There’s a very thin line between scary and silly, and, with this week’s ep, The Returned not only crosses that particular border but defiantly plants a flag on the other side.
In fairness, this instalment does give us a lot more of the Returnees (both in terms of numbers and screen time) than last week’s, but it turns out that the Dead’s day-to-day activities are less interesting than the Living’s, so spending more time with them just makes things worse.
Especially when there are so many more of them popping up now. FFS. Does nobody stay dead, then? Do they all just come back to complain about the issues that plagued them while they were alive?
Toni frets about Serge. Serge has Daddy issues (of course he does) to go with his cannibal ones. Camille and the other teenagers are teenagers. And Victor/Louis is scared of his Mum. So much of this ep is dead folk wandering around playing out their own version of Zombie Eastenders that it actively annoyed me. I signed up for the spooky stuff, not the soapy stuff, dammit!
No wonder the army are out in force with dogs and flashlights looking for Andrey – sure, they can pretend it’s because they think an “identity thief” on the run requires an entire battalion to track them down, but it’s obviously because, after months of sitting around wondering why the town flooded (at this point, I can’t believe anyone in the audience actually cares), they’re desperate for something to do.
Things do start to pick up about halfway through the ep, and both the Dead surrounding Clare and the final scene could have been genuinely disturbing, but by then I really didn’t care any more. When you’ve spent most of the episode hearing the Dead whining about their problems, the mystique is gone; suddenly their parlour trick of silent staring becomes a lot less effective. And if everybody comes back anyway, what’s a few more bodies in the meantime?