Friday, May 6, 2016

TV Review: The Returned Season Two (2015)

The Returned Season Two (2015) created by Fabrice Gobert

See my review of part of season one here. I guess I never reviewed the second half! It's worth watching if you have the stomach for it (there's a lot of sex/nudity and some violence).

After a three-year hiatus, the second season of the French zombie series The Returned has finally come. The intriguing ending of the last season, where some of the unnamed French mountain town is flooded again, is the starting point for this series. The military has moved in to help evacuees and to figure out where the dam is leaking. Thirty-five years earlier, a previous dam burst and flooded the same part of town quite quickly, killing many people. Unfortunately for the local residents, those people have returned from the dead and are in a more zombie-like state than the zombies from last season (who were all pretty normal except for not remembering their deaths and not aging since their deaths). The new zombies don't speak--they just stand around and menace people who are trapped in a mysterious part of the town. They seem to be waiting for something.

Meanwhile, some survivors have been staying at The Helping Hand, a charitable organization run by Pierre, who is desperate enough to find out about the undead people that he is willing to do very questionable things. He's turning the charity into a cult with himself as leader. Other survivors have been staying in a higher part of town, trying to help and/or hide the undead people from the military, the police, and The Helping Hand. One woman, Adele, is pregnant and having nightmares about her unborn child. The dad is Simon, her ex-fiance from ten years ago. He's also one of the dead returned to life, making her a bit crazy about the child. Simon wants the baby; Pierre wants the baby; those dam undead also want to do something with the baby.

The show is intriguing and follows the Lost pattern of having episodes focus on one person in particular while both answering some questions and generating new questions. Happily, toward the end new questions stop coming, though enough was unanswered by the start of the final episode that I thought they would not be able to wrap up everything with this season. They did tie off most of the loose ends and provide an ending (which is good, because some of the child actors would be way too old in another three years!). I wasn't as satisfied as I'd like to be with the ending. The actors are all good and the show keeps a good, creepy atmosphere. The music works well to enhance the mood.

Parental warning: The first series was surprising to me in the amount of sexual content and nudity, of which there is almost none in this series. The show still has some violence and gore, though not the usual stuff in zombie shows (only once do viewers see one person eating another; there are some human and animal corpses that have been eaten but the depictions aren't too graphic). I'd recommend this for teens and up (though it would be tough to watch without seeing the first series, which I would recommend for adults only).

The series is currently (May 2016) available for streaming on Netflix. I'm sure it will come out on DVD sooner or later. I plan to watch the American version of the show, so maybe there will be a dual/duel review in the future.

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