Be honest! Have you ever felt like there is something wrong with you? Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever felt like there is a curse over you? Have you ever felt like “a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, ready to start again” like our beloved Katy Perry used to sing? Have you ever felt like you would give anything to end this life and just get reborn, hopefully with just a tiny little bit of more luck? No? Well lucky you, I would say. Yes? To at least one of these questions? Then welcome to the club. Not that being part of this club makes you more worthy of anything but at least you know you are not the only one. Cheers. See? There is always something to celebrate!
When I started watching The Leftovers, I was going through a hard time. I just had my hips surgeries (Two. Yes, two hips, two surgeries!), I was stuck in bed, yadda yadda, I was binge watching Tv-series and movies like eating bonbons, really, and it literally messed up my mind. Every time one episode ended I had this heavy feeling weighing on me, the music, the soundtrack was so melancholic and sad, terrible and haunting, (well I guess thank you Max Richter) that not even Ludovico Einaudi makes me feel that way (and of course I used some of the songs in my short, a project for filmmaking class at BC that you can find here) …long story short, it was a total body experience. I definitely needed some music therapy after watching this show. I wonder if this is the reason why it took me so long to start reviewing it? Nah, it’s just me and my procrastination issue. I tried to see if there’s some AP meetings around but no. What do you mean “what is PA”? Procrastinators Anonymous of course. Dudes, dudettes, this is a serious issue you guys. Beware! Ugh uh. Anyway… the ways in which this series captures you (or that’s what happened to me at least, and you’ll see why even more later, going through the plot) are infinite. It pushes you through philosophical reasoning, adding psychological traits that you cannot avoid to take into consideration, picking on social and moral issues, religious ideas, ethical reasons, basically it makes you think, and that’s not something to underestimate nowadays. No wonder you start taking seriously the concept of feeling like an actual leftover of society by the end of the show.
Like the TAO symbol, (the Ying Yang you all, come on, be smart) the stories entwines two sides of the same coin: faith vs lack of faith. Not only faith in God per se, but the meaning behind the actual act of believing (or not) in something, humanity included (yes, indeed, welcome to the club, like I said). The unbalance and the mess that reigns in this picture where the world and society have been completely compromised by something supernatural (the sudden disappearance of 2% of the world population) makes you lose faith in almost anything, even you and your power, and your existence. Everything. But, (why, yeah, of course there was a “but” coming!!) the only ones who seem to handle this situation pretty well, are those who believe in God, such as Matt, who sometimes I can’t even stand with all his “manners”… but one thing at a time, we’ll get there.
I asked myself multiple times if what made me relate so much to this show was the fact that it seriously makes you wonder what is going on in the world today. It shows how society is fucked up, pardon my French, and not only on the fictional level: fanatics are all over the places, believers and non-believers, people who simply can’t take it any longer, others who grasps on each other to survive, and then all the rest that simply exists around us, just –occurring– to us. Fate. Faith. Destiny. God. Chance. What is it all about? We don’t know. And this show tells you exactly this. It is all a real frigging mess. There is not a psychological process in this. Or better, this is what you want to believe: after all, it is a tv-show, there has to be something, a clue, whatever, to connect the dots eventually, but no. You are left with a disturbing question mark even when, slowly, things start to be disclosed. And always expect the unexpected.
Genre: they want to call it “psychological thriller”
Based on: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Starring: Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey, Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison, Liv Tyler as Meg Abbott, Chris Zylka as Tom Garvey, Margaret Qualley as Jill Garvey, Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, Ann Dowd as Patti Levin
Watched on: HBO
Three seasons, Twenty-Eight Episodes binge watched in: I wonder. I watched religiously the first season on SKY Atlantic, if I remember well, then I moved so I must have binged on the second season, and eventually I binged also the third I believe. Oh Oh, yeah yeah, I was in Boston at the time so yeah. Totally.
