Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 10: Peter

Flashback to 29 years ago and some exposition about Peter’s death and we see a much younger Peter and his murderous friend (wait, if Peter died 29 years ago who come he’s aged so much?). Peter’s friend is completely indifferent about killing Henry (Victor) and his mother. Peter is done and decides to leave – which means murderous friend pulls a gun and, in the ensuing struggle, accidentally kills Peter

In the present Peter is packing – he has been asked to leave and isn’t happy about it. Fellow murderer Tommy decides to arrest Peter – he has charges, but let’s be honest, Tommy cares about grudges, not the law and he hates all things Returned

In prison Claire visits him wanting answers – and Peter lies some more, claiming to have died during the dam flood. Claire is pissed – not so much about the lying but because Peter threw Camille to the wolves to try and buy acceptance for himself. She calls him a coward who used her daughter – and rightly so.

At the Winship house some friends of Lena show up showing that not everyone agrees with the insults against Camille and invite them both to come swimming, though Lena is wary. At the swimming hole the guys who attacked her on facebook are there – and apologise. It seems to go well with Lena making up with generic cute boy whose name I don’t remember and then they break out the magic mushrooms because nothing can go well – Lena is pissed because while Camille may have been born at the same time of them, she’s still 16.

But they don’t actually do anything – perk of being undead. Unlike to her friends, including Hunter with a knife – he announces Camille isn’t human and cuts her to prove she doesn’t bleed. She does. Everyone thinks this is out of line and, after pushing him to the ground, chase after Camille who has run off (unsurprisingly). They look for her well into the night before Cute Guy finds her; he’s all concerned but still steps back from her attempt to kiss him – she asks why, why Lena and not Camille. He’s stark in his answer – Lena wanted sex, Camille didn’t which is all that mattered to him, but he has changed since then, especially after the bus crash. She decides to go for sex, rather ignoring everything he’d just said, but then, so does he. Of course Lena sees all. And Adam sees her.

Cute guy Ben dies either during or after sex. Wow Camille now has the worst losing-her-virginity story ever.

A new woman comes to town asking questions about the weird black outs and the Winships. Yet MORE Ominous. She tracks down Claire – she is Clara and she does a podcast; she’s a journalist who wants to do a story about zombie Camille. Claire shuts that down

Lucy is still hearing voices as she looks at the ominous mural commemorating the dam flooding before she goes to the bar which Jack is getting all ready for Rowen and Tommy’s wedding (since they hired it a while before). She tells him about hearing voices that warn of terrible things to happen. She wants to warn people but Jack, rather sensibly, points out how well that will go.

More ominousness has the soon-to-be-bride Rowan being all weepy in the priest because she senses something is wrong (you’re about to marry an arsehole Rowan, that’s what’s wrong). The wedding goes ahead with lots of ominous feeling. Noooo Rowan, kick him in the yin-yangs and run out the back!

Alas she doesn’t take my sage advice and they are married and have their reception in the bar during which Jack and Lucy dance. Which is when Claire arrives. The Winship women have awesome timing. Claire leaves and Jack follows (as Lucy tells him to)

Then all the power goes off

Julie has taken Nikki to a hospital and she isn’t dying, thankfully. Happy Nikki isn’t going to die, Julie leaves, dragging Victor with her. She tells him that trying to kill people is bad and he turns the radio on in response. Ok correction – killing people is bad unless they’re kids who pull crap like that, then it’s axe murdering time!

Instead she takes Victor to his old home, where he was murdered, taking him to the cupboard he hid in. She forces him to confront his memories – and the hard truth that his mother isn’t coming back and no fairy will protect him. And they can no longer be together. Victor cries – and a hooded man grabs Julie. She recognises it as one of Victor’s creepy powers and speaks to him about letting her go adding “you don’t belong here any more.” Both the hooded figure and Victor vanish.

Julie goes back to Nikki to tell her that Victor left and it’s over – and they kiss.

Except another woman sees Victor walking alone by the side of the road and takes him in.

Helen, and all her bombs, hallucinates her dead husband George who agrees with her that the town is terribad wrong. This is not reassuring. She gives Simon, who is walking out of town, a lift and he realises something is badly wrong when, after a puncture nearly throws them off the road (creepy town is creepy) he sees her stash of explosives. She knocks him out to keep her explosives secret.

She goes to the damn and enters the tunnel-like corridors to plant her bombs as the lights go out (because woo-woo). The power goes off in many places all over town including the police station where Peter is locked up – and when Cara comes to interview Peter for her little zombie story. She tells him of other events in other places and times when the dead returned – all before these towns were destroyed, ceasing to exist along with everyone who lived there.

Woo-woo continues to thwart Helen’s attempts to blow up the damn even as the town-wide powercut also gets ominous black water drains – and Lucy hears more scary voices this time about Rowen with a message: “he’ll be here soon, when he comes you need to listen.” “He” would the man whose baby she’s carrying

Yes she’s pregnant. Yes with Simon’s baby. Simon runs towards town – even as he sees a huge wave of water wash over it… and then doesn’t. Ok, prescient vision is now a thing for him it seems.

So ends the season finale of The Returned and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. When this series started I didn’t really hide the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of the series so closely mirroring the French original. It was too similar which meant it was shaky for someone who had already watched the original since it relies too much on mystery and suspense (when we already know what’s going to happen) and it was running on a theme and atmosphere that the French series had not only already done – but had done a lot better

But the show vastly improved when it began to divert so strongly from the original. By becoming more action orientated, with a lot more events, a lot faster story progression, a lot more storylines and generally so much more happening it became its own show and a good one. While the French show was absolutely excellent at a super tense, spooky atmosphere that had a slow, ominous build that made it one of the creepiest shows you could watch, the American version dropped the atmospherics (which it wasn’t pulling off) and aiming and more overt, ominous foreshadowing and events. And it worked, was good, it was different while still having a core.

This version was also much better on inclusion. There are more POC on the show both in terms of minor roles (like the pastor and the policeman) and major roles like Julie (the French Thomas and American Tommy were both POC). It’s still a very white show – but it is considerably less so than the original

Julie and Nikki’s relationship is also more prevalent. They had a touching relationship in the French one but it wasn’t quite so overt nor so sexual (but, equally, I think French Julie was much more fragile and she and Nikki were having to move much slowly because of that) and it was great to see Nikki and Julie come together in the end and have that be a happily ever after for their arc. I liked Julie and Nikki a lot.

I don’t like Rowan’s storyline because it has heavy elements of “required relationship” all over it – when I think the best result to would have been to avoid both. I don’t like Helen’s storyline because it lacks development to make it more than “raaawr crazy person is dangerous and crazy.” I don’t like that we have some dubious sex trope as well – the sexual serial killer targeting women, Lena taking her shirt off every five seconds and having a love triangle with her sister and Camille sexing someone to death and Lucy being attacked after her sex-worker con is exposed – there’s an element of sexual punishment here. Bad sex choices (have sex while sister on bus? GUUUILLT! Sex while 16? DEAD SISTER, DEAD LOVER! Be a lying sex worker? SERIAL KILLER!)

So… after a very shaky start and with some definite ongoing issues,  I find myself interested in a second season