If HBO had set out to create a show that is downright impossible to follow with The Leftovers, they are absolutely succeeding. While I was hoping that last night’s episode would be a bit more viewer-friendly in that at least a couple of questions would be answered, the writers of The Leftovers pretty much just came and drop-kicked me right in the hopes, ninja style. Of course, I understand that the show is building its suspense so that nothing important is revealed before the finale, but still… I’m kinda floundering here.
I’ve noticed that each episode so far, instead of covering the storyline as a whole, tends to focus on one or two specific characters and their story arc. Last night’s episode focused almost entirely on Rev Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), the preacher who has been denouncing – to anyone who will listen – that those who Departed were somehow more morally superior than the leftovers. Unfortunately his exposure of those he view as degenerates come at a cost, and he suffers physical assault and public backlash, especially from the families of those he exposes. This negative public perception, added to an already shake subscription to religion, subjects Rev Jamison to a dwindling congregation, and foreclosure on his church.
Given twenty-four hours by the bank to come up with one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars, which he doesn’t have, Rev Jamison’s storyline pretty much revolved around his determination to save his church. This included seeking a loan from last week’s gun lady, who subsequently turned him down, and then sudden inspiration from a memory of buried cash in the Garvey’s backyard, totalling twenty-thousand dollars. With this money, Rev Jamison heads to a casino, where earlier apparitions of pigeons prompts him to bet only on red in multiple games of Russian Roulette, played at a single table. Though he wins all his bets, he later deals with a brutal beating as his winnings are attempted to be stolen from him. This, in turn, leads to him savagely retaliating (possibly murdering) his attacker, because, understandably, he’d come to close to his goal to have it taken away from him so easily by some deadbeat thug. A different attack later on lands him in the hospital, unconscious, during which time he experiences several dreams, memory flashes and visions, each more bizarre than the next.
When he finally regains consciousness, the first thing that he does is race to the bank to finally deliver the life-saving payment which would ensure that he retain ownership of his beloved church. Unfortunately, his arrival at the bank is severely marred at the announcement that he is too late, and ownership of the property has been transferred to someone else. When he argues that he was given until 4:30 to make the payment, and he is only 10 minutes late, he is stunned to find out (as are we) that that deadline had been given to him three days prior, indicating that he’d been comatose for seventy-two hours.
That pretty much sums up the episode, and not much else happened, but, in all fairness, we did gain further insight into a few characters. For instance, we learn that Laurie (Amy Brenneman) evidently pays secret visits to her old home at nights, staying in the backyard, unobserved. Rev Jamison is also seen to have a completely brain-dead wife and, although we initially know nothing about her, we learn that she actually wound up that way in an accident which occurred the moment of the Departure. Jamies also apparently possesses at least some knowledge of the white-wearing speechless cult (who was the buyer of his church, by the way), due to a statement that he made earlier to a pair who’d been following him.
I realise that quite a few people are calling the show boring, and I won’t act like I don’t understand why. I, however, don’t find it boring. I’m too intrigued by all this infuriating mystery to be bored by the story. I am, however, thoroughly confused… not necessarily because the story is too complex to follow, but because we are so short on any relevant information that, at this point, it is quite difficult to really understand what the hell is going on around us. I suppose that this most likely means that the finale will be a huge shocker, and all the suspense and mystery would have led up beautifully towards that. That, at least, is my hope. I now have no preconceptions or misconceptions that we’re going to learn anything much from The Leftovers until the very last minute, but I hope that HBO makes the journey to that point a profoundly enjoyable one.