The Leftovers is an intense drama on HBO directed by Damon Lindelof and based on a book by the same name by Tom Perrotta. If you haven’t seen this series yet, there will be some spoilers, so you have been warned ahead of time. Set in the Mapleton, New York, the show begins three years after the mysterious disappearance of approximately two percent of the world’s population. No rhyme or reason is given as to why they disappeared, and everyone from babies to adults, children to parents, good people to criminals are among the departed. We follow one main family, the Garveys, along with several other key characters throughout this first season, and it is one heck of a ride. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the first season of The Leftovers.
I think right off the bat, my favorite character is the chief of police, Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux). The acting overall in this show is phenomenal from everyone (even the characters that don’t talk), but I feel like Kevin is the most “normal” person in the show, at least at the beginning. I think he deals with the disappearance about as well as you can, and tries to live a normal life despite all kinds of weird things happening in his town and a family that’s torn apart. For most of the first season, I feel like I can relate to Kevin in the sense that I would be making the same decisions as him if I were in that position. It seems like it’s up to him to hold everything together, although this doesn’t work out when he starts to go into his mysterious trances and ends up causing more trouble than he started with.
If this show were to be overtly oversimplified, you could describe it as the two distinct methods in which people choose to cope with this type of a tragedy. The first, followed by Kevin and most of the characters in this show, is to try to move on and forget about what happened. Thinking about it only leads to sadness and depression, and it is unlikely they will ever know the answer, so they try to move on and lead normal lives. On the other side is a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant who does exactly the opposite. They don’t ever want people to forget, they want to be “living reminders” of what happened on October 14. It’s easy to hate this group in the show, they are always causing trouble by bringing up the past that everyone else so desperately wants to forget. One of the most intense moments comes in the season finale when the GR quite literally recreates the scene right before everyone disappeared by using life-like doll replicas of the Departed. It is quite fascinating to watch how this group operates and the symbolism that they employ. The scene in the second to last episode where Kevin is talking to Patti out in the woods of Cairo is incredibly powerful and shows a very interesting tunnel into the minds of the GR.
One of the strangest themes throughout this first season is the hallucinations/trances that Kevin periodically goes into. This seems to indicate a higher power is at work, especially when his father, who hears strange voices, tells him that he has been chosen. The symbolism throughout this show is out of control as well. Whether its the three birds on the red stoplight, the national geographic magazine, the silence/white/smoking of the GR, or the religious undertones, every episode requires further research and analysis to understand exactly what is going on. There’s a million more things I could talk about and probably could blog about every episode, but at the end of the day this show keeps you wanting more by answering one or two questions and presenting three or four more. Some people have said this show isn’t about the two percent that disappeared, it’s about the psychological effect and coping mechanisms of the 98 percent that remained.
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