I don't know about anyone else, but I've been waiting for this show to resolve the question of Marty's relationship to the Thompsons pretty much all season. We ended season one on the revelation of that, and we haven't heard anything about that until now. Just in time to dispose of most of the Thompsons entirely.
There were three important developments last night. Let's go through them in order of time we spent with them
I almost forgot that Ray was a character in this show. Remember Ray? Elaine's brother who was one of the first people to realize that there father wasn't a good guy? Well, Ray's gone from being a kind of gentle giant to one of the Returned conspiracy theorists we get every so often in Arcadia. (It used to be the church board member, but she gave it up when she got her sister back.)
Ray, given what Caleb did to him, has more reason than most to believe there's something sinister about the Returned. So he's in a group called "The True Living." I will legit put my foot through the television if this show abandons the more interesting drama about the nature of family and moving on for a poorly-thought out immigration allegory.
I will admit, however, the the True Living's flyer, accusing Returned of messing up Wi-Fi connections and taking pets is a great touch. It's just irrational enough to be unbelievable, and yet the kind of hard to prove false accusation that makes up conspiracy theories. They're also collecting information on where the Returned live, so let's assume the True Living and the Rebirth Church get into it soon.
Elaine tells him that the Returned are just people and sends Ray from the bar. Elaine's opinion of the Returned changes all the time, as the plot demands.
This is a family that is always seconds away from falling apart. It's amazing that only Sheriff Fred has completely flown off the handle. Doctor Maggie knows, from Elaine, that Grandma Margaret (yes, relation) was there when her mother disappeared. Elaine tells her that Margaret wasn't freaking out, but that Barbara absolutely was when she went.
Maggie, who has only just started to bond with her mother, is having trouble dealing with this second loss of her mother. She asks Margaret about what Elaine saw, but she denies being out that night. Maggie has doubts, but she's too busy weeping at the sight of mothers and children to really process her grandmother's meddling.
Sheriff Fred, on the other hand, confronts his mother again. Remember, he had been sure that something was going on with the bones in the factory. He was distracted from that investigation by his reconciliation with Barbara, but now he once again has a reason to investigate his mother's actions. That's cutting off your nose to spite your face, right there, Margaret. Margaret let her hatred of Barbara get her caught out and refocused Fred on her movements. Mistake.
Also a mistake? Convincing Henry to reopen the factory. He meets a man named Addison, who says he wants to buy the land. But when Henry says he's reopening the factory, Addison offers to go into business with the Langstons. Of course, like everyone on this show, he's not just a random stranger. He has a Returned grandfather who says to him "I told you, a whiff of money and the Langstons come running." So there's another skeleton for the Langston closet. It's getting really packed in there. Consider dumping some in the river to free up space. Ask Margaret how.
Do you trust this face?
Joining Fred and Maggie in suspicions about Margaret is Lucille, who asks Henry if he's worried about all the time Grandma's spending with Jacob. She's worried about the thoughts Margaret's putting in Jacob's head. As well she should be. Grandma's bedtime stories are fucking terrifying. Jacob already thinks he's not going to stay long enough to take over the family business.
It was a big week for Marty, and he was only mildly annoying this week. He wakes up in the care of Donna Murphy's secret government barrack. They've been researching the disease, which is communicable to other returned only if the sick person is symptomatic. It's got a 23% re-mortality rate, and 66 of the Returned at the facility have disappeared.
They've got an experimental treatment that will suppress Marty's symptoms so he won't infect anyone. Or fall over twitching and blow his cover, since he hasn't let it slip to Arcadia that he's a Returned. I wish we'd delve more into the psychology of Marty, who was one of the Returned's champions, also not wanting to be one himself. Or, at least, not being willing to tell people. That would be interesting.
Donna Murphy also explains that she's not a doctor or a spy or anything like that: she analyzes patterns and uses equations to predict when and where and how many Returned there will be. She also notices the crescent-shaped birthmark Marty has, which pings her memory. Mrs. Thompson had talked about her missing son in the her interview, so she knows about it.
Marty breaks out of the hospital by syringing a guard in the neck. My god, who is the idiot that left that thing next to Marty's bed? Marty breaks into Donna Murphy's office (her name is Angela, we learn this week, but she's Donna Murphy and she's awesome). There, he sees her figuring out that he's actually Robert Thompson, died as a baby in the 1930s. (In a flood, in case you need to remember that there's usually a water connection to the Returned.) He showed up as a baby Returned in 1972, and the authorities assumed he was an abandoned baby.
P.S., Donna Murphy adds, your parents got the disease and vanished already. Three days ago! As always, Marty's timing is impeccable. His sister's still around, though, so he promises to take care of her. Because a grown man who has no memory of being part of a family but has just learned that he's been undead his whole life and that he has a sister is the perfect guardian.
Marty agrees to take his medication and Donna Murphy lets him leave with a 10-day supply. Personally, I'd give Marty the disaster area a shorter leash, but okay. She also tells him that there are, of course, protocols that must be followed. A guard puts a bag over his head. Marty, who is always a bit of a dick even when he's completely at someone's mercy, asks if that's really necessary. The guard stabs him in the neck with a sedative and says "not anymore." I admit it: I laughed. Also, I think that was the same guard Marty'd syringed in the neck earlier. You go with the petty retribution, guard.
Marty shows up at Maggie's door, and she's appropriately kind of upset. But not too upset, she's exhausted those reserves already this week. He says he went to the government for answers and has some medication she can give out. Of course, he doesn't say "I'm a Returned with the illness, too." But he does give himself a dose.
I guess the whole "reuniting with dead loved ones" thing is played out on this show. Or the writers didn't actually know how to make Marty meeting his parents, 80 years out of date, work within the larger context of the show. No matter the reason, it was unsatisfactory to have the thing that closed out last season brought up and mostly disposed of in a single episode. It's especially hard to see Jenny's continued existence as a cheap way of giving Marty pathos, which he's sorely lacked since he hasn't spent any time with Jacob and his family this season.
On the other hand, Donna Murphy's Angela was notably softer this week. Not so much that it felt unearned, just enough that I really felt like the Returned is a passion project for her and not just something she was sicced on by the government.
Plus, the slow implosion of the Langston family continues apace. Henry remains as the last person who wholly trusts his mother, so expect him to be hit the hardest by her manipulations. Possibly a few more very tense dinners and at least three horrifying speeches for Michelle Fairley to give.