The Returned: Unanswered Questions

The Returned : Unanswered Questions.

The Returned

Over the last eight weeks, Channel Four's captivating French drama has answered a few of the issues it has raised, but left us with an awful lot of unanswered questions. Here's the ones that are bugging us the most...

What’s causing the dead to come back to life?

Secret government experiment? Radiation from a falling satellite? Plan nine from outer space? To be honest we’re not expecting to be given a scientifically sound explanation for what are clearly supernatural events. What we are searching for is some rationale that makes sense of who’s come back. If it was purely a matter of the residents of the drowned village returning that would be easily explained – they’re coming back for vengeance, surely. But what links them to Camille, Serge, Simon and “Victor”? Okay, all of them died violently and have some kind of unfinished business. What about the bewilderingly blithe Mrs Costa? What’s her story? Her husband tried to kill her when she came back; perhaps he killed her the first time, too? What exactly are the rules here – or is it a totally random phenomenon?

Why is the water level of the lake falling?

On a symbolic level, this makes perfect sense: the water levels are falling because by doing so they are revealing the flooded village. It’s the return of a repressed trauma. When Frédéric prised open Camille’s coffin to check whether she was dead, he found it full of water. Did it seep in there naturally, or was it somehow displaced in space? At the end of the final episode we discover that the town has flooded. If there are no cracks allowing water to escape, how did that come about?

Who or what is Lucy?

We know very little about the enigmatic barmaid. She turned up in town a year ago. She survives being stabbed by Serge, thanks to her wounds miraculously healing. She acts as a spokesman for The Horde. She “sees dead people” by humping their relatives – an avenue Doris Stokes never explored, thankfully. Is she living? Is she dead? Is she some kind of guardian angel?

Who killed “Victor”?

Poor little Louis, shot dead weeing his jim-jams as he cowered in a cupboard. We know that Mr Helping Hand, Pierre, was present, but who actually fired the shots? Could it be someone else in town - or is the killer long-gone? You would think that the creepy little lad would be on the hunt for him…

Why did “Victor” appear in front of the coach?

As far as we know, all the other Returned appeared at the same time. So why did Victor appear four years ago, standing in the middle of the road, apparently causing that tragic coach crash? Is he some kind of agent of Destiny? Was it a warped act of vengeance – hey, maybe the driver was his killer? Bit tough on the kids, if that’s the case.

What about the other coach crash kids?

Of all the 38 kids who died in the coach crash, only Camille has come back. Surely many of them would have some kind of “unfinished business” too? Why’s she so special? Is it something to do with her telepathic bond with her twin sister?

How are The Horde different to the other Returned?

It appears that the “100 plus” members of The Horde – who, presumably, all lived in the flooded village - came back to life at the same time as Camille. So why did they hide out in the woods, eating barbecued squirrel, instead of returning to civilisation straight away? Were they plotting their revenge? Or is it simply that they had no homes to go back to? And why did we see one of them drinking water out of a toilet, like an animal? Are they mindless, feral creatures, more like conventional zombies?

Why are Simon and Camille cracking up?

Superficially speaking, life as one of The Returned doesn’t seem too bad. You come back looking just as you did before you died. If someone kills you, you just come back again. You don’t need to sleep – well, not usually. In fact, about the only downer is that your skin starts cracking up. Presumably, whatever force is maintaining The Returned can only do so for so long. But what happens next – will Simon and Camille eventually crumble to dust? If so, will they just reappear again, in brand new bodies?

Why does Lena have a scar on her back?

We’re not buying the medical explanation of a “spontaneous keloid”. Is it, again, somehow related to her psychic bond with her sis?

Why is it seemingly impossible to leave town?

Both Serge and Toni and Laure/Julie/”Victor” try to get away, but find themselves going around in circles. Is something playing tricks on their minds, causing them to lose their sense of direction, or is space being folded in on itself?

What’s with the drowned animals?

All those critters found floating in the lake apparently dived in of their own volition. What were they running from? We’re adding two and two together and assuming they didn’t want to become a meal for The Horde, but is that correct?

Why did Sandrine’s baby die?

This plot point was so obliquely presented in episode seven that you’d be forgiven for missing it, but coach-crash-mum Sandrine lost her unborn child. Now, it seems, Adèle is carrying Simon’s child. Are those two things linked – is there some cosmic balance at play here? Or was Sandrine’s loss natural and coincidental?

Will the outside world ever find out?

Okay, the electricity is down. But small though this town is, it can’t be totally self-sustaining. There must be people passing through from time to time. They must get postal deliveries. Someone, somewhere, must be wondering why their friend or relative’s phone line is constantly dead. Surely the authorities will pay a visit eventually – and surely the press will soon follow?

Will hearing French people say "LE LAKE PUB” ever stop being funny?

Probably not. 526 occurrences and counting*, and there’s no sign of it getting old yet.

Ian Berriman

* Rough estimate.

Read all our The Returned series 1 reviews .
Read our The Returned DVD review (that's the original film which the series was based on).

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.