The Returned 1.02 "Simon" REVIEW

TV REVIEW Arrested development

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The Returned 1.02 “Simon” review.

THE ONE WHERE Adèle’s ten-years-dead fiancé Simon gets arrested after viciously beating up a guy in a diner.

VERDICT Two episodes in, and The Returned is starting to look rather a lot like a French Lost ( Perdu ?). Not just because of its inexplicable events and fondness for flashbacks, but because of the teasing way both the writers and the characters tend to withhold information. Consider Simon: he passes up a golden opportunity to speak to his former fiancée; and by the end of the episode we’re still waiting for an answer to one of the burning questions - how, exactly, did he die?

To be fair, at least some people are voicing the obvious questions. When Camille asks, “Am I some kind of zombie?”, and Lena suggests her sister, “might be a clone or something”, you almost feel like cheering.

The Returned ’s second instalment has all the virtues of the first. It’s scenic, and the scriptwriting is admirably subtle - elliptical at times, as it discreetly shies away from moments that would most likely play as melodrama. We don’t see the police break the news of Simon’s death to Adèle, for example, and we don’t see Camille’s parents tell her about the coach crash. In both cases, that's probably a smart choice.

But we don’t learn all that much that we didn’t know last week, either. Pleasantly measured though the pacing is, the worry is that perhaps this show might share something else with Lost : an inability to supply satisfactory answers. Maybe the wisest approach to take is simply not to expect any.

BEST MOMENT The meeting between Simon and Adèle in the library, where she addresses him as some ghostly manifestation of her grief; very moving, and beautifully played by Clotilde Hesme.

OH LA LOL This episode unexpectedly tots up two laugh-out-loud moments: Adèle saying, “Oh la la!” when she sees Simon (here's us thinking that was a laughable stereotype, not something French people actually say), and Toni getting shovelled in the face, which is only a comedy clang sound effect away from pure Reeves & Mortimer slapstick.

NITPICKS Why is Simon and Adèle’s wedding so sparsely attended? Maybe, given the apparent shortness of his temper, because he beat up everyone in town at some point?

SPECULATION Why is Julie so reluctant tell the police about that creepy kid? Why has he latched onto her? And what do the scars on her stomach signify? The answer to the latter seems fairly obvious – like Lucy the bargirl, she was stabbed by Serge the psycho, but survived. Could it be that she lost an unborn child in the attack, and that “Victor” is some kind of echo of the son she never had? Perhaps that would also explain why he apparently can’t speak (a child who was never born could never learn). But then, that doesn't explain him apparently causing the coach crash, of course. Hmm.

POSTER APOCALYPSE In the flashback to 10 years ago, Simon and Adèle’s bedroom wall is decorated with posters for Cabaret , Blow-Up and 1947 romantic fantasy The Ghost And Mrs Muir - plus a still of Nastassja Kinski from Paris, Texas .

FEATURED MUSIC It's tricky to think of a TV show that has a cooler soundtrack, one so heavy with indie obscurities. This week's selections: “Rockin’ Chair” by Nimby , "To Be Like I" by China Rats , "What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?" by Mogwai (a cover of an old “Negro spiritual”), “Unclean” by Steeple Remove (so obscure it can't be found online, but it's a cover of a 1984 track by Psychic TV ), “Flying To Berlin” by Savages , “Clayton's Hotrod” by The Tremolo Beer Gut, and “Gypsy’s Curse” by Calexico .

Ian Berriman

Read all our The Returned series 1 reviews.

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Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.