Published on November 2nd, 2015 | by Michael0
The Returned Season Two Episode Three – Morgane
The opening of this week’ episode of The Returned, ‘Morgane’ was, if anything, even stranger than usual. 35 years ago, an unfamiliar young man going by the girl’s name Morgane spent the night with – who else? – Lucy Clarsen, in a shack across the dam from the town. As they walk back, a huge storm approaches and the dam is utterly destroyed mere seconds after they cross it. The weird bit is what happens afterwards. In town, the residents stand silently as if in shock, looking at the devastation. But as the scene plays out, with Lucy talking to Milan and Morgane, the townsfolk remain resolutely in place, as if they can neither see nor hear any external simulation around them. In fact more than anything they resemble the creepy returned that the present day Lucy has in her thrall, rather than living, breathing human beings. Perhaps they were killed in the disaster and returned in double quick time? A word about the CGI work for the exploding dam which was stunning, some of the best I’ve seen on Television. The series has always had a very distinctive look, largely because it is filmed in a ten minute window around dusk (which also helps explain the delay between series) but it’s also great to see it get out of its comfort zone and show something so spectacular. The original flood has been in the background of the series for so long that it has inevitably been given the big build up and when it was finally shown the scene really did deliver.
Battle lines are clearly being drawn this series. I remember writing previously that Pierre’s descent into religious mania was like a Stephen King motif and there are other elements of King’s work on display here. Most obviously, the division of people into factions in the aftermath of an event that defies comprehension echoes his classic epic ‘The Stand’. In the blue corner, we have Lucy Clarson, psychic, undercover returnee and den mother/mistress to the undead hordes. She takes the newly returned Morgane under her wing and to her bed with great haste. She hadn’t known he was dead, funnily enough, but by his appearance he can’t have died long after the flood (unless he was already dead and has merely been milling around for decades).
In the red corner, we have Pierre and his thuggish pack of twats. This week, they’re interrogating luckless Toni as well as denying him any food (as anyone who has followed the series so far will know, the recently returned have huge appetites. In their way, Pierre’s Helping Hand lot are scarier than Lucy in their attitudes, although the former waitress’ inscrutability and ability to see more clearly than anyone else is certainly unnerving. As usual though, it’s the players in the middle that are the most compelling. On the human side of town, this has dwindled to Lena and her father Jerome, newcomer Berg and poor Alcide, the town’s only remaining Gendarme. He finally gets some answers, though not the ones he was hoping for, from the army this week. It turns out that the Gendarmes, missing all season until the end of last week, were killed by gunshots and then tied to trees, possibly in an attempt to stop them returning. Two mysteries remain. Firstly, who did it? The Returned in the stand-off at the end of Season One didn’t appear to have guns. Secondly, one of the gendarmes is still missing, although they don’t know yet which one. There are two real contenders, Adele’s partner Thomas and Julie’s partner Laure although the show may trick us altogether and reveal that the pair are dead and someone else is still walking about.
The dead side of town has far more wildcards than the human side (most of whom are either in Pierre’s gang or the army). First up we have Simon, one of the few dead to continue to travel freely between areas. He was clearly jealous that Lucy shacked up with Morgane so quickly (is she mad?!) and also went to visit Chloe to get information on Adele’s baby. I’ve heaped praise on some of the young actors already, so I’d like to say that Brune Martin as Chloe crushed it this week, attacking as brilliant, level-headed foil to her mother Adele who is suffering from a particularly bad case of post-natal depression. In one scene, Chloe is seen singing a song to the wee baby Seamus, whom she names ‘Nathan’. The problem is that Chloe couldn’t have heard the song before – Simon wrote it for Adele before he died. And how did Chloe know that Simon would have called her Nathan had she been a boy. ‘He’s haunting us through the baby’ wails Adele, which begs the question as to why that’s necessary when he can haunt them by just turning up.
It’s all kicking off with Camille’s band of kiddies, too. First up, Esteban learns that he parents killed themselves to be with him. This is doubly devastating because not only does he have to face it, Camille has to, for want of a better phrase, live with the fact that her return led directly to her friend’s parents’ suicide. The apparently friendly boy from last week comes to the house again, leading to a confrontation between Camille and her mother that becomes physical. Camille seems right to trust the boy, who would have been the same age as her father. Though reticent about his own past, he tells her that the shambling undead are like that because no one was waiting for them, something which Camille and Audrey avoided (although does this mean Esteban will go this way eventually?). Gratifyingly, Camille uses the word ‘zombie’ to describe the less responsive undead which a relief after shows like The Walking Dead childishly refuse to say it.
Smart, capable Lena continues to have a gigantic blindspot where the rest of us see Serge, and makes a very ill-advised trip to his shack. For once though serial killer of women Serge is not the threat here, it’s his thoroughly evil father, Milan, revealed in flashback to have gone around ‘purifying sinners’ in life, which we all know is a euphemism for murdering women. . Subway slaughterer though he may be, Serge can tug on the heartstrings a little bit, making us feel that there might actually be a good guy in there if only he would stop listening to those damn voices in his head. Milan on the other hand is malevolence made flesh. He orders Serge to take Lena to the woods and shoot her, crushing his son’s hand in a vice until he agrees. Serge pretends to do so, but Milan is wise to the deception and stabs Lena (thankfully offscreen). He offers Serge a choice – kill Lena now or let her bleed out. Serge choose option three, which is to shoot Milan and rush Lena to Claire and Camille. Whether Lena actually died and returned or has survived the wounds is unclear but I tend to think she’s still alive – it certainly would be best for the show if she remained so. Milan too probably survived his gunshot, what with being dead already.
Berg has the army investigate that gigantic hole he found – wouldn’t you know it gets too narrow for the spelunkers to reach the bottom? Instead a camera is sent down and in a shocking twist that comes as a surprise to absolutely no-one, it picks up a scary humanoid figure almost immediately. Perhaps it’s one of the nosferatu style zombies we saw in episode one?
Finally, we get to poor Julie who feels a spare part after the return of Victor/Louis’ mother and now his brother, Paul. Victor coldly tell Julie that he doesn’t need her, she needs him, as she has no-one, a running theme this week. He tells her that the ‘baby she had in her tummy’ when she was attacked by Serge would have been unhappy and is better off dead. Julie’s pregnancy is a genuine shock – were she and Laure trying for a baby, or did she have a fling with a man? Feeling as low as she’s ever been and getting it in the neck from everyone, Julie ends the episode by wading into the sunken town, which in its way is as horrible and ending as the one from last week. Julie has been one of the few consistently decent people in the town so it’s heartbreaking to see her like this.