“Afflictions” begins with a young girl sitting—with her seatbelt fastened—in an airplane seat in the middle of a field, with a can of Citrus Fizz clasped tightly in her hand. As the camera zooms out, we see billowing black smoke behind her. The seat attached to hers is without cushions, dented, and haggard. We cut to Bellamy’s icy government boss, Angela, in the modern day, seemingly overcome with memory, staring at a dented Citrus Fizz can in her office.
Is the young girl Angela, the survivor of a terrible plane crash, who escaped without a scratch? If so, it seems that she’s either—as is hinted later in the episode—an incredible predictor of events, or she’s something supernatural. To have not only escaped a plane crash physically unharmed, but for nothing around her (seat cushions, clothing, even a stray hair) to be out of place? Could Angela really only be, as she goes on to say, “a fan” of plane crashes, as her meticulous research and statistic keeping indicates? Could she be a “Returned” herself? She claims to be able to predict what’s going to happen to them well enough to be. Regardless, Angela is certainly more than meets the eye.
Angela’s trip down memory lane is interrupted by a frantic, and newly sick, Bellamy calling her for help. Soon, Bellamy will be whisked away to Chicago for testing. Don’t worry; as expected, he doesn’t comply with Angela’s wishes. The catch and release between Angela and Bellamy, with Bellamy seemingly doing whatever he feels like without consequence, is a little confusing. Is Bellamy so important that he has free reign regardless of his actions? Well, we find out why Bellamy is so important, but that’s no surprise.
“Afflictions” also marks the intriguing unraveling of Maggie Langston. Henry’s worrying about her in recent episodes was apt foreshadowing, as Maggie spirals out of control this week, both having a panic attack and beginning to turn to drugs for her troubles. At first, Maggie’s freak out seems clichéd, but then it dawned on me: Shouldn’t more people be acting like this? With all that Maggie—as well as the rest of the main characters—has seen, it makes total sense for her to have a rigor mortis grip onto her rapidly fleeing sanity. Also, with her ironically bad-to-the-bone grandmother Margaret “mercy killing” her mother Barbara, and her best friend Elaine seeing it, Maggie is torn between who and what to believe. Margaret insists no wrongdoing, but still-sober Sherriff Fred (you go, Fred) is putting together the pieces and finally sees Margaret for the ruthless puppeteer she is. For a show that deals with so many main characters, and such a far-fetched plot, it’s impressive how deeply the audience feels each character’s story arc.
Thanks to some rapid doctorial explanation, we learn that the “Returned” are highly susceptible to a “mutated form of the Spanish flu” that happens to kill 23% of the infected. Luckily for our main character, his hook-up will keep him symptom-free, and alive (at least, for the next ten days). Others aren’t so lucky, including Bellamy’s birth parents. Which brings us to the main reveal of “Afflictions”: Bellamy, as we’ve definitively known since the Season One finale, is really Robert Thompson, the missing early-19th century Arcadian baby. Bellamy snoops around Angela’s office and, among indecipherably complicated statistical analysis and multitudes of newspaper clippings regarding plane crashes, he sees his file. Bellamy learns that he was born Robert Thompson in Arcadia in 1934 and drowned the same year. He then resurfaced in Chicago in 1972, and we all know how he died earlier this season. The bottom of Angela’s note states that Bellamy is a (and seemingly the only, as of now) “Double Returned.” Now we see what makes him so special; he’s defying Angela’s meticulous statistics. However, Angela had thought Bellamy was the only non-Arcadian-born “Returned,” but he was in fact born there. So every single “Returned” was born in Arcadia? “What’s in the water that’s bringing everyone back?” is a question we may not have answered anytime soon, but it’s on everyone’s tongue.
Henry, taking a look-around at the factory, meets a potential investor with ulterior motives. Who in Arcadia doesn’t seem to have them, though? He was interested in purchasing the factory because of a “cousin” who lives in Arcadia, but the investor, Brian Addison, seems to have a mean streak—as well as an impressive real estate résumé. Margaret voices her resistance by saying that Langston Furniture is a family business and, “I’ve never heard of any Addisons in Arcadia.” It’s impossible to know when she’s telling the truth, though. Could Brian possibly be a “Returned” factory worker out for revenge? His “Grandpa” seems to know, or have previously dealt with The Langstons, and possibly even Margaret. Could he be a “Returned” Margaret killed, or is something else at play?
Ray Richards, Elaine’s loose cannon brother, has started a possibly riotous “concerned citizen” group of dissenters against the “Returned” called the “True Living.” With this and the Addisons looming on the docket, it seems the dead and living alike are gearing up for a bloody crescendo to finish off Season Two. Let’s hope the answers, as well as the rising action, keeps on coming.