Screen Junkies » the leftovers http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:43:13 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 The Leftovers Recap, Episode 9: “The Garveys At Their Best” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-9-the-garveys-at-their-best/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-9-the-garveys-at-their-best/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:42:46 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264462 Laurie speaks, Kevin cheats, and a deer wreaks (havoc) in the first season's penultimate episode.

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By Jared Jones

“I need to cancel.”

It has taken 9 long episodes for us to finally hear Laurie Garvey speak, and my God was it glorious. That her first line of dialogue involved the potential abortion of a child she had yet to tell her husband about was a fitting touch for The Leftovers, a show so wrought with secrets and grief that you’d have to be a glutton for punishment to make it this far into season 1. Luckily, I am one such glutton.

Told entirely through flashback, “The Garveys At Their Best” attempted to shed some light on what the lives of Kevin, Laurie, Norah Durst, and countless other citizens of Mapleton were like before the events of October 14th. And to be honest, most of them were quickly headed for disaster. Kevin, for instance, felt trapped in his mundane existence (not unlike the deer running amok throughout last night’s episode) and in constant search of his “greater purpose”, which equated to a lot of cigarette smoking and cheating on his wife. Nora, on the other hand, was trapped in the underappreciated (and intellectually lacking) life of a stay at home mom, growing increasingly frustrated with an unappreciative husband and plain annoying children. And of course, there was Laurie, who was stuck in a dead-end marriage with an unplanned child on the way.

These people wanted out, and in a way, the Departure was that out — an event that freed them from the suffocating normalness of their previous lives. Kevin was given an out from his marriage, Laurie an out from her unplanned child, and Nora an out from the (albeit temporary) frustrations of her family. “The Garveys At Their Best”, ironic as the title may be, showcased more about who these people were than any episode before it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, with the first season finale a mere two weeks away.

Perhaps the most interesting development in “The Garveys at Their Best” was not the reveal that Laurie was carrying a child that was lost in the Departure, nor that Kevin was cheating on his wife with a woman who vanished during it, but that the event itself might have been brought about, or at least coincided, with the wishes of those left behind. It adds a whole different level of grief to an already grief-ridden show, but also some perspective on why those left behind might be so insistent on forgetting those who were lost — because they feel responsible for their departure. In a sense, last night’s episode made you understand, if not sympathize, with the Guilty Remnant, who are facing their grief head-on rather than suppressing it like many of the townsfolk of Mapleton.

Oh right, I almost forgot about Jill, who was a brace-faced teen working on a entropy project (get it?) for a science fair and basically living the average teenager lifestyle before the Departure. We didn’t really learn much about Jill, other than that she had a much closer relationship with Tommy prior to October 14th and might have known that her parents were headed for splitsville. She and Tommy also happened to witness first hand the disappearance of a classmate during a particularly intriguing sequence involving a human “circuit.”

Last night’s episode also revealed several smaller revelations. Firstly, that Laurie used to be a successful psychiatrist and that the Garvey’s were, like, stupid rich because of her success. We also learned that Paddi used to be a patient of Laurie’s, potentially foresaw the Departure, and that the “Neil” whose name she scribbled on a bag before defecating it and leaving it on his doorstep was in fact her abusive ex-husband who had recently kicked her out of her house. Oh, and Gladys was a dog-breeder before she went off the reservation, which begs the question: Were animals taken in the Departure as well? You have to admit, no one would have seen that twist coming.

After a short break for Labor Day, The Leftovers will return for what is set to be a gripping season finale. If I were to guess, it will be anything but uplifting.

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The Leftovers Recap, Episode 8: “Cairo” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-8-cairo/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-8-cairo/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:10:51 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264252 Sheriff Kevin Garvey is going full-on Fight Club, or at least that's what last night's episode of "The Leftovers" would like you to believe.

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By Jared Jones

HEAR the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hoofs heavy with tumult, their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire:

O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love’s lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet.

And with those parting words (departing words?), the Guilty Remnant’s head honcho Patti took her own life in the climax of last night’s episode of The Leftovers via glass shard to the throat. It was a gruesome, mindf*ck of an ending to a complete mindf*ck of an episode.

That poem, by the way, is WB Yeats’  ”Michael Robartes Bids his Beloved be at Peace.” I’m guessing the horses represent the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse or some other cataclysmic event, but trying to theorize at the deeper meaning of anything in this show before the season culminates is a wild goose chase of which I refuse to participate in.

