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The Returned ‘Victor’ – Series 1, Episode 4

Samuel Breen

The Returned 00029 300x199 The Returned Victor – Series 1, Episode 4We’ve reached the midpoint in the series and equally we’ve reached a moral midpoint in many of the characters. As fantasy casts a mist over the town’s geography, our perception of the protagonists is torn by their behaviour. Meanwhile Julie, Claire and Adèle, the last of the likeable characters, are all engulfed in suffering, with the insensitivity of their confidants creating isolation.

Over Adèle’s shoulder is her current fiancé Thomas. Initially portrayed as a kind protector in this latest episode the relationship is revealed to be much more complex. He has installed close circuit television cameras to monitor Adèle and her child. And when found out he finds himself distanced from Adèle.

Perhaps mindful of his false claim to fatherhood he is vindictive towards Simon, castigating the revenant as a murderer. Indeed, I’m beginning to think that his paternalism has been bolstered by emotional blackmail, that he manipulated the vulnerable Adèle to accommodate his own ego. With such sinister undertones, I found respite when the daughter asks Thomas if he is going to die.

Over Adèle’s other shoulder, literally in this case, is Simon, hiding away in the attic. Fallen from his status of libertine lover he now invokes a brute when embracing Adèle, and a fauve when devouring a leg of chicken. Over his forest-at-night eyebrows a darkness has descended. News that it was suicide that took him from Adèle extends the idea that she is emotionally isolated by the actions of her lovers.

Julie was deserted by Laure. Her brief relationship with the police officer was over following the attack, with Laure not even attempting to offer comfort, nor even get in contact. While the repentant ex-girlfriend visits to investigate the death of Mme Payet, Julie perceives the concern to be less than sincere, and more driven by guilt. I can’t help but feel that loneliness will prevail, and Julie will let Laure back into her life. For she is deeply troubled, now recognising an evil in Victor, an evil she is familiar with.

In turn Julie has become my favourite character, with the love she showed for Victor returned by his protection, and the moment he becomes a threat, her former lover escorts him away. It’s sweet to maintain that through kindness, Julie herself is protected. OK, it’s mushy, but I’m enjoying the indulgence all the same.

There’s a lot of ambiguity at work in the Séguret household. Léna who has reacted badly to her twin’s return is now locked in a personal battle with Camille. Emotionally tortured and with her skin erupting along her spine, her loveless affection for her sister has developed into a volatile hatred. Completely believable, their relationship is a fine portrayal of sibling rivalry with Léna ultimately sheltering Camille amidst a spat before Frédéric.

“I’m doing it for Camille, I don’t know about the rest,” Claire tells Jérôme unconvincingly, when agreeing to leaving town. However news of Jérôme’s violence towards Léna puts paid to any plan and ends his reunion with Claire. That said, with Pierre now revealed as the conscientious intruder to Victor’s home and accomplice to the boy’s murder, it’s doubtful that the smirking social worker will be around much longer to comfort Claire. Equally Jérôme is the source of humour again, this time with Lucy Clarsen the clairvoyant romper.

There is a niggling surrealism taking place at the dam, that the workers are handling a crisis with the angst of watercolourists admiring the scenery. So unmoved are they by the threat of a major crisis, the show takes on an inexplicable, dreamlike tone. Incapable of finding the source of the drain they shrug their shoulders in truncated, disinterested dialogues. Maybe the power station will blow up, maybe it won’t. Ba! Working on the basis that none of these supervisors have penchants for tragedy or hobbies in impressionism, their reticence to act could be a signpost for the wider narrative. Although I’m finding it pretty frustrating right now.

A show that strives to paint the revenants in the most real light has decided to stray from their original plan. As Emmanuel Carrère argues in Le Monde, ‘L’idée était de traiter une situation irréaliste de manière réaliste,’ - the idea is to treat an unreal event in a realistic manner. Perhaps this is surrealism. We are shown the limits of dreamland, where the constructed narrative becomes incomplete. As director Fabrice de la Patellière argues in the same article, ‘C’est une série d’un nouveau genre,’ - it’s a new type of series, so maybe such genre mixing is what he’s referring to, or maybe this is a generous critique of clunky writing and underdeveloped characters.

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  • Emily Thorne

    “Ba!”?
    “conscientious intruder”?
    “clairvoyant romper”?
    wtf?
    Pierre, as far as i understand is a Psychologist/psychiatrist, not a
    “Smirking social worker”
    is he not?
    Well, apart from being, apparently, a Twin Peaks style type spirit/devil? possibly Lucifer?

  • helenwheeler

    I recently had the occasion to view the final of this series in France and as a protest to the lack of good british tv broadcasts and Wimbledon in the country I decided I would crown this series with the ultimate spoiler……..

    as it turned out Darth Vador was Luke Skywalkers father.

  • samuelbreen

    Emily, you’re always so critical!

    “Ba!” is a French expression, one that may accompany a shrug.

    ‘Conscientious intruder’ because he behaved conscientiously when he broke into Victor’s home. You could be right about him being a psychologist/psychiatrist, but by the look of things he’s managing a welfare centre at least. And he smirks, what’s wrong with that!

    “Clairvoyant romper” because she speaks to the dead while in flagranti.

    Sending love

    Sam

  • Emily Thorne

    Gosh, Samuel Breen, i am deeply honoured!
    thank you so much for the explanations, they make more sense now. Perhaps i will stop being so critical. It is not always meant in a critical way-often i am just questioning humorously. Well that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it..

    Actually i do enjoy your writing, i think you could let rip even more and indulge your liking of alliteration and obscure & esoteric words, which i share too:)

    Nb. I really thought Pierre was meant to be a ghost type apparition in that rather terrifying bathroom scene?

    I am definitely now thinking of Pierre as a ‘Bob’ type figure (a’ la Twin peaks). Particularly as i swear his eyes fully dilated from brown to black as in i am a demon type of guy?

  • Normandie

    “…their reticence to act could be a signpost for the wider narrative….”
    or is more likely is just representative of a cultural reluctance to assume
    responsibility and make decisions.

  • samuelbreen

    I like the theory that he’s a demon. You’ve got me thinking that there’s something of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer about him. Not that he’s Geller, more I can imagine Pierre turning up in the show.

  • Emily Thorne

    Ha ha:) yes, that is a good way of de-demonising Pierre for me, your suggestion!


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