8.8

The Returned Review: “Virgil”

(Episode 2.04)

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<i>The Returned</i> Review: &#8220;Virgil&#8221;

In this second season of The Returned, the show has found the perfect balance between giving answers, and simultaneously inspiring even more fascinating questions. Last week there was the revelation that those who returned did so because they were truly missed, which raised questions about who exactly is missing some of these people—such as the eponymous “Virgil” in this week’s episode. This week’s episode tells us why Victor is such a creepy kid. What is it about Victor that makes him quieter, stranger and almost more knowing than anyone else who returns to the small town?

The people of this town seem intent on reasoning through their various tragedies, or looking for answers where there might not be any. As we’ve seen in the past, Jerome can’t get his mind off this idea that there might be some sort of connection between everyone who’s coming back; if he can just find out what it is, maybe he can bring things back to normal, or make things better for everyone once again.

This desire for answers is haunting, and only seems to lead everyone down awful paths. “Virgil” begins with Virgil returning to his parents 35 years after his death. His now elderly parents chase him out with a gun, which later Virgil discovers they used to shoot each other. As Virgil tells Camille, “I thought they had accepted it, but no one can accept this.” The town can’t accept the truths they are presented with, and they’ll find any excuse or explanation in order to find the solace they need. When we started off the series, the people of the town still couldn’t come to terms with their dead children and due to their inability to move on, their problems have only grown greater.

In the past, it turns out that even those who survived the dam breaking still died soon after. Many believed that Victor was the cause of the dam breaking. Some even believed him to be the devil. We learn that Victor’s mother didn’t want him to draw, since apparently he’d predicted and drawn the deaths of many people in the town, including one which looked like himself. While the evidence is slightly stacked against Victor, this seems like another example of the town jumping to a conclusion, in order to gain easy answers.

In the present, we’re seeing history repeat itself again, as Simon kidnaps his own son, causing Adele to worry about what might have happened to him (now that she finally cares about her son). The child seems to have a great importance to the returned, likely due to it being a born of the returned and the still-living, but once again it seems like this is the town putting pressure on the uncertain youth to look for their answers.

This desperation towards the children of the town makes sense when we see how hard it is for everyone to deal with their children in “Virgil.” Even after dying 35 years ago, Virgil’s parents still can’t stand to see him one last time, as young as he was when he died. Milan is trapped by his own son, and is eventually shot, which also doesn’t kill him for good. Meanwhile Simon’s child is being raised by Simon’s parents, who believe the new baby to be Simon himself. The sins of the parents live on in the children of this town, but the pain of the kids and their actions have also caused huge problems within the parents. With the dead returning, this cycle of pain is becoming cyclical and never-ending.

In “Virgil,” we see that the search for answers has only led to more problems for everyone that has survived and returned. As The Returned reaches the halfway point of its second season, we’re getting more answers, but the understanding of what these answers means only makes the story darker and bleaker for everyone involved. In The Returned, the truth won’t necessarily set you free.

Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.