Perhaps its so hard to get a grasp on what exactly was happening in “Cairo” due to the show’s continual use of Sheriff Kevin Garvey as an unreliable narrator. As the audience, we are given no further insight into Kevin’s blackouts/dreams, the peripheral characters possibly contained within them (Dean the dog-killer), or the significance of things like his misplaced white shirts than Kevin himself. Are the drug cocktails Kevin was previously on causing these blackouts? Alcohol maybe? Or is Kevin being played a fool by almost everyone around him? For now, all we know is that he appears to be losing his mind, and we’re right there with him.

If what we learned last night is to be believed, Kevin has actually made several trips out to Cairo, NY (a five+ hour drive from Mapleton), to ritualistically hang his police shirts from trees, all while blacked out. This all culminated in last night’s trip, where he allegedly picked up Dean the dog-killer, brutalized and kidnapped Patti, then dragged her up to a cabin in Cairo that he used to “sneak off and smoke cigarettes in” as a kid. That’s one high-functioning alcoholic, my friends.

But it’s hard to fault Kevin for being an unreliable narrator, as almost everything we learned in “Cairo” was told to him secondhand by Dean, a man with no driver’s license, birth certificate, or even a Dave & Buster’s Power Play card. According to Patti, Dean is “a ghost.”  Based off what we know about Kevin’s father and the voices he hears, it is incredibly likely that Dean is simply a figment of Kevin’s imagination, although the fact that Dean has interacted with several other characters on the show (albeit for incredibly brief moments) seems to play against this theory. Perhaps Dean might just be the face Kevin has assigned to his split personality, maybe?

Of course, it’s possible that everything about Cairo might be in Kevin’s head. Cairo was, after all, the only thing he heard over the walkie talkie during his previous dream sequence involving Dean (you know, the one with the dog in the mailbox). Likewise, his conversation with Patti moments before she killed herself was shockingly similar to the one he had with his demented father at the diner in “Solace for Tired Feet”. Like his father, Patti kept alluding to the fact that Kevin plays a larger role in the Departure (or its aftermath) than even he can understand. That his dreams seem to be equal parts delusion and premonition adds credence to this idea, but who the f*ck knows for sure.

Last night’s episode also revealed that, yes, Patti did have Gladys killed as part of the GR’s ongoing quest to force people to “remember” the events of October 14th, and that Laurie is likely the next one in line to die for such a cause.  A U-haul full of body-sized packages, however, seems to indicate that the Guilty Remnant is either a) planning to commit mass suicide or b) planning a rally that involves all the possessions they have stolen from the townspeople.

The photos, the clothes, the body-sized packages — methinks that the GR has ordered a truckload of those fake corpses produced by Marcus to sneak the fake corpses back into the homes of those who lost someone in The Departure. We know that it will happen on Memorial Day, as loud-mouthed Meg — who we learned lost her mother the day before the Departure (hooray character development!) — couldn’t help but spill the beans. She also hinted that Nora would be on the receiving end of the worst of whatever they have planned. Poor, sardonic, sexy Nora.

Oh yes, there was also a half-baked plot involving Kevin’s daughter Jill this week, wherein she took Nora to task for carrying a gun, then after finding that she no longer carried it, broke into her house to find that she was still in possession of it. Oh yes, and she also got into a heated argument with Aimee revolving around whether or not Aimee had sex with her father, which resulted in Aimee moving out. Personally, I think the bite mark on Kevin’s hand relates back to some kinky sex he had with Aimee during one of his blackouts, but again, who. the. f*ck. knows.

Perhaps because Jill is written like every brooding sitcom teen ever, I continuously find myself identifying more with the twins who hang out with her than Jill herself. “So the gun means that, like, people can never get over what happened?” one of the twins tries to explain while searching Nora’s home, which as close to a meaning in Jill’s B-plot as I could come to this week.

That the episode ended with Jill coming face-to-face with her mother in the GR headquarters is an interesting turn for an otherwise uninteresting character, and the fallout from this plot (should Jill decide to join the GR) will no doubt be the push that sends her father over the edge. Kevin is going to be facing a lot more than a potential murder charge in Mapleton, and being that the only thing that kept him from converting to his father’s dark side was his commitment to Jill, we are probably in store for a complete character implosion upon his return.

One can only hope.

