This is an excellent show. I don’t review much, but I also don’t write much. Frequently, rather. Articles are easiest if the words form naturally. If you don’t think about what you say, it’s honest. Maybe it’s not true, but you’re not false. Everyone says you should write what you know. If the words are unfiltered, they may ask what you’re smoking. It’s not always that you don’t know what you’re talking about, but that you don’t know any better.
I heard great things about The Leftovers, season 2. The first season was one I followed. Great cast, well-shot. Damon Lindelof, of Lost, is a showrunner/writer. Of course, this is different. I suspect Lindelof didn’t expect to have another Lost on his hands and he doesn’t. With that said, I was watching 2 and experienced familiarity. I couldn’t identify it because, like Lindelof, I hadn’t expected it. Ensemble cast, moving score, memorable script, unpredictable mystery.
“NCIS.” “Nope.” “Mr. Robot.” “Try again.” “Saved By the Bell.” “What?” Okay, maybe it’s not so easy to describe. But I sat there and realized, ‘I feel like I’m watching Lost.’ I didn’t feel lost, however. The ten-episode format is more manageable. It’s focused. With 22 installments, for example, episodes in a season of Lost could fall by the wayside, if not flash sideways. Mysteries disappear. It’s possible for brief volumes to fall short, too.
As such, The Leftovers is a new testament to its writers’ religious cogency. Floating an epic, mystical motif could easily go overhead. I’m not saying it isn’t heady. In the beginning, certain strands are head-scratchers. By the end, however, everything starts to make sense. It’s sensational. You may never get explicit answers to issues like where the departures, if not the departed, have gone. In fact, it’s probably more obvious where the latter went.
Occasionally, the show teases us with intimations of a more supernatural host. A scientist, asking Nora to take her and herself seriously, suggests, “the demon Azrael has chosen you as his instrument.” Nora hangs up immediately and sighs in chortling relief. Absurd. With that said, she’s a little nervous. I doubt The Leftovers is going a Supernatural route, but episodes like this glimpse a more mythologically dense mood. In Lost, she would start to dress in black.
While ‘the woman in black’ might pose an interesting distinction with The Guilty Remnant, it’s a ruse. We could hear more about demons, but I think the show is concerned with inner demons. This is an instance of trolling the kind of narrative that brought you an evil smoke monster and Jacob’s tapestry. It’s from an authority, no less. There’s more. Kevin insists Patti elucidate her demands. She responds with an explanation that can only be transcribed in words, if wordily:
“There is something you need to do. In Cairo, Egypt, there is an ancient artifact. It’s in a museum now. They found it in the tomb of Amenhotep. Scholars call it the Wishing Cup. You need to acquire this cup. It’s more of a chalice, actually. It’s gonna be heavily guarded, but you need to get it any way you can. Because once you do, you need to fill it with your cum, Kevin. And then you need to drink it down. Every last drop.”
I’m in. This is going to be exciting. Next? “Jesus, Kevin. I have no fucking idea what you’re supposed to do…I’m just as lost as you are.” Cue the Lost thud. I wasn’t disappointed. A major difference between The Leftovers and the latter is scope. Even though the scale is equally ambitious, The Leftovers has a personal scope. Of course, Lost also hinges on heavy character development, like a frozen wheel of time.
Episodes were character-centric according to flashbacks, forwards, and sideways. I would argue that these moments served the plot. There was a balance between plot and character, but it favored the former. I think one of the major reasons some people were put off by the end, if not just “The End,” is disrespecting this balance. Over 5 seasons, Lost absorbed millions by asking provocative questions. Often, reveals turned on ancillary twists instead of answers.
(to be continued)