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The Returned: Etienne

"Are you trying to scare me?"

You guys, 'Etienne' was my favorite episode of this series, so far. I thought it was just brilliant, end to end. Let me count the ways...

The tension was at a pitch, the emotional content at an all time high and, well, the story has just unfolded so beautifully this season with all of the little peaks and valleys along the way, that 'Etienne' was able to lay out one great scene after another. As soon as the episode opened on the ominous death circle, I knew we were in for a ride. There is little out there, in existence, more creepy and horrific than a suicide cult that plans to take out the children, too. The gendarmes knocking down the door where all of the kids were huddled was so very chilling.

Tiny Toni, Serge and Simon – ahhh!
When, in fact, the whole idea of this cult is just so batshit crazy – to handle grief, as a community, that way, it's hard to understand on any level. Luckily, it seems that going forward everyone, from the army to Victor, is in agreement that Milan is insane. I had a thought in that fateful scene with him and Victor. Milan could have and would have picked anything that aligned with his 'belief system' to justify his appetites, proclivities, whathaveyou. He's just that kind of person. And though much of the story has revolved around Victor and his awful (recurring!) dreams, Milan has taken quite a bit of people's fates into his own hands.

Did anyone else's heart break when Virgil pleaded for Camille to come with him? It's not just young love. Without her, he might turn into a numb wanderer, like the revs surrounding him. But, ultimately, I am rooting for the Ségurets and never want them apart again and so is Fabrice Gobert, so Camille didn't really have a choice. I felt strong pangs for families to stay together in 'Etienne' all over the place. Especially after the impact of those first destabilizing scenes. Berg and his dad were heartbreaking to watch because they mimicked an adult child with an older parent whose mind had been given over to dementia or worse. Even Simon, whose motives and means have been questioned from day one, still seems to have a rightful place beside Adéle, Chloé and Nathan.

It's clear now that there is no place for the returned. There are exceptions but this is the rule. And all of the complex human emotions that make that real are at play. People are grappling with guilt and shame, disbelief and lack of imagination in various degrees. It is only those rare few, with unconditional and abiding love for their deceased, that can begin to think about a future incorporating their loved one again. I even sympathized with Lucy this week who seemed as scattered and scared as the group she was trying to lead. The helicopter flying above and causing the revs to scamper in the forest was pretty indelible.

As the season has played out, of the two kinds of people who can actually conceptualize the returned, there are those who can accept it and those who must reject it. The irony that those who reject it live at a place called the Helping Hand is not lost! And that it's run by someone who doesn't have room to lay over his overwhelming amount of guilt, this particular truth. Pierre's story has so many layers to it and they've only been told to us indirectly which, in some ways, is even more intriguing.

Thank god, this is someone who is coming around to accepting the reality, that here, the dead live again.

I love everything about this character and the actor playing him.
Little pieces of dread and intrigue: Nathan's wound (awwww), Etienne has no memories, some of the returned will end up in the caves. And big ones: the army staff's faces when the gendarme lost his mind and held them at gunpoint, Claire grabs a gun, "I knew I'd see you again...", and this:


Tiny Berg.

Jérôme casually steps in between the military personnel and Camille when they arrive at the station house.

Everything about Julie when she doesn't want to give up the truth.

"A mother can feel it."

Julie's dream about Ophélie.

"I don't know – all of the sudden she got up."

The looks on their faces – amazing.

Please let this come true.

Sundance played Firestarter before airing The Returned this week. Ha!


Frédéric: "You think they can drive us to suicide?"

Julie: "I don't know anything."


  1. It's funny how my feelings about some of the characters have changed over this second season. I was initially skeezed out by Camille and Simon, the two Returned we've known the longest, but now I want them to stay with their families. And of course, I want Victor to find Julie in time to save her from Milan. Good freaking lord, Milan is so freaking creepy, and I'm starting to get why.

  2. Billie,
    You mention something here that is a subtle part of The Returned experience. And also something that's unusual for TV shows, in general, I think. That you feel one way towards a character at one point and then that changes. Then can change again! I think this kind of writing gives the audience a lot of autonomy. That's so French. :)


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