Mapleton, Ohio. One of the thousands of towns where people suddenly disappeared leaving 98% of the people on Earth… behind. Or alive. Or saved. Who are they? Who are we? We’re The Leftovers. Among the protagonists of this story there is Kevin Garvey, the chief of police, originally married with Laurie, with whom he has two children. Kevin is trying to ease the tension that recently started to escalate between the town-the “normal” citizens and the members of the Guilty Remnant (GR), who go around town dressed in white, smoking cigarettes 24/7 provoking people into remembering. The point is to think of how life has no meaning, personality is nothing, and you could literally disappear suddenly, without any explanation. The show begins when Laurie has already become a member of the Guilty Remnants but we do not know why, yet. Apparently the Garveys are all alive, no one in their family has departed (she was pregnant, yes, spoiler, and one moment the fetus is there, a second later he’s gone). After a few attempts of getting Laurie back, and after some shenanigans with Patty (Ann Dowd, aunt Lydia from The Handmaid’s Tale, among other roles), Kevin gives up (after being forced by Patty to kill her in a very harsh scene) and finds comfort in the arms of Nora Durst, a woman who instead lost her whole family in the sudden event, and she is investigating on the case. Meanwhile Kevin is having nightmares, or so they seem, making him forget where he is and what he is doing, when he wakes up in random places around Mapleton. Moreover, his daughter Jill, a high school girl who seems to have been deeply traumatized by the events, alternates between depression, rebellion, and the need for normalcy, whilst her brother Tommy (who, we will learn, is Laurie’s natural son but not Kevin’s) left home to follow some sort of prophet who has a gift. Kevin’s father, former chief of police, is hearing voices and he gets hospitalized in a mental institution. Nora’s brother Matt, the priest of the town, is taking care of his wife who got hurt by a car without a driver the moment of the departure, and the accident left her on a vegetative state. A whole mess goes on throughout the season until Tommy leaves a special newborn outside his father’s house, giving a sense of relief and a light for a new beginning.
Uh, but no. When things start to make a little sense, season one ends, and the second begins with Kevin and Nora moving to Miracle, TX -originally Jarden, which has been renamed when census showed in that town no one had departed. Here, where things could finally be “normal” again, hell gets unleashed. First, Tommy wants to belong to the Guilty Remnants to reunite with his mother, in order to dismantle the group and take her home. Then, Meg -Liv Tyler, who was Laurie’s mentor, rapes Tommy who ends up pretending to have gained superpowers and starts a lucrative business with his mother. Kevin and Jill are now living with Nora and the special baby Lily, who is the Prophet’s daughter that Tommy left on their doorstep, and the two adults are in a relationship taking care of the baby. Patti, the leader of the GR who Kevin has killed, starts to appear in his delusional visions. Another priest gets introduced when suddenly his daughter disappears from Miracle, and Kevin seems to be involved through some supernatural ways. The brother of the girl takes Kevin to a shaman who kills him making him go to a sort of visionary purgatory hotel. In this, I want to say afterlife, he gets tested, finds and fights Patti’s ghost, and eventually wakes up, or gets reborn, right after he could see Mary, Matt’s wife, in one of the rooms of the ghost hotel, letting the audience understand she may be living through different realities as well as Kevin.
Finally it gets revealed that Evie, the girl who disappeared, actually joined the GR so no second departure happened, and the second season ends with the Garveys back together, Laurie included. Kevin though, saw his father through a video screen in the ghost hotel, and he revealed him he knows the truth, and he is in Australia to stop the end of the world and the second great flood: some sort of Apocalyptic natural event that would fix everything back to normal. So guess what? We are in Australia now. Guess where to be precise? Yes, Melbourne, right there, right where part of my soul is still floating, and right where I was before my hips surgery, but anyway, let’s keep going. Oh, and sorry about the spoilers but I could not avoid it. The whole reality situation is messed up again, with the difference that this time, Kevin is living a parallel life where he needs to kill the president, who ultimately comes out to be… him. In this parallel reality Kevin manages to see he has two roles in two dimensions. The Guilty Remnant group is at power, Patty is alive and Meg is his assistant. Apart from the tragicomical scenes where Kevin’s penis is the protagonist, (told you, super spoilers here guys) and that in which he has to kill himself in order to save the world from a nuclear attack (yes, I know this does not make sense at all, I warned you guys since the beginning that this tv-series is pretty mind twisting, to be polite!), Kevin manages to go back to the real world. Here he finds his father who tells him he can stop the flood only if a specific song from the aboriginals will be sung on the day of the Apocalypse, but Kevin has to die again in order to reach the other world. Talking about twists of plots people, things got really screwed up in this series so eventually you end up believing the dystopian version is the truth and the reality is the lie or vice-versa… Where is Nora though? Well, Nora goes to Melbourne as well, but nobody knows, not even Kevin, because she has found a group of scientists who claim to be able to send people to the place where the departed people are, and Matt? Well, Matt has been writing another Bible. Yes, for real. He believes Kevin is the new Jesus and he will save the world. After all, the Great Departure dismantled every certainty in the world so badly that all the confusion that came out of it was simply considered normal, and the more reality is twisted the more life seems to be worth living. At the end of the day, and of the season and series apparently, the world hasn’t ended, Nora is friend with Laurie, Kevin burns the bible that Matt wrote, and a new chapter begins with the Book of Nora.