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In Its Strangest Plot Twist To Date, HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ Gets Renewed http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/in-its-strangest-plot-twist-to-date-hbos-the-leftovers-gets-renewed/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/in-its-strangest-plot-twist-to-date-hbos-the-leftovers-gets-renewed/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:42:23 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264136 We'll keep watching it, because it's on HBO on Sundays, and that's what really matters.

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After seven weeks of getting our hopes up with spikes of action, then letting them simmer with 120 minutes of restless boredom between them, HBO has decided that, year, they’re going to keep doing that to us with The Leftovers. Because it’s been picked up for a second season (in case that roundabout criticism wasn’t clear).

Ratings for the post-rapture study of a small town started off fine, but have been growing across all platforms despite the fact that the show keeps testing viewers’ patience for SOMETHING to happen, just as patiences were tested producer Damon Lindelof‘s previous TV event, Lost.

No word yet on timing, but barring something weird, I think expecting the show back in about 10 months should be about right. In the meantime, just enjoy the silence and cigarette smoke.

(Deadline)

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The Leftovers Recap, Episode 7: “Solace for Tired Feet” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-7-solace-for-tired-feet/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-7-solace-for-tired-feet/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:54:08 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=264034 Prophetic hallucinations, a crazy old man on a rampage, and the May 1972 edition of National Geographic were at the center of last night's The Leftovers. I still have no f*cking idea what this show is about.

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By Jared Jones

I’m start to get that feeling again, you guys.

You Lost fans know the one — it’s equal parts excitement, nerves, and plain confusion, and it usually occurs when Damon Lindelof starts hinting at the kinds of existential and pseudo-religious questions he cannot possibly answer in a satisfying manner.

It’s not that I have a problem with Lindelof’s storytelling style (which I can only describe as masochistic ambiguity), as I actually found last night’s episode of The Leftovers, “Solace for Tired Feet”, to be one of the better of the season. It’s just that someone eventually needs to be held accountable when all the pieces of the puzzle don’t add up, and it sure as hell ain’t going to be me this time. To quote George W., “Fool me once, shame on you. You fool me-I can’t get fooled again.”

I know I might be jumping to conclusions in my criticism of The Leftovers, but that’s at least partially because last night’s episode of The Leftovers seemed to be hinting at the greater purpose it has been quietly building throughout its first six episodes: A reason behind The Departure, aka something Lindelof specifically said the show would never reveal.

A quick recap: Kevin’s crazy Dad escapes from the mental institution, returns to a library he previously burned down and trashes it, and attempts to lure Kevin to the dark (crazy) side with prophetic talks of “accepting it.” Kevin, on the other hand, has been seeing Nora regularly while battling his own hallucinations via a series of dream sequences that are growing increasingly tiresome. Kevin’s stepson, Tommy, on the other other hand, is still on the run with a very pregnant Christine and beginning to lose faith in Holy Wayne, who he has not heard from in months.

That we are some 7 episodes into The Leftovers and still know nothing about Tommy, how he got involved with Wayne, or why he believes Wayne is the prophet he claims to be, remains one of the show’s biggest oversights. Then again, so is Meg’s storyline, Paddies lack of a storyline, and the backstory of damn near every character in this show. The Leftovers insists on wearing so many hats at once that it never seems to keep track of the ones it is already wearing — in addition to the litany of mysteries surrounding the Departure, the GR, Kevin, and Tommy, “Solace for Tired Feet” also gave us:

-A dog in a mailbox and a bite mark on Kevin’s hand that looked very human

-The dead dogs in Dean’s truck turning into GR members mid-dream sequence

-The May 1972 edition of National Geographic

-Kevin and Tommy incurring similar injuries (on their left hands) and experiences (smashing a phone, the mailboxes, etc.)

While all these are compelling little vignettes in their own right, given what we know about Lindelof, it’s hard not to look at Kevin Sr.’s pleas to his son, or the National Geographic magazine, or Holy Wayne and his army of pregnant Asian women as red herrings being pretentiously painted over as plot developments. At a certain point, throwing as many Biblical references and ambiguous symbolism at the audience as you can without resolution is not clever, it’s incompetent storytelling. Think of all the countless hours many of us spent trying to piece together all the symbols in True Detective, only to find out that, fuck you, none of those things were supposed to mean anything. I loved True Detective, but that doesn’t excuse it (or shows like it) from introducing a gun in the first act only to tell me that I never actually saw the gun in the third.

