The Returned has always been about goodbyes — the goodbyes you didn’t get, the goodbyes you said but wish you didn’t have to, the goodbyes you ache at the mere thought of. So it’s fitting that the season 2 finale, which could work beautifully as a series finale if that’s what it comes to, ended with plenty of them.
Out of all of them though, perhaps the most poignant is Camille’s final goodbye to her family. Early in the episode, she points out her decomposing skin to her father as proof that she can’t stay with them, that she needs return to the others. He’s in denial, insisting that they’ll just take her to the hospital once they skip town. Ah, if only a hospital could solve this problem.
The four — plus Chloé, whom Adèle predictably ditched — get in the car and attempt to drive out, but end up running into Frederic. The reunion includes no pleasantries, no hugs. Instead, Frederic shoots Camille (milliseconds later, Claire shoots him in response). Camille dies soon after.
Shortly before Camille died for the first time, Léna had sex for the first time. As she felt the pangs of orgasm from the comfort of her bed, Camille also felt a jolt despite being in a bus probably miles away (and despite, you know, not actually having sex with anyone). Now it’s years later, and as Virgil attempts to revive Camille, Léna has a physical reaction that mirrors Camille’s as she wakes from her unconscious state. When Camille says goodbye to her grieving sister minutes later, she means it when she says they’ll always be together.
Léna and Camille’s bond is uncharacteristically sentimental for a show as dark as this, but that’s not a bad thing — actually, it’s refreshing to see something a little cheesy in this world. The Returned — despite being a show about dead people coming back to the mortal world — has always been a stunningly realistic portrayal of real-life emotions: the grief, the confusion, the frustration. Léna’s heartbroken reaction to her sister leaving her once again is no exception, and Camille’s insistence that their bond transcends life and death isn’t either.
Some grief counselors say that your relationship with the dead doesn’t stop once the person dies. Sure, you can’t have two-sided conversations or experiences with them anymore, but thinking about them and remembering them and honoring them is a relationship in itself, one that continues to grow even years after the dearly departed depart. It’s a lovely (and helpful) way to frame death, and Camille and Léna’s bond perfectly encapsulates that very idea that death doesn’t have to be — and isn’t — the end.
Adèle didn’t believe this though. As Simon discovers, she cut her wrists because she “didn’t want to be alone anymore.” Esteban’s parents did the same thing, hoping that they’d be reunited with their late son on the other side. It’s a testament to The Returned’s commitment to its tone that it hasn’t yet reunited Esteban with his dead parents, and that Adèle’s attempted suicide didn’t end with her back with Simon. If those things did happen, The Returned would be making a simplistic, dangerous statement that suicide does work, that it does give the person the very thing they wish for when they end their own life. This show knows that there aren’t solutions as uncomplicated as that, especially to problems as complex as loneliness and grief.
NEXT: Adèle and Simon finally get their wedding