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Resurrection - Ep. 1.1 & 1.2 The Returned & Unearth - Review

"The vision was a masterpiece of comic timing
You wouldn't laugh at all
And I wondered what the boy was thinking
The picture was an old collage of something classical
The model with a tragic air
Because without a doubt he'd given up the fight
The ghost of somebody at his side"
- Belle & Sebastian - The Model

Last Sunday was the series premiere of a new show on ABC called Resurrection. It is based on the book by author Jason Mott, The Returned, that was published in August of 2013. I love following shows that are based on literary counterparts and will usually read the book first before starting any program. However, with Resurrection, I have decided to wait to read the book and see how well the show is and interpret what I see without any outside influence. The show is a serialized mystery with elements of science fiction and a pinch of drama. Together, if you enjoy the series as well, we can dissect and interpret each episode, which is the best way to watch a show of this caliber.

We begin with a boy, who we later learn is named Jacob Langston, waking up as he lay in a rice paddy in a rural village in China. The villagers stop him and, before Jacob passes out, he asks, "Is she dead?". This ends the cold open of the pilot episode and I can tell you I was already liking the show. You can tell if you are going to enjoy a series based on just a few minutes and Resurrection hooked me. I was so intrigued and already had so many questions 3 minutes in the show. Who was Jacob asking about? How has Jacob returned from the dead? Is it biblical in origin or the work of some kind of sorcery and/or magic or possibly any multitude of alternatives? Why does he wake up in China as opposed to any other country? These questions had me watching in earnest the rest of the episode. The ABC Network did not skimp on hiring actors that's for sure. Omar Epps is great as Immigration Agent J. Martin Bellamy, or Marty for short. Kurtwood Smith plays Jacob's "father" Henry Langston and Frances Fisher depicts Lucille Langston, Jacob's "mother". The acting is superb by all and did not lack in any department.
Marty is tasked with finding a home for Jacob but instead decides to take him to Arcadia, Missouri after witnessing Jacob write that out on Marty's cell phone. They arrive at a quaint little home and Jacob tells a joke much to the excitement of Henry, who instantly answers and is shocked to see his son literally back from the dead. I should point out that they are not zombies. When I explain this show to other people they immediately think this is another zombie-apocalypse story and that could not be further from the truth. Jacob is exactly as he appeared the moment before his death, or at least that's what he seems after watching the first episode. He has maintained all his memories up to the point of his death and woke as if he just took a nap. We learn early on that Jacob died 32 years ago and was 8 when he passed away. To hear Henry tell the story Jacob was drowning in the river when his sister-in-law, Barbara, jumped in to save him. Both Barbara and Jacob drowned in the river that day. Jacob has a seizure that hospitalizes him and while he is being examined by Maggie, who would be his cousin, he tells the story a little different. He says Barbara fell into the river while taking Maggie, then just a baby, and Jacob for a walk when Jacob jumped in to save her. The creators do a nice job with the flashback sequences and through them we learn that Jacob's story was the correct one. I assume Barbara is the 'SHE' that Jacob asked about in the Chinese village.

There are, of course, skeptics and people who wonder if Jacob is actually who he says he is or if someone told him to do this. As soon as I said, "Just perform a DNA test" they read the results to us and Jacob is actually related to the Langstons. The show would not be complete without some antagonist regardless of how many DNA tests the authorities perform. The adversary is Fred Langston or, according to Jacob, Uncle Fred.
The episode set up the characters and the premise very nicely and made me want more. I was hooked by the ending and can't wait to find out where the returned came from and why. I'm sure as the series progresses and we get more answers to the puzzle the show will get exponentially more interesting. This season is only eight episodes long which means we will most likely get a whole lot of information every Sunday when it airs. The pilot episode satisfyingly ended with another person returning from the dead, Caleb Richards. He was the man that Jacob saw after he escaped from the hospital.

Episode number two is aptly named "Unearth" and focuses a little more on Caleb. We open within a nightmare (or is it more than that?) that Jacob has walking through a graveyard up to his own mausoleum constructed over 30 years ago. He sees Caleb close by and Caleb immediately turns to ash and dust, crumbling to the ground. Before Jacob wakes from his spooky slumber, his own right hand turns to ash the same way as Caleb. Later at Elaine's (Caleb's daughter) home, Marty asks Caleb some questions and learns he does not remember anything of his final moments, citing amnesia. He refuses to believe he died of a heart attack, but remembers driving his truck and blacking out before mysteriously waking up in an alley way in Portland,Oregon 3 days prior. Maggie tells him he had a heart attack and his friend Dale found him behind his cabin. There is definitely something odd about Caleb and he even speaks in a creepy way to his own children. Where Jacob remembers his final moments in vivid detail, Caleb does not even remember dying or his heart attack. We later see Caleb digging in the ground, revealing a dead body and having a flashback of his heart attack which makes me think he either just remembered or was lying to Marty and Maggie.

