DEADtime TV: The Returned ‘Julie’

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The Returned really confuses me with its titles sometimes, because the names seem like they’re setting the show up to explore important concepts about specific characters. Then, the episode barely touches on that character at all. So’s the case with “Julie,” an episode that quickly and quietly shows a flashback sequence for the title character and then neglects to give any more info about her.

The reveal at the beginning is that Julie, in her young age, was a lesbian walking back from a Halloween party when she was attacked in much the same way as the bartender in the pilot episode of The Returned. She had a huge gash taken out of her stomach, and probably suffered some traumatic stress from the incident for quite a while. The new attack brings back terrible memories for her, but “Julie” doesn’t even want to deal with that scenario – instead, it kind of shoves it aside in order to get to her nosy neighbor, snooping around her apartment and threatening to turn Julie in to the authorities if she doesn’t explain why Victor’s living with her.

It sets up one of the more intriguing aspects of The Returned thus far, that Victor isn’t really a nice little boy and instead wants to murder people that get in his way. The show has touched on this before but it hasn’t done anything with it until now; when Victor walks into the neighbor’s apartment, we know she’s going to end up in a bad way, but the show ends before that comes about.

Other than that, “Julie” is perplexingly lacking in character development for her. We do get to see that she had a relationship with that obnoxious deputy, but for a show that seems to be about her, Julie is still one of the most mysterious people in the series.

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That’s because “Julie” wants to delve more into the dynamic between Lena and Camille, one that’s already kind of played out. We get it – Lena is upset with her sister, and they’re not the best of friends now that Camille has come back from the dead. The constant angst gets pretty annoying, though, especially because Lena’s anger isn’t well-defined: she’s just being a little shit, and that prompts Camille’s manipulative exploits to get the boy in “Julie.”

Simon reaches out to Rowan in this episode, a final attempt to say goodbye. He has come to realize that she needs to move on with her life – a life that has grown substantially since he died – and he gives her that release. Rowan, apparently having vivid hallucinations of Simon anyway, doesn’t realize that this isn’t her subconscious saying goodbye to her love, and that feels really awkward for the show. But it does set up an interesting dynamic in her relationship with her fiance, the overprotective Tommy; he clearly seems like he’s up to no good, since he’s stalking her on security cameras stationed around the house.

The final piece of “Julie”’s narrative comes from the Darrows; Tony is the bar owner that knew more than he was telling the police about the random violent biting attacks, and Adam seems to be his son, another returned that startles Tony into smacking him in the head with a shovel. I think that The Returned has shown us too much after the interview with Tony: it seems pretty obvious that Adam was involved in the attacks, Tony killed him to stop it, and now he’s surprised and scared that Adam’s back. It could be that I’m reading too much into this, but so far the show has shown us nothing other than this. In fact, it’s surprising that “Julie” lingers on this segment so much; not much development has been done for either character, and so these scenes kind of just sit there in the midst of the more important, focused stuff.

“Julie” doesn’t do much to dispel the notion that The Returned is Les Revenants lite; the impact that show had is certainly not the case with this show, and continually I find myself checking out of the episodes not because they’re not good, but because they’re just okay. It leaves a middling feeling, that there could be more to The Returned but right now it’s not getting to the good stuff. Maybe when the show branches out away from its source material, it’ll find its niche, but so far, “Julie” continues The Returned’s penchant for being alright television.

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