TV Focus//The Returned Series 1, Episode 5: Serge et Toni
Warning! Contains spoilers from the start
The story this week: Camille is rejected by Frédéric, Simon is rejected by Adéle and Chloé, Julie believes she may be dead, and Victor comes face-to-face with Pierre. Meanwhile, Léna is nursed by serial killer Serge.
Last week saw the return (‘scuse me) of The Walking Dead on Channel 5. A far more traditional zombie-type drama than The Returned, it only served to emphasise the fact that The Returned is a different beast altogether. While The Walking Dead is without doubt great telly, The Returned is more intriguing, more beautifully realised and it paints a more truly horrifying picture of the dead returning. It’s also classier than practically any programme of its genre I can think of.
With only three more hours of series 1 to go, the intrigue still abounds and nothing is quite what it first seems. Take serial killer Serge. Last seen hovering menacingly over a broken Léna in the dreaded underpass; we now see him struggling with his urges as he nurses her in his creepy cabin in the woods.
In yet another stunning pre-credits sequence we learn that as Serge attacked Julie in the underpass seven years earlier he was clubbed violently about the head by brother Toni, and man, this pair really like bashing each other about the head. Serge was then buried alive by Toni in order to put an end to his dreadful, knife-wielding, organ-munching activities. It’s a testament to this show that this brief flash of blood and gore does more to shock than any traditional zombie-style disembowelling could do.
Léna’s now younger, returned twin Camille shows no sign of concern for her sick, missing sister as she continues her all-out persual of Frédéric. Barely recognisable from the lost girl of episode 1, Camille is a sexed-up teen seemingly unaffected by a game of shots in the town’s bar as she does whatever it takes to get her man. How Frédéric has not realised that “cousin Alice” is in fact Camille is one of this series’ enduring mysteries and it’s only when dad Jérome hauls Camille back home that the Euro finally drops for our unlikely Gallic sex god schoolboy.
The Simon-Adéle-Thomas triangle is dealt with in a dramatic fashion this week as Simon calls on Adéle to bring their daughter Chloé and leave town with him for a fresh start. It’s with genuine bewilderment that Simon finds himself alone at the bus station for his planned escape with his family as Adéle chooses her new life with fiancé Thomas, who in turn shoots Simon. But can you kill someone who’s already dead? The answer’s a clear “Mais non!” in this show.
One of the highlights of this episode is the returned dead meeting each other. Simon and Camille, Madame Costa and Victor, and possibly Madame Costa and Julie. It’s fascinating to see these meetings and the manner in which each of them faces the fact of their return from the dead. Only Victor seems to have any memory of his own death.
Which leads us to the World’s Weirdest Psychiatrist ™ Pierre, who is confronted by a menacing and mind-bending Victor with his part in the murder of Victor and his family. Saved in the nick of time by the arrival of Julie and cop Laure, you don’t hold out much hope for Pierre over the next three weeks.
I should make special note of the wonderful cinematography this week as we see the lost town beneath the lake and we learn about the dead floating animals from the opening titles sequence. What can these things mean to the people of the town, the ones who are dead and those who are alive? Or are they?
With only three episodes to go, next weeks – Lucy – sees the town hit by a power cut and Camille viewed as a prophet. Léna grows closer to Serge, but has to get back to the town. And Victor’s body starts to change. Let’s hope the extraordinary high standard of writing takes us all the way through to the end of the final episode.
Question(s) of the Week 1: The Lake Pub is the only bar in town, so why does everyone insist on calling it “The Lake Pub” and not just “the pub”?
Question(s) of the Week 2: What’s happening down at the reservoir? Did a bunch of animals really committ mass suicide? If so, why ? What could be so terrifying?
Question(s) of the Week 3: What is the link to the lost town under the lake? Is there a link to the mysterious “what happened last time” of the dam operator guys’ previous conversation?
Question(s) of the Week 4: When will Toni realise that it’s not his returned maman in Serge’s bed? When he learns the truth, will there be more shovel action at Serge’s head?
Who are “they”?: When Pierre tells Simon “I doubt they’ll let you leave” who is he talking about? The police or a more sinister “them”?
Quote of the Week: Camille to Simon, “Us zombies have to stick together”
What work? WHAT WORK?: Madame Costa talks to Julie about Victor, “He’ll come and see you once his work is done”
Who’s that girl?: Is Madame Costa a benign presence or a less-than-pleasant member of the undead?
Did you spot?: The picture of Kurt Cobain on the wall behind Simon
Reviewed by Andrea McGuire.