Around the Water Cooler: “Resurrection,” The Season 1 Finale and Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Who:  “Resurrection,” aired on network TV, specifically on ABC, spring Sundays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Resurrection,” a fantasy drama in which long-deceased individuals find themselves alive again in the small town of Arcadia, Missouri, and watch as their families adjust to this news and, in some cases, try to solve the mystery of how these people received literally new leases on life.

SYNOPSIS

J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), an INS agent, is sent to recover a small boy who has been discovered in a rural province in China.  He is clearly American, has no idea where he is or how he got there, and won’t talk to anyone, though he woke up in marshlands, confused and scared.  After he is shipped back to the US, Martin is able to coax the child into revealing his origins: a small town in Missouri called Arcadia.  In fact, Jacob is able to point out his house.  Martin knocks on the door of Henry and Lucille Langston’s home (Smith/Fisher) to reveal that their son has been found, but they react with disbelief: after all, according to the grief-stricken couple, Jacob has been dead for 32 years, believed to be drowned in a nearby river.  When Lucille espies the perfect carbon copy of her boy in the backseat of Martin’s car, who has not aged a day, she reacts with caution and elation all at once, while her husband recoils in fear and suspicion.  What’s more, Martin is reluctant to turn the boy over to federal custody upon the discovery of this information and convinces his boss to allow him to monitor Jacob and Arcadia, as other long deceased persons start to reappear. Martin, along with key members of the small Missouri town, work together to try to ascertain why this might be happening, while affected loved ones react with a veritable gamut of emotions, ranging from pure joy to unadulterated fear and suspicion at the return of the resurrected.

When: The season finale aired on ABC, Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in a small town, specifically Arcadia, Missouri.

Why: The premise for the show was fairly interesting, since some of the revived characters have been dead for decades.  It’s also executive produced by Brad Pitt, among others, and happens to fall in a time slot between Once Upon a Time and Revenge, both of which I watch.  Plus, Red Foreman (i.e. Kurtwood Smith) and Rose’s mean mother from Titanic (i.e. Frances Fisher) are two of the featured performers.

THOUGHTS FOLLOWING THE PILOT/SEASON RECAP

After Sunday’s airing of the season (so far) finale of Resurrection, the only reaction haunting this viewer centers on the last thirty seconds and the infamous birthmark – the crescent shaped birthmark on the back of Martin’s neck.  The questions that this piece of information instantly raised exploded in my brain, not unlike popping the cork on a champagne bottle, after a fairly straightforward season of mysterious second comings and emotional reactions of relatives of those “returned.”

In order to recap this season, let’s consider each of the regular characters:

Henry and Lucille Langston (Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher) + “Returned” Jacob (Landon Gimenez)

This season began with the arrival of Jacob and ended with Agent Bellamy trying to whisk Jacob away from the army descending upon Arcadia at the behest of Jacob’s uncle, Sheriff Langston. Jacob adjusted to his second lease on life calmly, fully aware of the fact that he was dead and “returned,” though unlike the others, he is most able to sense when others are like him, including their whereabouts and reemergence at key points in the story.  His mother has been the happiest to see him back, fiercely protecting him against the wary eyes of other townsfolk and his own father. Henry, on the other hand, reacted at first with fear and suspicion but then confessed his love  for and devotion to Jacob as well as his desire that he not lose him again.  Jacob heralded the arrival of many more like him; his parents have begun to follow his eerie lead, as he announces his mysterious knowledge of those like him, while Martin remains close to him in the hopes of investigating the phenomenon of the resurrected.

Sheriff Fred and Dr. Maggie Langston (Matt Craven and Devin Kelley)

Sheriff Fred Langston, brother to Henry, found out the painful truth that his deceased wife was having an affair with a co-worker at a now defunct local factory.  In fact, Maggie questioned who her biological father was upon initially learning this information, prompted by Jacob’s recollection that his aunt, who attempted to rescue him from drowning before drowning herself, was accompanied to the river by a strange man.  Sheriff Langston was also among the most wary of his nephew Jacob’s return; he investigated the phenomenon with Martin but also protected his returned nephew, as Jacob’s cousin Maggie and Martin, forming a close bond themselves, attempted to piece together clues behind the reasons for the returned, even discovering the remains of Jacob and others like him in graves, though their solid forms roamed the earth above. Maggie and her father’s opinions diverged when Maggie’s deceased mother returned with hundreds of others from all time periods in the penultimate episode and the season finale.  Maggie’s mother chose to return to her former lover rather than to her family.  Maggie discovered this fact first and told her mom to tell her father, or she would herself.  Maggie’s mom then found Fred, after suggesting to Maggie that her former husband was “cruel,” and informed him that she did not love him anymore.  In his anguish, the sheriff allowed his fear and anger to overtake him.  When Martin called his boss for federal help to feed and shelter the scores of returned dead, the sheriff informed the supervising colonel that the returned were dangerous and “not human.”  He led an effort to detain the returned in the school gym, though Martin threw a wrench in those proceedings when he pulled the fire alarm, permitting some to escape.  Yet, the sheriff’s premature warnings to the army resulted in a military takeover of the situation and Maggie’s eventual arrest when she refused to cooperate, having destroyed a list/inventory of the names of those who had returned.  The sheriff and Maggie’s mother watched as Maggie was dragged away in the season finale, though this was after the sheriff stormed his brother’s house in search of Jacob, and Henry told his brother, “the old man was right about everything he said about you.”

