In this week's episode of The Leftovers,
Garvey searches for his unstable father after he escapes from an institution while questioning his own sanity. Elsewhere, his son Tom questions Holy Wayne's purpose.
Garvey says, "So now I have a purpose?"
After the 14th (and even before some characters), an entire species is questioning their purpose and what this all means in the wake of a tragedy that broke everyone. Even three years later, when the pilot picks up, it's clear that everyone is going through the motions, sleepwalking through life.
Maybe the purpose of when The Leftovers started is, like Grandpa says, to wake everyone up. And people have, in unexpected ways. Like the members of the Guilty Remnant, the Reverend and losing his church, Wayne's speech in the pilot -- slowly, everyone is waking up.
The one slowest and most resistant to waking up is Chief Garvey, mostly because he refuses to become a believer. In anything, honestly. He's caught in a town war he wants no part of, trapped in a mind that is losing grip on reality and stuck in an unhappy fate now that he has a "purpose." That purpose is unclear, but it's something to do with being the next knight in the Powers That Be chess match. It will be a long change, but we know that the Chief will get there. After all, he does throw away all of his sleeping pills and he admits he might be going crazy. He's beginning to wake up, but to what?
That's the super frustrating and/or problematic part. The Leftovers is content to tell you nothing, very slowly. It's produced phenomenal episodes doing that. But while it does that, it isn't a show that gives you warm fuzzies inside. How can it? It's the bleakest show on television and the viewing experience can leave one a little empty. You don't really love any character, do you? Can you really root for anyone over the other? The interesting parts of the show, in my opinion, are the little nuggets of information about how the rest of the world is functioning.
So how can The Leftovers become satisfying on an emotional level if you don't love the characters? If you know the plot is drawn out? That's beginning to be a problem. Seven episodes in, and I'm not overly attached to any character (while recognizing that the characters are complex), nor do I really care about the big answers. But if in the coming weeks The Leftovers decides to wake up a little faster, I might care a lot more.
Suffocation and Suffering
A lot of time has passed in Mapleton, with the weather being nice and the trees being green. By my math, it's maybe May?
The teenagers go into the woods to drink and get high because everything is really rough at 17. That isn't sarcasm; being a teenager is not fun. The show pretty much nails how teenagers would react to the Departed via the refrigerator. On October 14, a boy was forced in there against his will, only to have departed himself. The teenagers "honor" him by locking themselves in there to beat the record. Jill beats the record, only for the fridge door handle to get stuck, trapping her inside. Rut-roh. The kids freak out until a man knocks the fridge over and rescues her. He says, don't tell your dad you saw me. Who is this wild man? Jill's grandpa, Kevin Garvey, Sr.
Elsewhere, Garvey and Nora finish their fourth date. Do you ship it yet? Nora, an awkward little turtle, asks Garvey to come inside. Garvey makes a cute sex joke and they drive to her place. To find Guilty Remnant members, Meg and someone else stalk Nora's house. Garvey orders them to leave, but Nora hoses them down with water. Garvey looks even more turned on. Inside, they admit that they don't know how to talk to one another yet and push off a night of sweet, sweet loving.
The other plot belongs to Garvey's adopted son Tom, who is desperately trying to take care of a very pregnant and sick Christine. Wayne calls Tom, forgetting who exactly he is calling for for a moment, before ordering him to take half of the money he gave them and put it in an envelope under a mailbox. Then the dude asks if Tom had sex with Christine. I don't understand if Wayne is a crazy cult leader or an actual spiritual person. Tom doesn't, either. If there's any time to disobey orders, now would be it.
Manhunt, Man Down
When Garvey returns home, Jill asks if her grandpa ever hurt anyone to get into the hospital. Garvey responds yes, so Jill tells him he's not there anymore. Which causes Garvey to go into Chief mode and inform his unit to look out for his father and his erratic behavior. Erratic behavior translates into burning down the library and then turning himself in voluntarily. Do not engage with this grandpa: he is one violent dude.
Garvey starts looking for his dad and shows up at the Mayor's place. Wow, they completely underutilized this character to the point where I hesitate to call her one. I don't think she's ever had her own storyline, nor have we seen anything about her life. Don't worry, though: we don't see anything about her life this week, either!
During his search for his dad, Garvey begins to hallucinate in a very cool sequence. A dog is trapped in the mailbox, barking to get out. Tommy's in the house (which is weird because Tommy uses that same mailbox later...). Garvey flashes back to the time he killed a bunch of other dogs. Dead GR are in a trunk; Laurie is among them.
