Monday, June 17, 2013

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 2: Simon

To the pub! Always a good place to start. And 10 years go – that’s enough time for lots of drinking! Simon is the bassist in the band that’s playing and he’s due to get married to Adèle, one of the bar staff. Everyone’s all happy, they get a polaroid taken and a very young Léna plays with the drums, shown by Simon (for another happy-happy polaroid).

The next day, the day of the wedding, they’re both tired since they barely slept (yes, for obvious reasons) they’re all lovey dovey and more saccharine joy so Adèle ramps it higher and tells Simon she’s pregnant. He starts crying – I think this is overcome by emotion but I’ve no idea if it’s happy or sad. Sad I think, since she gets all sad as well.

That may be why Simon doesn’t show up. The bride, the bridesmaid and a man I take to be the best man (isn’t groom wrangling his job?) stand in an echoingly empty church with the priest. Which is when the police arrive to deliver some bad news. On the plus side, you’ve already hired the church so if you can get someone to rush out for a big box… no? Probably not.

Move to the present day and Adèle’s daughter and partner, Thomas, are having breakfast and she’s having trouble getting up – which her daughter worries may be a repeat of previous sleeplessness in the past (which, linked to what was said last week, suggests Adèle had some problems after Simon’s death). Upstairs Adèle is stressed, worn and not her best – and very apologetic, but Thomas is calm and understanding.

Simon, meanwhile, goes to an American theme diner with a pocket full of loose change – apparently not enough to buy some food. He tries to beg which gets him nowhere – so he smacks the bar tender round the head with a glass and then beats him unconscious – all watched by a woman eating chips and being immensely unconcerned about the whole thing, rather bored really. I feel she’s giving him marks out of 10 and finding him lacking. Though the attack is caught on CCTV.

At her house, Camille has her own problems – examining her unaged face in the mirror and asking her twin – now older – sister Léna if she’s afraid of her. She says no – but leaves when a scared and confused Camille tries to hug her.

At the breakfast table, Claire, Camille and
Jérôme all play happy, normal families until Léna comes down and shatters the illusion, demanding to know who Camille is, how they can be sure she’s Camille and runs out when Jérôme tries to quiet her. He follows her and she protests, tearfully, how impossible it all is. He wants her to keep quiet but she points out they can hardly hide her. He tells her her sister needs her – and Léna tells him that Camille is dead.

At the police station, the poor battered diner employee makes his report – and Julie asks if there’s been any reports of a missing boy matching Creepy Kid’s description. There aren’t (why doesn’t she just hand in the Creepy Kid?) She makes up a ridiculous story for why she’s asking rather than tell the truth. I have no idea why, presumably she’s very very bored? Of course, then she has to give a statement about her lie.

In his quest for Adèle, Simon goes to see Julie again and ask her about the last tenant – but she doesn’t know Adèle and took over the flat 8 or 9 years ago. In desperation he asks if she knows what happened to Simon – she says no and closes the door on him. She has the more important task of questioning the silent Creepy Kid. He ignores most of her questions and gives her a random hug. She tells him she can’t keep him because she fears he may eat her skin – or because it’s not legal. One of the two. Personally I’d fear the skin eating.

Adèle, Thomas and her daughter are discussing something in the church – something coming up (wedding perhaps?) which Adèle seems all distracted about, when Thomas, the Police Captain (I thought he was fire brigade, my mistake) gets a call. They’ve found Lucy’s body – and, unexpectedly, she’s still alive but in critical condition. She’s been repeatedly stabbed and bitten – which Thomas and his fellow officer recognise. Apparently a serial killer is back.

In the church, Adèle’s daughter goes to the bathroom, but the taps don’t work. Instead, water flows up from the drain. At the dam, the worried workers talk about the water level of the lake still dropping. They decide on more inspection – and keeping it quiet. Just because.

Camille goes into her sister’s room and examines the posters and photographs of her sister growing up without her – including photographs of her friends. Downstairs Jérôme and Claire continue their slightly stunned, awkward life and Jérôme intends to go home and change; to which Claire suggests he bring some of his things back. For Camille, of course. Jérôme agrees but does wonder what Pierre, Claire’s new boyfriend, will think. Claire goes to check on Camille and sees that Léna’s room has been trashed – Camille denies having gone in and Claire drops it with that same stunned air about her.