Then again, The Leftovers, like True Detective before it, seems to focus more on how the members of Mapleton (and specifically, the Garveys) react to the inexplicable than anything else. Which is interesting in theory, but doesn’t exactly make for compelling television if its wrapped in a mystery more compelling than the characters within it. Still, I will watch The Leftovers till season’s end to see what, if any, storylines it chooses to resolve and how it chooses to resolve them. Based on the general reaction to the show thus far, I’m guessing that’s why we’re all sticking with it.

Are Holy Wayne’s children a bridge between the Departed and those left behind? Between the living and the dead? Are Kevin’s hallucinations directly related to the higher sense of purpose his father (and Reverend Jameson) seems to think is destined for? Is Holy Wayne a sham? Does Jill’s friend Aimee know more about the cause of Kevin’s hallucinations than she is letting on? Does Carrie Coon look absolutely incredible naked? I can only answer that last question with a resounding SCHWING, but I’ll stick with The Leftovers for now to see how it answers the rest of them.

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The Leftovers Recap, Episode 6: “Guest” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-6-guest/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-6-guest/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 21:26:02 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263735 Gunshot fetishes, Slayer's "Angel of Death," and a brilliant performance from Carrie Coon highlighted an incredibly strong episode of The Leftovers this week.

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By Jared Jones

“Oh, fuck your daughter!”

So began last night’s episode of The Leftovers, “Guest”, as cute-as-a-button grieving wife/mother Nora Durst attempted to woo Sheriff Garvey away to Miami for what I could only assume would be a weekend spent crying into pillows. Thankfully, Nora’s request was more figurative than literal, but it left an awkward (and memorable) impression on Kevin nonetheless.

Actually, that’s not how the episode began. It began with Nora purchasing groceries for her departed family members, spying on the preschool teacher who was sleeping with her husband prior to his departure, and asking an escort to shoot her in the chest while she donned a kevlar vest, Slayer’s “Angel of Death” cranking in the background. It was an odd sequence that will undoubtedly spawn no less than five Facebook Challenge-related deaths.

Possible incest jokes and gunshot fetishes aside, “Guest” easily made for one of the strongest episodes, if not the strongest episode of the season thus far, with Carrie Coon absolutely destroying my soul with her portrayal of Nora. From the moments spent staring out the window of her car at the slutty preschool teacher to her confrontation with Holy Wayne at the episode’s close, Coon’s performance was at times heartbreaking, uplifting, and oddly enough, sexy. If she didn’t earn herself an Emmy nomination for her scene with Wayne alone, my God.

Having lost her entire family in The Departure, Nora has understandably been trapped in a vicious cycle of grief and guilt for the past three years. The blame for her self-loathing cannot entirely be placed on The Departure itself, however, as Nora has spent the years since making sure said grief was always held close. She continues to purchase food for her family, has taken a job with Department of Sudden Departure, asking other families inane questions about those they lost (Did so and so drink more than two alcoholic beverages daily? What about sugary cereal?), and believes that the only way to connect to her family’s pain is to take a bullet to the chest every now and again.

But it is during Nora’s trip to New York for a Departure-related conference that we begin to see her transformation from victim of hope to someone capable of quote unquote “moving on.” She wants her family back, obviously, but her decision to keep living as if they will walk through the door at any moment has only fueled her depression over their disappearance. Of course, that she shows up to New York only to find her conference identity as a “Legacy” (or someone who lost a family member in The Departure) stolen isn’t helping things.

“You’re doing so much better now,” sarcastically states Margery, a woman Durst had a previous run in with in the past at one of the Departure conferences. And truly, Nora has allowed her grief over The Departure (and hope for her family’s return) to define her as a person, rather than joining the likes of the replica-corpse selling Marcus, who believe that her job is nothing more than a scam.

A night of hard partying and a confrontation with the fake Nora Durst later, the real Nora Durst is still struggling to find the meaning in her grief. In her mind, there is no life, no chance at happiness, after The Departure. The grief is neverending, and those “Legacies” left behind are nothing more than the perpetual reminders of the event itself. How Nora has avoided joining the Guilty Remnant up to this point is anyone’s guess.

