Resurrection: Unearth review

Resurrection may Unearth the solution to ABC's drama problem, but how long can they stretch it? It's a cliffhanger it could do without.

In last week’s review of Resurrection, I mentioned how ABC keeps desperately looking for their next big hit drama, searching for the kind of event series the network had produced in the past with shows like Lost. After being killed in the ratings with new shows like Mind Games and suffering significant drops in once-hopeful programs like Revenge, the Disney-owned network was scrambling for relevancy. For now, it looks like the ABC executives can rest easy. After last Sunday’s premiere, counting DVR-recorded views, Resurrection pulled in about 17 million viewers. In today’s day and age, that’s a huge premiere, by any network’s standards. Chalk it up to an intriguing ad campaign, or the fact that most networks are holding their best new programs for the April premiere season, but as of right now, Resurrection is a certified hit. Now all that remains to be seen is whether the show can keep viewers hooked and coming back.

In its second episode, Resurrection continues to be a pretty solemn affair, but one with enough mystery brewing. As long as this show keeps pushing towards it’s main question, how have these seemingly dead people returned, with urgency and speed, there’ll be plenty to do. But you have to wonder how long they can keep this central mystery going before the audience runs out of patience. This is a problem several high concept mysteries have, how long can you stretch the premise? So far, the show has done a good job establishing different questions, with Maggie’s mother’s lover instantly becoming suspicious when he utters, “she found us,” to unseen company and with Caleb Richards being shady all around.

Caleb, another returned person, gets a large portion of the episode dedicated to him, and it can be both good and bad. At first, I thought Sam Hazeldine was giving a rather boring performance at Caleb, but I quickly realized that there’s supposed to be something off about Caleb, so off even his son Ray won’t admit that he’s being himself. We see Caleb’s fishiness in almost every interaction he has, but especially when he’s in the forest digging up a body, threatening a man with a hammer at the end of the episode, and eerily trying to engage Jacob in conversation. Caleb died of a heart attack, and when he receives a check-up from Maggie, he show’s signs of having a heart attack just three days prior, and Caleb even keeps hold of the note his daughter left him in his casket. If anything, Caleb is more interesting than Jacob because as an adult he’s not being hidden from the fact that he died, he’s having to grapple with it, but who even knows if this is the Caleb who died at all.

In Jacob and Agent Bellamy’s storylines, Jacob tries to adjust to life as a normal kid while Agent Bellamy seeks to have Jacob’s tomb exhumed. For Jacob, his obstacles include dealing with the townspeople of Arcadia viewing him as some kind of freak. Bellamy struggles against Frank, Maggie’s father and town sherriff, for the right to exhume is nephew and wife’s tomb. The only problem I found with these scenes was the unbelievable incredulousness of some of the characters when facing these problems. Jacob’s mom is told that perhaps she should lie about who Jacob is, say that he’s a relative of some sort, to keep people from being concerned, and she reacts as if she couldn’t begin to understand why that’s a good idea. She can’t believe that anyone even suggests she lie about her returned son who’s been dead for 32 years. Then Jacob’s dad can’t understand why anyone who need to examine Jacob’s remains, but once again, if your dead son returned after 32 years, wouldn’t you want to explore all of the possible angles?

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Francis Fisher is given much more to do this week as Jacob’s mom, but she still lacks a certain believability with how willingly she adjusts to having her son back. I’m getting sick of the stubborn sheriff trope in these shows set in small towns, but the relationship between Frank and his brother Henry (the still excellent Kurtwood Smith) and the secrets that the family are hiding is definitely interesting. Omar Epps is as steady as ever as surrogate viewer perspective character Bellamy, and Devin Kelley is doing fine as other lead Maggie. The annoying cliff hanger at the end of this episode didn’t do it any favors, but so far, the intrigue of the mystery is still offsetting the bad aspects on this show. 

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3 out of 5