During its eight-episode first season, Resurrection (ABC, Sundays, 9/8C) set up a situation reminiscent of the French series (soon be adapted for A&E), The Returned. Following the return of Jacob Langston, who died years ago, the town of Arcadia, Missouri, soon found others returning as well. Agent Martin Bellamy of Immigration, who brought Jacob home (after he appeared in a rice paddy in China), tried to figure out what was going on aided by the town doctor, Maggie Langston. The season ended with the army taking away the Returned and Marty trying to spirit Jacob away from them.
In the second season premiere, things have changed – radically.
Marty (Omar Epps) awakens in by the side of the road, just outside of town; he returns to find he’s been gone a week; he remembers being taken away and interrogated, then nothing until he woke up by the side of that road. Harry and Lucille Langston (Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher) inform him that the town’s Returned who had family have been returned but the others have not – Jacob (Langdon Gimenez) is back.
Pastor Tom (Mark Hildreth) and Rachael (Kathleen Munroe) seek out Dr. Langston (Devin Kelly) to learn if her ordeal hurt the baby (it hasn’t); Sheriff Fredrick Langston (Matt Craven) is finding that many of the townspeople now despise him, and as advertised, Langston matriarch Margaret Langston (Michelle Fairley) returns. There is an even bigger revelation (Revelation being, not coincidentally, the season premiere’s title) that changes everything.
Like The Leftovers, I found Resurrection a show of potential that never quite seemed to materialize during the first season – but, for some reason, I couldn’t quite give it up, either. Revelation actually seems to be fulfilling that promise of becoming something amazing.
There are new mysteries: why were some of the Returned returned to Arcadia; what the heck happened to Marty – and a few from season one reiterated to good effect – why Jacob can do what he does (know where other Returned are), for example.
The episode is beautifully developed, weaving in plot threads carefully and effectively throughout. The performances, cinematography and music work together better than they did in the first season and it’s really easy to get caught up in the tale – even if it doesn’t exactly rocket along. Throw in the return of Margaret Langston and its effect on her sons and it looks like the show is (finally) coalescing into something special.
Then, we come to the final revelation – Which is the one that prompted my headline (and which you’ll have to watch to see exactly what I mean…).
This last plot thread feels wrong to me. It’s as if the writers (the screener lacked credits and some VFX) couldn’t bear to have any major plot threads that weren’t rooted in the phenomenon of the Returned. To me, it was one thread too many. Instead of adding to the mysteriousness of the series, it feels rather more like the football expression, ‘piling on.’ It’s particularly exasperating because the appearance of Margaret Langston is so well handled.
The final scene – to borrow from rocker Dave Edmunds, feels about ‘as subtle as a flying hammer.’
Final Grade: B
Photos by Guy D’Alema/Courtesy of ABC