Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 3: Julie

Hallowe’en, 7 years ago and a woman in fancy dress – Julie – leaves a party to be delayed by police woman Nikki who delays her with a kiss and an invitation. Alas, Julie has to work. Some people are too damn sensible for their own good

Julie walks down the ominous tunnel of ominousness (honestly, no force on this Earth would convince me to walk through this tunnel. If it were lined with teeth and pulsing in a disturbingly fleshy way it’d STILL be less ominous). As we learned from last week’s flashback, she’s attacked by a man in a hoodie with a knife.

To the present and the funeral of the old man who threw himself off the dam with the pastor almost angrily rejecting anyone judging him for that. We learn that the dead man’s wife died 29 years ago while Julie and Nikki practice not!looking at each other over the coffin. Some distance away a very young looking Returned Wife Helen looks on.

As the funeral breaks up Claire and Lena tell Peter that Camille isn’t the only Returned running around preparing to nom on some tasty brains (like my snark will be any less cutting than Lena’s). Julie’s nosy neighbour also hunts down the obviously uninterested Julie to tell her about Lucy being attacked and comparing it to Julie’s previous attack – not realising Julie was the victim. Julie, understandably, panics and leaves; watched by Nikki. I’d say someone should murder the neighbour but she’d just return

Next new character- a guy knocks on a house door calling for his mother and when she doesn’t answer he breaks in. Really, obviously Returned Guy? She could have gone to the shops or something! If she has she’s been gone a while because the house looks pretty boarded up

Later, Tony the bar tender arrives at the cabin and finds a dead wolf hanging from the rafters. Ok, I can think of many decorating choices that could have definitely improved that place. Dead canines were not among them. Tony agrees and decides to bury it – much to the disapproval of Returned Guy. Tony hits him in the head with a shovel. He’s just that passionate about interior decorating. Tony then locks himself inside the cabin

Returned guy isn’t dead (well… he IS, but…) and thinks that a shovel to the head was kind of unnecessary and decides to return the favour – and up the sakes with a gun. They now get to talk – Tony revealing that their mother (yes, they’re brothers – family dinners must be fun and full of concussions) died 2 years ago which is pretty much what he thought his brother was too

Over to Jack who gives his daughter a cigarette. Y’know, I can’t say I’m very impressed with Jack’s parenting, though, admittedly, cancer seems like a mild worry for zombie-Camille. He also tells her all about why he and Claire split up (basically because she had the poor taste to get all killed on them) so have a bucket load of them guilt weasels as well Camille. He belatedly remembers to tell her it’s totally not her fault despite it being a total lie.

Can we get a round of parenting classes for the Winships please?

When Claire and Lena come back Lena and Camille make some peace between them but talking about boys – or, Ben (the boy Lena had sex with while Camille was busy dying). Lena’s still not into the big talking about her grief and reacts pretty extremely when Camille notices a scar on her back. Meanwhile Jack suggests they move, as a family, somewhere else so Camille can go out in public without people screaming about zombies since Camille is beginning to feel like a shut in. So they decide to arrange a shopping trip the town over – and run into Chris, the pregnant lady from the survivor group who is utterly stunned to see Camille; though Camille smartly introduces herself as “Alice”, Camille’s eerily identical cousin

Lena is at school/college/whatever and taking off her top. Again. Lena seems to need to undress in every other scene she’s in, is it in her contract? She’s very upset by the mark on her back.

While Claire and Jack circle around the idea of being a couple again, Camille sneaks out thinking that pretending to be “Alice” means she doesn’t have to hide any more – and get close to a poleaxed Ben (and all their storied history). Unfortunately for her, Lena is there and she puts a very very very firm no on the whole thing – rather cruelly forcing her to leave. Ben is confused by all this especially when Lena runs into the bathroom to hide and cry and he follows and asks her to talk to him. She goes for sex instead (oh look, she’s shirtless again) which he seems quite fine with – until he sees the ever widening wound on her back which kills the mood.

Back to Peter who manages to charm the police receptionist into releasing Simon – because police procedure is terribly terribly lapse. But, then, Tommy’s detaining Simon seemed a trifle excessive anyway. In the car Peter has his “I know you’re a zombie” speech. Simon is duly creeped out by this and gets out the car.

Catching up with Sheriff Tommy we find him taking a break from work to browse through the many cameras he’s set up at home so he can spy on Rowan. Rowan – the zombie guy is a much much much better choice. Though, honestly, if your choices are moody-zombie guy or stalker-controller guy you may want to widen you’re options. Tommy is furious that Simon has slipped from his grasp. He storms over to Peter’s community centre and adds super creepy demanding Peter call him if he sees Simon again- not the police, Tommy, personally.

Simon goes back to stalking Rowan (she can choose between stalkers! Yay!) and even talking to her because she thinks he’s a hallucination. However, Simon seems to be trying to do the decent thing and say goodbye to Rowan since she now has Tommy. She decides to show him their daughter, Chloe, before he goes.

All moving and sweet until Lena drops in on Rowan to ask about Simon pretty much proving that he isn’t a hallucination.

Simone returns to Peter who is so smugly good I kind of want to slap him

Later he goes back to the woman he has just said goodbye to (so that lasted) and she now knows she’s real. She could ask questions or even be angry or scared – but they make out instead. Watched by Tommy on his creepy cameras.

Over to Julie who is visited by Nikki who is all worried about her – which is sweet. Or would be sweet if this weren’t the first visit in 7 years… damn Nikki I’m amazed she opened the door to you. Nikki seems to have taken the angry, traumatised words of a severely hurting Julie waaaaay too literally.

To make things worse, the gossipy neighbour accuses Julie of adopting Victor illegally because she’s “desperate” and “lonely” and threatening to call the cops. Something really needs to eat her

Victor’s eternal appetite means Julie has to go shopping and leave Victor alone (despite awful neighbour’s threat to call the cops?) Without someone  watch him, creepy Victor decides it’s time to be creepy and go visit the neighbour.

Allow me to repeat yet again that this is almost word for word the same as the French show – but they did it better. Which means a lot of my conclusions are the same – like how Rowan desperately deserves better. There’s no just a skeevy sexism in the way both Simon and Tommy try to manage Rowan (however “benevolently”) but also a hard edge of ableism as well – she is traumatised, she’s prone to hallucinations she needs “looking after” even going so far as Simon exploiting her hallucinations to speak to her without explanation.

I’m also equally bemused as to why Julie is so attached to the creepiest kid in the world – though the neighbour’s very rapid condemnation of her does feel like a deviation from the nosy neighbour of the French show (may the same thing happen to her).

Julie and Nikki are confirmed as lesbian or bisexual which is excellent and expected (even if the current state of their relationship is now). Honestly, I was worried they may straightwash them.

It’s kind of frustrating that they are so similar because nothing is really engaging me – because I’ve seen it before and this is a show that relies so much on atmosphere, suspense and mystery – and I’ve seen better atmosphere and can’t be kept in the dark about things I already know. This was perhaps the worst possible show to make a remake of.