Julie takes Creepy Kid out – and her nosy neighbour who really really needs a hobby swoops out on them. Y’know, if Creepy Kid’s head was going to spin and he was going to start eating souls or anything now would be a good time to start. Completely ignoring Julie’s really unsubtle “sod off” body language and tone, Nosy neighbour follows her and asks her about Mr. Costas – taking the chance to tell Julie about his suicide.

At the church the priest asks Adèle what is wrong with her (in a roundabout way and with extra guilt for not trusting him) and she tells him she thought Simon had come back. She mentions it happening before – apparently Adèle has hallucinated in the past (which rather explains her reaction to ghosts of fiancés past appearing on the doorstep). He tells her of another parishioner who had her husband come back – 20 years after he died. But he doesn’t believe either of them REALLY came back, it’s just love and missing them and being reminded close to her wedding to Thomas. Not zombies. Honest. And ghosts mean her no harm, she just has to make peace with them. Yeah, this guy is going to get eaten by a zombie, possessed by a ghost or have his skin eaten by Creepy kid. He ends telling her not to turn Simon away, but talk to him

Y’know, if she was hallucinating it may be best she talk to a psychiatrist rather than a priest who encourages her to have a nice chat with the voices in her head.

Simon goes to the pub where he sees Léna who is very very very carefully displaying the Kronenbourg 1664 label on her beer glass so they get their money’s worth from the product placement. He asks where Adèle works and she tells him the multimedia library – he heads out again.

At home Camille comes down to find Claire and Pierre talking about her and her memories and when they stop. She tells him that she hasn’t slept for a second still and why is that. He tells her everything has an explanation. Which is wonderfully helpful. She decides to go out, tired of being stuck in and Pierre tries to stop her – to which she demands to know who this man is, anyway. Claire assures Camille she can trust him so she asks what she is – a zombie? He says not a zombie (“then why do I want to eat your brain? Nom nom nom”. Ok it’d break the tone of the show but I still vaguely hoped for it). He’s full of religious joy over her return because he did go to her funeral and see her coffin so knows she died. She’s more upset by the fact she was chosen and the other 40 people on the bus were not. She just wants a normal life.

2 police go to the pub to ask Toni, the barman to come with them to inform him about Lucy and ask him about her. Léna tries to ask one of them what’s going on – who she knows, Alcide – but he can’t talk about it with her. They leave and Léna spots the photograph on the wall of her being taught how to play the drums by Simon when she was a child – and recognises him – and that he hasn’t aged.

Simon heads to the library to find Adèle – but on the way he is spotted on CCTV and reported to the police. He finds Adèle and she’s stunned by how young and handsome he is. Taking the priest’s advice, she tells him that just because she’s marrying Thomas doesn’t mean she’ll forget him, she talks to him as a ghost and that she’s not scared and how wonderful it is he came back. Well, if he weren’t confused before, he should be now. She thinks he’s in her head – and when a crowd of screaming kids come in the room and distract her, he’s gone by the time she looks back. So her belief is probably going to continue. My she’s going to be surprised when her hallucination is arrested. He leaves the library – and is picked up by the police.

At the police station, Thomas is given the files by his assistant, Laure. She shows him Lucy was stabbed 17 times by someone who tried to eat her liver – exactly the same as murders 7 years ago. Alcide brings in Toni and Thomas questions him about what Lucy was doing, when she left work, if she had any family, etc. Laure questions him as a suspect – since he was a suspect in the last murder 7 years ago. She accuses him until Thomas tells her to back off and leave (nicely).

A dishevelled man, Serge, goes to some houses in the forest outside of town – they’re boarded up, which surprises him. He breaks in, calling for his mother.

At the bar Léna looks even more shellshocked and asks her friend if it’s possible to come back from the dead. He’s pretty confused by this and makes something of a joke of it – and she leaves in tears.

