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The Returned – Episode 7: Channel 4, Sundays 9pm

tvEpisode 7 out of 8 of The Returned and it doesn’t look as if everything is going to be wrapped up with only an hour of the series left to go.

There’s some scary action as Serge and Toni run around in the woods and come across some charred remains of whatever ceremony it was that Léna saw last week as she ran away. (What are you thinking, Toni?? Don’t split up when you are lost in the middle of a wood…) There’s also some swimming in the lake, which looked absolutely freezing. Some actors get all the bad gigs.

In more reflective moments several of the Revenants continued to suffer from unexplained nasty creeping flesh rot.

My favourite explanation so far is Frisky Python’s here:

http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1809216&page=72

Basically “ the dead are rotting as soon as the living start to comprehend something about their own lives… Camille shows signs of decay as soon as she and Lena kiss and makeup and talk about Frederic.”

I like this because it would explain why it seems to be only those who have contact with the living (Victor, Camille, Simon, etc) who have these symptoms. Lucy Clarsen seems absolutely fine. Moreover, it seems that you need some emotional connection to the living for the symptoms to appear – Serge seems to be rot-free. It reminded me the scar on Lena’s back – what if there is some kind of balance to be struck between living and dead? What if there is some kind of symbiosis which means that they can’t both survive? Lena-Camille. Simon-Adele. This would explain the cold, embattled attitude that Lucy has – it’s us or them – and her desire to persuade Simon onto her side, away from Adele.

I’m pleased that Julie and Laure are back together – Ye-es!! You’ll remember that I’ve been rooting for this to happen since episode 3. What would be heartbreaking would be if Julie and Laure were linked and only one of them could survive. No-one knows whether Julie is dead or not, but she has no rotting bits, so I’m hopeful that she turns out to be alive and that they manage to triumph and escape.

Mrs Costa plays a bigger part in this episode too. She reckons she’s died three times. We saw her husband’s shock in episode one when she returned to him then, culminating in him tying her up and setting fire to their house before jumping off the dam. But Mrs Costa is not the sort of person to let a trifle like that get her down. She’s back at the Helping Hand refuge. When she sees Lena and Camille there, she congratulates Claire on having such pretty daughters, as people do, in that banal way. But with Mrs Costa, you know it is never going to be banal, and she doesn’t disappoint when she follows it up with, C’est dommage… Ca ne va pas durer.

There are plenty of classic sensational horror moments in The Returned, but what makes this series so special is the way it mixes horror with mystery and the genuine deep emotion that surrounds the subject of death and love. I hope this all continues to hold together into another series, and moves towards a satisfying conclusion that makes sense. Like Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes, which ran for a limited number of series until its superb and fitting conclusion. Quel dommage it would be if The Returned were to turn into some formulaic cash cow for its makers. I suppose I’m thinking about the slow, sad demise of the once brilliant Shameless. It used to make my week watching that.  (Admittedly I was going through a bad patch.) Although I think that The Returned is much too classy for that.

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