I’ve really liked co-writer Oanh Ly’s episodes in the past, so The Returned being such a mess is a bummer. Even if it weren’t for the problematic resolve to Miranda Otto’s love affair with visiting witch Skye P. Marshall—who gets a big spotlight this episode to have it torn away twice—or how Lachlan Watson’s Romeo and Romeo star-crossed thing with Jonathan Whitesell gets shrugged off after a single episode because the show can’t figure out anything to do with Watson who’s been a regular since episode one, there’s so many narrative backtracks it’s hard to keep track. Not to mention the whole point of the episode is to bring back dead characters in order to give living cast members performatively cathartic outbursts.
Not to mention poor Michelle Gomez; turns out the writers have no surprises for her, just more obvious, wrenching tragedy. It’s a complete waste of Gomez (whose Earthly version is background for already background Richard Coyle) and seems like unnecessary filler. I wonder at what point “Sabrina” knew they weren’t getting another season from Netflix because I was under the impression these episodes were long in the can before Netflix officially canceled them. It might explain some of the mess. I hope it explains some of the mess.
So the episode opens with Kiernan Shipka trying to adjust to her latest new normal—including rekindled beau Gavin Leatherwood—and supporting her human friends as they get ready for a “Battle of the Bands” at the high school. Someone directly asks Shipka if she’ll be participating and she says no, which is important later because apparently she just didn’t want to play with those friends and because “Sabrina” needed to have a three song “Battle of the Bands” scene. One of the bands is back from the dead—which turns out to be Marshall’s plot, playing a board game against Eldritch Terror Oliver Rice—and has history with Ross Lynch’s dad, Christopher Rosamond.
But this band isn’t the only resurrected, there’s also previous series regular Abigail Cowen, back to give some closure to Tati Gabrielle and Adeline Rudolph, but also Christine Willes as Alessandro Juliani’s mother who has it in for Lucy Davis because she’s married to her little boy, not to mention the profoundly pointless Georgie Daburas as Shipka’s long dead dad. It’s a nothing finish for a character arc I think Shipka started the series with.
The episode’s so cheap it falls back on dogs being cute to get it through. It’s a rather desperate outing, with every one of its plots failing to resolve adequately, not to utterly wasting the cast’s time.