The Returned: Simon Recap

Synopsis of 01×02: Camille struggles to find where she belongs in this new life she has woken up to. Rowan tries to find a measure of peace in her grief. Police investigate the mysterious and sudden murder of Lucy McCabe.

Rating: ?????

Six years ago, Simon was the guitarist of an indie band and Rowen was a waitress at the Dog Star tavern, which is evidently owned by Jack Winship. They are in love and happily engaged. The Winships, still a happy nuclear family, also make an appearance in the flashback. Simon taught Lena how to play the drums a little bit – the moment captured forever in a Polaroid.

The flashback cuts to Rowen and Simon being sweet on each other in bed on the morning of their wedding (bad luck!). Rowen then breaks the news to Simon that she’s pregnant, and he’s so incandescently happy that he can’t even speak. But with news of new life and new beginnings, Simon does not show up to their wedding, killed before he could make it to the altar. Rowen faints, and red rose petals flutter to the ground along with her (an odd, mournful choice for a wedding – apparently there’s a superstition that a red rose bouquet for a wedding is bad luck.)

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

But in the present, Rowen is getting ready to marry Tommy, who happens to be the town’s sheriff; they discuss wedding plans at the same church where Rowan was supposed to marry Simon. After Tommy’s called away to investigate the gruesome stabbing of Lucy, she confesses to Pastor Leon Wright (Carl Lumbly) that she thought she was “better, now,” and the “vision” she had of Simon in the last episode felt so painfully real. The priest advises that she should finally accept that she will be happy in her new life with Tommy, and only then will she able to finally let Simon go. Thankfully, Rowan still seems to resist this, though well-meaning, Lifetime concept.

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

Meanwhile, Rowan’s daughter Chloe is horrified to find an eerie black liquid pouring out of the faucet in the church’s women’s bathroom. It’s a somewhat generic potty horror, but this was particularly eerie.

The show seems to be amping up police involvement in town. Dr. Julie Han looks over some missing children’s reports in hopes of finding Victor’s picture. When a police officer steps in to ask what she’s looking for, she lies about driving past an abandoned kid: Victor. When he asks her to confirm that she saw the color of the boy’s eyes (brown) at night from her car, he’s quickly caught her in a lie and brings her into the office to take down her official statement.

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[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

Julie also lies to her neighbor about Victor, calling him her young nephew staying over for a while. This shrill and nosy neighbor also tells her that Goddard, Julie’s patient, committed suicide last night, and the news shakes her.

Back at home Julie asks Victor, who is calmly and quietly eating snacks in that perfectly sinister and impish way of his, why isn’t anyone looking for him, and if he had run away from home. He only reaches up to hug her like a loving little son might embrace his mother, and the lonely Julie seems to give into a lapse of mournful memories, which makes you wonder if she’s lost her own child or if she hasn’t been able to conceive one. But about that hug – Victor executes it a little too perfectly, as if he is putting on a performance that is, coincidentally, well-acted by his very young actor.

In the Winship household, the family is trying to adjust to their new version of reality. Camille tells her now older twin Lena that she knows she died. Lena half-heartedly says that she’s not afraid of her twin returned from the dead; but Camille cryptically says, “I’m afraid of myself.” In bliss, Jack and Claire watch their returned daughter eat her breakfast and live. Lena thinks this is a hoax, and brings up the possibility of identity theft. She storms out of the house, Jack follows, and the two characters act out a very revelatory scene: http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/allergy/ Lena asks if Jack is going to hit her again. Jack has been an abusive alcoholic. Whether or not Claire knows about this history of abuse is another question to be answered.

Lena escapes to her usual haunt at the Dog Star. She finds Simon sexily chomping on a hamburger and asks him why he seems so familiar to her. He does a dine-and-dash to avoid complications. Perhaps, like Camille, Simon is fully aware of the fact that he has died.

When a police officer working on Lucy’s case comes around the tavern to take eye-witness statements, there is a quickly written-off tense and awkward moment between him and Lena … because she has to psychically discover a Polaroid taken of her and Simon on a drum kit from six years ago tacked on the bar’s Wall of Fame. (How do we know it is supernatural guidance? Atmospheric musical cues and a female drummer sound checking on bar’s stage.)

The police implicate the tavern’s manager Tony Darrow (Aaron Douglas) in Lucy’s murder and interrogate him; he’s been accused of the exact same crime before, but was acquitted. Deputy Nikki Banks (Agnes Bruckner) thinks he’s the murderer and the same bastard behind the serial stabbings of several other young women. She goads him on, volleying photographs of the victims’ autopsies, and their wounds look like ritualistic symbols. “It’s impossible,” is all Tony can attest; he’s clearly guarding a secret to this deep mystery.

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

[A&E/Joseph Lederer]

Meanwhile, Camille struggles to find where she belongs in this life after being dead for the past four years. She’s jealous of her sister’s life and relationship with Ben Lowry (Keenan Tracey), the boy they both liked; she even tears apart her room, but Lena, plagued by guilt, doesn’t fight back this time. “Everybody has moved on and forgot about me.” She is clearly uneasy about her mother’s relationship with “Peter the Psychologist,” who is worried Claire will now try and recreate the marriage she had with Jack. But his talks with Camille are definitely more helpful and reassuring than any interaction she’s had with Jack since the start of the season; she jokes to Peter that she’s a zombie. Peter delivers a very touching monologue that Jack should’ve given: “You’re not a zombie. You’re a miracle. I was at your funeral. I saw you in a casket. Yet somehow here you are with a second chance at life.” But Camille doesn’t want to be a miracle.

Rowan encounters Simon at the public library in the show’s most emotional scene yet. He doesn’t speak. Rowan thinks he’s still one of her psychotic delusions, so she speaks her feelings. “I had to find a way to go on living without you. But the truth is I don’t want to. I don’t want to let you go.” This was a redeeming moment for me; it’s a genuine comment on the nature of bereavement. You can never truly let go of someone who has died. The dead spiritually, and in the show’s case physically, stay with you forever. And Rowan is beginning to come to terms with this.

Simon leaves Rowan alone, only to get arrested and interrogated by none other than Sherriff Tommy. The records of Simon Moran state that he died six years ago; and he also has the same name and age as Rowan’s old fiancé. “Identity theft is a serious crime, you know!” Tommy threatens. The alarms don’t go off for Tommy until he finds Simon posed in Rowan’s box of old pictures.

The episode ends with more shocking revelations. When he should be sleeping, Victor stays up to draw a scary crayon picture of the town drowning in a black pool. And as he menacingly colors the page, inserts of loud, treacherous water disturb the scene. And Julie strips down for a shower, revealing violent scars on her stomach; they look exactly like the wound patterns from the serial stabbing murders.

I feel it: this show is beginning to get creepier. Identity theft is mentioned twice in the show; perhaps it’s picking up that the bereaved are brutally forced to confront disassociated versions of their lost ones’ identities. Anyway, enough new age pretense. This was a good episode.