Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Returned Episode Four Victor Review


For the purposes of clarity, I will be referring to the episode titles in italics

Ah finally the episode we needed if not necessarily the episode we deserved.  In Victor, we get some important backstory to this episode's titular character.  In the flashback beginning this episode, we find out that Victor was shot dead thirty-five years earlier in a burglary gone wrong.  With this revelation, Victor becomes a more empathetic character, yet there is still something seriously off with this kid.  Mrs Payett's body is found by the police and it is revealed that Victor (Swann Namboutin) did not kill her, as I first thought, but rather she killed herself.  Although, I reckon that Victor had something to do with this.  When the police discover Mrs Payett, the police officer and Julie's former lover Laure (Alix Poisson) discovers Victor, and furious that Julie has been hiding him away, takes him to the Helping Hand Shelter. 

However, I think this is where the Returned drops its first clanger.  When Laure takes Victor away, he submits without objection, yet when Mrs Payett threatens to do the same, Victor influences her to kill herself.  Why doesn't he do the same with Laure, who is essentially a stranger taking him away from Julie, who he is so inexplicably drawn to.  Actually thinking about it, learning more about Julie and Victor makes the connection  a lot more logical.  Both characters are completely alone; it is assumed that the rest of Victor's family die off-screen in the burglary.  They are drawn to each other because they have nobody.  Despite how it has taken  four episodes to unpick this, I think it is a sign of the subtle yet powerful writing.  The Returned is multi-layered and complicated.  You have to be patient to understand its many twists and turns.  And boy, the biggest twist comes at Victor's conclusion, where it was none-other than a much younger Pierre who was robbing Victor's house.  Although, it was Pierre's partner who actually shot the young boy.  To Pierre's credit, he did try to protect Victor.

Having said this, I still think Pierre is the villain of the show.  Just like Victor, he is morally ambiguous and he also seems to have an agenda.  We know little about the man, but what we do know is bad.  He manages the Helping Hand Shelter, but what is this shelter exactly? We don't know.  Yet Pierre keeps a watchful eye over all of the residents of Annecy.

Talking of watching, we turn to Thomas, the Captain of the police force, who spends more time watching his fiance Adele and step-daughter Chloe on hidden CCTV cameras rather than doing any actual police work.  Driven by jealousy at the return of Adele's dead fiance Simon, Thomas begins watching them everywhere they go.  This is when he sees the two having sex.  This raises an interesting question.  Can the dead have sex? Surely Simon doesn't have enough blood flowing around his body to adequately perform, but hey, as we already know the Returned isn't one for answering questions.  What this narrative does do is inject a bit of life and conflict into Thomas' character.  Hitherto, he has just been shouting orders and sitting on his arse, but upon seeing these images, he realises that he has to do something.  I think that this was necessary to breathe a bit of energy into a character that was beginning to stagnate. 

Speaking of stagnate narratives I have to say I'm getting a little bored of Camille's teenage rebellions.  With no thought to the rest of her family, Camille fully embraces her fake persona as Lena's cousin Alice, so that she can become closer to Frederic, whom she has always loved.  Although, why this is beyond me, as he is a bit of  brainless dolt.  Yet, whilst this is happening, Lena's scar on her back has grown into something so serious that she is hospitalised.  In the first episode, it is revealed that Lena and Camille are twin sisters and have a special twin connection.  Lena was supposed to be on the coach trip with her sister, but feigned illness so that she can stay behind and sleep with Frederic, despite knowing Camille's attraction to him.  In a wonderful role reversal, just as Camille and Frederic are getting touchy-feely in the Lake Pub, Lena sensing something amiss, leaves the hospital and in a superb piece of acting from Jenna Thiam tries to make Camille admit her true identity.  Camille refuses to and Lena's exasperation with her sister is clear.  It is hard not to feel for the character here.  Jenna Thiam's performance was visceral and powerful.  In this small mountain town, we get the impression that the inhabitants don't really aspire to much and are content to live quiet wonderful lives, so that when people do return from the dead, it is too much for characters like Lena to handle.  After Camille petulantly refuses to reveal her true self, Lena storms off and passes out in the underpass, where who should find her, but none other than Serge.  Considering his reputation with solitary women, this does not look promising for Lena. 

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