The Returned Finale: Showrunner Raelle Tucker on Life, Death, and Supernatural Mysteries
Horrific visions of the future, huge revelations about the past, a shocking death, and a surprise pregnancy—the Season 1 finale of sci-fi suspense series The Returned delivered big time drama without ever abandoning its core question: “What is the meaning of life?” Or, more accurately, “What is the meaning of getting a second chance at my life now that I’m back from the dead?” Finding the answer is taking on a do-or-die urgency for the returned souls of the gloomy mountain town of Caldwell, Washington, as they grow more aware of the repercussions of their presence. We talked to executive producer Raelle Tucker about the episode’s big moments.
An investigative reporter reveals that there are other towns where the dead have returned–and that those places soon vanish. Is that Caldwell’s destiny?
That’s the question we’re going to be asking. Does this town meet the same fate? Is there a way to save it? Is this a test we could pass or fail? The reporter has a story of her own; there is something beyond curiosity or her job that has brought her to this town. She has an obsession—and her own secrets.
Mentally unstable Helen (Michelle Forbes) who is trying to blow up the dam and destroy Caldwell in a flood. Can she succeed?
Helen is trying to complete what she believes to be a life mission to right the wrongs of Caldwell. She believes that what is happening here is unnatural and that the purpose of her return is to put an end to it, to resolve something her husband [who worked in construction on an earlier dam that broke and killed many citizens, including Helen] was a part of. Prior to Helen’s death, she was experiencing what looked like madness but perhaps there was some communication to something beyond—some message that is impossible for her to process without losing her mind.
Simon (Mat Vairo) had a vision of the dam breaking and washing away the town, killing everyone. Will he try to stop Helen?
Initially Simon believes that message was delivered to him because he’s supposed to stop it—but it’s much more complicated. There’s a larger purpose and story that is being shown to him. He’s going to have to wrestle with what that means and the part that he is supposed to play. Helen has been given these messages and this purpose, and it has driven her to insanity. Will it do the same to Simon?
Simon will do anything to save his young daughter and her mother, his former fiancée Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who recently discovered she is pregnant with his child after their back-from-the-dead fling. Despite her marriage to controlling/caring town sheriff Tommy (Kevin Alejandro), will that baby bring them back together?
The question is: is the baby Rowan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is carrying a normal child?
A hybrid returned-mortal baby? We want to see that! At least Rowan survived having sex with one of the returned. Teenage returned Camille’s (India Ennenga) first lover died after she lost her virginity to him in the season finale. What’s with that?
All of the returned are different. They are part of something larger but their purpose for being here is individual. There is a deep connection between death and sex for Camille. Think about how she died– just before the fatal bus crash she “felt” a connection to her twin Lena [Sophie Lowe] just as her sister lost her virginity. Is Camille responsible for killing Ben [Keenan Tracey] or did something else happen? It’s possible it isn’t Camille’s fault. Regardless, Camille is going to have to live with the results. This is the only boy she’s ever loved. She is going to blame herself for what happened. So, Camille’s story is the darkest most twisted coming of age or coming into your sexuality story that we can think of.
Maybe she can get some counseling from psychologist Peter (Jeremy Sisto), who helped Camille adjust when she came back from the dead. Last week, Peter revealed to the entire town that he had returned 29 years earlier—something he had never told anyone, including his girlfriend, Camille’s mother, Claire (Tandi Wright). How will that twisted knot unravel?
Peter believed he was doing the right thing for Camille. He believed her chances for being accepted by the world would be better if he didn’t come out and say, “Hey, I’ve been lying to you all these years.” His intentions were honorable. Peter’s story now becomes: how does he go back to the life he spent all these years building? With Peter’s past coming back to haunt him, with having to face up to the man he used to be—who is clearly not the same person he’s pretending to be now—there will be fallout.
Peter is deeply connected to the eeriest kid on TV right now, Victor (Dylan Klingwell), who was shot to death along with his mother in a crime that Peter helped commit. We learned Victor has returned multiple times searching for a “good fairy” to protect him, but ultimately kills that fairy and himself. The last we saw him, he was leaving town with yet another “fairy.” Is he gone for good?
It will not be the last you see of Victor, but his departure is meaningful because he’s leaving Julie [Sandrine Holt] and sparing her. Victor reached a catharsis with Julie. His pattern is to desperately seek someone to take care of him and when that fails he doesn’t understand how to process the abandonment and self-destructs along with the “fairy of the week.” But something different happened with him and Julie. He decided to leave her and to allow her to survive or release her from something she’d been carrying. It’s like they saved each other. Victor is of this place and as long as this phenomenon is going on here there will be a pull bringing him home. Victor causes strange visions and seems to make what you are most afraid of happen.
Victor’s powers, Simon’s visions, Camille’s deadly touch—all suggest a complex supernatural force at work behind the returned. Will the series ever explain it all?
There are reasons for all of this. Are we going to answer for you what the afterlife is or what the meaning of life is? Probably not in its entirety (laughs) but we will be exploring these questions and our culture’s relationship to death and how we all are fascinated by it and afraid of it. Maybe people are coming back from the dead to show us something about our relationship to death. There is a bigger picture. There is a larger mythology. As we’ve learned from the investigative reporter, this has happened other places and it will probably happen again.