Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"The Leftovers" Season 2 Finale: a trial run of the Afterlife for Kevin? He lives here now.

I didn’t make the time commitment to follow HBO’s “The Leftovers” (I used to follow some series, like “The Event” and “Flash Forward”) – but “Under the Dome” didn’t hold me) so I can’t comment in the intricacies of the plot, which in Season 2 seems quite expanded from Tom Perrotta’s novel, tracing a number of characters.  Damon Lindelof joined the screenwriting

The Season 2 Finale, (75 minutes, directed by Mimi Leder) much of it happening in the magical west Texas town of Jarden (a place like Fort Stockton or Marathon comes to mind), and a bomb threat to a major river bridge and a surrounding tent city is a major part of the story.  The episode is titled “I Live Here Now” (as if inspired by Ram Dass's book "Be Here Now" from Lama Foundation), and the most noteworthy part, for my time, is the narrative of Kevin (Justin Theroux). In a flashback, he emerges from the “undead” from a lakebed after he had jumped in the river previously while two young women were clandestinely joining the Guilty Remnant. Later, he gets shot in the chest by John (Evan Carroll).  He “comes to” in a motel bathroom, as the camera focuses not only on the blood but the tattoos, even on his legs. He gains strength and goes to the bedroom, where he finds the plasma TV doesn’t work.  He goes down a staircase – and the camera doesn’t show the outside “world” to a karaoke session in a bar, where he has to sing “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel.  Only then can he return to Jarden.

The hotel may be in “Purgatory” or on another planet (whether an angelic colony on Titan [where gravity would be low], or maybe on an earth-sized planet around one of the Gliese stars).  We don’t get to see what it looks like outside; he’s sheltered by some kind of synecdoche. Anyway, his progression back to life (from the “Undead”) is rather like coming out of general anesthesia from surgery, with your memory blocked.

Are the “Undead” connected to those who disappeared in the Great Departure?  Sounds plausible, Jarden, remember, did not lose a single person.  And all the reviews on the Internet suggest that where “The Departed” (pun) went is supposed to be an unsolvable enigma, even if there is a Season 3.  In any case, Kevin can return to some sort of normal family life, and “just live” first.

The show gets a little tiresome with the Guilty Remnant members writing out messages, not speaking, and chain smoking. The Guilty Remnant also stalks people and practically forces people to join their cult.  What does this sound like?

Sophie Gilbert and Spencer Kornhaber have a detailed review of the finale in the Atlantic, here.

I rather wish this had been a movie, so you could get the story without so much time commitment. The premise finally comes across as related to “Resurrection”.

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