“The Returned” focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people, who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality. As they attempt to resume their lives, strange phenomena and gruesome murders begin to occur.
A&E has produced some top-notch programming over the years: “Longmire,” “Bates Motel” and now “The Returned” can be added to that list. As the show begins, we see a school bus making its way along a mountainous road. The bus is filled with students and faculty and before we have a chance to know who’s who, the bus apparently blows a tire and careens over a cliff and disappears out of view. Four years later, the residents of the town have moved on with their lives but those who perished in the crash have not been forgotten. Along an undulating country road, Camille (India Ennenga), a young teen, makes her way from the trees and begins the long trek home. When her mother sees her, she is left utterly speechless.
When Simon (Mat Vairo), makes his way to the house of his fiancée Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), when she sees him she freaks out and screams at him to leave her alone and never come back. On her way home from work, Julie (Sandrine Holt), a nurse, sees Victor (Dylan Kingwell), a young boy, sitting at a bus-stop by himself and stops to talk to him to see if he’s okay. She ends up taking him home with her and then strange things begin to happen around the town. Camille perished in the bus crash and Simon supposedly died years earlier, the morning he and Rowan were to be married. As more people who have been presumed dead for many years begin returning home, the residents and the returned themselves, must figure out what happened to them and why they haven’t aged one day.
The first few episodes take their time setting up the story and the characters, sometimes a little too slow but by the end of episode 2, the show thankfully finds its footing and moves into high gear. “The Returned” is evocative of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” albeit without the constant eccentricities that plagued that show. Naturally, there are supernatural elements throughout that initially cannot be explained but gradually, we cut back and forth between the past and the present and every time we cut to the past, we see a little more than we had previously seen. This works exceptionally well because just when you think you’ve figured out what happened, we flash back and the twists and turns take you off in a completely different direction.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Douglas, Mark Pellegrino and Kevin Alejandro round out a terrific cast and with the show having been shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, we are witness to spectacular mountainous terrain and some breathtaking vistas that only helps add character to a show that is already fraught with atypical and divergent personalities and storylines. I hate when a new TV show starts off promising only to gradually plummet as it progresses but with “The Returned” having already piqued my curiosity, I am hoping that it will continue to unravel the mysteries surrounding the town but more importantly, the anomalies encompassing “The Returned.”
Series Premiere on Monday, March 9th at 10/9c on A&E
For more info about James visit his site at www.IrishFilmCritic.com