Last night was a bunch of smaller moments with one major revelation: Apparently, coming back from the dead is a choice you can make. And the only one who knows that is Grandma Langston, who continues to be the creepiest person in Arcadia.
First things first, we've got our first service at Pastor Tom's new Returned-friendly church, which his wife thinks should be called "New Life Church." He thinks that's perfect, I think it's annoyingly on the nose, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
Second, we have a return to Deputy Carl and his punishing life as the brother of a nightmare who will not die. As usual, Mikey doesn't remember that he's a Returned, but he is sick with disease that plagues the Returned. And, in a touch that I think is actually over-the-top on the writers' part but isn't out of character, tells Maggie he wants a real doctor, a man.
Carl's figured out that the first Returned who was sick disappeared for good, and thinks this disease might be a way to get rid of his albatross of a brother. I am all for this, because I've never felt more for any character on this show. In service of that, Carl keeps medicine away from his brother, and laughs to himself when Mikey claims that "things will be different" when he's better.
In the Langston home, Lucille apologizes to Grandma Margaret about her behavior. And, for once, Grandma's on board with Lucille. She hates Barbara the most, and while last week she called the Returned demons, her hatred of Barbara is so intense that I kind of need to know why. Did she know about Barbara's affair, and that's it? Or was just no one ever good enough for her son?
But her hatred gets a giant boost when she finds a scantily-clad Barbara back with Fred. And, wow, I get that they were married. But this episode showed Barbara getting drunk with Maggia and Elaine, who both have to leave before her, because they have jobs and are older than her. So they are not anywhere near in the same place in terms of life experience. In a way, I am kind of sad this episode ended the way it did, because the dynamic of this family, where the mother is younger than the daughter and the father looks like a cradle-robber is fascinating.
So Grandma Margaret, takes Barbara for a little talk. Again, all the props to Michelle Fairley, who is just terrifying every time she gives one of her little speeches. This time, she tells Barbara that being a Returned isn't a second chance to live your life well and reconcile with your family. It's a punishment. The punishment is that no one wants Barbara. (Which is demonstrably not true, as Fred's worst actions were motivated by needing to believe Barbara only left him because it wasn't really her.) Grandma points out that she knew this was true, that's why she went to her lover and not her husband. She then says that life is always a choice, and Barbara can choose to leave.
Just as Barbara concludes that she doesn't want to do this anymore, she disappears. In the same vein, Mikey, sweating, coughing up blood, and blue in the face says something similar, while a previously happy Carl hides behind a door waiting. Both Mikey and Barbara join Caleb and the old Returned on the disappeared list.
Elaine had followed Grandma and Barbara, and she has to break to Maggie that her mother, who she'd just managed to get over her concerns about and appreciate the second chance, is gone. The Langston family cannot catch a break.
In disease news, Rachael's got a fever that has made her barely coherent. She's being kept overnight, and the only we heard her say in the hospital is "my baby." I so foresee a plot with an impaired Rachael and Tom having to make some sort of decision, with Janine on the "the baby, not your old fiancee" side.
Also, Marty's developed a cough and is worried about his status as a Returned. Maggie figured out he was the one who ratted to the government about the bones they found, and is pretty angry. But not as angry as she is when she tells him to get the government to come in and help with the disease, and doesn't want to. Marty eventually calls, only to be told, in the very specific way that screams that she's avoiding saying something, that she has no "useful" information. Marty leaves Maggie a note that he's gone looking for answers.
So I guess we now know how to get rid of a Returned permanently: Make them decide that they should give up on being alive. Caleb, abandoned by his family and in jail, probably made a similar decision. I'm betting the disease works on most of them the way it worked on Mikey: pain enough to make Returned say they can't do it anymore. And if the disease isn't enough, you can always just spend five minutes talking with Grandma Margaret, because she's scary enough that I'd say anything to not deal with her anymore.
Plus, Sheriff Fred had passed on the investigation of the bodies at the factory on to Marty. But I bet once he discovers that his mom made Barbara leave, he goes right back to investigating. Grandma's a little too into the personal and little less good at covering her tracks.