The Returned 1.04 "Victor" REVIEW

TV REVIEW Dying, the titch and the wardrobe

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The Returned 1.04 "Victor" review .

Episode 1.04
Writer: Fabrice Gobert
Director: Fabrice Gobert

THE ONE WHERE We find out how Victor died.

VERDICT This excellent episode demonstrates two of The Returned ’s most laudable qualities: firstly, it’s a series that doesn’t leave you hanging all that long for answers… well, at least, for partial answers. It felt like we could be in for a long wait to find out who Victor is, but seconds into this fourth episode, it’s pretty much all cleared up; he’s a little boy who died violently 35 years ago, shot during what was, presumably, a home invasion robbery. Why hasn’t he returned to his own family? Because they're all dead. And we don’t have to wait long to find out the identity of one of the balaclavaed intruders, either: it seems that Pierre from The Helping Hand has a dark past. He always did seem rather too good to be true.

The two scenes which bookend the episode are sensational, particularly the home invasion, which illustrates first little Victor’s terror and then his violent death by showing first pee and then blood seeping under the door of the cupboard in which he meets his grisly end. Powerful stuff, but the final revelation about Pierre almost matches it.

Another admirable characteristic of The Returned is the way it leaves you uncertain whether events have a supernatural basis or not. You’re willing to plump for the fantastical option, and unsure whether to accept any more down-to-earth explanation that's offered up. Take the scar on L é na’s back, which initially looks like something straight out of a David Cronenberg horror film – you wouldn’t be that surprised if it grew teeth, or spewed out black slime. Later we’re given a prosaic explanation: it’s a "spontaneous keloid", the result of someone injuring her a year ago. But in this series all such rational explanations seem untrustworthy. The same applies when policewoman Laure tells Julie that her nosy neighbour is thought to have committed suicide. She doesn’t explain why , and we know from Victor’s drawings that he was present... so is he a killer or not? In both cases, we're left unsure what to believe, in a state of confusion that has a component of dizzy excitement to it.

It's also difficult to divine what's causal and what's coincidence. When there's a power cut at the very moment Simon is running from the police, is that somehow his doing? And could everything that's occurring be connected to a lost community that’s slowly rising from a watery grave? This week, those dialogue-deficient workers down at the reservoir finally get a little more script, and as the water levels drop further we get a fascinating glimpse of a church steeple poking out; presumably, an entire flooded village lies beneath the surface. A village with a tragic history, maybe? Or is that merely a red herring? As ever, with The Returned , it's impossible to be certain, and there's something blissful about that state of bewilderment.

NITPICKS Is Adèle really so dim as to think that her daughter’s dead dad could hide out in the attic without anyone realising? Will anyone in authority ever ask Victor who his parents are and where he lives? And we're with L é na on this one: why the hell doesn't her boyfriend realise that "Alice" is Camille (or, at least, remark that she's a dead ringer for Camille)?

FEATURED MUSIC "We’re No Here" by Mogwai and "For The One" by Waters .

Ian Berriman

Read all our The Returned series 1 reviews .

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Available platformsTV
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.