In Resurrection, the dead come back from the grave and help bring to light lies from the past. What separates this from other mystery-based tales, however, is that everyone involved – including those “positively” affected – remain critical of what all is occurring, forcing the show to continue to provide answers when other shows would ask those watching to simply "wait and see".
If you've seen impressively profound trailer ABC has been touting since last May, you know the story: After 32 years of being dead, from drowning, Jacob (Landon Gimenez), an 8-year-old boy, mysteriously shows up far away from where he calls home. A family is reunited, old relationships are revisited and a giant mystery is introduced.
The premiere delivers on every emotional moment the trailer promised - though with less weight, after having seen “the moment” in the previews many times – and the mystery, which is admittedly fascinating, helps to provide a solid foundation for much-welcomed skepticism to exist in this world. This, as well as a surprisingly resourceful cast, allows the series to take over for its audience and pose questions everyone at home wants to know the answers to. What’s more, the characters within the series are more apprehensive than those watching, so the mental anguish of “thinking for the characters” – which series with mysterious plots typically require – is eased, allowing you to enjoy the tale for what it is, knowing that your time is not being wasted.
J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps), an immigration agent, and Jacob Langston, the living undead, are currently the driving force in the show, and it’s through them which much of the logic in the series is established. Jacob, unaware that he’s not supposed to be alive, is as earnest as a child can be and Bellamy, wanting to find answers, makes use of the resources that his job provides in order to do just that. Henry (Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille Langston (Frances Fisher) are Jacob’s (now) older parents who recognize him as their child - though in no way accepts that it is - and Smith and Fisher are able to visually express both the pain and hope that the situation brings into their life. The contrast in age between parents and their supposed child is an interesting juxtaposition - and it’s likely one of the major reasons why people tuned in - yet it is the aspect of them having lived a full life which strengthens the parents resolve to find answers, no matter the outcome. After all, they know their child is dead.
How Jacob died and why he’s back are the two questions currently posed in the premiere. Admittedly, the element of “life after death” is breathed into a few additional characters; however, at this point, they still fall relatively within Jacob’s story-arc. A mysterious, whistling man is one of the few clues as to Jacob’s death. That’s it. The rest of the episode, thankfully, is focused on disproving everything Jacob says is true. Yet again, the mystery of what’s occurring never over-shadows the disbelief of those who come across Jacob’s magical return. This will likely change in subsequent episodes, so it’s best to appreciate it to the fullest right now.
Shows like Resurrection are not new to the world of television; BBC’s Torchwood: Miracle Day and Canal+’s The Returned – which is not connected to this series, in any way – have touched upon life and death plots to great success. Of course, when it comes to providing answers, both could learn a thing or two from the way Resurrection’s characters demand answers, as Miracle Day allowed ridiculousness to be the explanation for their story, and The Returned is still attempting to navigate its way through a major mystery with even more mystery.
If you’ve read Jason Mott’s novel “The Returned” – again, not connected to Canal+’s series – you know the end of this story, and you know whether or not it’s worthwhile to invest the time required for everything to pay off. At this point, after the premiere, from someone who has not read the book, Resurrection appears to be the first earnest mystery-based show. The plot is a mystery, yes, but its intentions are not, and so far the amount of time invested is more than worthwhile. Whether or not this continues still remains to be seen – but after all the skepticism laid out in the premiere, even the grumpiest of viewer can afford to stand behind the series with a little bit of hope.
Resurrection returns next Sunday with “Unearth” @9pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: