The Returned Series 1 (Channel 4) Review “The Horde”

I knew it as soon as the episode cut to black – this finale is going to get a lot of people’s backs up. Light on answers and action yet heavy on atmosphere and intrigue, the final episode of The Returned presented us with an ending much like its beginning. Did we really expect a big apocalypse and all of the answers neatly gift wrapped – especially when we know a second season is on its way? We’ll just have to wait to understand, and wonder for now.

In terms of stuff happening, ‘The Horde’ was more packed than it appeared. Laure and Julie caught up with Toni on the same bridge Mr. Costa chose for his suicide in the first episode, but this time prevented him from jumping – he later shoots himself during a Victor-induced hallucination of brother Serge. A strange group of returnees, the titular horde, stalk them on the road and head towards the Helping Hand, where all of the characters reside from around the half-way point. Chloe is taken by her father and Lucy, and Adele is told that she is carrying Simon’s second child.

So, after seven weeks of hiding their returned loved ones away from sight, Camille, Victor and Mrs Costa are all brought into the safe haven of the helping hand. Simon and Lucy, however, are now acting as the series’ main antagonists, taking Chloe as a bargaining chip when they demand the rest of the returnees be handed over to them. What do they want? Can they prevent the gradual decomposition that seems to afflict Camille and Simon? And what is the baby Adele is carrying, if it’s a baby at all? These, and many more besides, are the questions that will plague us until the second series airs in France and the UK in 2014.

The scene in which characters are switching sides is drawn-out and harrowing in a way that could have been completely lost had The Returned opted for a more traditional battle. We’ve gotten to know Camille and Victor, and their connection to characters like Lena and Julie, so to see them separated like this feels suitably cruel. Camille’s family have been split down the middle, with her mother choosing to accompany her to the other side, and Julie ultimately chooses Victor over her reignited relationship with Laure. We don’t know how they’ll fare in the company of the undead, but my guess is it won’t be as straightforward as they think.

Pierre’s message of peace and integration has proven to be codswallop, so season two is likely to be more about the potentially sinister nature of the returned. A flashback reveals that many people arose on the same day as Camille, but they chose to stay together rather than seek out their families – why was this? And why are they so keen to rally behind Lucy, who has only been one of them for a couple of days? Did they kill Thomas and his fellow police officers? I hope we find the answers to these questions in the second series but, until then, we should see the fun in trying to guess.

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

The Returned aired on Channel 4 in the UK.