When a young Missouri native named Jacob Langston (played by Landon Gimenez) suddenly wakes up in rural China in tonight’s Resurrection premiere (9/8c, ABC), no one has a clue how he got there — or how he’s even alive, considering he died 32 years ago.
And no one is more surprised to see Jacob alive and well-ish than his parents, Henry (That ’70s Show‘s Kurtwood Smith) and Lucille (Touch‘s Frances Fisher). The process of the now-elderly couple coming to terms with Jacob’s return — he drowned, along with his aunt, more than three decades earlier — is actually a high point of the premiere, as both actors bring a believable mix of doubt and emotion to their performances.
The rest of the hour is mostly a parade of “How is this possible”s and “I don’t believe it”s, courtesy of the Langstons’ friends and extended family members, who struggle to accept Jacob’s return on both a medical and spiritual level. Jacob’s childhood friend Tom (Mark Hildreth), now an adult pastor, has a particularly difficult time understanding how it’s all possible.
That’s when viewers are treated to a surprising reveal: When Jacob and his aunt died 32 years ago, there was a third man with them at the river — and Jacob’s aunt had been sleeping with him! Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing whether this man has any connection to Jacob’s resurrection.
That relative ambiguity is actually a common issue running throughout the episode. While Resurrection‘s premiere does a solid job of establishing the who, what and where of it all, viewers will likely be frustrated by its complete lack of how and why. (My biggest question: How did this kid, who’s been M.I.A. for 32 years, know how to use a smartphone?)
If the series hopes to keep viewers interested, it needs to start rolling out some answers — and fast. The small-town family drama simply isn’t gripping enough on its own.
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