Friday, 8 January 2016

The Returned Episode 3 Julie


For the purposes of clarity, I will be referring to the episode's title: 'Julie' in italics.

Three episodes in and I'm finally glad to see an episode focusing on my favourite character Julie.  I think Julie is one of the most interesting characters on the show and I'm glad that we were able to find out more about her.  Julie also answered the question raised in last episode's cliffhanger: what are those scars on Julie's stomach?

Just like the previous two episodes, this one starts explosively.  Opening on a flashback of seven years ago, we see a woman later, revealed to be Julie walking home, one night from a fancy-dress party.  She leaves behind her girlfriend Laure, a police-officer, who desperately wants her to stay.  In the underpass, Julie is attacked by a man, who is later revealed to be Serge, and stabbed multiple times.  Whilst Julie survives the attack, she isn't one of the Returned, she is still severely affected by it.  In the present, when Laure goes to question Julie about Lucy Clarsen who was attacked in similar circumstances, it is revealed that Julie's attack drove the pair apart and they have barely spoken in seven years.  I, for one, loved this tragic backstory that they gave Julie.  I think it speaks volumes for why Julie is so lonely and closed-off now.  It is a very sympathetic portrayl of the character and it's made me like Julie even more.  I think that it's great character development and it explains why she and Victor are so inexplicably drawn together.

Whilst Victor is creepy at the best of times, this is taken to new heights in this episode, as it comes to light that something is not quite right about this kid.  At the beginning of Julie, we know next to nothing about Victor, not even his real name, but at the end, we realise that he has some type of supernatural powers.  What are these powers exactly? Why are they there? Where did they come from? Of course, this isn't explained.  However, we do find out that he has the power to make people see certain things.  Julie hallucinates Serge attempting to attack her in the lobby of her apartment, but it is revealed that Victor is making her see this.  Although, why or how he does this is left unclear.  However, what really makes Victor creepy is what happens between him and Julie's nosey neighbour, Mrs Payett.  After Julie is visited by Laure, Mrs Payett immediately questions her about why a police officer came to see her and accuses Julie of illegally adopting an immigrant or refugee.  Julie quite rightly tells her to va te faire foutre (excuse my French) and then leaves Victor alone to run some errands.  Victor goes to visit Mrs Payett and the next we see of the town gossip, she is lying dead with multiple stab wounds with her many cats licking up her blood.  Personally, I love how she is portrayed as a crazy cat lady.  Nobody likes a gossip and I'm relieved that Mrs Payett is out of the picture.  I'm much more interested in how eerily Mrs Payett's death resembles some of Victor's unsettling drawings.  Did Victor have something to do with her death? Did he kill her himself? We know that something is off with this kid, so it could be possible.  Whilst Victor still gives me the creeps, I do love his and Julie's relationship.  In a wonderful moment paralleling Victor taking Julie's hand in the first episode, after Julie hallucinations of Serge attacking her, she says her head in Victor's lap and he tentatively strokes her hair.  This is a beautiful, but subtle moment and for me, one of the best in the episode.

Victor is not the only creepy character in this episode.  In a relatively new developing subplot, Adele's new fiance Thomas, the head of the police force, uses the town's CCTV system to spy on Adele and her growing relationship with her ex-fiance Simon who has come back from the dead.  He is visibly shocked when he sees the two having sex.  Although, in his actions, Thomas is hardly proving himself to be an honourable, up standing officer of the law.  Rather, he seems jealous and insecure of somebody who is effectively dead.  Although, in fairness, it is rare for your fiance's ex-lover to come back from the dead and even rarer for the two to have sex with each other.  However, interestingly, a character who takes an even stronger interest in Simon than Adele or Thomas is the enigmatic, morally ambiguous Pierre.  He views Simon as a lost sheep whom he wants to help return to his flock.  It's only a few episodes in, but I feel that Pierre is being set up as the series' antagonist. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think there is something off about him.  It's just a little unsettling the amount of interest that he holds in Simon or Camille.

Camille and her storyline continues to be annoying in this episode.  I won't go so far to say that I hate her character, which isn't fair, but I don't like her as much as the other characters.  In Julie, Camille continues to be reckless, immature and annoying.  Continually sick of being hidden away from everyone, Camille becomes more adventurous wearing her sister Lena's clothes and asking her mother, Claire, to take her clothes-shopping.  Whilst they're in the shop, the pair run into a family friend who is visibly shocked at seeing Camille.  Although the quick-thinking teenager says that she is Lena's cousin Alice, the family friend remains unconvinced.  After this, Camille, still pretending to be Alice, sneaks to the Lake Pub, where she meets Frederic outside and begins talking with him.  The two, having been friends before Camille's death, get on well and Frederic invites her inside for a drink.  There they run into Lena, who has not been coping well with the return of her dead sister or her father's proposal that the family move out of Annecy, is furious to see Camille there and sends her away before storming off into the bathroom.  Frederic follows her into there and just as the pair make up and about to have some angry sex, Frederic notices a large scar on her back.  This is enough to freak Lena out and she leaves.  As I have said from the start, what this show does well is portraying how people react to loss.  By demonstrating Lena beginning to buckle under the pressure of Camille's return, I think her character and narrative are portrayed very sympathetically.  More so than Camille whose teenage rebellions are beginning to grate on me.  Yes, we get that you're sick of being kept secret and you want to be all grown up, but come on.  How can you be so stupid? You're dead! What will happen if the wrong people find out that you've returned from the dead?

And finally, as it has been the last two episodes, the water in the dam is still dropping.  Yep.  That's it. This subplot receives no development upon this point and thus proves to be the show's weakest narrative and possibly one of the show's only weak points.  This is a shame really, as I have a feeling that this sub-narrative is being set up as the story arc designed to connect all of the characters and their narratives together.  Despite this, I have absolutely zero interest in it.  I hope they expand on it soon.

So, in summary, Victor is creepy, (what is with those hallucinations and did he kill Mrs Payett,) Camille is annoying (is it so difficult to keep a low profile? Come on.  I thought millennials spent all their time on their phones in their bedrooms,) Thomas is insecure and pathetic (come on, jealous of a dead guy.  Really,) Lena is scarred, both physically and emotionally and Julie is still the best character in the show.

Where did Lena's scars come from? Did Victor kill Mrs Payett? Give me your answers in the comments below!

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