  Quite early on in the run I thought it had a Twin Peaks atmosphere (I hope this doesn't contradict my opening sentence!).

 

(Little Victor has walked through it in quite a mesmerising way hasn't he).

 

But I have to agree I was rather disappointed with the finale and the opening comments of this article are ones I've been nodding to -

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2013/jul/29/the-returned-series-finale-disappointed

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I thought the ending worked well, still leaving enough things to chew over.  The thing that's most been puzzling me is why did some come back before 'The Horde'?  Seemingly, these were all people who died in specific ways, not part of the original flood, and from that I thought it might really be that they all wanted revenge.  But that doesn't seem to apply to Mlle Costa.  And Victor/Louis's story was different again, the nosey neighbour and her cats, Chloe...  As for the wounds, why did Lena have that huge gash down her back when she (apparently) wasn't dead? 

 

I don't agree with the Guardian reviewer's opinion that it ended with 'a whimper', I'd say that the tone of the final episode fitted well with the rest of the series and as others have said it was pleasingly non-Hollywood.  Life doesn't tie up all of the loose ends, after all.

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I'll admit I was frustrated :) however, a little background reading this morning kept the flames going : http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/the-returned/26626/does-this-hold-the-answers-to-the-returned%E2%80%99s-mysteries

 

Very interesting, solace!  Thanks for that.  It seems to suggest again that the water is an important mechanism in all this (as when Camille's coffin turned out to be filled not with her body, but water).  And it also shows how these things have been happening for longer than just the timeframe of the series.  It's easy to forget the great shock at the end of the first episode - it was Victor who caused the coach crash.

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I can't help wondering about Thomas.  I'm sure he was around when Adele and Simon were going to get married - did Simon really commit suicide or was it done for him?  After all Thomas then went on to shoot Simon twice and seems to have no boundaries when it comes to his utter determination to protect and keep Adele.

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