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The Returned - Camille - Review

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The Returned, “Camille,” was written by Carlton Cuse and directed by Keith Gordon, whose credits include Homeland, Dexter, and The Killing. The series is adapted from the French series Les Revenants and was developed by Lost alum Cuse. Raelle Tucker of True Blood and Supernatural co-executive produces with Cuse. The series features a well-known cast including Mark Pellegrino, Jeremy Sisto, Kevin Alejandro, Mat Vairo, India Ennenga, Sophie Lowe, Leah Gibson, Chelah Horsdal, and Sandrine Holt.

The series follows in the footsteps, not only of its French inspiration, but a spate of returned from the dead series like Resurrection and The 4400. And of course, you could also see them as following in the footsteps of all the other popular zombie series. There are 10 episodes ordered for this first season, and by the episode titles it would appear that each episode focuses on one person returned after some years from the dead.
This first episode is really interestingly structured. We see Camille’s (India Ennenga) death in a bus accident as the first scene. She’s going on a school trip and is clearly not happy to be there, but we don’t see why until the episode circles back to this scene at the very end, providing the context that was lacking. The episode also lays the groundwork for a number of other stories as well.

We see Camille climb over the guardrail of the road and then begin her journey home. Meanwhile we see a meeting of a support group for the parents who lost children in the crash. It’s clear that some time has passed as there is a level of comfort among the participants. The group is lead by Peter Lattimore (Jeremy Sisto), a psychologist. No doubt he’ll play a part in helping people cope with the return of their loved ones as well as the changes that the returned will have to deal with. We also learn that he is involved with Camille’s mother, Claire (Tandi Wright).

The group congratulates Kris (Chelah Horsdal) who is expecting a baby. They also unveil a model of a memorial that is going to be erected to the children. Jack (Mark Pellegrino), Camille’s father is not a fan of the design. It’s clear that he is still struggling to deal with his daughter’s death. He’s also sleeping with Lucy (Leah Gibson) because she says that she can speak with the dead while she’s climaxing. Big surprise – we learn before the end of the episode that she’s simply been conning Jack, preying upon his grief. We also learn that Camille’s sister Lena (Sophie Lowe) has also struggled to deal with her sister’s death, turning to drinking with friends and hanging out at bars.

When Camille shows up at home, she asks her mother not to be mad, telling her that she’s had a weird day. She simply woke up on the mountainside with no memory of how she got there. Claire’s reaction, I thought was even stranger. She simply seems to take it in stride. Did she believe that Camille was simply a ghost? She calls Jack and he also just accepts it – apparently. Even Peter doesn’t seem particularly phased. I thought it was a really interesting reaction from all of them. Of course, Camille has been gone for four years and doesn’t have any memory of those four years. She also hasn’t aged. She has no idea that her parents are at least separated. And yet, no one tells her anything. No one calls anyone in authority. To me, that was a really odd way to react.

The problem of not questioning what was going on or at least telling Camille that some time has passed becomes apparent when Lena sneaks back into her bedroom. In what must have been a regular signal between the two sisters, Camille knocks on the wall between their rooms. When Lena knocks back, Camille goes to see her sister – and that’s when we get the big reveal that Camille and Lena are twins – except Lena is now four years older, something that is immediately and shockingly apparent to Camille. Both sisters freak out – and really, that seems like a more realistic reaction!

The action then takes us back to the day of the accident. Lena managed to convince their mother she was sick, so she didn’t have to go on the school trip. I loved the way the episode was structured, so that we see how damaged the family is before we see this snapshot of what they were before. It certainly carries more impact than if it had been the other way around. Lena has stayed home to meet with a boy that both sisters had been interested in. Lena breaks the promise between the sisters and loses her virginity. It’s then that we see why Lena must have been so affected by Camille’s death. Like some twins, they share a deep connection – so deep they can actually feel what the other is experiencing. Camille freaks out on the bus and tries to get off when she feels what Lena is doing. She distracts the bus driver (Gerald Paetz) who suddenly looks up and sees Victor (Dylan Kingwell) standing in the road. Swerving to miss Victor, the bus driver loses control and the bus goes over the cliff.

Victor is one of the other mysterious appearances in the town on the night of Camille’s return. He simply shows up at a bus stop and then presents himself to Dr Julie Han (Sandrine Holt). Once again, and especially for a health professional, she simply takes him in. You’d think you might want to notify the police that you’d found a stray child, right? She lies to her neighbor, saying his name is Victor, which he then adopts. She threatens to call the police, but he isn’t fooled – and neither are we.
Two other people also return, apparently from the dead, and in these cases, the people have what I would see as a more expected reaction. We see an old man in bed with medicine by his bed. A woman walks in and gets in bed with him. Her picture – presumably from their wedding is on his night table. It would seem that she’s been absent longer than four years. When the old man sees her, he is shocked. He calls the Dr but then hangs up without saying anything. We then see him on a damn. He looks down and then jumps. Did he simply think he was losing his mind? Did he think his dead wife had come to take him from the land of the living?

Simon (Mat Vairo) also returns and goes to the Dog Star bar to find Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). When Lucy tells him that not only does Rowan not work there, she doesn’t know her, Lena steps up and says she knows her and will take him to her. Simon tells Lena that he grew up in the town, but she’s doubtful because she’s never seen him before.

Simon sees Rowan through the window, trying on a wedding veil. He goes to the door, pounding on it for her to open it for him. She freaks out and pounds right back screaming at him to go away. She has a little girl. He has tears in his eyes on the other side but he does go away. A cop, Tommy (Kevin Alejandro), arrives and goes to her. Presumably he is the groom to be. She tells him, “It started happening again.” I’m assuming that Simon died and left her and afterwards she had some kind of mental breakdown, during which she would see him.

The episode also features a second death in addition to the suicide of the old man. Lucy is murdered as she walks through the tunnel. A tunnel is also highly symbolic of the movement from life to death and also of birth. The scene is beautifully shot, and ends with her blood flowing toward us. Is she really dead? Will she stay dead? Is her death related to the returns? Maybe she wasn’t simply conning Jack, but does have some connection with the spirit world.

I felt that this was one of Mark Pellegrino’s best performances. India Ennenga and Sophie Lowe were also excellent. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Mat Vairo as Simon as well. This first episode was certainly intriguing, asking lots of questions. The excellent acting, production values and writing have me looking forward to the next episode. What did you think of the episode? Have you seen the French version? I haven’t, so I’m very much interested in hearing any comparisons. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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