Season One, Episode One
I can tell already that this show is going to be hit or miss with everyone. I also feel like it’s going to be more miss than hit because it’s simply way too strange to be welcomed by a large audience, but there is a lot of good things apparent in the pilot. But with Damon Lindelof as one of the creators, it’s not surprising that the pilot is pretty weak on plot but incredibly thick on tone and mystery.
On October 14, two percent of the world’s population disappears. The opening scene displays the kind of panic and chaos that a phenomenon like this would have. Mothers screaming for their missing baby. Children crying for their missing parents. Cars crashing from missing drivers. We jump to three years later but I feel cheated that we didn’t see more of the immediate confusion the world would’ve went through. People screaming about the rapture; others searching for answers to no end. The world would erupt in a paranoia that would take years to recover. I guess that’s why we jump to three years later.
The Leftovers concentrates on a suburban town with the Chief (Justin Theroux) as its main character. His name is Kevin Garvey and he’s your typical protagonist, good looking father of two trying to keep order and peace in a chaotic world while wrestling with his own personal demons. But as his daughter’s best friend mentioned, he is trying his best. The rest of the episode surrounds around the three-year memorial service for the “heroes” as they’re coining the disappeared. The Chief urges that the service be called off because he suspects a violent mess between the residents and the the Guilty Remnant, a group of people who dress in white and do not speak, while following and provoking those who lost loved ones.
What I loved about the pilot episode is how The Leftovers is content with taking its time developing the characters dealing with such an odd incident. They try not to admit that the ones who disappeared are dead, but they still feel like they must honor them at a memorial service. All they need is an answer, or at least a body. But there are no answers to where they vanished to, and there are no bodies to bury and therefore no one can move on from the events of October 14.
Then there are other things that happened in the pilot that require a lot more thought, or maybe just a lot more patience. Who are the Guilty Remnant? What do they want? Who is the man that Tom brings the Congressman to? What is up with the dogs? What exactly happened with The Chief on October 14? As all these questions raced through my head, we get two reveals at the conclusion of the pilot. First, that The Chief’s wife didn’t disappear, she left the family to join the Remnant. Second, Meg (Liv Tyler) asks to stay with the cult for a few nights. But like Lindelof’s previous show Lost, these reveals only present more questions.
The Leftovers has to be careful not to let audiences leave the show because the mystery overcomes the plot and characters. The most powerful aspect the show has going for them is the theme of a worldwide tragedy and how everyone is dealing with it together. Also, they’re going to need stronger characters that we can support because other than The Chief, there isn’t anyone else I really care about. Hopefully that will change within the next few episodes and hopefully we’re actually not supposed to like Jill, Kevin Garvey’s teenage daughter, because the last thing I want to see is another rebellious teenager making stupid decisions. But for now I’m going to keep tuning in to find out why the town should stop wasting their breath.