Pastor Tom Hale (Mark Hildreth)

The pastor’s flock was divided; the faithful, including a parishioner played by Veronica Cartwright, were the most suspicious of those resurrected.  This suspicion was heightened when it was discovered that the pastor’s deceased wife Rachael was one of the returned, which he hid from his current wife.  His first wife committed suicide, most likely under extreme depression, though she discovered later that she is/was pregnant when it happened.  What’s more, Rachael is later kidnapped by the cousin of another of the returned; when the sheriff and pastor find the hideout and attempt to rescue her, she is accidentally shot, though Martin discovers her, alive a third time, walking alone on a dark road soon after her violent second death.  Pastor Tom was also Jacob’s best friend growing up, and they reconnect, though he leaves his second wife, still having profound feelings for Rachael, who also decides she loves him and is regretful of her choice to commit suicide.

Elaine Richards (Samaire Armstrong) + “Returned” Caleb Richards (Sam Hazeldine)

Elaine’s father passed away, most likely of a heart attack, leaving her to care for her mentally disabled younger brother, Ray.  She has struggled to make ends meet and has sacrificed her dreams in favor of keeping her brother safe.  When Caleb, her father, returns, however, he is angry and menacing, and does not seem entirely stable despite Elaine’s elation that her father has come back, and he resorts to robbery and murder.  It is hinted that he aimed to commit these crimes in his previous life.  He is later jailed, to Elaine’s chagrin; she does not believe her father to be capable of the crimes, though her brother is adamant that the Caleb who has returned is not their father. Caleb subsequently disappears and has not yet been found (I can’t remember if he ran or was murdered himself, but I think it’s the former).  Elaine informs her best friend Maggie that she plans to attend art school in order to finally leave Arcadia.  Her story appeared to be finished by the season finale.

In the end, hundreds of deceased persons returned to Arcadia from “as early as 1900,” according to one of the characters, and flocked to the sheriff’s post or the church, where Pastor Tom, Rachael, and Martin started to take inventory of who appeared.  It was Martin’s call to his boss that prompted the army’s arrival, at first with humanitarian aid, but the sheriff’s vengeful tip-off to the colonel about Caleb being “dangerous” and showing the colonel Rachael’s second corpse apart from the figure walking around the church led to the colonel’s hostile military takeover.

Notably, one of the families that returned, discovered by Jacob, was the Thompsons, an African American family that, by their dress, appeared to be out of the early twentieth century South/Jim Crow era: a mother, father, and daughter named Jenny, who became Jacob’s friend.  The Langstons took them in for the night; they indicated that they also drowned, and that they had a baby son, who had not returned with them, despite the fact that he drowned as well.  They pleaded for help, and Henry agreed to call his brother the sheriff with a request to keep an eye out for their son, at which point Mrs. Thompson shared that her son had a crescent shaped birthmark on his neck – the self-same birthmark showed on Agent Bellamy’s neck in the final frames of the finale.

Speaking of Agent Bellamy, he has served as the connective tissue throughout the season, spearheading an investigation into the arrival of the resurrected with an impassioned interest, something beyond mere intellectual curiosity, and always the voice of the viewer, commenting on new discoveries with a mixture of surprise, disbelief, and awe.  His boss Toni (Tamlyn Tomita) allowed him to stay in Arcadia to investigate matters as long as Jacob remained under the purview of the INS.  He and Maggie Langston spent most of the season looking into clues behind the overall mystery, while Martin became closer and closer to Jacob.  In the end, Martin advised the Langstons to steer clear of the high school as the sheriff’s department rounded up the returned, sensing something more sinister than aid and protection in the offing, but ultimately, the Langstons persuaded Martin to take Jacob and run, far away from Arcadia.  Run he did, Jacob in tow, though the last frames of the finale found Martin cornered on a road just out of town, surrounded by a bevy of dead locusts and helicopters and SUVs coming at him and Jacob from all directions.

