The Leftovers, S1E7 – Solace for tired Feet

The US has shown the last episode of S1 a few days ago, while the UK has just aired the pilot. While it’s not the hottest thing on TV, this series gets decent ratings. That is as it should be. To dislike it because Lost had its serious flaws is just moronic – Leftovers is its own thing. With only one true stinker (episode 4), things seem to look up now.

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This is a complex and mostly worthwhile ensemble episode. It’s heavy on plot, but doesn’t fall apart. The editing is a maze, but the people in the cutting room knew what they were doing. It took me a second to understand the beginning: Someone is plastering the walls of Mapleton with Gladys posters featuring the slogan “Save Them.” Which seems to mean “kill them”. Disgusting. Are those the same guys who killed Gladys?

There is a fridge in the woods in which a certain Paul Glouski departed during a prank. Now Jill and Aimee and their gang use it as a dare: whoever can stay in there the longest wins. Jill breaks the record and almost faints, but is saved from suffocation by her grandfather, Kevin Garvey Sr, who must have escaped the psych ward. Turns out he checked in there after burning down the town library. Now he seems to be harder to find than the B.J.

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Aah, Scott Glenn. Remember him as Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs? Or as the priest in The Virgin Suicides? He makes even crap like Vertical Limit shine.

Tommy has to take care of a feverish, pregnant Christine. She mutters something about a bridge, which is either too ominous or not ominous enough, I don’t know which. That scene is greatly improved by Wayne’s phone call, but the great cult leader has no great plan, no revelation. Wayne just needs money. And he is still convinced that great things are afoot. Maybe they will involve a bridge.

Nora and Garvey are on their fourth date and are finally ready to fornicate, but find Megan and another GR in front of Nora’s house. Garvey threatens them verbally, but Nora has a better idea. I like the rapport they have with each other: “I don’t know how to talk to you yet.” Amidst all this crazyness of lost ones and wild dogs and cults, they approach each other carefully, timidly.

Back home, Garvey answers Jill’s questions about Grandpa and lets slip that she has seen him, and now his son has to catch him. First port of call is the Mayor, who has dumped the crazy old geezer. Then we see Garvey segue into a dream, and again, Dean wants Garvey to kill a dog – this time, the animal is trapped in a mailbox, and there is a dead Laurie in the back of Dean’s truck. Garvey just cannot shoot the dog this time. He wakes with a bite wound on his hand and a ferocious dog in the backyard. Aimee seems to know what has happened during the night even if Garvey doesn’t. Spooky stuff.

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Garvey has to investigate the library his dad broke into – again. He beat up a deputy, used the library computer and wanted to borrow 200 dollars to get something for his son. Pop quiz: who do you think is more sane at this point – Garvey Sr or Garvey Jr?

Tommy delivers the money to a designated mailbox, but waits to see who will pick it up. Meanwhile, Grandpa turns up at the Garveys’, but only Jill is home. Ske asks why he knew that she was trapped in a fridge in the woods. He says he didn’t know. He wants to borrow 200 dollars and asks for tranquilizers for the dog, but Garvey, alerted by Jill, comes home. The scene where he handcuffs himself with that old routine is strangely touching because it’s right and wrong at the same time.

In the police car, the Garveys run into a silent GR protest against the killing of Gladys, and Grandpa gets out of the car and escapes. Garvey knocks down some protesters during his pursuit, Patti among them, and is stared down by her and Meg and, of course, Laurie.

Meanwhile, Tommy sees a stranger take the 3’000 dollars and follows him, and he discovers another very young, very pregnant woman of Asian background called Liane and her protector. How many unique special pregnant girls does an abusive cult leader need? What is his plan?

Back at the Garveys’, Aimee wants to talk about what Kevin remembers about the night they got the dog. He refuses to discuss this and goes to the backyard to feed the dog only to find out that someone has dug up the jar with the money. Remember that jar? Father Jamison dug it up, and now we get to see that it is empty except for a leaflet about a corrupt judge and a note from Grandpa that Jamison deserves that money. Which prompts Garvey to see the holy man.

There are people at Matt’s, printing posters of Gladys. So it’s them, and their plea to save the GR has a spiritual background, not a cynical one. Matt isn’t there, but Garvey finds out that he is out there somewhere with Garvey Sr.

Liane’s minder tries to bond with Tommy over a coupla lines of coke and reminiscing about the night of the raid, when Liane charges into the room with a gun, trying to make Tommy lead her to Christine, then she breaks down and tells Tommy that Wayne is some kind of bridge.

Then there is a meeting in a diner of father and son. Senior brings him a National Gegraphic mag from May 1972 which is supposed to be crucial, some kind of message. This, Dad says, is Kevin’s invitation, his purpose, his mission. Junior dismisses it all as humbug because of his daddy issues. Well – if your dad hears voices, how would you react? And thus ends Grandpa’s day out.

