A young man named Simon (Pierre Perrier) dies on the eve of his wedding to Adèle (Clotilde Hesme). He had just found out that she was pregnant with their first child.
Years later, Camille and Simon, along with several other people who died years before, suddenly and inexplicably return to their homes and families in a remote mountain town in the first season of the beautifully eerie French series, The Returned.
The first episodes focus on the characters of Camille and Simon, who are unaware they are dead, as they return to their homes. Both soon discover that everything has changed. In the years since their deaths, Camille’s parents Claire (Anne Consigny) and Jérôme (Frédéric Pierrot) have separated, and her twin sister Léna (Jenna Thiam) is now an adult. Adèle has moved on as well. She is now engaged to a Gendarmerie captain named Thomas (Samir Guesmi), who is helping her raise Simon’s daughter Chloé (Brune Martin).
For Claire, still struggling to come to terms with Camille’s death, the return of her daughter is a miracle; one she hopes will bring her fractured family back together. Jérôme and Léna are a bit more skeptical, but accept Camille’s return for Claire’s sake. Adèle’s feelings about Simon’s return are more complex. Like Claire, Adèle still grieves the loss of Simon, but she has found love and security with Thomas. Adèle is soon faced with a choice that will have an effect on the life she has built with Thomas and Chloé.
While Camille and Simon attempt to reintegrate with their families, several other mysteries unfold. A waitress is attacked in a tunnel and left for dead. Her attack bears all the hallmarks of a serial killer who terrorized the town years ago. A respected teacher burns down his house then jumps to his death from the local dam. A nurse whose brutal attack seven years ago was linked to the serial killer, is followed home by an enigmatic boy whom she decides to call Victor. Then there is the matter of the dam. Water levels in the reservoir unexpectedly drop, wreaking havoc on the town’s water supply. Are these seemingly random events linked to Camille and Simon’s return?
Over the course of eight episodes, the first season of The Returned weaves together several seemingly disparate storylines into a compelling and creepy mystery. I think the key to the show’s success is the setting. On the surface, the town looks quiet and peaceful with its pristine mountains and tranquil lakes; however, the only access to the rest of civilization is a road that goes over the dam. If the residents can’t cross the dam, then they are unable to leave the town. The town’s isolation enhances the tension as the mystery deepens.
The Returned is an adaptation of a 2004 French film called They Came Back. Although both share the same basic premise of the dead returning to their families, the film is a drama with supernatural elements while the series is a supernatural mystery. Fans of The Returned should check out They Came Back if they haven’t already seen the film, but they should not expect the film to have the same characters and storyline. Both are in French with English subtitles.
Check the WRL catalog for The Returned