Ultimately, the pace of Resurrection is still dreadfully slow, spending far too long on the individual reactions of the townsfolk, ad nauseum, without rewarding the viewer with quicker intellectual payoffs to match the emotional journeys of the main characters.  Yet, this mystery still intrigues, raising so many new questions in this final episode of the season.  The performances remain exceptional, traversing wide sweeping ranges of heartbreaking pain and sadness to elation and hope.  Still, the primary question here is why: why is all of this happening, and what effects will the resurrected pose to Arcadia and the world as they keep reappearing?  If the show gets renewed, and most outlets seem to believe that to be the likely outcome, the writers ought to pick up the pace in order to maintain interest, for it feels that season one was nearly all exposition.  It’s high time the story shift into the next gear – hopefully, the season ending cliffhanger heralds that shift.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Is Martin a returned deceased person like the hundreds in the finale?!  If he is, what era is he really from?  Who found him?  When was he found?  How did he grow up? Will the other resurrected ones age?  Why didn’t he recognize his mother/father?  There are 100 questions around him alone – that birthmark reveal was the money pot for this season.

2) Why was Jacob first, and why and how can he sense the others?  Was he really first?  If Martin is another resurrected one, were there others even before him, or at least before Jacob?

3) Will we get to meet some of the other returned from the other time periods?

4) What’s the military going to do?

5) How is the Sheriff going to fix what he did?  And who is more sympathetic at this point: him or his estranged wife?  She mentioned that he was “cruel,” and his brother made that reference to what their dad used to say about him.  The Sheriff clearly has a dark side, but just how dark are we talking here?  What has he done in the past, and why is he moved to act so harshly against all rather than merely his wife?

6) What happened to the Richards clan?  What happened to Caleb?  Did I miss that?

7) Most importantly, why is this happening, and what does it all mean?!

PARTING SHOTS

The writers and producers of Resurrection have crafted an intriguing albeit slowly unfolding mystery with larger philosophical and certainly emotional undercurrents at play.  This viewer hopes for renewal, for the questions this program and its finale have raised beg for answers, and therefore another season to provide those answers; if the show’s creators want their program to enjoy any substantial longevity, however, they should consider revving up the pace just a touch. 

LOOKING AHEAD

TVLine is calling renewal of this program a “safe bet;” it helps that the show is surrounded by hits, with lead-in Once Upon a Time and follow-up Revenge, since the ratings, which have remained largely steady, enjoy a plentiful boost from Once.  The show’s future will, no doubt, be determined at the end of sweeps, though with only eight produced episodes this season, this decently rated and likely relatively inexpensive drama may be a safe bet for the Mickey Mouse network.  Keep a weathered eye to this blog for information about the show’s future as it is announced.

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4 comments

  1. kyliekeelee · May 5, 2014
  2. Victorie · May 6, 2014

    Thank you for writing a wonderfully comprehensive review of this series. I really enjoyed reading it. For me, the slowness with which the characters face and work through their emotions are a big draw, and I don’t mind bringing a deep sense of patience to that, for I believe that in the long run the phenomenon will prove to be entwined with the purpose of the show. Did you see the movie “Solaris” a few years ago? In some ways I’m reminded of it when I watch Resurrection. I also just wanted to point out that Caleb “disappeared” in episode 5 “Insomnia”…. from a locked jail cell; he simply vanished into thin air. And a minor point: you’ve spelled Rachael incorrectly throughout your fine essay. Best wishes and thanks again for a great piece of writing.

  3. kyliekeelee · May 6, 2014

    Hi Victorie! Thank you for reading and for your nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the entry. I know I may seem a little harsh toward the pacing of Resurrection, but I think part of the reason I missed or forgot key points, such as Caleb’s mysterious disappearance (you’re right!), is that my mind wandered during some of the more mired episodes focused on emotional journeys, and not all of the characters interested me or were sympathetic to me at the same level. For instance, I was really drawn to the Langstons and Jacob but less interested in the Richards and Caleb.

    I did see Solaris – I confess that I found that movie quite slow too! But that is a wonderful parallel to draw and a totally fair comparison. I guess pacing is to each his/her own, but I see why you thought of that. It will be very interesting to see what the purpose of the “returned” ultimately is.

    And I will correct the spelling of Rachael. I was moved to write this one kind of late as I thought about the season finale, so I used other websites to cheat but didn’t pay an editor’s sort of attention. I was happy it turned out to be mostly coherent 🙂

    Thanks again for reading and your comment. Enjoy your week!

  4. Pingback: Around the Water Cooler: “Resurrection,” The Season Two Review/Recap (Officially Canceled; MAJOR SPOILERS) | Couch Potatoes Unite!

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