A disillusioned Garvey goes and does what any man would do in order to anchor his life in the here and now: he goes and has wonderful sex with Nora. That doesn’t seem to faze Laurie too much, and for once, chief Garvey is cheerful in the morning – until he sees the National Geographic on his kitchen counter.

The Leftovers 1x07 – Solace for Tired Feet

Meanwhile and somewhere else, Tommy gets another phone call from Wayne the Bridge, but decides to smash the phone. That is very sane and very dangerous. Back at their hideout, Christine has given birth on her own. It’s a girl. But of course.

The Leftovers, S1E2 – Penguin One, Us Zero

Welcome to episode two of The Leftovers. We know now that the Amy Brenneman character is Laurie Garvey, a member of the Guilty Remnants and, more importantly, Kevin’s wife. To Kevin, that’s another form of loss, hardly better than a disappearance. And we also know that Meg Abbott has joined the Guilty Remnants, at least provisionally.

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An organisation called AFFEC has some inside skinny on Wayne, and our worst fears are confirmed: he has lost a kid, has recruited his mainly young followers in shopping malls and on campuses and claims to be able to hug the pain out of people, but needs to recharge his batteries by using teenage girls of preferably Asian descent. What a bastard. He is wanted for statutory rape in another state. No wonder that the AFFEC raids Wayne’s retreat by shooting on sight. It’s a bloodbath, although Wayne, Tom Garvey and his latest victim Christine are able to escape. I don’t think the AFFEC are a governmental organisation, so who are they? A special force to deal with the paranoid aftermath of October 14?

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We get to see the intro to the series, which looks like a modern version of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. That intro gives the whole disappearance issue a religious streak which, for some of the characters, is precisely wrong, but at least the segment looks haunting, if only because of the slighty weird nudity.

Kevin Garvey might see people who aren’t really there and ask stray deer if they broke into his home, so it’s hardly surprising that we see him on a shrink’s sofa. That shrink is not really worth his money, so Garvey does not tell him about his latest dream: he is woken in his bed by a half-naked Aimee, his daughter’s best friend, who leads him outside into the wintry woods, where the dog-shooter has upgraded his game and now shoots at little children. Then Garvey discovers that his feet are on fire. He wakes. Captain, you have more problems than you might realize. Get a new shrink. (There is also a toy penguin in the shrink’s practice, but that doesn’t fully explain the episode’s title. Maybe it means that rage wins every time against any other feeling.)

We also learn more about Nora Durst. Jill and Aimee discover that she has a gun in her purse and uses her sad popularity to get free coffee. The two teens follow Nora to a house where she is ringing the bell. She works for an insurance company and has to conduct interviews on camera so that the leftover people qualify for “departure benefit”. There is an abyss of pain in that seemingly simple scene where Nora is interviewing that elderly couple whose son has disappeared. Nora (Carrie Coon) is intriguing: she could have left Mapleton, but is still around, and even conducts interviews that must bring back the pain of her own family’s disappearance. Why is she still doing this? I want to know more.

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This episode is full of surprises. The first surprise is that we get to see Kevin Garvey Sr., former police captain until his meltdown and now an inmate of the psychiatric ward, played by Scott Glenn. He insists he is sane, but hears a voice from someone who isn’t there, telling his son that help is on the way. I’m sure Junior will keep that in mind. Another surprise is that the Mayor (Amanda Warren) is his girlfriend. The surprise is not that she is much younger than he is, but that the Mayor still visits the ward so she can see her boyfriend, the former police captain. You would think that a political high-flyer would choose her partner more carefully, if only for PR reasons, but no. That Mayor Lucy Warburton doesn’t care if anyone sees does make her rather more sympathetic in my eyes.

Next surprise: The dog-shooter’s car turns up in Garvey’s driveway. Then the dog-shooter turns up on Garvey’s doorstep with a six-pack, wanting to be Garvey’s friend and stating that they are doing God’s work. Garvey sends him away, but is relieved when he realises that Jill can see the shooter, too. You realize life is brittle when your sanity depends on the existence of two bagels.

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I might have lost count of all the surprises, but there are lot of them. Another good episode, but I am expecting somewhat more. Three moments that stand out: Tom refuses to be hugged by Wayne who has just killed, kissed and licked a guy (in that order) who looks like his former bodyguard, and Wayne’s reply that Tom is “all suffering and no salvation.” Did Wayne shoot him? Garvey almost slips on the false teeth of his neighbour’s missing brother, and I surprised myself by thinking that it is somehow very touching that people disappear, but may leave their false teeth behind. And the Mayor tells Garvey Jr. that she never should have told him “to watch the fucking Wire” when she sees his elaborate info-boards about the Guilty Remnants. Shieeeet – HBO, I even know what y’all are talking ’bout.