'The Returned' Is Keeping Its Zombies Mysterious

by Kayla Hawkins

Doesn't it seem like the dead just won't stay dead on TV lately? The zombie craze may be on its way out, but new A&E drama series The Returned is bringing the recently deceased back to life in a small town, but unlike regular zombie shows like The Strain or uber-popular The Walking Dead, there's nothing so simple as a virus or flesh-eating vampire alien worm things to explain why the dead are being resurrected in Caldwell, Wash. And just look at the landscape, these people are totally isolated out there. They haven't explained why these people have started to walk back to their normal lives as though nothing has happened, or why they look totally unharmed, like no time has passed and the ways they died have no effect. That's actually one of the central mysteries of the show, and one of the things that not even the French series that this one is based on, Les Revenants, has revealed yet.

Unlike the French movie Les Revenants itself is based on, it doesn't look like the American version of The Returned will show millions of people climbing out of their graves and coming back to life. Otherwise the premise looks exactly the same, and that film didn't even come down hard with a concrete answer as to why the dead were returning (it did, however, show the frustrations and potential violence of a population struggling to return to their normal lives). But no matter what the reason turns out to be — from bizarre natural phenomena to magic (who knows) — it can't be good, because things go from unbelievable and miraculous to terrifying very quickly once these people start to come back. And not just because the grieving process is so difficult. I'm talking creepy kids standing in the middle of the road.

Here a few theories about what exactly could be driving the plot of The Returned.

They Could Be From the Past

They could perhaps be like phantom versions of the people who died, come back to life through a rip in the space time continuum or a time loop, or some other vaguely plausible experimental scientific explanation right out of the later seasons of Lost.

They Could Be Cursed Or Followed By An Angry Spirit

As we've seen in both the original Les Revenants and the trailers for the rest of the season, there's a good chance that the people who returned are cursed or being followed by something malevolent, based on a scene between India Ennenga and Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the end of the series' trailer. There's a lot of religious imagery in the original series — and it looks like the preacher character is carrying over into this adaptation — so that could prove to be the origin of the undead.

The Laws Of Nature Could Be Falling Apart

There are even other natural laws going wrong, like black gunk pouring out of the faucet in one shot and possible dead animals like in the French series.

Regardless of what the explanation for The Returned's, well, return ends up being, I'm sure it will propose something similar to what Pet Semetary's VHS cover told us:

Images: Joseph Lederer/A&E; Giphy (4)