The Returned: 106 “Lucy” Review
Reviewed by David Selby
Yara Pilartz is wonderful. It’s funny, really; prior to this week, I’ve never felt especially connected to the episode’s respective titular characters. Yet this week, it was Camille, the unnerving resurrected girl – the opener’s eponymous protagonist, who stood out the most. Pilartz commanded a number of emotions effortlessly and simultaneously; ranging from innocuously innocent to dangerously deceitful. Camille, I daresay, has had the best character development out of all the characters so far. She has, as Claire puts it, ‘found her purpose’ in life – or, ironically, not in life.
Relating to this, an aspect that The Returned has flourished in is its use of silence and dramatic subtlety (Camille being one of many examples). The actors – often child actors, too – surpass themselves with their unvoiced emotions and facial expressions. This has been beneficial in the mounting of tension to the series’ greatest revelations.
This episode also had the best script. We’re finally beginning to see more than just bland stereotypes in the characters, and this is pivotal: come the finale, we’ll hopefully be emotionally attached to all the necessary figures of the series. For instance: whilst I miss Victor’s beguiling silence (I even speculated that he was the devil-child), it was advantageous, if not vital, that we began to see him as who he really is: a lost child. Victor’s naive assumption that Julie was his ‘Guardian Angel’ elicited sympathy and strengthened the bond between the two characters. There are much darker forces at work than just an ordinary boy.
Do the dead stay dead? There’s a question for you. It’s been obliquely suggested throughout the previous episodes, but now we got the truth. After Simon is taken to the morgue, he beings to gradually make his way out, banging on the door to incite anticipation, then finally pushing open the door to his figurative ‘tomb’ and returning to the world of the living. And of course, Simon, whilst being technically dead, is very much alive. His ability to participate in sexual intercourse, for example, would not be possible for a corpse. He’s living, breathing, eating. It’s an interesting interpretation of dead, and hopefully more boundaries will be drawn later on.
Thomas is the real antagonist of The Returned; frequently taking the law into his own hands when inappropriate, acting out of revenge and angst and subconsciously elevating his ego to make him almost insufferable. And yet, no one seems aware of his callous intentions. I appreciate a more elusive, less ‘in-your-face’ antagonist; a refreshing variation from the standard villains of 21st Century television.
If there was one thing I disliked about Episode 5, it would undoubtedly be the gratuitous use of sex within the narrative. Now, I’m not saying I’m entirely adverse to the idea if it’s fundamentally necessary, but it seems now as if characters, barely connected, ‘get it on’ together as it were simply for the audience’s entertainment. I’d hope to be proven wrong saying this: perhaps those who were sexually involved with the resurrected may suffer side-effects later on. Another criticism is the lack of clarity in certain cases. The idea of the power-cut seems to have often been for the worst as shots are so dark I’m unable to ascertain what is going on and who is who (I had to go back to realise that it had been the parents Camille had been conversing with who hung themselves). Also: what happened to the scars on Lena’s back?
On a final note, Lucy is intriguing – one of the few characters whose ambiguity has left me thirsty for more. The mountainous locale was a more effective backdrop than before, and the series’ awareness of personal details, such as the copious locks on Julie’s door, or the numerous POV-shots, set it apart from other contemporary dramas. With such a thrilling and mysterious cliff-hanger, I cannot wait to see how The Returned concludes itself in the final two episodes.