There are few omens so ominous as a hollow human skull. Unfortunately for Pastor Tom Hale—resigned from his paid position in Arcadia’s church and now preaching exclusively to the “Returned” pro bono—and the “Returned” he baptizes in the town’s river, such an omen shatters their peace in the first scene of “Multiple.” This doesn’t bode well for the tranquility the “Returned” are seeking. Though, one thing that may bode well for Pastor Hale’s leap of faith is the trust of Agent Bellamy, who reveals to Pastor Hale that he’s a “Returned.”
As Sherriff Fred and the Arcadia Police comb the river, it becomes known that up to six bodies could be underwater. The bodies haven’t been in the river long, and were recently placed there, and if you watched “Echoes,” you know who’s responsible for them. Margaret dug up skeletons in the factory, and it seems she threw them in the river. Although, if Margaret was looking to lose the bones, she must know that the river brings things back more often than carrying them away. Does she hope for the deceased to return? It seems shoddy work from such a calculating character. Also, this marks the second episode in a row where the ghastly pale Deputy Carl’s (Christopher Berry) disheveled appearance is remarked upon. We discover that Carl’s malevolent lush of a brother is the cause of his suffering. More on that later.
Over breakfast, Maggie and Agent Bellamy discuss why some people “Return” and others, like Caleb Richards, don’t. Maggie says, “It seems like if you disappear, that’s it. But if you die, and leave a body behind? You come back.” Right away, this seems to be a soft toss situation, where the writers provide a generalized explanation for a plot mystery only for it to be toppled in the coming episode(s). Sure enough, twenty minutes into the episode, there’s clarity: The bones in the river are not six different people, but sets of people’s skeletons, all of whom seem to have been murdered. These skeletons are from “Returned” dated around the 1930s, which means that—duh—Jacob wasn’t the first to come home.
Margaret further conveys her dominance over the household, rearranging the Langston kitchen passive-aggressively. Jacob begs to be allowed to go to school—and later is allowed—which seems to be according to Margaret’s plan, sneering as Jacob pleaded. While most of the “Returned” long for some sort of normalcy, or return to routine, Margaret is asserting her dominance, piece by piece, obliterating the normalcy of whoever stands in her way. Jacob was content, albeit confused and gifted even for the “Returned,” but his grandmother’s return has left him wanting for more and more. One must wonder, is Jacob being led astray, or is he deciding between the living and the “Returned”?
After scheduling a meeting with his mysterious boss, Agent Bellamy points a gun at the henchman who arrives in her stead. He demands to be taken to his boss, and further demands to see his body; they eventually strike up a deal, wherein Bellamy will trade information on “Returned” for a viewing of his body. It seems such a strange request, and yet a logical one at that. However, it leaves the viewers wondering more than ever: What are the “Returned”? It seems more and more as if they are carbon copies of the originals, which—if this is really the answer—would be pretty disappointing.
Sherriff Fred, who became even more sympathetic this week, had a super sleuth moment in “Multiple.” While standing on a bridge above the river, and gazing melancholically at the water, Fred notices a piece of fabric stuck to a nail. He somehow instantly knows that this fabric is from his family’s factory, and rushes into the exact room where both the larger piece of the torn fabric belongs and where his mother dug up the skeletons. I’m all for drastic character development, but two episodes ago Fred was a midday drunk trying to fight Agent Bellamy in the middle of the street, now he gives up drinking and suddenly his powers of deduction rival Sherlock’s? Let’s slow it down, writers. Fred’s sudden detective prowess was laughable, and that he was the one to discover that his family’s forgotten factory had recently been excavated felt forced.
The final montage sequence of “Multiple” is a defining one for this season, and maybe the series. Agent Bellamy strikes a deal with his boss; he tells her about the skeletons uncovered in the river for a chance to witness his dead body. So as government agents raid Maggie’s examination room, stealing the skeletons she had been examining while Maggie and Fred watch helplessly, Bellamy unzips a black body bag and gazes upon his own lifeless face. Again, it seems as if the living Bellamy is a carbon copy, but is anything what it seems with this show? It’s still too early to say what’s what.
There seems to be more to Carl that meets the eye. When we find out that his heavy-drinking, abusive brother is the cause of his distress, it doesn’t feel like that’s all there is to it. After all, Carl’s brother seems to flat-out admit to killing their parents. Sure enough, Carl’s brother takes the abuse a step too far and Carl unleashes a flurry of bullets into his back, drags him downstairs, and buries him in the basement, only to—upon the final leveling of the basement grave—hear his brother come bounding in the door upstairs on cue, demanding food. Carl’s storyline seems to be expanding in the coming weeks, and after the intensity of his scenes in “Multiple,” I think most viewers will welcome that addition.
Overall, “Multiple” is a head-scratcher in some places. If the “Returned” all leave bodies behind each time they die, then wouldn’t someone have found a bunch of bodies at some point? Even if they’re all in graves, there were hundreds of “Returned” last season; surely they wouldn’t just be finding skeletons now, and surely there’d be more. And Fred becoming Sherlock Holmes this week, after being hapless and on the brink of suicide only (plot-wise) days before is a bit too far-fetched for me, in a show that specializes in far-fetched storylines. Sure, the episode was enjoyable, exciting, mysterious, and intriguing, but I fear we may be venturing into territory where the answers we’re getting aren’t the ones we need.