Monday, July 29, 2013

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 8: La Horde

We start 35 years ago – the day the old damn burst. There’s a large tent with a whole line of covered bodies and Victor walks among them (see, he was always creepy) and Serge and Toni – as children – try to play a trick on him. A woman arrives to collect them (and tell them off for playing with corpses) and she calls Vincent to her as well – calling him Louis. Mrs. Costas is also there and calls the dam officials murderers – and says the dead will have their revenge one day. We see a woman cry over one of the bodies.

Fast forward to a mere week ago and we see that body up and walking about. Walking down the road he sees Camille walking home and calls to her (wait this whole series only covers a week?) She ignores him. But around him we can see a lot more presumably dead people

At the dam Julie and Laure wake up, sleeping in Laure’s car (Victor, as one of the dead, doesn’t sleep) and see handprints on the car – a horde of the dead visited during the night, wanting Victor to come with them. Apparently they left without him – and Laure and Julie see Toni on the lip of the dam ready to jump Julie brings him down – but then Laure points a gun at him, he shot at the police after all.

Most of the town is deserted and strewn with litter. At her house, Adèle finds Chloé’s drawings of both her and Simon committing suicide. Nice, your child has family suicide pics. Chloé wants to see Simon and reveals Victor is also dead. Adèle isn’t exactly calm in a crisis and decides to lock Chloé in her room so she can’t see any of the dangerous dead people.

At Helping Hands, Camille manages to sleep briefly, the black mark on her cheek has grown worse – and someone (I think Pierre the cult leader) has decided to write Bible quotes from Revelations on the wall. As you do. And Sandrine, who had a miscarriage, decides to blame that, the Koretzky’s suicides et al on the rising dead. As you do. Cult Leader Pierre arrives to speak out against scapegoating the dead.

Jérôme follows Pierre and discovers his fast arsenal which confirms a few suspicious about him – though Pierre urges him to think of Camille. Jérôme tells Claire who is very unbothered and very unimpressed that he thinks they should run – accusing him of always running. Camille and Léna continue to bond, Léna is sure that Camille is safe though Camille worries she may become like the dead Léna saw in the woods (who she just knows about).

Back at the dam, Julie hugs Toni and thanks him for saving her 7 year ago, at the underpass, where Serge attacked her. And then a crowd of people arrive – presumably the dead. They jump in the car and flee. On the road Laure confirms with Victor that the horde were dead people who came to the car in the night and Laure decides she has to go to the station and warn people – and Victor can’t stay with them. Julie angrily demands they pull over and she and Laure argue. Inside Toni recognises Victor and they talk – Victor using his creepy kid powers to say Toni killed Serge and his mother. Victor goes into the front seat and takes a gun out of the glove compartment – and hands it to Serge sat next to him. Toni sees Serge shoot him but we see Toni shoot himself in the stomach – Serge wasn’t there; Victor used his creepy vision powers.

After briefly seeing Lucy visit Simon in prison, Alcide goes with Thomas to the wrecked and ransacked Lake Pub. Thomas finds a man (the man from the beginning) drinking water out of a toiler – who rushes him. Thomas shoots him. There are signs of rot on his face.

Remember the glass breaking butterfly in episode 1? Well, it looks like it released Simon from prison – never mind the dead, we have a butterfly that can break bullet proof glass! I’m way more afraid of that than zombies! Lucy and Simon go from the prison to Adèle’s where they take Chloé. Adèle screams and struggles, Simon reveals he knows she’s pregnant somehow which doesn’t reassure her at all (creepy undead midwife power) – and she stabs him and locks herself in another room. Simon bangs on the door screaming until Lucy leads him away

Laure and Julie rush the gunshot Toni to Helping Hands to the secret medical room there where Julie, a nurse, does her best to help him. Mrs. Costas takes Victor. Upstairs, Camille’s mark on her face is getting worse, the flesh peeling away. Frédéric sees her and they have a brief rebounding moment, acknowledging they used to love each other, before Léna arrives and chases him away.

