The Leftovers – “Penguin One, Us Zero”

Season One, Episode Two


Grade: B+

I thought I was watching the wrong show during the beginning scene of this Sunday’s episode. In a straight up action-film sequence, two officials are breezing through a case made on Holy Wayne to prove he’s a threat on national security, and soon after we’re following a SWAT team raid the house, killing those who stand in their way of finding Wayne. Tommy and Christine are able to escape the house but the damage has been done. This is a particularly strange scene because we don’t really know what Wayne and his magical hugs are really about, but this certainly raises eyebrows as to how dangerous the authorities consider him.

While the Wayne plot sure is surrounded by mystery, it’s not something I look forward to seeing every week. For a holy healer, Wayne sure is sort of an ass, seemingly using Tommy for his own gain. Maybe he sees something special in Tommy, but he sure has an odd way of showing it. There is just too much unknown about Wayne to really care about him so far. But it looks like we’re about to embark on Tommy and Christine’s road trip to no where.

Meanwhile, Kevin seems to be going crazy, or that’s what a few people close to him feel. After he joined up with the bald man to shoot a pack of dogs, he’s been under a lot of heat from the community because why would anyone shoot dogs?! We saw his point of view and he did have a good reason to bring down the vicious pack that was tearing up a deer. But for the rest of the community, all they know is that the Chief of police is a dog-killer. What becomes interesting as the episode unfolds is how much we (and the Chief himself eventually) begin to doubt that this dog-shooting, dip using bald guy even exists. Kevin doesn’t know his name and when an officer tracks down the guy’s truck, it’s in Kevin’s driveway and it’s unregistered.

This is when a pivotal scene takes center stage: the bagel scene. It might have not seemed like much, but there was so much emphasis on Kevin toasting his bagels while talking to the mayor that I just knew it had to mean something. At the end of the scene, the bagels that he was toasting disappeared. Was he going crazy? Up until that moment he didn’t think he was, but after witnessing the bagels disappear that bit of self-doubt began to creep into his mind. It’s not until when he visits his father in a home when we find out that he’s afraid he’ll end up like his father, mentally unstable and overpowered by the voices in his head. It’s a troubling thought that you’re going to follow your father’s footsteps especially when he’s not doing well. You can see the concern in Kevin’s eyes. His father wasn’t able to control his mental condition. Will he?

And then we see the mystery man right at Kevin’s door holding a pack a beer. Kevin looks surprised because seeing him means that he has to be real, right? So he’s not crazy! Or is this all happening in his mind? But then Jill and Amy walk into the house, taking the beer from the man and seemingly acknowledging him. So he is real right? Not necessarily. Sure, they do look at him and they take the beer right from his hand, but it could’ve been Kevin holding the beer and answering the door as the girls walked in. There was also that strange interaction after the mystery man leaves. Jill swings her head from the other room and asks who that was. Kevin says no one. So he could’ve walked to the door and had the whole conversation with the man in his mind, and when he closes the door, Jill asks who was at the door. And “no one” could actually have been nobody at all. Kevin is definitely a character to keep a close eye on.

We also see more of The Guilty Remnant and Meg’s stay there. She’s still in the staging house where potential members stay until they prove themselves worthy of joining. Meg can still talk, she can’t smoke and she doesn’t have to wear white. Most of this story-line is between Meg and Laurie. Laurie’s babying her to understanding their ways but Meg has shown too much frustration and impatience to make it to the next level. But at the end when they believe that Meg has left the Guilty Remnant for good, she goes back to that tree and keeps on swinging away. Whether it’s supposed to be symbolic or not, Meg seems to have made her choice by sticking with them.

The only point of this episode that directly explores losing someone who disappeared was with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family and now works for an insurance company. She interviews two elderly parents who lost their son who had Down Syndrome. It’s a tough scene to watch but it reminds us that this world that these characters live in is extremely fragile. They’re all living with someone they lost in one way or another. And even though everyone attempts to go on with their daily routines, there is still that emptiness inside of them that is haunted by the events of October 14.

Which brings us back to those bagels. At the end, Kevin goes back to the bagel machine, unscrews the back and reaches his hand in, hoping that his bagels are in there. If they’re not, then he really might be going crazy and on the same path like his father. But thankfully, he does find them. He pulls out the two halves of burnt bagels and lets out a sigh of relief. What’s important here is that there is an explanation to where the bagels went, unlike the disappeared. When something cannot be explained, you’ll keep on searching for answers. You’ll even make up reasons for why the unknown happened until you convince yourself it’s the truth. Like I said during last week’s review, all these people want is an idea why two percent disappeared. They need something to bury, like the dog in the pilot. Here, Kevin finds the missing bagels. It gives him the satisfaction before almost losing his mind. Could this be a foreshadowing that some people might return later on in the season? Is this hinting that Kevin isn’t imagining the mystery man? Okay, I’ll stop rambling now.


2 Responses to The Leftovers – “Penguin One, Us Zero”

  1. Kevin is the only person who sees the burnt bagels. So he could be making that up to. Its hard to say.

  2. […] “Penguin One, Us Zero (S01E02) […]

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