Yet it is in that moment with Margery that Nora may have realized her need to change. That, or when she was verbally abusing “What’s Next” (with a period, not a question mark) author Patrick as a “phony” full of “bullshit.” She could either choose to continue wallowing in remorse or push through it and embrace what life she still had, and thankfully, she chose the latter. Nora comes away from the conference a reinvigorated, happier person, or rather, someone capable of registering happiness…all thanks to a wild night of booze, pills, and one of Holy Wayne’s patented hugs.

Out with the grieving, in with the optimism. That’s what The Leftovers is ultimately about, anyway; more than the characters involved or even their stories, The Leftovers is about grief, and how we choose to move on from it (or don’t, as is the case for many of the show’s characters). The Departure may have ripped Nora’s previous life from her, but she is still there. She’s still alive, and needs to start living accordingly. So when Sheriff Garvey shows up at her door to ask her on a date, she quickly accepts.

Am I sensing a love connection here, chief? Yes, yes I am. (Let’s just hope Kevin is into women who like being shot.)

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The Leftovers Recap, Episode 4: “B.J. and the A.C.” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-episode-4-recap-b-j-and-the-a-c/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-episode-4-recap-b-j-and-the-a-c/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:34:43 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263196 Heavy-handed metaphors were ripe for the picking in last night's Christmas-themed episode of The Leftovers that was anything but Christmasy.

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By Jared Jones

Heavy-handed metaphors were ripe for the picking in last night’s Christmas-themed episode of The Leftovers, “B.J. and the A.C.” From the opening sequence, which depicted the manufacturing process of a doll that would eventually serve as the baby Jesus in Mapleton’s nativity scene, to the obvious treatment of Tommy’s role as the Joseph to Christine’s Mary Magdalene, the episode was rote with Biblical references that were anything but subtle.

This observation is not necessarily meant as a criticism, as last week’s excellent episode, “Two Boats and a Helicopter”, played very closely to the book of Job. It’s just that last night’s episode of The Leftovers didn’t allow you to search for allegory or hidden context as much as it beat you over the head with it like an eighth grader’s Animal Farm book report.

But first, a little backtracking. This week’s storyline focused once again on Mapleton’s manically depressed town sheriff, Kevin, his family, and the members of the Guilty Remnant (not that “family” is a concept that the GR believes in anymore). You see, some three years removed from the event that saw 2% of the world’s population disappear, Kevin’s daughter, Jill, is still venting as only teens written by adults for television shows can. She’s distant, angsty, and should probably focus her energy into writing a blues album called “I’m a Poor Little Sad Sack.” And because Jill’s such a poor little sad sack, she goes out of her way to make her father’s working life all the shittier by stealing the Baby Jesus (the “B.J” from the episode’s title, presumably) from the nativity scene, which he immediately calls her out for doing.

Jill’s not all mischief and black eyeliner, though, as we learn when she refuses to set the baby Jesus aflame (largely at her friend Aimee’s behest) and more significantly, when she gives her mother, Laurie (who joined the Guilty Remnant shortly after the event), a lighter engraved “Don’t Forget Me” as a Christmas gift. It is a truly heartbreaking scene that is heightened all the more by the fact that Laurie had shown up to serve Kevin divorce papers just moments earlier.

Laurie’s decision to throw the lighter down a gutter afterward was foreseeable, as was her decision to fish it out of said gutter at the episode’s end. For a character who hasn’t spoken a word thus far in the show, Amy Brenneman has perhaps developed the most fully realized character of them all. While we still don’t know her exact reasons for joining the Guilty Remnant, we are beginning to see her conviction melt away with each passing episode. Leaving her family behind was not a clean break, as one would expect, and the dissonance the decision has created within her has made for some brilliant (and more importantly, subtle) moments in the show thus far.

Outside of Mapleton, Kevin’s son Tommy (or half-son, as we later learn that Tommy was a child from Laurie’s previous marriage)  is forging ahead with his quest to protect Christine, the woman carrying the child of guru Holy Wayne (the Antichrist/A.C. perhaps?). Having killed a SWAT team member in episode two and fought off a crazed naked man early in this week’s episode, his faith in Holy Wayne is beginning to falter. He hasn’t heard from the supposed prophet in weeks, and has next to no idea what part Christine and her baby play in the grand scheme of things. “I want to go home,” as he states aloud to himself, before an all-too convenient phone call from Wayne puts his doubts to rest.

