Why is it that ABC’s Resurrection decided to wait until its last hour to get interesting? Tonight’s finale is easily the best hour of the program, a show that started off with an intriguing premise but mostly meandered around retreading the same issues. Instead of taking the idea of the dead returning to bigger endpoints, the Resurrection season finale focused on the Langston family and a father trying to accept his returned son, turning over the same questions week in and week out.
But now the returned have started turning up in droves, and the government are getting involved. Forget about Jacob Langston returning, because the more interesting Langston newly back from the dead is Barbara, and the emotions she evokes from her daughter and husband are far more dramatic and complicated then anything we saw Henry Langston mull over endlessly. In its last hour, Resurrection even presents a true antagonist and ends on a mysterious cliffhanger. “Torn Apart” is generally exciting, but it’s equally infuriating because all of these developments could have come four weeks ago. So much time was wasted, especially on threads like Caleb Richards that never really seemed to go anywhere.
Barbara Langston returning provided so much great material that could have been given more time to play out, and a quarantine and witch hunt of the returned seems a hell of a lot more interesting then the multiple church debates we sat through in the earlier episodes. Frank’s transformation into a true villain, due to his rejection by his wife, was long overdue, especially the motivation behind his distrust of those who have returned. Even more poignant than Frank’s descent into darkness was Maggie finally getting to meet her mom. Devin Kelly absolutely crushes her scenes, showing the hurt and complication of a daughter realizing that her mother wasn’t the person she believed she would be.
The smaller scenes, based on these relationships and not the larger issues, were definitely improved, but the bigger moments were more rewarding, too. Finally getting the government involved was a good move, allowing the show to finally explore what the bigger implications would be if something like this happened. Just the sight of the army in Arcadia adds more tension, just like the sight of Bellamy’s mysterious birthmark. The Thompsons, the group of returned people that the Langstons take in, mention that they lost their son, a boy with a noticeable birthmark, and then the final shot shows a birthmark on the back of Bellamy’s neck as choppers and government vehicles descend on he and Jacob. It’s unclear what this means, but it’s a twist we’re left to ponder.
Hopefully the show embraces a new heightened form of stakes and mystery when it comes back for a second season, taking cues from a former ABC thriller, Lost. Instead of the smaller character-driven moments, Resurrection seems like it can really take off if it embraces large-scale chaos. Frank needs to take his villainy to greater heights and the show needs to cut the fat on less interesting characters, like it seemingly did with Elaine and the Richards family, and focus on Bellamy, Maggie, and lesser-utilized intriguing people like Eric. This first season was average, but I still believe this show has potential if they pick up the pace and up the tempo of the action.