Camille sneaks out of her house. And, while Julie is distracted, Creepy Kid jumps out the window she hurries downstairs (it’s either the second or third floor) but doesn’t find him splattered on the floor – she doesn’t see him at all. Then she hears a knock – she turns and Creepy Kid is back inside the lobby. Creepy Kid is Creepy.

Released by the police, Toni goes to the boarded up houses where we saw Serge. He goes through unshuttering windows and finds a recently butchered small furry animal. And a wolf strung up in the taxidermy room. Yes, it has a taxidermy room. The only thing creepier than this place is the Creepy Kid. Toni hears a noise and goes and rechecks the taxidermy room rather than jumping out the window and running whimpering to town (which is what I’d be doing at this point). The meat hook from the ceiling is empty – because the dead, taxidermy wolf is now alive again. And not happy. He reaches for a gun and it leaps on him – he manages to hold it off, kick it away and shoot it. And then shoot it again – sensible man. Don’t trust the zombie wolf.

He buries the wolf outside and Serge arrives, asking what it did to him. Toni gets that familiar shellshocked look on his face. Then hits Serge in the head with his shovel. See! There’s one man in this town who knows what to do with zombies! While Serge groans on the floor, a confused and stunned Toni goes back to the house and closes the door. See? This guy has watched his zombie movies. He holds the door close and begins praying while Serge bangs on it and asks why Toni hit him. At the end of the prayer, Serge stops banging on the door. Toni opens it and gets clonked on the head with a spade.

Oh Toni, you were doing so well.

Claire notices that Camille is gone and calls Jérôme, horrified that Camille is gone and may not come back. Again. Camille has gone to the pub, to look in the window and spy on the boy who was her friend when they were both young. She runs when she’s spotted. At the house Léna returns home to join Claire and Jérôme in horrified “oh god she’s out!”

At the police station, Laure presents Thomas with a report on who attacked the diner worker – except his file shows him dead. Dead for 10 years no less; they checked his finger prints and they match Simon Delaître. She’s impressed he tricked the system, Thomas is far more shocked because, of course, he recognises Simon. They go to question Simon, Thomas getting that very familiar shellshocked look and Laure starting her aggressive questioning, until Thomas asks him if he knows Adèle – Simon says he does and Thomas tells Simon that Simon Delaître is dead. Simon has a brief silence before asking Thomas what he is to Adèle. Thomas doesn’t answer and puts Simon in custody.

At the serial killer house, Toni wakes up and Serge points a gun at him, asking why the house was locked and where is mother is. Toni tells him his mother died 3 years ago. Serge asks why he doesn’t remember, rather agitated, and Toni says because he wasn’t there – Serge was with his mother. Serge slowly lowers the gun, shellshocked face in place.

Thomas goes home to Adèle and she’s bright and chipper (having made peace with her not!ghost) and Thomas is the shellshocked one now.

Camille returns home to find the whole house worried and relieved to have her back. She asks what could happen – she’s already dead. She tells them she went to the pub to see Frédéric (the friend) but bumped into Lucho. Who didn’t recognise her. She bursts into tears

That night Léna goes to Camille’s room and tells her she’s seen someone like her – someone else who is dead

Thomas goes through Adèle’s old photos and finds one of Simon. More shellshock

In the cell, Alcide asks Simon if he wants to call anyone – he doesn’t answer

At the serial killer houses, Serge cries, held by Toni

And Creepy Kid spends another night with Julie – who then goes into the bathroom and cries. As she undresses for the shower, we see her abdomen is covered in scars.

Much of what I said in the last episode applies here – there’s a really well maintained sense of theme and atmosphere. There’s a lot of really good acting. And while I joke about the patented shellshocked look, how else would you look in those circumstances? It’s really well done, never loses its sense of creepy or sinister and I get the feeling there’s something big coming. Especially with odd things like the lake water falling.

The pacing is… ok. It feels kind of slow but it’s not boring because of that crescendo, that sense of something lurking and about to burst out over everything.

More troubling is that, despite a veritably huge cast of characters, I think Serge is the only minority. It’s only the second episode so more may be forthcoming.