The Returned is a French supernatural thriller that caused a sensation with its sombre, downbeat take on the zombie genre when it first aired back in 2012 (2013 here in the UK). Now it's finally back on our screens for a second series.
Known as Les Revenants in France, it's based on a little-known film of the same name, and tells the story of a small French town that sees the return of its dead inhabitants. It's no Walking Dead, though - those who come back aren't rotting corpses hungry for flesh. They return exactly as they were before their death, and entirely unaware of their own demise. There is no gore or graphic violence here; instead The Returned uses the central idea to explore themes of mortality, grief and loss. It is very French.
Fans have had to wait a long time for a new series. Now, finally, The Returned is set to...er...return. Here in the UK it aired on digital channel More4 on October 16th (so you may have seen the first episode by the time you read this) and in America it will come back at the end of October (just in time for Halloween!). With the new series ready to go, there are still burning questions that us fans are hoping will be answered in series two.
Let's take a look at some of The Returned's biggest mysteries. Remember: there are spoilers below for The Returned series one.
Water & Electricity
Clearly water plays a large role in whatever's going on in the town, but so far we don't know what it means. Early on there were falling levels of water in the town's reservoir; Camille's (former) grave was discovered to be filled with water and we learned the town had flooded before, 30 or 40 years ago. The final episode of the series treated us to a final shot of the village submerged yet again. What we still don't know is how all of this ties in with the return of the dead. Perhaps the water has some kind of supernatural quality (Twin Peaks had the supernatural woods, maybe The Returned has the reservoir?).
Tied in with this, in episode five of series one, the townspeople discovered the drowned animals (as seen in the opening credits) and according to the local coroner, the cause of death was "suicide". What caused these animals to flee to the water in terror, and does it have anything to do with those who returned?
If the business with the water wasn't strange enough, we've also seen the town have problems with electricity since the dead returned. We know that they directly affect any electricity in their general vicinity (we see lights flicker when Camille, Victor and Simon walk past them in the opening episode) but it seems to only be temporary, and doesn't happen all the time. Why do they have this effect, and what does it mean (if anything)?
Personally I think the electricity malfunctions were used just for effect - the cool look of lights flickering when one of the dead walks past - more than anything else.
Creepy "Victor" (who we later learn is really called Louis) first turned up in episode one, where he follows and stays with another character, Julie, believing her to be the "fairy" his mother promised would take care of him once she was gone.
Victor raised a lot more questions than the other returnees in the first series. We know that Victor died 35 years prior to the series, killed by two thieves (one of whom is a familiar face) who broke into his home. We also know that Victor was the cause of the bus crash that killed Camille and her (non-returned) classmates, as the bus swerved to avoid the boy standing in the road.
What had Victor been doing prior to that point? Indeed, what was he doing in the four years between then and when he decided to latch on to Julie? Why did he decide to come back to town?
We also know that he can make people see visions; he terrified Pierre with a hallucination of someone from his past, and caused Toni to kill himself. Also, he may or may not have played a role in the death of Julie's nosy neighbour Mme Payet.
But is Victor good, or evil? What are his motivations? I have no theories here - he's simply too much of a blank slate - but hope that series 2 will reveal more about him.
Lena, Camille and Scars
Camille is the first returnee that we meet, four years after her death in a bus crash. Her return is understandably traumatic for her family, particularly her twin sister Lena, as there is now a four year age gap between them.
We learn early on at the two have some kind of psychic twin connection, but what is perhaps stranger is Lena's scar. Lena claims the scar is from her father Jerome's violence, but it grows as the season goes on. It's possible it may be a manifestation of Camille's fatal injuries, but why would Lena get them if she isn't one of the returned? Other than Lena, returnees Camille, Victor and Simon are the only others to exhibit wounds.
Is Lena's scar a "sympathy" injury, matching those of Camille, or is there something darker going on? I think that the scars on the three returnees suggest that they are decomposing - so maybe those who come back may only be around for a short time. I wonder if they have a particular mission to accomplish while they're back?
What's Lucy's deal? We first meet Lucy as a clairvoyant prostitute/barmaid (seriously, if you've seen it you'll know what I mean), and soon after she's fatally stabbed by the resurrected cannibal serial killer Serge.
That was not the end of her though, as she heals miraculously to return, and later on becomes something of a spokeswoman for the towns (un)dead inhabitants. But what is she, exactly? Is she one of the returned too? Was she already dead before Serge stabbed her? Or she a conduit between the living and the dead?
It seems that being undead, ironically, granted Lucy a new lease on life. She became incredibly self-assured, as if she suddenly understood her purpose. In the final episodes we saw her leading "the horde" of the other undead in an (off screen) attack on the Helping Hand shelter. I can only presume Lucy's wider plans will be revealed in the second series.
Pierre seems to be a kindly - if a tad creepy - religious man who runs a local shelter called The Helping Hand. When discussing Camille's apparent resurrection with her father Jerome, he remarks that this had happened before, but Jerome "wouldn't be interested in that". At first I - like everyone - assumed that he was talking about Jesus, but the longer the series went on, the more hints we had that Pierre was a lot more prepared than anyone else for what was happening. Which leads to the question: has this happened before? And what was Pierre's involvement? Did he build the shelter to welcome the returned ("everyone is welcome at the Helping Hand" is the slogan)?
He was one of the men that broke into Victor's house - though he didn't pull the trigger to kill him - and had a prophecy of the town flooding, which came to pass in the series finale. How much does Pierre know, and why?
Ah, the horde. As far as we can reasonably guess, the horde are inhabitants of the town who died around the same time as Victor and Mrs. Costa, 30-40 years previously, possibly from the last time the town flooded.
The horde seem keen to have the other dead join them, but it needs to be by choice. They had the chance to snatch Victor at least once but did not do so; they don't seem to go in for violence.
We first see the horde in the woods on the outskirts of town, and are left to wonder just how long they were there for. Have they been there for decades, waiting for the right time, whatever that may be?
What's their endgame? Why did they choose this point in time to return to the village, and why - and how - did Lucy become their spokeswoman?
There are countless other mysteries left over from The Returned's enigmatic opening series, and I can't wait to start finding out the answers.