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The Returned “Camille” 

Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E
Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E

So, as you may or may not know I’m re-watching the French version at the same time I’m watching this. I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I thought it might be fun (and/or interesting) to compare and contrast the two versions – at least for a few episodes or until I get tired of it. But I’ll talk more about that at the very end just in case you’re worried about spoilers, etc. Let’s first discuss the series as if we’re all completely new to it.

Four years ago a bus full of students on a field trip crashed through the barricade and went over the side of a mountain. Everyone on the bus died and it looks like quite a few residents of the town are still trying to work through their grief. Camille, one of the students on the bus, wakes up in the woods with no memory of the crash and goes home. She doesn’t realize how long she’s been gone until she sees her twin sister again.

In the ensuing four years, Camille’s family has definitely changed. Her parents are no longer together. Claire is now living with Peter, a psychologist who helped counsel her through her grief. Jack is having sex with (and giving money to) Lucy, who claims she’s clairvoyant and can speak to Camille while they’re doing it (Ewww). And Lena is a drinker who stays out past her curfew. In other words, they’re all incredibly damaged from Camille’s death. But now that she’s back, what will that change? Will it bring Claire and Jack back together? How will this affect Lena? How will this affect Camille?

Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E
Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E

Meanwhile, the little boy who is at least partially responsible for that bus crash, Victor, has targeted Dr. Han. Maybe “targeted” is too harsh, but he does seek her out and she takes him in. He doesn’t talk much and we’re not quite sure what he wants yet. But we do know he was standing in the road the day Camille’s bus went off the road. Camille, trying desperately to get off the bus – because Camille was psychically connected to her sister and felt some things the first time Lena had sex? – so the driver is distracted. When he spots Victor on the road, he has to swerve to avoid him and what’s what sends them through the barricade.

We also meet a character played by Michelle Forbes. It’s not clear how long she’s been gone, but it’s been decades and her return drives her husband to suicide. And what about Simon? He’s been gone a while as well and Rowan is not happy to see him. Whatever she went through when he died, it was traumatic enough that it causes her to break down. Simon seems like a violent jerk, doesn’t he? Maybe it’s good that Rowan’s moved on from him.

Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E
Photo Credit: Joseph Lederer/A&E

On top of the handful of people who have returned, the town of Caldwell also seems to have attracted a killer who attacks Lucy in the underpass and leaves her for dead.

French vs. American

I liked the pacing of the American version better as well as how the sequence of events goes down. I think the telling of the story was a bit cleaner here, but definitely less creepy and atmospheric. We get more information about Simon (namely that he finds his own grave and realizes he’s dead) and the old man who killed himself. In the French version, Dr. Han’s equivalent is called to the old man’s house to calm him down after he encounters his dead wife. But he also ties her up and sets fire to his house before he jumps off the dam. Lucy’s murder is more violent in the French version and she’s also more of a fighter and the attack goes on much longer. It’s really disturbing and part of me is glad we didn’t see all that in the American version.

Overall, I’m good with some of the dialogue and scenes being identical because I felt like we got enough differences to make it interesting. Either way, I’ll keep watching and I’m intrigued to see where the American version goes.

What did you think? Will you be tuning in again next week?

The Returned airs Mondays at 10/9c on A&E.

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