The More Resurrection Focuses On Emotion Instead Of Plot, The Better

Resurrection continues to spend a lot of time delving into the emotional lives of the returned and their loved ones. This is the episode that dealt the least with trying to figure out how this happened and why, and the show is absolutely the better for it

This week has a new resurrected: Pastor Tom's formerly dead fiancée, Rachel. It's also the first week that hasn't added a new returned to the mix. Which is good, because this was a packed episode. We've got a plot focusing more on emotion than action, one doing the opposite, and just a smattering of forward motion for Jacob and his parents.

This week's theme is "change." What has changed since the deaths of the returned. What hasn't. And how the returned have changed, physically and in their character. As is my wont, let's break this episode down by character, in order from least relevant to most relevant.

Jacob

Last night's episode, "Us Against the World," spent less time with Jacob and his family then ever before. We start with teenagers taking flashlights to gawk at Jacob through the windows, which is a nice touch of reality. Once the rumors about Jacob got out, which the previous episode's park and church scenes had established, of course kids would react this way. It's like the classic "that house is haunted" or "that neighbor's a serial killer" rumor, that's followed by a dare to go see it. I can totally see kids reacting that way to Jacob.

We also have a follow-up to last week's conversation between Henry and Lucille, with Lucille throwing jabs left and right. She starts with asking how long he's been accusing her, in his mind, of not loving their son. She follows that up by saying that letting go of Jacob when he died was the right thing to do, and it's what Henry needs to do now. And down goes Henry.

Where Jacob fits into this week's theme is in the "How have the returned changed?" Lucille's realized that he's eating a lot and isn't sleeping, which she reports to Dr. Maggie. Dr. Maggie runs tests on Jacob and discovers that his metabolism's "off the charts," whatever that means. She also remembers that Ray said that Caleb was doing the same things. Being able to sense when he's close to Caleb rounds out Jacob's brand new post-resurrection powers. (I love that he tells Dr. Maggie that just as she clumsily tries to get him to talk to her — even as she rhapsodizes about how awesome a mom Lucille is.) These things are either going to be important later on or left by the wayside in favor of continuing to explore each returned's life in depth.

The question as to how the returned have changed is a thread that begins early in the episode, with Henry asking Lucille, "From the start you accepted that child as our Jacob — what if he's not the same?" Lucille's faith in Jacob does seem shaken, since she later tells Dr. Maggie that everything's been telling her that this was her son, exactly as he was when he died. But what if he isn't? Jacob's "symptoms" run counter to that faith. There's a chance that we're headed to Henry letting go of the old Jacob, and embracing the new one, just as Lucille starts to question.

The More Resurrection Focuses On Emotion Instead Of Plot, The Better

Rachel

The return of Rachel is, for now, unconnected to the plots of Jacob and Caleb. Pastor Tom tells her she can stay in the basement of the church, and that he'll get some people to help her. Rachel is very appropriately incredulous that there's "help" for Returned From the Dead Syndrome, but Pastor Tom says that she's not the only one. Rachel asks him not to tell anyone, and he says he'll only tell his wife.

The next morning, Pastor Tom exposits about Rachel to his wife: Before they met, before he was pastor, he and Rachel were in love. They were together 12 years ago, when she purposely drove her car off a bridge and died. Oh, and the only reason he's telling her now is because she's back from the dead. Mrs. Tom starts off being sympathetic, but once she finds out why he's telling her now, she's upset. She figures he never told her because of how much he loved Rachel, saying that she was "dead but obviously not gone."

And thus begins the bouncing ball of Pastor Tom's emotions:

  • He insists that this isn't true, that seeing Rachel just reminded him of how much he loved Mrs. Tom and their life. Mrs. Tom says, "Good. Then you know what you have to do." Unlike Pastor Tom, I am not emotionally compromised by Rachel's return, and I have no idea what Mrs. Tom meant. I mean, does she mean just abandon Rachel in the basement? Make her leave? Ignore her?
  • Rachel's fled the basement, leading a despondent Pastor Tom to wander the town, mistaking random brunettes for Rachel. He flashes back to proposing to her by a lake, and heads out there.
  • When he meets up with Rachel, he goes from angry about how she died to being really relieved to see her, saying "This morning, I went to the church to tell you you had to leave for the sake of my marriage. But when I got there and you were gone, I felt like I had lost you all over again, and I couldn't go through that again."
  • And then they kiss. Oh, Pastor Tom, no.

As for Rachel, when she first finds out about Pastor Tom's marriage, she seems honestly surprised and upset that he's moved on. Which is both emotionally honest, since she feels like it's only been a few days, and ridiculous because it's actually been 12 years. And then at the lake, when Pastor Tom rails at her for being so "selfish" by committing suicide, she responds by saying that she didn't plan it, she was over the bridge when she thought, "Maybe this could be it. It could all end tonight, I wouldn't have to pretend to be happy, and you could have someone that deserved your love." Which it seems he did.

She also says that he believed in her so much, and he felt she fell short of his expectations over and over again. I'll give it to this show for tackling Rachel's suicide head-on. She says that she doesn't want to kill herself any more, but has a very clear description of her suicidal ideation. Her reaction to Pastor Tom moving on contrasts with what she was thinking when she died — which is a nicely nuanced way of showing that at least part of her is in conflict with how she felt then.