Agent Bellamy poses a great question to Maggie after leaving Elaine's home. If Caleb is the same as Jacob how come Jacob remembers dying but Caleb doesn’t? I'm glad they are asking these questions and are not dumb investigators like other shows tend to have. It's much better that they ask pertinent questions and perform DNA tests than fumbling around and not doing anything to the frustration of viewers. The writers do a great job and waste no time in propelling the narrative. i suppose with only 8 episodes they would need to get information out in a timely manner without making it seem too forced and I think they do an incredible job so far. This leads to Marty wanting to exhume Jacob's body to see what is there as well as match DNA if there is something there. They, of course, can't do that with Creepy Caleb, because he was cremated and his ashes are sitting on a ledge inside Elaine's home.
Maggie is examining Caleb and she goes over his blood results with his daughter, Elaine. To her astonishment, Caleb’s protein deposits in his blood reveal he had a heart attack three days ago - when he said he “woke up” in the alleyway. Very interesting. So many questions and only six episodes left! As dark and cryptic as Caleb appears to be he goes overboard in the final moments of the episode. While Jacob is playing soccer with some friends, Caleb speaks one word in his ear - "Lie". Lie about what and to whom? Before the episode closes Caleb walks up to a house and when a man answers he screams at him, "Tell me it's all gone", while gripping a hammer and ready to strike as if he were Tyreese from The Walking Dead. He was obviously a bad guy before his death and is returning to his old ways rather quickly.

The second hour of Resurrection definitely gave us more questions than answers, but I suppose that is to be expected this early on. I've compiled a list of them in the Thoughts & Questions section below so we can keep track. I thought this episode was just as good as the first one and if you have not started to watch this show I suggest you do. It's a great mystery with a very interesting plot and reminds a little of another great show "Under The Dome" in that something happens to a small little town and we see how its citizens are affected. Combined with great writing and excellent actors I believe ABC has a hit in Resurrection.
Thoughts and/or Questions

- Who or what is behind Jacob and Caleb returning from the dead?

- Why are the Returned only Jacob and Caleb and not Barbara or anyone else? Will we see more Returned as the show progresses? And to that point, why now? What makes this time significant for the Returned to appear?

- Sam Catlin, played by Ned Bellamy, is the man Barbara was having an affair with before she died. What did he mean and who was he talking to when he said “She found us” after Maggie went to see him? Could it be Barbara?

- Red color must be an important aspect of the narrative as we see both of the Returned wearing bright red and different elements in the show where red proves prominent - Lucille’s shirt has red flowers, Caleb’s tool tray, Jacob’s Shirt, Caleb’s hat, One of Jacob’s toy bags, Jacob also has a tool tray with a red handle which was interesting, and Caleb’s Bible had a red bookmark ribbon.

- What was Fred talking about when he mentioned Marty’s past? What happened in Marty’s past that he doesn’t want anyone to know about?

- One thing I would like to note, being a huge Comic Book fan, is that this story is very similar to the Noir Graphic Novel "Revival" by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. In Revival, the dead come back to life one day in a rural town in Wisconsin. The dead, dubbed Revivers, cannot die no matter what happens to them. They are not Zombie-esque at all, much like Resurrection. It's a great Graphic Novel that puts a great spin on the horror genre and you should definitely pick it up if you like Resurrection.

- I’m not sure if this is a production error or something relevant, but when Maggie is looking at her mother’s, Barbara's, autopsy report it states that it was performed on 10/28/81 but we know that Jacob and Barbara passed away on the same day on 10/28/1982. If the creators of Resurrection happen to be reading this Review could you clarify please, Lol?

- Elaine wrote her dad a letter and placed it in his suit pocket as he lay in his coffin. Caleb uses it as a bookmark and it is placed in the section of the Bible that tells the story of Job. From the SparksNotes website the dominant theme of Job is the difficulty of understanding why an all-powerful God allows good people to suffer. Job wants to find a way to justify God’s actions, but he cannot understand why there are evil people who “harm the childless woman, / and do no good to the widow,” only to be rewarded with long, successful lives (24:21). This is definitely a reference to Caleb being evil and I;m glad the writers are adding these kinds of Easter Eggs.

- The brothers Henry and Fred seemed a little suspicious about the whole event, especially when Marty wanted to exhume the bodies. Do they know something?

- What was in Jacob's Coffin?!?!?

Thanks for checking out my Review and please comment below so we can discuss the show a little more. I will write a review after each episode from now on.

About the Author - Geo N
My name is George and I am from Detroit, MI. My favorite shows are The Blacklist, Hell On Wheels, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, LOST, Sons Of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow and countless other shows. When I'm not watching tons of TV, I enjoy reading, playing hockey, comic books, weightlifting, and writing. Thanks for checking out my post.