Published on October 26th, 2015 | by Michael


The Returned Season Two Episode Two – Milan

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The problem a show like The Returned faces is that early on, it was built around the brilliantly nuanced relationships between its characters, living or dead. As the plot ramps up, as it must, this nuance is often lost in the rush of revelations and drama. Yet if the subtlety is kept, it may be at the cost of forward momentum. Fortunately ‘Milan’ offers a brilliant balance between the two, a superb episode which hopefully hook any viewers who were wavering after such a long gap between series.

The titular Milan is the returning father of Serge and Toni, their clan surely stealing the prize for the hotly contended ‘Most dysfunctional family in town’. In flashback, it is revealed the Milan was the leader of the group that invaded ‘Victor’s’ home, killing Victor (then known as Louis) and his Mother but leaving his father in a coma. Serge, a serial killer, is clearly absolutely terrified of his father and with good reason, he’s a hulking bear of a man with a temperament to match, whose past includes the murder of a child. Even Lucy, de facto leader of the undead hordes, seems perturbed that Milan is back.

The Returned Milan

Milan, the latest returnee

Elsewhere, Julie and the boy she christened Victor must contend with the return of the boy’s mother, who seems almost as strange as her otherworldly progeny. She tells Julie that Louis is forbidden from drawing – not surprising, given the prescient nature of his scrawls (how often do writers return to the ‘prophetic artwork’ well? After the dismal Under The Dome employed it with such abandon, you’d think they’d lay off). Victor/Louis also comments to Julie that she loves him, and that this love has allowed him to grow despite being dead, a neat work around from the writers.

On the dead sign of town, Claire and her daughter Camille are acting as a sort of halfway house for wayward undead. Last week they took in the newly returned Audrey, now another boy, Esteban has arrived, who also died in the coach crash. Their house has been menaced by other undead who act more horde-like than the characters we know. Last week it was assumed they were after Audrey, isn’t it more likely they’re after the still-living Claire? In any event, it falls to Camille to tell her classmates that they’ve been dead for four years. As she prepares to slash her own throat to prove she is undead, another boy approaches her. ‘You don’t know the rules’ he warns her. Can the dead die again? Instead, the boy leads the other three to the site of the bus crash. This scene is brilliant and really showcases the talent of the young actors, Yara Pilartz as Camille particularly. It is hard enough watching Esteban and Audrey see proof of their own death in the form of faded and battered tributes (toys, photographs etc) but it is even more heart-breaking when Camille reads a letter written to her by Lena. Camille in many ways has been the most normal of the returned but she has been very reticent to reconnect with her family and her sister in particular. Perhaps this is the jolt she needs to understand what they went through after she died.

The Returned Milan Twins

Identical twins Lena and Camille

Elsewhere in Deadtown, Claire was surrounded by the dead and left in a battered heap on the ground. Through bleary eyes, she spies a figure walking towards her, apparently taking her back to the safety of her home, where Camille finds here. Claire appears to be in a bad way but makes a miraculous recovery. Did she just get better or did she actually die and come back? Speaking of which, Louis/Victor’s father had the worst of the home invasion 35 years ago. When Louis/Victor and Mother were killed, he was cruelly left in a coma, meaning he has neither healed nor been allowed to die and come back, rather like God in Dogma.

THE RETURNED SEASON 2 SERIES 2 FRENCH DRAMA 2015 HANDOUT ... Céline Sallette (Julie), Swann Nambotin (Victor), la mère de Victor

Victor and his mother

In the living side of town, Lena is still having a hard time of it. Pierre’s gang of vigilantes/doomsday cult at the Helping Hand are growing in strength and aggression and take the unfortunate but apparently willing Toni with them, against Lena’s protests. Meanwhile, her father is not only sporting a fine breakdown beard but has also constructed that other clear sign of mad obsession, the wall of evidence. In his shack, he has put up photos, news cuttings and all other scribblings he can find to try and solve the puzzle of the walking dead. It’s been a theme of the series so far that the return of loved ones should be cherished (or feared if you’re Pierre) rather than studied or examined. It’s a pity that the one man determined to find out why it has happened appears to be cracking up with haste. It might all prove to be too much for Lena (to recap – her mother and undead sister are on the other side of the lake, her father is going mad, her occasional lover is a serial killer) who may look like a goddess but is as vulnerable as the rest of them.

Berg continues to try a put his own mystery together, investigating the dam rather than the walking dead. His search leads him to bloody great hole in the floor, the significance of which remains unclear. Elsewhere, Adele has given birth to her demon baby and she is clearly as scared of it as the rest of us, as she refuses to name or even visit it. When told by a nurse that the baby is barely holding on she finally visits, and a little touch of her hand is enough to bring it back to life. What does it all mean?

‘Milan’ is a simply cracking episode of television, balancing the small and personal with the big a revelatory, it’s spooky and heart breaking in equal measure. In its final moments, it leaps into outright horrifying. A group of young soldiers, looking for Audrey, come across something far worse in the woods. It’s the body of all the missing gendarmes, tied to the trees, dead and showing no signs of returning.

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