Tony and Adam
When it comes to nailing the feel of a dread-inducing, supernatural mystery, The Returned excels. Unfortunately, the unresolved ending and inconsistent acting hold the show back from being as memorable as it could be. Visually, The Returned is good and the intelligently written story and decent camera work implement elements of the setting’s breathtaking vistas at every opportunity. It’s just such a shame that The Returned’s cancellation before a proper resolution to the story leaves this solitary season crippled and crying out for some pay off to the intriguing questions it raises.
The Returned’s story gravitates around several people that come back to life years after their death. Reeling from this revelation, much of the series’ 10 episodes focus on the different groups of characters as they try to piece their life together after the deceased return from the grave. Teenager Camille (India Ennenga) comes back to find her family fractured from the once happy life she knew, Simon (Mat Vairo) returns to find his fiance Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) marrying someone else and a silent little boy named Victor (Dylan Kingwell) is found wandering the streets. A slew of other characters join the fray too and as the series progresses, each find their stories intertwine and cross paths.
There are several mysteries woven through the series too and going into this knowing a second season will never arrive does sour the experience somewhat. There are a lot of unresolved questions that leave the door open for another season and with so many plot threads left unresolved, its hard to ignore the lack of satisfaction as the season draws to a close. If you can look past this, there’s a solid season of entertainment here held together by a strong concept and execution.
The characters themselves are endearing and there’s an interesting mixture of personas to keep the episodes fresh. As the series progresses, the characters are explored in more detail with several well placed twists and revelations used to good effect. The acting does vary from scene to scene though and swings between poor and decent. This varying degree of acting prowess is more than a little inconsistent at times although it does generally level out toward the climactic end to the series.
The Returned regularly jumps back to the days leading up to a character’s death and returns to present time again and this extra information into the past never feels contrived or out of place. The romance and sexual scenes on the other hand, do. While a few well placed intimate moments can help alleviate some of the built up mystery and tension, the frequency to which they occur here does devalue the smartly written script somewhat. In every episode there’s at least 3 or 4 occasions where characters are either undressing or making love and it just feels unnecessary.
The Returned has all the ingredients to be a really successful show but its flaws are hard to ignore. The story is intriguing, the characters are relatable and there’s a good balance of mystery, drama and fantasy that gives the script an intelligent feel to it. Despite its positives, The Returned suffers from inconsistent acting and an unresolved, open ending. Those going into this expecting the story to be wrapped up and all the plot threads resolved by the end will be bitterly disappointed. The huge cliffhanger is a massive deterrent to the show’s appeal, especially since a second season is unlikely to ever arrive and because of this, its hard to really recommend The Returned to everyone, despite the good writing and world building.