Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 4: Victor

Open with Victor before he became the creepy kid with his mother reading a bedtime story and telling him about a fairy that will protect him. The fairy is absent when 2 men break into the house and kill his family and, despite the objections of one of them, him as well.

In the present day he is much creepier and trying to play sweet kid getting in Julie’s bed. The screaming saves her from him eating her skin. The screaming is from someone who has found the body of her terrible neighbour – now being eaten by her cats after being murdered and having her tongue torn out

In case you’ve forgotten, annoying neighbour was last seen in the company of Victor.

Rather than, naturally, suspecting the creepiest kid (outside the French version of this show) the police, represented by Julie’s ex, Nikki, think it’s the same serial killer who killed Lucy and who attacked Julie. Victor’s fear of the dark means, when the electricity goes out, he runs to Julie (oh Victor, there’s nothing scarier in the dark than you! And on that note – being in the dark with Victor? Hell no). This introduces Victor to Nikki who points out you can’t actually just collect lost children. It is frowned upon

Just in case Julie missed how creepy Victor is, she finds his drawings of her neighbour dying and being eaten by cats. She finds him hiding, terrified, in the closet just like he did before he was murdered.

Seeing more evidence of Victor being so very troubled, Julie realises she can’t care for him and calls in Nikki. Julie and Victor have a tearful goodbye. Alone Julie goes through Victor’s pictures and finds she has been drawn as the protective fairy from his mother’s stories

Over to the Winships and it seems Jack spent the night. Claire is even considering Jack’s suggestion  of them moving –until the police ask him to come to the station to talk about Lucy’s murder.

Camille isn’t a fan of moving away from home even if she might be staked/shot/burned as a zombie/vampire/chupacabra (spell check, you disappoint me not knowing what a chupacabra is). Lena’s back wound is only getting worse and she’s staggering around like the zombie her sister isn’t. She times her collapse for when she’s at the top of the stairs because if you’re going to have a sucking back wound you might as well be dramatic about it (and it’s hard to properly steal thunder when one’s sister is undead).

To the hospital! Joined by pretty creepy-supposed-to-be-compassionate-but-feels-like-a-predator-and-an-insurance-salesman Peter (also looks creepily like Jack which doesn’t speak well for how much Claire is moving on). Lena blames her creeping wound on Camille; Lena has issues with how much Camille and her death has consumed her parents’ world.

Peter takes the time to explain Lena’s survivors guilt and general issues to Camille. The doctor basically calls Lena’s spreading puncture wound damn weird and Claire opts against revealing her other child is undead.

Having done that he then tells Claire that Jack is under suspicion of killing Lucy who he was having sex with – because the police have no concept of it not being his business. Claire is furious – not about Jack but about Peter violating her family’s privacy to this degree with the help of his friend

When Jack finally arrives at the hospital, Claire asks about Camille’s missing college fund. Jack objects to Lucy being called a “hooker” (not out of respect for sex workers but more out of denial that she was a sex worker). He tries to sell his sex-medium lie. Ultimately he falls back on being a mess and needing something to distract him – she does believe him when he says he didn’t hurt her but she’s not moving away with him.

Rowan and Tommy are also being all domestic with a nasty undercurrent of tension. As soon as Tommy goes she takes good to the half-naked Simon she has stashed in the attic. Now where do I get one of those? They make out but when he starts to take off the rest of his clothes she stops him. His undead hunger kicks in anyway.

They try to talk Chloe and family and Simon is pretty confident about the kind of father he would have been but Rowan has less illusions “you don’t know anything, you’re still 25”. He’s all bitter and jealous

Tommy is at the police station interviewing Jack about paying Lucy for sex and that she was conning her (she doesn’t have a custody battle to fight). Jack doesn’t confess to murder so Tommy decides to electronically stalk Rowan some more, watching her have sex with Simon.

Unluckily for him, Rowan notices his camera. She takes this news to Simon so they can fret together about Tommy seeing their zombie nookie. Simon also predicts that scary, stalker Tommy is not someone you want be around. Just to add to the confusion they introduce Chloe to Simon, her dad, who she thinks is an angel. Rowan opts against heading for the hills and instead wants to hear Tommy’s explanation for his hyper stalking

His explanation is he totally stopped watching her until she started acting weird. Oh well that’s fine then! He uses the excuse of her mental illness for why he needs to watch her and keep her safe. She tells him she’s leaving – so he decides to tell her that Simon didn’t die in an accident, he committed suicide. Knowing they were due to be married and she was pregnant he committed suicide. While his is devastating to Rowan, she’s also not happy that Tommy decided to keep that from her. She’s furious that he made a decision for her life before he even knew her! When he tries to hug her she smacks him

Time for some more ghostly dodgy plumbing to annoy Returned Helen who speaks to the pastor. She’s a little hostile about him talking about afterlives and not all that gleeful about scriptures on the dead rising – having done so and driven her husband to suicide and all. She’s bitter and tearful about coming back and the implication of what living without death means.

The pastor shows her Peter’s hostel for the homeless which is also where they stash Victor – oh well that’s definitely a step up from Julie’s!  He’s put in a dormitory! When the light go out he is afraid and Peter gives him some advice- the same advice on of his killers have to try and convince him to be quiet. This does not reassure the boy

Time for some more angst – a 4 year old flashback to Lena and friends sneaking into the morgue so Lena can see Camille’s body and sobbing desperately. We also hear that death wounds Camille suffered is very similar to the one Lena now has

Creepy Victor is still not as creepy as the French version (yes I am going to keep doing this). I do have some small, desperate hope that the American version will at least develop the creepy kid a bit more so we can learn more about him.

On things that need development – Helen’s existential crisis is an interesting one. We cover hatred and shock and we’ve seen the whole person-out-of-time thing many times, but what about the basic implications of a life without death? The whole concept of what you are and what that means is interesting to touch on

I really like Claire’s anger about Peter’s knowledge. Sure she has many reasons to be angry with Jack, but “looking out for Claire” doesn’t justify violating her family’s privacy that way, or anyone’s privacy. As she rightly says, no matter how well meant, it lacks respect.

I find it goes well with how Rowan is also treated and stalked – where sexism and ableism are used as excuses to “keep Rowan safe” by spying on her. I like that both women said how clearly how wrong it is – but I think Tommy’s response and lack of challenge undermines Rowan; he acts like she’s choosing Simon over him (which, yes, she is) and misses the part that she’s, at least in part, leaving because of his spying. But then she does make it clear HE is crushing her – not Simon. Even without Simon, Tommy’s monitoring is more than enough reason to leave him. Still I also like that when hearing the news about Simon, her first reaction isn’t “oh how could he” but “how could you keep it from me?” again, an overt call out of a “caring” man’s paternalism.

I rather feel that putting a child who needs to be in protection/foster care in a homeless shelter alone is… not a great idea. And in a dormitory? Unmonitored?