HBO’s The Leftovers is, to be blunt, really getting on my fucking nerves. We’re now seven episodes into this 10 episode season and I have no clue as to where this show is headed, what it’s trying to say, or why I should care about this small town.
The Leftovers launched with great fanfare with all the makings of a hit. Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost, serves as the executive producer along with Tom Perotta, who wrote the bestselling book on which the series is based. Justin Theroux stars, Amy Brenneman’s in it, along with a bunch of other actors who regularly do great, interesting work, even if I can’t name them off the top of my head. Also, Max and Charlie Carver, the twins from MTV’s Teen Wolf, are in it. It’s on HBO, which has a deserved reputation of making interesting, smart television and has been batting a thousand lately with Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, and The Last Word. With all that said, though, this show is a real chore to get through, and I’m starting to wonder if any type of payoff will be worth it.
To be fair, the cast is delivering some amazing work. Last night’s episode centered on Theroux’s Sheriff Kevin Garvey again and his ongoing attempt to keep the peace in what appears to be a town rapidly spiraling out of control. His daughter Jill is out in the woods, playing the refrigerator game with her friends. All goes well until the handle of the old-time Fridge-R-ator breaks off, sealing her inside. Luckily, Grandpa Garvey (Scott Glenn, in a role Bruce Dern would’ve played ten years ago) has busted out of the mental institution he’s in and rescues her as she’s about to black out. Sheriff Garvey himself is blacking out, having increasingly bizarre dreams of wild, rabid dogs trapped in mailboxes. When he wakes up, there’s a wild, rabid dog tied up in his backyard that apparently he or Garvey Sr. put there, and a bite on his hand that looked like a person made it.
After a couple near-misses, Sheriff Garvey finally catches up with his hallucinating, crazy old man who gives him a copy of a old National Geographic and invites him to join go crazy with him, I think? Which makes the good Sheriff go home and empty his bathroom of gobs of perscriptions that are stored there. Are they his? I guess so? He dumps them all down the toilet because it’s extra dramatic that way, then goes and feeds the wild dog in his backyard a steak and digs up the jar of peanut butter that’s hiding Rev. Matt’s money roll. Did he know about that all this time? I don’t remember. He also has grunty sex with his neighbor Nora, in a scene that should make Jennifer Aniston clutch her Cabbage Patch Dolls real tight, close her eyes, and remind herself that she’s engaged to an actor. The Guilty Remnant made a brief appearance last night, mainly to make Sheriff Garvey’s ex, Laurie, aware that he’s doin’ it with Nora now. Laurie’s just like ‘So?’ when she finds out. Shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘so?’ is how if feel too Laurie, about this whole exercise in patience called The Leftovers. Also, the creepy guy Wayne who doles out magical hugs made an appearance. Turns out that Wayne is getting different women pregnant and saying their child is magical. Then one of the guys finds out it’s some kind of pyramid scheme and there’s a who bunch of women who think they’re carrying Wayne’s magic child, and things don’t go so well once the guy’s wife finds out.
The last 3 episodes indicate that the ongoing battle between the town and The Guilty Remnant comes to a boil, hopefully not as graphic as a woman getting stoned to death like we witnessed last week. I get the feeling that the show is building toward something, maybe the battle is it? It’s taking it’s time getting there whatever it is, and after last week’s episode, where Nora’s identity was stolen, I was about ready to give up on the show. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read the book, maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention to what’s going on and all the nuances and clues the show is throwing out and they’re just going over my head, or maybe I’m just not smart enough to deduce the show’s themes, but right now it’s a real slog to watch every week with the wealth of grief porn scenes and scenes that don’t really add up to anything. There’s just been very little forward momentum up to this point. I’m anxious to know what this is all about, and it’s only because of Lindelof’s previous work that The Leftovers hasn’t been banished from my DVR. That, and the promise of seeing this on a weekly basis: