Directed by Peter Berg Written by Damon Lindelof & Tom Perrota Criticism of this show has so far focused on an air of doom and gloom. But it’s not sadness that drives the plot of this introduction to a changed world. If depression is anger turned inwards, that’s a lot closer to what we see is going on in this small-town community where a Police Chief is at odds with his Mayor, his daughter, his son and (we learn eventually) his wife. In fact, the only creature he seems to get along with is a feral dog, until it’s shot before his eyes. What turned his world so awry? What could have gone wrong in such a typical, bucolic setting? All that seems to be known is when: three years ago, 2% of the world’s population, seemingly randomly selected, disappeared. Between one second and the next. Without explanation. In the intervening time the “leftovers” seem to have figured out who. One woman lost her entire family. Another lost the baby she had just put in the back seat. We’ve all lost Gary Busey. But what happened? Why were they taken? Where are they now? That lack of closure is what is so frustrating, and it seems to have fractured even lives and families that were left initially intact, like Chief Kevin’s. Of course some are quick to leap to a religious conclusion, which others are just as quick to deny. The brother of the woman who lost everyone obsesses over how those who are gone were hardly moral paragons. At least two strange cults have developed, one around the charismatic healer Wayne, and another who take a vow of silence, the Guilty Remnant. It is into this last group that Kevin’s wife Laurie has fallen, and their regime seems far from tenable given the home and family she’s abandoned. They only wear white. They only eat gruel. They sleep on pads on the floor. And they all smoke as part of their nihilistic protest. They also rely on writing and signs and banners a lot to communicate, so it’s only their vocal cords that are denied. This is okay, because Amy Brenneman can do more with her face than most movie stars. Her daughter Jill seems the least damaged of all, but she’s got the affected façade of teen indifference to hide behind. It does provide a kind of shield at a bizarrely detached sex party she attends (it’s HBO, after all). She seems to be faring better than her brother, who has fallen in with Wayne’s club, which includes a harem of groupies only meant for Wayne, and sycophantic security guards who hang on his every whim (hi Peter Berg cameo!). The Chief ain’t doing so well, either. While his own roiling rage lets him know that the Mayor’s idea for a Day of Remembrance for the “Heroes” who are gone is going to turn into a riot if the Guilty Remnant show up, she discounts his input out of hand. That lack of respect seems to be based on experience, not stupidity, so in how many ways has he already let her down? He does let his daughter borrow his car with the dead dog still in the trunk. He is haunted by visions of his raving, nude father. He never seems to get anywhere on time, if at all. And he doesn’t always seem to remember every moment of his day or night. Could it be the wild deer he keeps seeing all over town, haunting him? The what? The Guilty Remnant have a worst feature of all; they target certain people and bear witness to them from a distance, as if goading them on to a response. Apparently it’s a recruitment move, because their harassment of Liv Tyler eventually brings her to their doorstep. And not in the violent angry way that Kevin also comes looking for Laurie, but instead in search of shelter and understanding. It’s an intriguing tangle of conflicts. And the cast is more than able. Justin Theroux and Christopher Eccleston alone are sufficiently compelling. But is there any way to keep Lindelof from straying onto that shaky spiritual ground where he always gets lost, forgetting the mystery and conflict inherent in simple human drama? Fingers tentatively crossed! The Leftovers 1.01 "Pilot"3.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.