The Returned – The Horde, series 1, episode 8
As the show has progressed the revenants have been eclipsed by their relations. Once full characters unravelling the plot, commanding the tone, balancing the humane elements with the supernatural, their stories have gone flat.
A dance of coming together, only to be separated. It’s a fine concept, it just loses its momentum. No matter how Serge returns, the role he is meant to play as a guardian angel or cannibal, he has lost my interest. He is too ill-defined for his actions to warrant explanation. They enjoy an electric first act where they are reunited. We are shown the turmoil of their return, but that’s it. From Mme. Costa to Victor, the characters are too opaque to be taken anywhere. With the show preoccupied by their uncertainties rather than their development, they are written out. They walk off camera as mutes.
Where the revenants come good, and the real highlight of this show, is in the grounding of the supernatural. Something that is maintained to the last. In Victor’s eyes Julie is a fairy. His vision of her not born out of dark phenomena, but rather a mother’s tale to help him sleep. While we are away wondering how the stock character of a fairy appears in Julie, the show waits to deliver the punch line. It’s this core, contemporary approach that has made the series a pleasure to watch. Although the show will have to break out of this cyclical action if it is to regain interest in these characters. They need not be healed further, they need to be grow.
For all his flapping about, his insular behaviour and his panic when holding a firearm – shooting the Armitage Shanks connoisseur – Thomas is calm to a point. Sacrificing himself and his fellow officers in order to protect Adèle, a woman already dead. It should be a proud moment for the sapeur pompier: fulfilling his duty, playing the protector, the role he fetishises. Unfortunately, it is a selfish act of deep hypocrisy. No one likes self elected authority, and when he parades as Napoléon to negotiate the trade, I relish his demise.
It is cruel on the viewer that Thomas could be viewed a war hero by the townspeople. However Samir Guesmi has offered a controlled performance throughout, and carries the weight of the narrative well, so I don’t mind suffering the injustice. Such a crazy action, engaging in an unwinnable battle, is plausible because of the character construction. Equally, I’m glad he’s dead.
Pierre continues to beguile. He has been an unnerving presence throughout the series. It has been obvious that his menace would be undone by his arrogance. Usually in this scenario we’d get the laugh, the clown blanc falling short in his imperious command. But with Pierre, we are deprived of such laughter. Instead he turns to Claire with a glistening eye, revealing a tenderness in him. It seems that despite his collection of firearms, he is overcome with a humanity. This was not meant to happen.
The simple solution is that he is the devil. That his master plan was for the townspeople to confront death, and his tear was one of joy. He has convinced them that he is their watchman, perceived to have saved them from the flood. He hasn’t. Instead he is found toying with life, bringing Jérôme and Claire together, only to separate them. Claire leaves with Camille, while Jérôme is stuck in town – something he is adversed to.
Pierre’s flair for sinister subordination is complimented by Jérôme’s incapacity for self control. He started the series as a dishevelled drunk, so it’ll be interesting to see where they take the character when the show returns. Being the august clown, Jérôme is loaded with great lines, and from a writer’s perspective is probably what ultimately saved him from the mob. This week he tells Pierre, “I always thought you were out of your mind.” The two are a great double act. But now Claire is gone, what will they have to fight over? Hopefully Jérôme will take Pierre to task next series, in an attempt to piece together his shattered life.
Pinter has been mentioned in previous posts, and comparisons between Pierre and Mephistopheles surfaced last week. However to bring together these two elements, and find the similarities between Pierre and Mr. Goldberg in The Birthday Party. In that there’s a sinister spine to both of the characters. And surrounding him is a knowing silence, his lines loaded with subtext. Proof that no matter how many gothic characters a show can involve, none will be more interesting than the devil.Tagged in: The Returned
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