Resurrection (ABC) Series Premiere 2014 “The Returned” Review

Resurrection (ABC) Episode 1 The Returned (13)

Yesterday, I called Resurrection the best pilot of the season, and having watched the episode three times now, I standby the statement. I found myself captivated by Jacob’s story. Seeing the first episode largely through the eyes of a child who reenters the world to find it irrevocably changed, was the perfect opening for this tale. Only Jacob is willing to verbalize the questions none of the adults will ask: Did I die? Did we all die?

The solemness of the pilot drew me in, the way it lingered on quiet moments. Small gestures like Bellamy comparing the photos of Jacob before tucking him in, or the pan down to Lucille’s trashcan full of crusts kept the story grounded. The adults try to reconcile what they are seeing, while Jacob simply tries to enjoy being home.

Kurtwood Smith’s performance as Henry is what sold me the most. His instant answer to Jacob’s riddle, the way the expression on his face turned from joy to terror and later his reluctance to accept the impossible. Smith, even more so than the terrific Omar Epps, gives a stunning performance loaded with memory and pathos.

There is a part of me that wishes Resurrection could be an isolated story about this family and their journey, but it stretches out into Arcadia and a mystery that goes back three decades. These plot mechanisms, including a second return at the end are necessities for the series to move forward. They give me pause though. As a self-contained story, the pilot sings. It is not flashy, it is meditative and that is a beautiful, rare quality for network television.

My fear is that the series won’t be able to sustain these qualities. The more dead loved ones who show up alive in Arcadia, the more intricate the plot will become. The need for a larger answer, for possible conspiracies and explanations will arise. Jacob’s story is sweeping and mysterious with just the right amount of eeriness weaved into the plot. It touches on the philosophical questions, the whys and the hows, without offering solid answers. The questions are worth contemplating, they beg for it, but I don’t want answers. Resurrection shows us a miracle and then asks us to fill in the blank. Do we believe that it was God? A god? Science? Fate? A cosmic hiccup? Right now, we get to decide. As the series progresses, the writers will.

If I sound nervous going forward, it is because I am. I’m curious too though. I want to see Aunt Barbara come home (or maybe not– there is plenty of emotion to be mined from Fred’s wife never returning, while his nephew does), I want to see the rest of the town wonder what friend, family member or even foe will appear on their doorsteps and I want to watch as Bellamy, from ICE, becomes embedded in this town’s story as an outsider.

Resurrection is bursting with potential. Now what will ABC do with it? I am hesitantly looking forward to finding out.

What did you think of Resurrection‘s pilot? Share your thoughts and theories below.

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