Garvey wakes up to find a nasty dog bite on his hand, a dog in his backyard and no recollection of the previous night. Aimee calls him on that because, let's face it, she's the head of the Garvey household.
Grandpa, meanwhile, is getting busy and violent. After attacking a police officer at the library, he shows up at the Garvey house (his old one) and interacts with Jill. Jill asks how he knew she was in the fridge, but she doesn't buy his excuse. It was probably the voices that told him anyway. The voices, what do they say about Jill? She looks like Snow White. Grandpa asks to borrow some money before Garvey shows up.
Garvey throws him a pair of handcuffs and his dad puts it on himself. They drive somewhere before his dad escapes through a crowd of Guilty Remnant protesting. Garvey pushes past Patti and Laurie, who look really offended he knocked them over.
Starting back at the house, Garvey finds the JIFFY jar full of money and a note for the Reverend. Of course, the Reverend is with Grandpa. Garvey investigates at Matt's house, which is also headquarters for a poster operation to save the Guilty Remnant. Hmmm. He calls Matt for a meeting.
A Tale of Two Women
Because Tom is feeling rebellious, he does what he's told and puts money under a mailbox. Also, does this town look very similar to Mapleton? He waits for someone to show up. It's some Kurt Cobain-looking white dude who grabs the money and leaves. Tom follows him in a car. I guess Tom has never seen a private eye film because he does a really awful job tailing him.
Tommy bursts through the door looking for Wayne, demanding to see him. Instead, he meets this Irish Kurt Cobain protecting another pregnant Asian woman. Well, I did not see that coming. Sure, Wayne's a tricky bastard, but I didn't realize that extended this far.
Tommy and the other Irishman compare notes about the lies Wayne has told them because it all sparked from the night of the Raid. Is anyone else thinking that Wayne knew about the Raid? The same con, the same lies. The Irishman snorts some drugs, says Wayne took his pain away. They wonder how many others are there, while I'm wondering why. Why is Wayne on this show? What is Wayne's plot contributing to?
But then the pregnant woman comes out with a gun and starts shooting at Tom, demanding to know where the other, other pregnant woman Christine is. She's in a fit of rage as she cries that her baby was going to be the bridge. Tom leaves, with a bullet hole in his hand, to return to Christine, but instead he finds a blood trail. In the tub sits Christine, baby in her arms, umbilical cord still attached. A beautiful little Blasian girl.
And finally, the big meeting. Garvey meets with his father and Matt at a diner not too long after that. Grandpa tries to give Garvey a very important National Geographic May 1972 edition to accept his destiny as a crazy person. Garvey is super confused as his father spouts some seemingly crazy stuff. He says that they are not the lucky ones, the ones not needed who get to keep their sanity. But the two of them? They are in the fame now and they can't ignore it, not after the whistle blew three years ago. This is his purpose.
"So I have a purpose now?" Garvey is such a sad guy, one who can never win. He's just trying not to drown and life keeps throwing him people to save. His dad went crazy after the 14th and he became Chief. His wife left him for a cult, borderline terrorist group. He's going crazy. He doesn't like dogs. Like, life is not good. I just pity Garvey so much because he isn't all "Woe is me," but he's freaking pissed. Pissed that this is his life. To make matters worse, his dad hits him. Screaming madness. "Don't wake up. Just stay asleep. Go to sleep."
Garvey leaves for Nora's house for a little bow-chicka-wah-wah. During a post-coital talk, Garvey admits that he might be going crazy. "Well, my friend, you've come to the right place." And then the two crazies prove they are perfect for one another and laugh maniacally, in sync.
The next day, in a chipper mood, Garvey comes home to find that Jill has ordered the National Geographic May 1972 issue. Garvey is super angry and throws it in the trash, but he pulls it out later. He's waking up.
-- The GR has a file on Nora. I don't think there's not a possibility that Nora could one day join, but I think she'll stay put for now. Meg tells Laurie that Garvey is dating Nora, to which Laurie writes, "SO?" I doubt she doesn't care, actually. Just like she didn't reach back for the lighter Jill gave her.
-- I'm detecting a problem The Leftovers is maybe facing: marginalization of POC characters. Three notable POC characters are vaguely even characters: Shady Politician Mayor Lucy Warburton, the Magical Negro Holy Wayne and Pregnant with our Savior Christine. I'll give it to the end of the season because, who knows, they could get their own episode revolving around them, but for now I'll just voice my observations and concerns.
-- The war between the Reverend and the Guilty Remnant is heating up a bit. I'm excited to see where that goes.
The Leftovers airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO.
(Image courtesy of HBO)