Imagine losing a loved one; struggling to pick up the pieces of your life after their death, only for them to reappear on your doorstep, as if nothing ever happened. The Returned, a new series on the Sundance Channel, explores this concept. A far cry from the zombie shows that dominate pop culture, The Returned takes a more subtle yet powerful approach to the dead. It’s frightening, eerie, but most of all, enduringly sad. The "Returned" aren't there to kill or seek revenge, only to resume their lives.
Set in present day France, a small village experiences the strange, miraculous phenomena. While the show is inherently French, it expresses a universal message that can resonate with anyone. However, that doesn’t take away from its French charm. The village is small, beautiful, and modern, surrounded by picturesque mountains. The town itself is isolated, as if all who live there inhabit a dream world. And of course, the cast is full of beautiful French women. There is truly nothing like it on television.
But on to the plot... It’s interesting to see how the surviving loved ones have “moved on.” Parents have divorced, lovers are in new relationships and others are just … living.
Even more intriguing, are their responses to the “Returned,” who look exactly as they did the day they died. They haven’t aged and don’t even realize what has happened. They awaken at the place of their death and proceed to go home. It’s akin to ripping a bandage from a wound that hasn’t fully healed.
A mother watches in awe, as her deceased daughter Camille bustles around the kitchen preparing a sandwich. A woman hears her dead lover furiously pounding on the door of her new apartment and refuses to believe that it’s real. The most heart-wrenching moment occurs when Camille sees her twin sister, Lena, who is now four years older.
What happens at the end of the first episode is astounding. The Returned is definitely worth a watch. I’ll be sticking around for the entire season.
Watch: Download the premiere episode on iTunes while it’s still free and tell me what you think!
Read: The Returned by Jason Mott. Oddly enough, this book of the same name is unrelated. It’s still a good read and on the same topic.
The Returned airs on the Sundance Channel, Thursdays at 9.