The Returned Series 1 (Channel 4) Review “Serge & Toni”


Five whole weeks after we entered into the weird and wonderful world of The Returned, we’ve finally seen our first flesh-eating zombie attack. Strangely, especially in a show about the dead returning, the attack isn’t actually carried out by a member of the undead – but by Serge before he was knocked out and buried alive by his brother, Toni.

It’s a striking and unnerving scene to begin with, watching Serge not only attack and attempt to cannibalise a person, but a character we’ve come to know over the course of the series – Julie. It was Toni who managed to stop Serge from going through the entire ritual that time, and he who also took Julie to the hospital that night. After taking him back to the cabin they now share, Toni buried his brother alive while their mother listened on – not as an extreme a reaction when you consider what he was sparing the world from. The trouble is, now Serge knows how he died, and he’s not too happy.

The big cliffhanger from last week was whether the fate would befall Lena, but it looks as though Serge has been fighting against his murderous urges so far. She’s surprisingly ok with being kept in a strange, remote cabin with two strange men, but for now it looks as though she’s safe. Her family don’t know this, however, and Camille uses her sister’s absence to sneak into Frederic’s affections. That poor boy, who this week uncovers Camille’s identity once and for all, must be very confused, only narrowly escaping a sexual encounter with a dead girl he once loved.

Aside from their interactions with the living, this week the returnees start to talk to each other. It’s been a long time coming and, through the pairing of Camille and Simon and Mrs Costa and Victor, the characters are able to clarify a few things for themselves and for the audience. They’re always hungry, they can’t die, none of them can remember the moments leading up to their death and Victor at least can manipulate electricity and perception. A couple of weeks ago Julie mistook him for Serge, and here Pierre sees his accomplice reappear before him and Victor.

After weeks of hearing about the water lowering, we finally get a glimpse of what else might be going on at the dam. As they try to investigate what might be causing the water levels to change so dramatically, over thirty dead animals are found – the autopsy later revealing that they drowned running away from something pretty scary. If that wasn’t enough, we also learn of an Atlantis-style underwater civilisation, buried beneath the water years earlier when the dam broke. That explains the church steeple some people spotted, then, but not why the town might now be rising to the surface.

The mortality of two victims from the underpass, Julie and Lucy, are put into question, as we see the latter heal and awaken in her hospital bed. Julie, finally learning from Mrs Costa what Victor truly is, questions whether she is really alive or one of the returnees herself, and gets close to jumping out of the same window Victor did weeks ago before her concerned ex-girlfriend arrived to save the day. We might never learn the truth about Julie, but the ‘miracle’ of Lucy’s survival almost confirms that, without the phenomenon of the dead rising, she would almost certainly have been killed.

Some what makes these select few the special ones? Why would Serge be resurrected without his and Toni’s mother, or Victor without his parents and brother? Will Simon survive his violent encounter with Thomas, and how will he deal with the outright rejection from Chloe and Adele if he does? There are three weeks left to discover the answers, and I’d wager they won’t be as clear-cut as some of us are thinking.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.