The Leftovers – the HBO Drama Ends it First Season

Now that HBO’s The Leftovers has concluded its first season – the major question that occurs is what can they do for an encore. Thanks to Lindelof and Perrotta, we’ve spent the last 10 weeks pondering the mysteries of life and death, morality and mortality, good and bad, as well as the divide between grieving and moving on to name but a few.

Actually a very key question was spoken by Scott Glenn as the older Garvey to his son Kevin Garvey – and that was, Is this it? Is this all there is and is it enough?

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Applying the same questions to The Leftovers itself, we are stuck for a concrete answers. As Mapleton, New York, was consumed in the terror of a single night of the complete breaking down of society – is it possible to achieve a happy ending? Let’s take a look:

Wayne the Lord of the Frauds has perished. In his last act of kindness he granted Kevin’s unspoken wish. At least he said the word – granted. But while we didn’t hear Kevin say the words of his wish, it seems obvious that he wanted his family back (in one form or another) but we had to flash back to the Departure itself to recall that Kevin had hated his family situation. In fact he was breaking his marriage vows as The Departure occurred.

So who killed Wayne? This is a mystery that might be a topic of concern in the second season. But isn’t strange that Tom, Christine, and Wayne all ended up in Kevin Garvey’s orbit at the end of the first season? And what do you make of Tom abandoning the baby on Kevin’s porch.

The GR – aka the Guilty Remnant – they weren’t quite blinded by the light, and still their whole existence is a mystery. It took ten weeks for us to discover the true goal of the Guilty Remnant – was ‘to make them remember‘. This is a question in its own right. Why did the GR do what they did… and how is how any of us deal with grief and remembrance their concern?

What gives the GR the right to insist that I, or you, and all the other members of Mapleton remember their lost loved ones by the GR recreating those very people in the form of life-like replicas. And the self-abnegation by the GR itself – the absence of color , the silence, and the whole aspect of living within a cloud of smoke. I don’t get them at all. This is not even considering how they were funded?

Two of the GR perished earlier than the series finale. Gladys was the woman who was stoned. Besides the brutality of it, we never did find out who was responsible did we? At least not directly. Maybe the GR itself was behind it.

Then Patti took her own life with a shard of glass. To send Kevin a message? And what was it? I guess the message, as we saw, was that Kevin would never forget her.

Laurie – we learned in Episode ten that Laurie lost a child that was still forming within her. We learned that she was a successful in her field of psychology.

And then, at the end of this episode when Kevin rescues Jill – he walks right past Laurie, so can her character be reclaimed and brought back. I’m thinking no…just can’t see it. But backing up a bit why was it that Kevin fell out of loving his family.

The Garvey’s had a nice home, but did you notice the cracked plaster? Well, obviously we couldn’t notice this until Kevin did – but it seemed a kind of heavy-handed symbolism. But do we have any reason, rational or otherwise?

I mention that Garvey family was represented symbolically, but they went the other way for the Durst family. Especially when you consider that Nora Durst’s family fabric was tearing at the seams. And that family’s discord was shown to us via the tension and troubles of their family having a breakfast.

Speaking of Nora Durst – did we ever find out why she carried a gun. We met Nora and the gun early on, and towards the end of the final episode, and it wasn’t shown, but her letter to Kevin did seem to point in the direction of suicide or at least the end of her life in Mapleton/

Carrie Coon as Nora was simply splendid throughout. That scene when she awakens from her night’s sleep and comes downstairs to see the Guilty Remnant’s handiwork in her own home, was truly brilliantly performed, and certainly was a heart-wrenching as anything any of us have seen on TV before.

I think as others have said that this show is flawed, and bleak, and confounding. I had stated many weeks ago that I was done writing about it – and yet – here I am. At this moment I don’t know when the second season will air – and beyond that, do I want to watch a second season of this show is a question dancing before me as I write this. Do I want to be entertained, or do I want to ponder the questions that Lindelof and Perrotta send us.

So I’m left with the thought that the show, despite its bleakness must be considered a success, because if not – I wouldn’t have watched all ten episodes, and questions would not be circling in my head. What about you? Are you bothered or troubled by the thought that a show, that could not be specifically called entertaining, at least in the usual sense, was more easily defined by its unpredictability, and its twists, and that provocative questions that it made you consider?

However, leaving that on the side, let’s all think about the fact that on the horizon looms HBO’s The Newsroom six episode finale in November. And that I’m really looking forward to it..

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One thought on “The Leftovers – the HBO Drama Ends it First Season

  1. Good summary of a problematic show. TV is so predictable, it’s hard to watch a show like The Leftovers. It feels wrong. It doesn’t meet our expectations. It irritates us. It’s not fun. But, then again, it does feel like a walk through the fun house, a circus side show, Jim Morrison’s songs on the “Strange Days” album.

    In the end, it is always a matter of personal taste. There aren’t good shows and bad shows. What some viewers call entertaining make others bored to tears. Are horror stories more entertaining than musicals? The Leftovers is not the problem. We are the problem. Should the creator change the show or should we change our expectations?

    I read somewhere that Lindelof claims The Leftovers is sort of a combination of Lost and the 1950s SciFi/fantasy classic, The Twilight Zone. Ten years ago, I began watching LOST. Today, I consider it the best network TV series ever made, And now that LOST is finished, I find that I have an affinity for shows I couldn’t never have imagined watching ten years ago.

    When I watch The Leftovers I feel like I’m watching a bizarro remake of Lost. And I also feel that eerie tingle Rod Serling evoked in many episodes of The Twilight Zone.

    For me, that’s entertainment.

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