Resurrection: Old Scars Review

Here's our review of the latest episode of Resurrection (contains spoilers)...

**This review contains spoilers**

This week’s episode of Resurrection begins with a lynch mob—clichéd flaming torches, a noose and all—chasing a disheveled, leg-braced man through the woods in what seems to be the early 20th century Arcadia. The mob is led by a braided teenage girl, dressed in white, who seems to relish what she presumes to be “justice” as the leg-braced man is hanged until dead. (Last episode, one set of the skeletons found in the river featured right leg damage; the hanged man in “Old Scars” has a brace on his right leg, and was a Langston factory worker.) We flash forward to the present day; that teenage girl was Margaret Langston. Suddenly, her finding of the bones in the family’s factory (and those bones seeming to be the first “Returned” from the early 20th century) make perfect sense. Those bones were no accident.

Lucille and Henry Langston go through a silent, terse morning readying. Lucille wears black. Henry grimly helps her zip her dress. They seem different. That’s because on this day, thirty-two years ago, Jacob died. Every year, today, Lucille goes through a ritual, a ritual that’s now out-of-place, with Jacob’s “Returning.” Sure, her boy is back now, but what about those lost thirty-two years of grief, of shattered expectations for the progression of life, of devastating loss, taken by Barbara’s (April Billingsley) refusal to end her extramarital affair? Lucille voices those thirty-two years of pain at the family dinner—a new, more fitting ritual for Jacob’s death anniversary, suggested by Margaret—in “Old Scars,” and boy is it a scene. As Lucille’s verbal shrapnel pierces Barbara, the camera cuts to Margaret; she’s nearly grinning, as if she planned for the familial discord (though she didn’t predict that Jacob would ask for Barbara’s presence, a woman she loathes). With the revelation of a teenaged Margaret leading lynch mobs, each of her interactions now seem like calculated chess moves in a master plan.

On a side note, Rachael experiences severe abdominal pains and fears the baby’s health. Maggie takes a closer look and reiterates—as if the audience had forgotten—that Rachael and Tom’s baby is growing at twice the normal rate. It seems inconsequential, but by the episode’s end, it’s a piece in the larger puzzle; a great deal of Arcadia’s “Returned” are becoming sick. More on that later.

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Sherriff Fred, fresh off his sleuth finding of a bone in the family factory, asks his mother about it. Later on, Margaret lies to Fred—and he catches her—about knowing Arthur Holmes, the “Returned” factory worker who disappeared from Maggie’s observation room after Margaret spoke to him (or “eased [his] suffering” as Margaret put it). Fred seems to realize that Margaret is hiding something, but is newly sober and friendly (especially with Bellamy) Fred capable of putting it all together or accusing his mother of anything? Time will tell.

As I mentioned, Jacob—when talking to his mother about the upcoming family dinner—asks if his estranged Aunt Barbara will be attending. When Lucille tells him that she won’t, Jacob lashes out by smashing china and talking back. It seems that Jacob has been acting out of character, and may be receiving off-screen coaching by Margaret. Jacob, after all, seems to be an important cog in the “Returned” machine and Margaret seems to be keeping him in her pocket. The seed Margaret planted in Jacob’s mind—the your-mother-loves-you-but-doesn’t-understand-us seed—seems to be sprouting malicious roots.

Moving on, the subject of Barbara and Margaret needs to be discussed. Barbara is invited to dinner by Henry, who is trying to make Jacob happy. Simultaneously, and without knowing Barbara had been invited, Margaret and Lucille discuss Barbara. Margaret, more than once in “Old Scars,” blames Barbara as the beginning of the Langston downfall. The circumstances of Jacob’s drowning are very suspicious: Jacob drowned trying to save Barbara, and an infant Maggie was also present. Doesn’t it sound a little strange? Knowing Margaret’s cunning, that she hates Barbara, and her willingness to kill to reclaim homeostasis, is it possible that she somehow orchestrated Barbara’s death? It wouldn’t be surprising, but it’s just a theory.

In the final scene of “Old Scars,” Margaret tucks Jacob in for bed and tells him an allegorical story about a little girl who preserved the well-being of a family and a village overrun by “demons” by hanging, shooting, and burning them. She laments that none of these three methods worked, but in time, she figured out how to banish the “demons”—or the “Returned.” She doesn’t give that away just yet, but she does call herself—and the girl—a demon. So it seems that Margaret has a plan to stop the “Returning” which makes viewers wonder if the sickness the “Returned” are experiencing is a coincidence, or part of Margaret’s plan. Could her plan really entail the killing of all “Returned” if she acknowledges that she’s one herself? Or is there some greater, more dominant hand at play here?

One thing is for certain: Margaret is played with incredibly devious, ominous, and flat-out malicious wit by Michelle Fairley. Fairley is a welcomed addition to Season Two and embodies a looming and deliciously evil miasma over the unspooling plot. Resurrection has blossomed into one of the best mysteries on television. How much shows are willing to reveal, and when, is really the do-or-die aspect of dramatic mysteries. So far, Resurrection isn’t giving away much, but it’s downright enjoyable nonetheless. Some answers are needed soon, though, or faithful viewers might lose interest, or hope.

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3.5 out of 5