I know I'm two seasons behind, but with all of topcat's new Lost threads popping up I was inspired to create some other path of masochism (because full-fledge Lost Revisited will just make me angry and I mean volcanically). So The Leftovers is the winner. A potential Love to Hate it dance that a person sometimes requires because sanity just isn't good enough. I mean, I have heard commentary from other places in the ether that this show has the capacity to destroy mental faculties. Any and all Don't Do It You Idiot! or Go Back Before It's Too Late! warnings would probably be warranted. But I'm going to try. What I'll do is just post about each episode after viewing and comment. If anyone wants to post episodic commentary along with, that's fine. And if not, I'll pop back to the regular thread and read episodic commentary there. So here goes.
Episode 1 aka the pilot:
I like the mystery and execution of the opening disappearances. I like that while we follow mother and child several disappearances happen in the immediate area: the father; the driver(s). But we see the baby by the symbolic half-open window, and hear the baby noises until a pause and then some baby noise and then nothing. And then pandemonium. Including all the 9-1-1 calls.
Then we cut to three years later. People in this town (and beyond) have found some bizarre ways to cope: cults; dog shooting; spin the cell phone; extra rough field hockey; bad taste parades and statuary; perhaps hallucinations. Some serious ptsd. I guess this all makes sense, in that people's responses to the perhaps tragic and certainly unexplained would be varied and likely dysfunctional.
I like the police chief. He provides a good centerpiece of grief, anger, loneliness, and a lingering reliance on order. I like the very angry and go for the guts profanity daughter. I even like the dog shooting guy, because he has an in the face of the screen presence that's essential to this kind of show. And I like the dogs, believe it or not.
But everyone else, my god there is some serious lack of directing, acting, writing or what, because most everyone else is boring boring boring. Oh my god. So boring. The boringest boring on earth. Or what's left of it.
Let's start at the top. The chain smoking cult. Even if they did talk I couldn't imagine them more boring. Wrong! They're all just a bunch of Moonies Mormons Hare Krishnas Witch Coven Tobacco Executive Lifeless Beings who deserve to be attacked just so that they won't take up some screen. Perhaps they have some mysterious purpose. But if their purpose is to be boring, they've succeeded. Even the police chief's wife is boring. And she insists on carrying out a house stalking! Nice standing at the driveway.
Next: the out of town cult. So the police chief's son has to drive those wanting to be "unburdened" across many a road while blindfolded. And their final destination: Club Med. The pool is nice. And the women are pretty. But the leader is some black dude with some sort of accent who is supposed to be scary but can only be described as lame. I mean I guess polygamy and money and power are his ambitions, but so what? And automatically we're supposed feel sorry for the police chief's son who has innocently wandered into this nightmare? Please. The dude's only there to swim naked and not to answer his dad's urgent phone calls because his dad needs to talk to someone other than his deeply angry daughter and absent cult wife. boring.
Borderline boring is the teen-age cult of self-destructive behaviors. I was actually intrigued here, except that we needed more detail. They're just engaging in clandestine nihilism that no adult knows about? Gee. The adults must be too focused on the parade! But the police chief's daughter's there, and through her we get some energy that this scene benefits from. I'm with her, because she may be angry but she has life. In the spin the cell phone game, she draws choke. So she and some dude go off to a room and she mechanically chokes him while he mechanically masturbates. Okay. Good for him I guess. But way more interesting is where she wanders around the house alone, interrupting the dude she likes performing oral sex and the chick she said okay follow through on the cell phone spin, and walking in on two similarly looking naked dudes in the bathroom, one in the tub, the other on the floor by the sink. What cell phone directive did they draw? Or are not part of the organized playtime and have actually sought each other's company independently? I think the former, because they seem like mannequins more than human beings. But the discovery of all these people in their places by the daughter proves the most interesting element of the party.
And then there's the town planning and carrying out the parade and commemorative statue. OMG what a disaster that all is! Both in concept and in writing/acting. There is more life and truth in a pillow than in these people. At least when the voiceless cult shows up holding their signs, there's a fight. But that seems haphazard and on the underrealized side.
What I like later is the police chief wondering if he is hallucinating and then is talking to the deer (seems very Twin Peaks). Then all the dogs show up and too easily catch up to and take down the deer. The deer seems a little sacrificial. But the dogs at least present life and purpose and I found myself kind of rooting for them a little. I wish they'd take out the mute cult and the "unburdened" cult and leave the wildlife alone. But I like when the dog shooter arrives with his gun blazing and proclaims: These are not our dogs. That's interesting.
The bar scene right before the dog shooting is interesting. The brief conversation between the chief and the grieving mother.
Finally, one thing I do like is the motif of the four elements here and there in the episode. The open baby window and the choking: air. The party burning and cigarette smoking: fire. the swimming pool and the party house bathroom and the description of the laundry room flooding: water. And of course earth being earth was everywhere, but particularly in the statue that tried to fly off into air but was clearly weighted down by its heavy composition, and I suppose when the daughter and the twins bury the dog and very visibly handle the dirt as though it's almost sacred.