Again, the metaphors are a bit hamfisted in Tommy’s plot. There is a brilliant moment in which he and Christine come across an overturned truck of mass-produced corpses, mirroring the doll production from earlier in the episode, but everything else from his story all but screams “Message!” as it is occurring. Tommy is a fiercely dedicated follower of a prophet who has been deemed the protector of a pregnant woman he is not intimately involved with, who by episode’s end, is both barefoot and marked with a stigmata of sorts that will make him invisible to the people trying to find him and Christine. Who, oh who, could he be serving as a metaphor for?

Though not without its high moments, the problem with “B.J. and the A.C” overall was its distinct lack of actual stakes. In a world where cults are amassing faster than loved ones are disappearing, the emphasis on a missing doll seems a bit underwhelming, blatant metaphor aside. It wasn’t an entirely pointless plot, as it led to a fantastic exchange between Kevin and Nora Durst, the sister of pastor Matt Jamison and the only member of Mapleton to her lose her entire family in the event, but one that offered very little in terms of resolution and necessity this early in the show.

The lack of resolution, or even a basic understanding of motive, can also be applied to the members of the Guilty Remnant. The final moments of “B.J. and the A.C.” sees Patti and a few of her followers arrested by Kevin as part of a ploy to allow other members of the GR to sneak into the homes of the townsfolk and steal all their family photos, but for what purpose? Obviously, the short-term goal is to “help” these people move on and continue spreading the GR’s message that “life is pointless, so just give up.” But beyond that, it is still hard to tell what the Guilty Remnant’s endgame is, or what they want the townspeople to do.

My guess: Die….

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“The Leftovers” Recap, Episode 3: “Two Boats and a Helicopter” http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-3-two-boats-and-a-helicopter/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-episode/the-leftovers-recap-episode-3-two-boats-and-a-helicopter/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 21:33:34 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=262963 By Jared Jones HBO’s The Leftovers is a pretty damn good show, and you should probably be watching it if you aren’t already. We’ll be doing weekly recaps of the...

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By Jared Jones

HBO’s The Leftovers is a pretty damn good show, and you should probably be watching it if you aren’t already. We’ll be doing weekly recaps of the series moving forward, but since I just started working here, we’ll have to start with last night’s third episode. What you’ve missed: 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanished. Three years later, people still be actin’ crazy. Cults be amassing. Packs of wild dogs are being gunned down in the streets. Intrigued enough yet? 

The central storyline of The Leftovers is very Stephen King-ian in its scope: Take a isolated community, insert an inexplicable and devastating “otherworldly” event, and use it as a metaphor to discuss how we as a people deal with things like mass hysteria, grief, and loss. This should sound familiar to anyone familiar with creator Damon Lindelof‘s work on Lost, but the fundamental difference that separates a story like Lost from that of The Leftovers is its endgame. Whereas Lost’s central mystery ultimately boiled down to why the survivors of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 found themselves on that island, The Leftovers does not appear to be building towards that “big reveal” moment which ties up all its loose ends with a pretty little bow. Lindelof has already stated that no such moment will occur, and honestly, it’s probably the best decision he could have made, because it allows The Leftovers to forgo the intense plot building in favor of contained, character-driven episodes like last night’s “Two Boats and a Helicopter.”

Centering around Christopher Eccleston’s town pastor, Matt Jamison, “Two Boats and a Helicopter” understandably focused on the religious fallback of the catastrophic event. As you might expect in a world where 2% of the population inexplicably vanishes in an instant, church attendance has waned off a bit in Mapleton, NY. Doubt in the Lord Almighty’s grand plan is at an all time high, especially given that seemingly everyone in town knows a person of questionable character who was given a fair pass into the afterlife (or so they seem to think) instead of themselves. Of course, it doesn’t help that, when he’s not leading what few followers remain in prayer, Jamison is shaming these exact questionable individuals taken in “The Departure” by handing out flyers exposing their secrets for all to see. This comes to a head in the opening moments of the episode, when an angry father comforts Jamison with one such flyer before punching his lights out during his daily service.

It’s an interesting dichotomy that The Departure has created amongst the people of Mapleton — they seem to almost universally agree that their loved ones were in fact taken in a Biblical rapture, yet have lost faith in the good book as a result. Their faith has both been validated by The Departure and destroyed due to the perception that they are clearly the ones left behind to suffer. But even those who have lost faith, or joined the ranks of the Guilty Remnant  – Mapleton’s fastest-growing cult-but-not-a-cult of heavy-smoking Nihilists — seem to operate under the hope that those who left them are in a better place. Even the faithless cannot handle the idea of a world in which 140 million people vanish for no reason. Surely, there must be some greater scheme at hand.

