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One of the continual joys of watching The Returned is trying to solve the show’s central mystery: why are people coming back from the dead. Each week offers a small tidbit that might explain where these people came from and why they are here. But it has been incredibly slow going- the slowest of slow burns. And I haven’t minded one bit. While “Virgil” didn’t really offer any concrete answers to the show’s central question, it did drive home two major points. First, the events of 35 years ago are crucial to what is happening in the present day. Second, little Victor is a key part of this mystery.
We know that 35 years ago there was a massive deadly flood that destroyed a large portion of the town (quite similar to the large flood that just destroyed large parts of the town). We know that Milan was some sort of crime boss, controlling the ins and outs of the village. We know that people were terrified of little Victor and blamed him and his drawings for the flood. And we know that all three of these elements are important for understanding what is currently happening. We just don’t have the connective tissue to put it all together just yet. The creator of The Returned, Fabrice Gobert, has promised answers this season, and it looks more and more like he will deliver.
I want to take a few moments to touch on the key elements of the episode. First, Milan is now buried at the bottom of the lake. As we have seen from the animals down there, being stuck in the lake is enough to prevent one from reanimating. I’m not entirely sure what the motivation was for bringing in the character, keeping him violent and mysterious without really explaining why he is that way, and then dispensing with him (at least in the present day). I feel a bit like this was a misstep in the series, although I do still have hope that the show will flesh out Milan in the past to give us a better idea as to why he’s so hell bent on “cleansing” the town of those who rub him the wrong way.
The other major storyline within the episode, at least from a plotting perspective, was the return of Adele’s baby. While I’m glad to see that Simon has stopped drinking the Lucy Kool-Aid, I feel like we’re missing some key links in this story as well. Why are the Returned so focused on remaining separate? Why did Lucy so desperately want the baby? What is Lucy’s end goal? It is clear that the baby means a great deal to her (is it something like Hera and the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica- the child symbolizes that the Returned and the humans can create life?). I’m sure there will be some form of an answer coming down the pipe, I just wish we had a better idea of what the character motivations were in this storyline.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed “Virgil.” The new characters are fitting in well with the established world. Berg, in particular, has been a really interesting addition (Laurent Lucas is excellent in the role). I’m certain he knows far more than he’s letting on, and I’m sure his part in the events of 35 years ago will be revealed soon. The wonderful thing about The Returned is how strong each episode is. Even when we don’t get the answers we are craving, there are still so many wonderful moments to experience, so many strong performances, and a great deal of strong plotting, that the desire for answers fall to the wayside- or at least seems far less important than we first thought it would be.