And Pastor Tom has the kind of reaction you'd expect from those who dealt with her suicide. He says he and her family were hurt. He calls her selfish. He's honestly angry, and I didn't feel like the show was pushing us to be on either her side or his, just understand what they both went through. I'm also going to give credit to the show for sticking with the personal story here, rather than starting with Pastor Tom's religious analysis right off the bat. Even if he does get there eventually – especially if, as I suspect, Pastor Tom became a pastor because of Rachel's death – the knee-jerk self-centered emotional reaction feels more true.

It's not perfect — but if this show has a strong point, it's the commitment to exploring, in-depth every possible iteration of response to the return of a dead loved one. They could have shied away from this kind of death, but they didn't. And it could have felt very exploitative. It didn't, even if the "emotional affair" angle kind of does.

In terms of change, it's clear that Pastor Tom hasn't changed nearly as much as he thinks he has. He's sure he's moved on, but he wasn't open about Rachel with his wife. He starts the day thinking he's going to make her leave and stay faithful . . . and totally gives up on that by the end.

The More Resurrection Focuses On Emotion Instead Of Plot, The Better

Caleb

Caleb's plot continues to be a never-ending roller coaster. First, I thought he was just telling Elaine what she wanted to hear. Then I thought he was trying to make amends, but poorly. Now it's clear that it was a little bit of both.

For the duration of this episode, the powerhouse investigation team that is Marty and Dr. Maggie is mostly split up in favor of Marty and Sheriff Fred, who seems to have gotten over his earlier hatred of Marty. Marty, Maggie, and Sheriff Fred start the episode at the house of Dale, who was both the guy who found Caleb's body when he died and the guy Caleb hammered to death. Dr. Maggie and Marty fill Sheriff Fred in on the all they've discovered about the robbery. The mask at Caleb's hunting cabin, that the robbery happened the day Caleb died, and that it occurred at the bank Elaine worked at.

After Sheriff Fred exasperatedly points out that Marty and Dr. Maggie are finishing each other's sentences, they theorize that when he found Caleb's body, Dale also found the money he stole and took it. So when Caleb returned and found the money missing, he killed Dale. Plus, says Marty, when he last saw Caleb, he was cleaning a hammer and "Not to be funny, but how often do you wash a hammer?" That question is my new favorite zen koan.

Marty and Sheriff Fred go to collect the hammer from Elaine's house. Sheriff Fred starts by telling her he just wants to check up on her and then immediately proves that this is a lie by saying that he's going to "cut to the chase" and says he needs to talk to her father about a murder. Elaine cannot believe that her dad would kill his friend Dale. Elaine cannot believe anything bad about Caleb this episode.

Later, Marty and Sheriff Fred confirm that the mask they found is the same one in the security footage of the robbery. And that the shotgun is the same kind Caleb owns. Plus, Sheriff Fred points out that the only way a robber could know when the armored car would be at a bank would be through an employee, proving the "Caleb used Elaine to steal" theory correct.

In a neat bit of misdirect, as Sheriff Fred walks Marty through the old robbery, we seem to enter a flashback through the security camera footage. But as we get to the end, we realize that the mask is different and Sheriff Fred says that the robbery forced the bank to put another person in the armored truck. We see that new person and see Caleb shoot him and take the money, all in the same way he had committed the crime the day he died.

To double up on the disappointment in Caleb, recall when he brought Elaine lunch at work and she sobbed about no one taking care of her in so long? Yeah, now that's him using her expectations to get access to her computer and find out the armored truck schedule. Caleb giving Elaine everything she's ever wanted for him appears to have paid off, since she either can't believe he did this or can, but refuses to turn him in. On the other hand, early in the episode, Caleb drops the title of the episode, reminding her that "It's us against the world," which he used to say to her when she was a child, is still true. This feels less like manipulation and more like an honest connection with his child.

Right after the robbery, Caleb calls Elaine to tell her he's going out of town for a friend's "real estate opportunity." There is no way this conversation's helpful to law enforcement, but it's Elaine won't admit he called. Then she's furious at Dr. Maggie when she finds out that Dr. Maggie knew about the murder investigation.

Sheriff Fred gets the roads blocked off quick enough that Marty's sure that Caleb's hiding nearby. The fact that Elaine refuses to tell them about her information-less conversation with her father is rendered moot when Dr. Maggie comes to tell them that Jacob was able to feel where Caleb was. He's taken into custody with a surprising lack of violence. Although he does ominously end the episode by saying "It's just beginning."

If Caleb's changed at all, it's for the worse. When he first came back, he seemed to determine to start over with his kids and make amends. But he then commits the exact same crime that he did right before he died. So he hasn't really changed. And then again, he had only had minor run-ins with the law before. Certainly no murders. But now he's killed two people in cold blood, seemingly with no hesitation.

The other thing that's clear now is that every returned is exposing secrets that have remained buried since their deaths. Jacob's return forced Henry to tell Sheriff Fred about his wife's infidelity. Rachel's return forces Pastor Tom to tell his wife about her. And Caleb's return forced the resolution of the unsolved robbery. Granted, instead of coming clean and dealing with it emotionally, like the other two plots, Caleb seems determined to use this second chance to do the same things again. It revealed what happened, but in a much more catastrophic way.

I will say, I am really looking forward to watching these people try to figure out how you put a dead guy on trial for robbery and murder. Good luck, that's going to be a shitshow. If Jacob's return resulted in shunning at the church and park, I cannot even imagine how this town's going to react to Caleb. Amazing.