Alcide sees a crowd of the dead walking and panics – hurrying to his car and Thomas returns home to find Adèle who explains what happened. Thomas leads a convoy to Helping Hands to look for Simon. Thomas asks about the other dead and Pierre says Helping Hands is open to them – to which Thomas asks if he knows the risk he’s taking. No, Thomas, I don’t – could you please enlighten me as to this supposed risk? Because I haven’t seen much in the way of risk except from creepy creepy Victor – who’s creepiness is unknown. Alcide rushes up to warn everyone that there are a 100 dead – maybe more – heading to the Helping Hands.

Mrs. Costas tries to get Victor to sleep and we have a flashback of Victor with his mother and why Victor think a fairy (who he thinks is Julie) will look after him. Julie finishes up with Toni and Serge joins her asking what happened to Toni. Julie tries to deny he’s there, thinking he’s a hallucination (since Serge was the serial killer who attacked her). Toni wakes up to grab Julie’s hand, look at Serge… then die. She tries to resuscitate him and eventually gives up – Serge desperately takes over until Julie stops him. Serge hugs her and cries – and she pushes him away.

That night, Helping Hand is surrounded by police with big guns. The dead arrive, a huge crowd of them. Lucy steps forward to speak for them and Thomas and Pierre go out. Pierre welcomes them, Lucy doesn’t want a welcome, she wants the other dead to join them. Thomas speaks over Pierre and asks if they’ll give him Chloé if the dead join them – Lucy agrees. Thomas goes through the crowd if living searching out the dead. He asks Mrs. Costas to come with him and she does after looking around and seeing no support. He has police wrench Victor from Julie’s arms until Julie says she’ll go with him. Laure begs her to stay but Julie says they won’t hurt her and leaves. The Séguret family try to surround Camille, but the police drag Jérôme away and then drag Léna away. Claire screams at the silent, watching crowd to do something. Seeing no-one willing to stand up to Thomas’s police (so much for Pierre and his guns), Claire announces she’ll go with Camille.

Thomas has everyone else forced inside, Léna and Jérôme bang on the windows, looking out at Claire and Camille.

They all move back to Lucy, led by Thomas, and Simon brings Chloé and they make the exchange. But Lucy says there’s one missing – Adèle, pregnant with Simon’s baby. And if they don’t bring her out, the dead will hunt for her

Thomas, only willing to give up other people’s families, hurries Adèle inside and closes the building and the shutters. Chloé tells Adèle what the dead want as the building is sealed.

Inside they hear gun shots outside, then the power goes off. Then people start banging on the shutters. Downstairs, Serge watches over his brother’s body – and he’s joined by their mother who has returned.

The next day, they open the shutters and look outside. There’s no sign of the dead, or Thomas, or the police outside. And the entire town is flooded.

I feel like there has been a jump in characterisation. Why does Laure leap to the need to warn people about the dead? Why do people fear Camille? Why did Alcide panic when he saw a crowd of people walking? Why does Thomas have hostility to any dead who isn’t Simon? Where did it come from? Is it fear of the unknown? If so why hasn’t it been developed? Previously the only one afraid of the dead was Thomas – and only because of jealousy. It felt like one minute everyone was in shock and even hope about the dead returning then suddenly we had this leap to fear and hostility.

And why is everyone so happy to let Thomas kidnap people from among them? No-one is going to stand up to his demands?

On the series as a whole it was very interesting, very different, very well acted and above all had an excellently maintained theme and atmosphere. This show specialised in creepy, the setting, the acting and the music combined to pack a lot of feeling into each scene and each silent moment, making it a very powerful show.

But there were rather a lot of those silent moments. It wasn’t the best paced of shows. We’re also left with massive mysteries and no answers – but that definitely gives us a hook for next season – just what is going on?

My concerns with women in the series remain throughout. So many women here have been victimised: Julie, Lucy and Léna. We have fragile, hurting women with Adèle, Julie and even Léna and Sandrine. I think Claire may have problems with her knees because she can’t go 5 minutes without leaning on a man. The only woman who isn’t desperately hurting and fragile is Laure and  I don’t know if that’s because they decided to finally introduce a strong woman or because everyone woman needed a man to lean on and, like so many depictions of same-sex relationships, decided to cast Laure in the role. Even then she spent most of the series silently gazing after Julie with lost puppy eyes.

I hope they answer some questions next season because the mystery is intriguing – my main hopes are that they maintain the atmosphere, increase the pacing and beef up the female characters a little (and lay off the number of victimised women).