Published on November 30th, 2015 | by Michael


The Returned Season Two – Etienne

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‘Etienne’ opens in the dim and distant past, before the dam was even built. Indeed, as Etienne (for it is he) discusses the construction of the dam with his young son Berg, Victor knocks on the door. He tells Etienne, dispassionately, not the build the dam because hundreds of people will die. Unfortunately as with his warning in ‘Esther’, his warning obviously falls on deaf ears. There are many theories knocking around about Victor, I wonder if he’s like a Cassandra figure, who can accurately predict the figure but doomed to never be believed. Berg seems to think Victor might be on to something but Etienne clearly decided to press on with the construction. To be fair, it’s not he could say he pulled the plug on a multi-million pound dam on the say-so of a child, is it?

Back in the present day, the Seguret family decide to leave the dead side of town, with Camille saying a tearful goodbye to Virgil to come with them. Berg takes his leave, as he is still following his own agenda, alas breaking up the surprisingly effective double act he formed with Jerome. The fantastic first series was marred by own unforgivable plot hole – why the fuck wasn’t there a CCTV camera in the underpass? There was one everywhere else and Captain Thomas was clearly no stranger to the spycam as he had them set up all over his house. The second series has one similar flaw – why are the army so rubbish? The Segurets get about 15 yards outside of the house before they get arrested by a patrol. But the family have been there for ages! What were the army doing for all that time? Have they not noticed the horde milling around?

The Returned Etienne Lena

After the discovery of Milan, tied to the bottom of the lake but apparently alive last week, the penny might be starting to drop that there’s something to those crazy ‘back from the dead’ stories. There’s a stack more evidence this week, as Madame Costa, declared dead after the shooting, springs back to life in the Hospital, with a sheepish grin for Julie’s benefit.  God love you, Madame Costa. Here’s a thought though, if Virgil’s theory about the returned is true, that those with people waiting retain their humanity, who is waiting for Madame Costa? I mean, I’m not complaining, she’s close to my favourite character, but one of the few that remembered her (she died 35 years ago) was her husband, and he killed himself months ago. Maybe it is her ability to shrug everything off that is keeping her sane and human.

Julie is all about those dream sequences, this week. In one, she is dead on a slab in the hospital morgue before a kiss from Ophelie revives her. In a much darker one, Victor has another version of his dream. This time, instead of Julie taking a dive from the top of the dam, she is talked down only to be shot by Milan. Victor is in full harbinger of doom mode this week, possibly because he has clearly been disturbed by his visions of Julie. He triggers a blackout in the army base and (probably) caused the visions of actual zombies that a Gendarme suffers. Said Gendarme guns down a soldier before taking his own life. Before he dies though we get a look through his eyes – he sees the soldiers coming towards him as rotting cadavers. Victor’s voodoo or someone else at work? There’s great shot of Victor walking out of the base towards the end of the episode, his work done.

For all their myriad faults, the army have achieved what the writers needed them to do, which is to contrive to have most of the main players in the same place. As well as the Seguret family, Adele, Simon and Chloe have been detained in the same place. They collectively decide to get the hell out of dodge, a plan complicated by the fact that the wee baby Nathan has gone missing – probably snatched up by Alcide the Gendarme. The baby has developed a wound on his arm, perhaps spontaneously. We saw this happen to Lena back in series one after Camille returned. Maybe it’s a symptom displayed by the living who had a very strong connection with a returnee – Lena’s had a twin sister, Nathan was fathered by Simon. Lena’s wound was finally cured by Serge’s voodoo sex magic – he and his brother are sadly missing from this episode entirely, probably because they are busy feeding soup to murder victims.

Their pappy is in this episode though, another guest of the army. His most significant scenes takes place 35 years ago though, as we finally see what went on in that clearing. As we thought, it was a suicide cult instigated by Milan. The gendarmes arrive just too late to prevent the assembled townsfolk from killing each other, but they do save the children, including a young Simon. Pierre himself gunned down Milan but didn’t go through with his own suicide, so maybe there’s a reckoning there. And who’s that, silently observing from a safe distance? Why, it’s young Victor of course. In the present day, Milan treats Victor like some sort of God when he sees him, telling the boy he ‘felt his presence’ in the woods that day. Just what is Victor, damnit?

L to R, Laurent Lucas and Aurélien Recoing in the SundanceTV originial series "The Returned"-Photo Credit: Jean-Claude Lother

For that matter, what’s Lucy’s game? She’s acted like a leader of the Horde all season, with the occasional help from lieutenants like Simon and Virgil. She’s seemed scared when Milan came back, with good reason, but seems panicked again this week when her authority is threatened. Without ‘the child’ (which could either be Nathan or Victor at this stage, more likely Nathan who was the subject of the episode ‘L’Enfant’  – the child) she fears the horde won’t be able to find where they need to go, wherever that is. The sound of a helicopter causes the horde to scatter, perhaps Milan will arrive to challenge Lucy’s leadership next week? The confusion gives Berg his chance to strike. Since leaving the Segurets at the beginning of the episode he had been stalking the horde so he could talk to Etienne. Etienne can’t remember his own name, never mind Berg’s, but his son’s hope is that if he gets him away, things will come back to him. Anything’s possible at this stage, we’ve seen a wide variety of the returned at this point from basically the same (Camille, Milan, Simon) to the same but slipping (Esteban) to blank slates (Morgane) to zombies (the zombies).

There is a lot to get through next week if indeed we get any answers at all. We’ve got the fates of all the major characters to tie up, the issue of the horde and the feral zombies, the masterplans of Lucy, Milan and Pierre and all the outstanding questions about Victor. I don’t know if this is the end of The Returned either way, but my guess is that the Segurets and Adele’s family will get some sort of closure and their stories will end next week, probably Serge and Toni can expect the same. As to the other mysteries of the unnamed town, they might go on for some time yet.

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