The Returned: ‘Julie’ – Series 1, episode 3

Samuel Breen

The Returned 00141 300x199 The Returned: ‘Julie’ – Series 1, episode 3

(Channel 4)

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen series 1, episode 3 of ‘The Returned’

The idea that revenants return to bother the living has become fully realised in this latest episode, with many of the human characters now traumatised. Well, not Pierre, but I’ll get to that. As each episode develops the shadow line between one world and the next is increasingly blurred as the psychological frailties resurface.

By now we know what links Julie’s stomach to the incident with the barmaid, something more assiduous viewers will have recognised last week. That Serge has returned to continue his brutal campaign feeding on others. Fortunately Julie has acquired a protector in Victor, who manipulates Serge and sacrifices neighbour Mme Payet in order to save her.

As with every supernatural moment to date the incident is muddled by the fragile psyche of the subject. In this case Julie was amidst a sequence of emotional stress, fleeing the funeral of Mr. Costa while trying to hold back her emotions. Heading home she catches Serge’s profile and panic onsets, so too does doubt. For Julie, how she will deal with her attacker’s return will be caught up in her apprehensive maternalism for Victor.

However the young boy makes for a macabre hero. When Serge attacks, Victor’s heroic performance sees a lonely women sacrificed, with her guts mangled and fed upon. If anything the set up to this was a little one dimensional. Mme Payet may not have many redeeming features, she spies on her neighbours, she is competitive, and she has a profound love for gruesome gossip and drama, but she is a person. Instantly unlikeable her character is ruthlessly disposed of, with myself applauding the attack. It’s a nice piece of catharsis but I can’t help but feel the tone lacked the sophistication the show commands.

Elsewhere Camille, who fought a heartbreaking battle to understand her nature has concocted a lie. She is now a cousin and niece, not a sister nor daughter; satisfied she has found some permanence even if it is no closer to addressing the real problem of who she is.

In order to deal with the problem Jérôme brilliantly suggests that the family should move, extending the idea that he reacts to a crisis by fleeing. He fled the home after the accident, and now he’s back he wants everyone to bougez with him. A long term smoker and hairbrush dodger, he wears a tired expression as if he can’t be bothered to confront his problems. In these characteristics I’m lead to think that he is playing the auguste clown, ostensibly tragic but secretly manipulative. It’s touching when Camille questions her father and he answers with sweet sincerity.

Comparatively, Pierre is interesting but hard to pin down. It’s unclear as to whether he’s a community or spiritual leader, a councillor, scientist or other. Or even whether he’s a local; my suspicion is that he’s not. Indeed his part in the drama is just as uncertain as his professional role, which I believe to be intentional, to make him as intangible as any of the revenants and to add to the show’s tone. What can be said is that in his wry smile, his superiority and his arrogance there’s something of the clown blanc about him, in contrast with love rival Jérôme’s auguste. That Pierre’s haughty aspirations will fall short while Jérôme will be the hero as unlikely as it seems.

Something happened between the twins before the accident – this is speculative territory and I invite any ideas you have on this – in that their dialogue doesn’t fit with what we know. Indeed the dialogue doesn’t fit in both codes, with the nuanced conversations throwing up a few transpositional challenges. Or at least the translator has been a little creative.

It’s my understanding that unbeknownst to Camille, Léna was skipping school to be with Frederic, whom Camille thought she had exclusivity to pursue. It’s not until the roll call on the bus that Camille realises her twin’s betrayal, which explains why she flips out. There’s also the mystery of Léna’s scar which I couldn’t even begin to guess what’s going on.

Another theory I’m brewing is that Victor is related to Mr Costa, with his wife named Viviane, and the escaped butterfly in his home Victorius Stelenes. The theory would explain why Victor has taken Julie under his protection, seeming that she was dutiful to Michel’s needs, but it’s inconclusive.

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  • zumbruk

    Is it not the case that the revenants do not return to “bother” the living, but only return to those who are screwed up in some way?

  • bigbadloup

    It’s one thing trying to be smart when writing foreign names, it’s something else when you get them wrong. Léna takes an acute accent, not a grave.

  • Glitterswirl

    My impression from last night’s episode was.. there had been a promise
    between the twins before the coach crash, as they both ‘liked’ Frederic,
    that neither would pursue him. Lena had broken their agreement while
    her sister was on the fatal school trip. Perhaps Camille’s crash wounds
    are somehow manifesting on Lena..hence the growing scar.

  • greggf

    This series was hyped up initially but has now got rather daft.
    For example; Adèle thinks Simon is a figment of her imagination – why doesn’t she touch him ….?
    And Camille seems to be getting older….
    And that grinning boy in Julie’s bathroom…..

  • WhistlingNeil

    I do believe you have it. The emptying dam seems a bit of a giveaway.

  • HeathB

    The dam seems to be some kind of ‘clock’ maybe…like a sand dial. I felt like the 3rd episode lost me a bit but its still quite a beautifully shot show. Hopefully when things start to pull together a little more it will really grab me. Just hope it doesn’t have an end game like ‘LOST’…what a horror.

  • samuelbreen

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the comment, and thanks for going back and checking. Your confusion is exactly what I was referring to in the article about the translator being creative. There’s less tolerance in the French for the possibility for a swap, however the English subtitles appear to accomodate such a theory.

    Again, I don’t think there has been an agreement as in the French, and I’m sorry I’m falling back on this, their conversation in this episode has Camille telling Léna that she “exhausted” her opportunity. So I don’t think they entered a pact of chastity. But I’m not confident.

    I think the idea of parallelism that was entertained on the coach was a piece of black humour on the phrase ‘la petite mort’ so I did away with the idea that they are sensorially linked. But you could well be right.

  • Ray Juss

    I wish Victor was my son.

  • Michele

    Maybe this was inspiration? A dam disaster in France that wiped out two villages. It’s about 250 miles north of where the series is filmed.

  • DisqustedofWB

    Only just seen this episode as I am still two behind. My guess with the twins is they actually swapped places for the day when the accident happened. Time will tell. Really enjoying the series.

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