Writer: Fabrice Gobert
THE ONE WHERE A group of 100 or more Returned advance on The Helping Hand.
VERDICT You didn’t really think we were going to get all the answers this week, did you?
Okay, we do get a few, albeit to minor questions. We find out “Victor”’s real name (Louis). We discover why he latched onto Julie (she resembles the fairy on the cover of one of his favourite books). And it’s finally confirmed how Toni’s mother died (she killed herself). But all the major chin-scratchers remain unanswered. And of course, in the finest tradition of Lost , there are new mysteries to ponder too: is Adèle really pregnant with a dead man’s child? If so, what do The Horde want with it? Where are they taking Camille et al, and for what purpose? Let's hope it's a lovely picnic in the woods.
“The Horde” does at least have the general shape of a finale. Finally, there’s a definite sense that we’re building towards a resolution – even if that’s not really what’s ultimately delivered. From the moment we see the Returned from the woods emerging from the mist, calmly walking down the road to town, the clock is ticking to a confrontation. That’s a great image, incidentally - one matched by the eerie sight of The Horde standing still en masse, staring up at The Helping Hand, or the artistic shot of a butterfly - perhaps the very same butterfly that was framed on Mr Costa's wall - flying through a pane of broken glass (a visual metaphor for the souls of the dead returning from The Other Side, anyone?)
The staging of the final stand-off is equally impressive; taking us inside The Helping Hand with the civilians is a bold move, but one that pays off. As we stand in the darkness with them, listening to gunshots ringing out outside as the cops blast away at The Horde it’s extremely claustrophobic and terrifically tense.
Add some first-rate performances in emotional scenes (Camille telling Frédéric she loved him; Serge’s despair at Toni’s death) and you have a satisfying instalment. Yes, the continuing wait for answers is a little frustrating, but over these first eight episodes the human drama has been sufficiently compelling to keep us hooked. We remain fairly confident that solutions will be supplied in next year’s second series ... or, at the very least, that they won't keep stringing it out for another five years, Lost -style.
NITPICKS Okay, so he's desperate to get his (step)daughter back, but Thomas seems a bit quick to agree to hand over “Vincent” and Camille to The Horde – especially given that Lucy doesn’t explain what they want with them, or make any dire threats about the consequences of non-compliance.
SPECULATION Are The Horde a difference sub-species from the other Returned? Last week we saw they’d been feeding on what looked like barbecued squirrel (yum); this week we see one of them lapping from a toilet, like a dog. They’re also not very communicative (although we know that at least one of them – the fella who yelled at Camille – can talk). So are they more bestial and zombie-like than the Returned who died more recently? Or did French people just have really bad table manners in the '70s?
Also, if The Horde are so keen to take all of their fellow Returned away with them, why don't they ask for Serge too? Is it because they know he’s mourning his brother (and, since he has no remaining familial connections in town, will presumably be along in his own sweet time)? Or are they rejecting him because he’s a psychopathic nutcase?
FEATURED MUSIC Thanks largely to the fact that The Lake Pub is all smashed up, it's purely Mogwai's score again.
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman