TV Recap: The Returned, ‘Camille’ (Series Premiere)

Written by Aaron Sarnecky

the-returned-poster

THE RETURNED, ‘CAMILLE’ PLOT SUMMARY:

Based on the French series, Les Revenants. Four years after a fatal bus crash claimed her life, Camille Winship (India Ennenga) returns home to her parents, Claire (Tandi Wright) and Jack (Mark Pellegrino). Camille is not the alone, as other people long dead return as well. Meanwhile, Julie Han (Sandrine Holt) takes in a mysterious boy named Victor (Dylan Kingwell).

I seem to be reviewing a lot of adaptations of international shows. And in each case, I have not seen the original version. Not that it’s necessary to enjoy the adaptation. Seeing the original can actually make you like the adaptation less. And this adaptation does have big shoes to fill, since the French series has received critical acclaim. It even won an International Emmy for Best Drama.

Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer
Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer

Despite my unfamiliarity with the original, I’m willing to bet that the American version is missing the mark so far (which pains me to say as a Carlton Cuse fan). Not because I found all that much wrong with the show, but because nothing really stood out. The episode unfolds, for the most part, how you’d think it would. People come back, and their families can’t believe it. Well, since the episode is called “Camille,” it focuses mostly on that character and her parents.

It’s just very calm, largely because Camille doesn’t even remember the bus crash or dying. And because of that, her family initially tries to keep the truth from her until they can find out how to break it to her. Though, as of now, no one knows that she was actually dead, rather than just missing. It’s all very understandable, but it’s not that interesting after a few minutes, at least to me.

It would have been more interesting if her mom thought she was losing her mind. That would also make sense, given that her daughter had been missing for so long. It seems that another character, Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), might be in this state of mind, but it’s too vague to know right now. I would have liked to see Claire experiment with her sanity more, like by making physical contact with Camille.

Camille’s father, Jack, is a little more interesting. Even though he’s wanted Camille to return for years now, his life is very different than it was before the bus crush. He doesn’t know if he should be happy or upset. It’s one of the more nuanced elements to the premiere.

Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer
Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer

Still, the way in which this all comes together feels off, like the characters should have been fleshed out more before the dead came back to life. I say this because the premiere begins with the bus crash and then immediately flashes forward to the present. We aren’t given the time to see how the families dealt with their loved ones’ death. It’s instead revealed as the dead return.

It could have showed us the aftermath of the crash in the first episode and revealed Camille’s return at the end. Then the second episode could have dealt with her family’s reactions to her resurrection. It could have been done as a two-episode premiere, because A&E replayed the first episode immediately after it ended. So that time slot would have been free.

That, or they could have just waited to show a flashback of the bus crush at the end of episode. That might have been easier and made more sense, considering it seems that people who died in other ways are also coming back.

The premiere did finish on a fairly strong note, as there’s a twist at the very end that suggests things are not as straightforward as they seem. But that just really highlights the problem with the episode. For a show with supernatural elements, you’d expect more supernatural twists and turns in the premiere. But instead it’s just very slow. Perhaps it’s saving those twists for later.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this premise can’t support a full show. Maybe it’s just because the premise in general doesn’t really grab me. My advice is to check out this show if you’re interested, and decide for yourself whether you’re up for the long haul. But if you’re not interested, I wouldn’t bother.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (Average)

THE RETURNED AIRS MONDAYS AT 10PM ON A&E


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