Moody French zombie drama The Returned, uhh, returns tonight, a whole two years after it was last on Channel 4.
If all you remember from the last series is a creepy/bemusing/intruiging/infuriating cliffhanger, you might need a little primer before series two.
What’s going on?
In a small French Alpine town, lost loved ones have been coming back to life, looking exactly the same as the day they died. They have no memory of what happened to them, but these ‘Returned’ are not guaranteed a happy welcome.
Families and loved ones have tried to piece their lives back together after their loss – now these dead people have walked back into their lives as if nothing had happened. But everything has changed.
Why is this happening?
Not exactly sure right now, but it seems connected to the rapidly draining dam in the lake near town. By the final episode, the whole area is underwater, flooded by an unseen accident. Series two begins with military men and engineers trying to repair the damage.
Who are the dead?
There’s Camille, a twin sister killed in a bus crash four years ago. She and her (living) sister Léna share a peculiarly close bond, but death, unsurprisingly, has taken its toll.
Oh, and when Camille’s coffin was opened by her terrified friends, all they found was water. See? Dam fine problem.
Also making a not-so-happy return to life is Simon, who was due to marry his sweetheart Adèle until he mysteriously committed suicide (or did he?) on his wedding night. He comes back, makes love to his living lost love, and she falls pregnant. In series two, Adèle is trying to come to terms with the fact that she is carrying the child of a dead man.
We have Serge, the cannibalistic murderer whose killing spree was eventually stopped by his brother Toni. Toni himself was shot himself and was revived by the end of the series one – deadly brothers in arms.
Madame Costa, the mysterious doom-laden woman who suggests the dead are coming back, not for love, but for “revenge”.
Lucy, an apparent victim of Serge who rises to become de facto leader of the Returned, and demands in the series one final reckoning that the dead sheltering with the living return to her ranks.
And Victor, the boy with the face of an angel and the powers of a devil, able to make people “see” their own or someone else’s death. Is he an innocent soul scarred by his ordeal? Or does something truly nasty lurk behind those half-benign, half-baleful eyes?
Where did we leave them?
For anyone wanting to escape the living nightmare of this weird town, there is no way out. All roads lead back to town – literally.
The living congregate, terrified, at the hilltop Helping Hand community centre, before Lucy leads a horde of Returned to their door. Madame Costa, Victor and Camille are handed over to them, but their living protectors – nurse Julie and mother Claire – insist they go with them.
The dead call for one more character to join them: pregnant Adèle. Her current partner, head of police Thomas, refuses, leading to the inevitable showdown between police and dead. In the morning, the dead have disappeared (along with the coppers), leaving the hideaways in the Helping Hand – and us – staring dumbfounded at the flooded town below.
Will we get any answers?
Were you frustrated by the climax? Have we delved dangerously into Lost territory with all these unanswered questions? Writer/director Fabrice Gobert insists not.
Series two begins six months after that dark night, with the military patrolling the town and engineers striving to fix the dam. Only the survivors in the Helping Hand know the full story.
Adèle is heavily pregnant with the unborn child of a dead man, and in the meantime, more dead are returning.
“This time we were more careful not to disappoint people,” Gobert told The Guardian. “I’m not a huge fan of Lost: there were too many mysteries and after two series I was a bit tired.
“I realised how important it was to deal with the promises you make. I hope that seeing characters we love ask themselves these questions is as interesting as having the answers. It’s still the same approach and the same question: can the living live with the dead?”