"The Returned" on the Sundance Channel

It’s a French series that aired in France a year ago. It’s on Thursdays. I won’t link to the Sundance website because the photo on the main page spoils the last scene of the episode. Also won’t link to Wiki or IMDb or the glowing AV Club review because there are spoilers there too, and this is one show where you want to watch the first episode without any prior knowledge.

In a town in the French Alps, people are returning from the dead – they’re revenants, not zombies or ghosts.

It’s mysterious and creepy and atmospheric and well-acted and the scenery is gorgeous.

I checked the schedule and didn’t see any repeat showings, but maybe it’ll be on iTunes or somewhere.

I saw the first episode Halloween night, and thought it had an appropriate atmospheric edge. I’ll definitely be following it.

I like the subtle wordplay of the title; revenant as an English loanword connotes ghost pretty clearly in my mind, even though Merriam-Webster defines it as “one that returns after death or a long absence.” The Returned are indeed corporeal beings. I suppose that’s why the English translation being used for the title is The Returned, even though I think the original French carries the same dual meaning of “one who returns” as well as “one who returns from the dead” I would have been just as intrigued to see it had they simply left the title as The Revenants.

One point I thought wasn’t entirely clear in the first episode is that the returnees are coming back from various points in the town’s history, not just from one specific event or date. So there is a wide range of missing years in their individual memories, and also the town’s history.

Mr. Costa helped me with that. I assumed the woman was his wife, not a daughter, so the age difference was a clue that she’d been gone for a long time.

I like “revenants” as a title better too. I wonder if the change was another instance of dumbing things down for the US audience. God forbid we’d have to look something up in the dictionary. :slight_smile:

Lucy, the woman who was with Jerome at the beginning – when she said to him “Sometimes it doesn’t work” – what do you think she was talking about? Is she some kind of spiritualist? Was Jerome trying to contact the dead Camille?

Hmm. Dunno; he’s buckling his belt as he approaches her and then hands her money (in the back room of a bar). Lena’s friends have a smirking reaction when they see Jerome with Lucy (“Isn’t that the third time this week?”). Lena seems embarrassed. Lucy apparently works at the bar. My initial impression was prostitution, but I don’t know exactly how lax the French are about that, and “It doesn’t always work” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in that context (unless she was referring to some transitory impotence). If she’s not a medium trying to contact Camille, maybe it’s some kind of massage therapy? Jerome also makes a point later on that he hasn’t been the one praying and hoping for Camille’s return (when he’s confronting Claire and Pierre after Camille finds her way home). So I’m not at all sure; I suspect the relationships will all become much clearer as we continue.

I need to watch this episode again, as I don’t think I caught all the subtleties of the different characters and their relationships to the returned (and exactly who the returned are). It kind of threw me that even though the episode was titled “Camille” and we open with her bus ride, then get a “Present Day” title card, we aren’t just seeing Camille and the aftereffects of that bus ride, but a bunch of other random stuff as well (not to mention no reference as to the time frame of that bus ride compared to “Present Day” until the end of the episode).


I watched the first episode with my girlfriend. I liked most of what I saw, but I absolutely hated that sudden stabbing in the tunnel. It felt as if the writers/producers/whatever didn’t really trust their concept all the way - as if, at the last moment, they began to fear that “people returning from the dead” maybe wasn’t exciting enough, so, hey, “why don’t we throw a creepy murderer into the mix!? that’ll keep 'em glued to the TV!! worked for Dexter, right!?” It felt like that scene belonged in another series - a much less interesting one.

But of course that was just my spontaneous reaction to one single scene in one single episode. Here’s hoping it gets better in the course of the season.

I watched this series when it aired in the UK, and I loved it - for a whole bunch of reasons in addition to the basic premise - the atmosphere, the pace, the colour palette, and especially the music.

I shan’t say more, for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched.

Just Ed, prostitution was my first guess too – especially with the smirking – but then it seemed too open. He wasn’t even trying to sneak and his daughter’s right there at the bar.

Jerome saying he wasn’t praying for Camille’s return – I thought he meant he was doing something more than praying.

There’s a Monkey’s Paw vibe, unavoidable, I guess.

Steken, I didn’t like the stabbing either. It was nice to see two young women walking alone at night, apparently in safety. I’m gonna trust that the killer is there for more than shock value. That scene was well done but hard to watch.

… indeed, especially the music - by the blessed Mogwai.

I dunno what to say about this really. I guess everyone will make their own judgements at the end of the series/season, the journey itself was certainly not a waste of time. Pretty interesting generally with some nice ideas, imo.

Perhaps the fact that some are returning means some others have to go?? Hmm…

Also, can someone explain…

Lena and Camille are evidently twins. Is that really Lena in bed with the boy? Did they play a switch on the parents for the day? No matter who is in bed having their first, was the bus twin really sharing the experience? She gasped and demanded getting off the bus… And I’m guessing that little “Victor” was returning from yet ANOTHER time period and walking his way home too, on the highway and causing the bus driver to drive off the mountain.

Anyway, I’m getting a head start on this with online episodes. The whole season is available!

I’m not going to explain everything - because I think some of it is better if you just wait until it plays out, however…

Lena stayed home, under pretence of sickness, so she could shag Camille’s boyfriend (that bit was as straightforward as it seems) - as far as I can tell, there’s no great significance to the fact that Camille seemed to be sharing the experience, or had some sort of premonition - it’s just an unexplained spooky little detail - get used to accepting those…

Ah. VERY cool. I just watched the first three episodes! I’ll get to some more tonight.

Fantastic so far! If I learn to speak French, can I move to that gorgeous place? I don’t care who’s dead or not! :smiley:

Huh. I started a thread years ago about Les Revenants, which is apparently what the show is based on, and no one else had seen it. I hope the series ends up making more sense than how the movie ended.

I first heard of that movie in a thread where I asked whether there were any movies where there were non-malevolent zombies. Recently, they’ve become quite fashionable - in addition to the series being discussed here, there’s the movie Warm Bodies and the UK TV series In The Flesh (both quite different treatments of the topic)

I think if you’re looking for something that makes sense, look elsewhere.
(general theme and intent described in spoiler below)

The Returned doesn’t try to resolve much, doesn’t answer as many questions as it leaves hanging. The whole thing seems more a study of what it means to be alive when others are gone, and why things can’t ever go back to how they used to be, and maybe why we shouldn’t wish them to.

That was my concern, as well: perhaps a nice idea but it depended on execution and conclusion. Some might argue the ending was intended to set up S2, I suspect the writer got a little lost. Fwiw ‘unfulfilling’ was my overall conclusion.

Sure, but at least that sounds like it makes more sense than how the movie ends:

After peacefully being back for a while - though some are obviously depressed and a few are distressed over being alive when they don’t want to be - the zombies decide to randomly blow things up. You know, literally, with a lot of destruction. After all the explosions are over, they disappear. The end

I’m more than a little creeped out by episode four, Julia. Should have watched it in the daytime, maybe.

If Toni knows his brother is a murderer, why doesn’t he do something?

And Victor? Jeebus. What’s up with that kid?

I gave up around E4. I liked the atmosphere and didn’t mind the slow pace, but it started to feel kinda like Lost, where mystery gets added to mystery until the audience realizes the writers are just kinda winging it.

Maybe I’ll check back in after S2 and see if people would still recommend it then.