These resurrected, reanimated, or whatever you want to call these characters are all memorable and unsettling. They have no memories of dying and no idea why or how they came back. “You’re not a zombie,” Peter (Jeremy Sisto), head of a grief counseling group, reassures Camille, “You’re a miracle.” But Camille doesn’t want to be a miracle. She wants to have a normal life, but that’s impossible because everyone thinks she’s dead; her parents can’t exactly bring her out in public, she can’t reconnect with any of her friends, and her own sister is afraid of her. Camille has been gone for four years but is still 16 years old and unchanged, while everything else around her is different — and therein lies the really interesting thing about The Returned: It’s not so much about the returned as it is about those who stayed.
Camille comes back to a different family: separated parents, each with new sort-of partners in their lives, and a twin sister who is suddenly four years older than Camille and who is still reeling from guilt (she stayed home from the trip in order to hook up with the boy that Camille also had a crush on) and drinking too much. She can’t relate to them, and they all — understandably — can’t stop staring at her in a way that makes her deeply uncomfortable. Simon has returned to a daughter who was born after his death, and to learn that Rowan is getting married to someone else, a sheriff who is trying to figure out what the hell is going on while also trying to ensure that Rowan doesn’t go back to Simon.
The Returned isn’t light, fun fare; it’s a series that asks some darker, more existential questions — and that isn’t too keen on easily or neatly providing answers to the audience. It’s a combination mystery/horror drama that really commits to those genres, and it works far better than Cuse’s other post-Lost endeavors. Perhaps it’s because he had such a great template to work from — praise for the original is almost unanimous — but now it’s up to him to capture the atmosphere of Les Revenants while also finding a way to make it more than just a near shot-for-shot remake. If he succeeds (and so far, it’s promising), we’ll get a brilliantly eerie series that’ll stay with viewers for a long time.