This duality of faith is doing reverend Jamison no favors, however. In addition to the sporadic beatings he suffers on account of his flyers, Matt is both struggling to save his church from foreclosure and tend to his wife, who was left in a vegetative state as a result of the car crash depicted in the opening moments of The Leftovers‘ pilot. With a buyer already lined up for his church, Matt is given the Herculean task of coming up with $135,000 in one day, and as luck (fate) would have it, his quest to do so hits on many of the same notes (doubt, faith, and loss) as his opening sermon.

Over the course of the episode, we learn that Matt’s life has revolved around tragedy: He was diagnosed with cancer at a young age (and beat it), he lost his parents in a fire when he was a child, and his sister, Nora Durst, is the woman who lost her entire family in the Departure. Matt’s story is not unlike the story of Job (who he just so happens to have a painting of hanging from the wall nearest his wife’s bed), which fuels his need to convince everyone that the Departure was not in fact a rapture, but a test for what’s to come.

“Someone has to expose these people for who they truly were and what they truly did,” he says. “Because if we no longer separate the innocent from the guilty, everything that happened to us -– all of our suffering -– is meaningless.”

And Matt is tested on more than a few occasions throughout the episode. He visits his sister to beg for the money, only to reveal that her husband was cheating on her under the false guise of proving his point. He hits it big at a casino, only to be temporarily robbed of his winnings, then savagely beat the man who did it moments later. His compulsion to do the right thing (or at least, prove his point about the Departure) leads him into a further crisis of faith at every turn, but it is Matt’s steadfast belief, or need to believe, that ultimately renders the somewhat foreseeable conclusion to episode 3 all the more heartbreaking. Here is a man who has been given the short end of the stick at nearly every turn in life, and just when things are looking up, he is blindsided by yet another catastrophe. What has he done to receive such vicious treatment from the man upstairs?

In that sense, episode three felt more like a mini-movie than it did an episode of television. Matt’s arch is fully realized in “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” from the reasoning behind his faith to the end result of it in the grand scheme of his own life, and the biggest question left by the episode’s end is where Matt’s once unbreakable faith now lies. After attempting to convert him, the Guilty Remnant have now taken the only thing that was keeping Matt’s faith alive: his church. Why would God allow that to happen? What has become of his wife in the three days since he last saw her? Will Matt continue to out wrongdoers taken in the Departure, no matter how many beatings he must suffer as a result?

The test has only begun.

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Watch The Trailer For ‘The Leftovers’: HBO’s New Thing That You Are Going To Like http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/watch-the-trailer-for-the-leftovers-hbos-new-thing-that-you-are-going-to-like/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/watch-the-trailer-for-the-leftovers-hbos-new-thing-that-you-are-going-to-like/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 19:13:49 +0000 Wookie Johnson http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=261293 What happens after the Rapture?

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Up until seeing this trailer for HBO’s dramatic new series The Leftovers, I had assumed the storyline revolved around Justin Theroux taking down an entire lasagna over four days. I was wrong.

Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers imagines a world where 2% of the population simply vanish, leaving everyone else to grieve and contemplate their own existence. Damon Lindelof is helming the series and it looks to be fitting material for him. After all, he did allow so many mysteries and plot points to simply vanish from LOST.

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Damon Lindelof’s Show ‘The Leftovers’ Gets Picked Up By HBO http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/damon-lindelofs-show-the-leftovers-gets-picked-up-by-hbo/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/damon-lindelofs-show-the-leftovers-gets-picked-up-by-hbo/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 22:34:56 +0000 Penn Collins http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=257021 Do Sundays in HBO-Land last for 30 hours or something? Cause they sure seem to be ordering a lot of shows.

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HBO has now tapped Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof for his adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers, the story of the people left on earth after the rapture. So far, so good.

If history taught us anything, it’s that Lindelof knows his way around groups of strangers forced to survive together (for a few seasons, at least), so this seems to be right in his wheelhouse. Starring in the ten-episode first season will be Justin Theroux, alongside Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, and a slew of others.

As I’m unfamiliar with the book, I don’t know what the scope of the story is, so the production scope here could range anywhere from Boardwalk Empire-style sets to a quaint Big Love-type setting.

I say bigger is better. Especially with Lindelof at the helm.

 

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