The Returned: Season 1

| September 13, 2015

I wasn’t looking forward to watching The Returned once I realized it was a TV series and not a movie.  Turns out I was confusing this series with another that aired last year called Resurrection on ABC.  It also turns out that I’m not alone, and the failure of Resurrection made it impossible for The Returned to draw an audience.  As near as I can tell, the two series have similar premises.  A select few dead people return to their loved ones for mysterious reasons.  I vaguely remember previews for Resurrection in which the returned people were of various ages.  In The Returned the people coming back to life were all part of the same horrific school bus accident.  Four years later, they start showing up like nothing ever happened, and their loved ones who have grieved and tried to move on have to try to readjust to this unexplained phenomenon.

Watching the first couple of episodes of the series, I was riveted.  Not a lot happens to push the plot forward or answer the mystery of what’s brought these people back to life, but I was really interested in the various characters and how their lives have changed since the accident.  The idea of reintroducing the person whose loss caused all those major changes and watching these families question the meaning of it all is really powerful and something I hope the rest of the series explores more.

So far, the acting is really strong.  Camille (India Ennenga) is arguably the main character of the series even though it’s relying heavily on the ensemble and trying to feature everyone equally.  Her mother, Claire (Tandy Wright), father Mark Pellegrino (Peter Lattimore), and twin sister Lena (Sophie Lowe) have all spent four years getting over the loss of Camille, mostly not handling it well and retreating into smoking, booze, and promiscuity.  They use their grief to justify these actions, thinking nothing matters and life is unimportant, but Camille’s reintroduction into their life – among other things – forces this family to come to terms with their choices.  It’s all really interesting and I look forward to finishing the first season to see what’s going on.

Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned failure of the series, A&E has cancelled the show and thrown their support behind their flagship original series Bates Motel, which I also keep meaning to get into because what I’ve seen was great.  However, if I’ve enticed you to check out The Returned, but you don’t want to bother because it was cancelled and all your questions will likely not be answered, have faith.  The French series that the show is based on has been renewed and will continue.  The first season of that which is billed on Netflix also as The Returned apparently follows a very similar progression for its first season and I look forward to getting into the series because I’m suddenly fascinated with this mythology.

Available on DVD from Lionsgate on September 15.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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