Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Leftovers: Worth Heating Up


There was once this show, back in like 2004, that hooked me from the start and held the promise of mysteries and character development and twisty plots we all dream will have a massive payoff at the end. But for reasons I won't get into, the payoff was not there. Instead we got a swerve at the end that demonstrated that all the stuff in between was just mental masturbation leading to this ending that the writers somehow thought was much more poignant than it was. And, if you criticized any of this you were called a nitpicker or worse by fans and the writers themselves. Well, that show was Lost and among my circle of bruhs (the new band), it was the birth of "Fuck Lindelof" (Executive Producer, Damon Lindelof, who for some reason it just made sense to single out). And he would prove himself time and time again, or maybe just time, with such "gems" as Star Trek Into Darkness (Fuck Lindelof) and Prometheus (No, really, FUCK THAT GUY!).


But, it's meant with love. Because writing is hard and writing in the world of mainstream network TV is probably a nightmare for anyone with any sort of vision. Plus, I liked Tomorrowland. So, when HBO announced a series created by Lindelof, that dealt (possibly) with the rapture, I was at the very least curious, but I wasn't sure if I was going to do it. I'm a sucker for the subject matter, but was I going to go through another Lost? At least this time, he was saying up front we'd never get answers to the central mystery. So when The Leftovers came out, I gave it a shot. And from the very beginning I was unsure but intrigued. This was one of the most depressing shows I'd ever seen but that was a good thing. And the show has only gotten better. The second season has really amped things up with unfolding layers to a world where it's just a fact of life that several years ago a bunch of people just vanished and nobody understands why or how. Yet life goes on and humans still do the shitty and sometimes wonderful things humans do to each other while trying to make sense of the world.

bloody crime scene
It's a show about faith, and not in a disparaging way, which is weird for me to be into as a hardcore antitheist, but here we are. The thing is, ultimately, it's about these people's lives and how they deal with reality. Yes, the mysteries are intriguing and there are bizarre things that happen all the time. And even though these supernatural incidents move the story forward, you never get the sense that they're the point of everything the way you did with Lost. It's not about the island. It's not about the polar bear. It's about the Dharma Initiative, it's about the Dharma of life. So maybe it's not so much about faith as it is about getting past faith and just believing in humanity somehow. I don't know and not knowing is why it works so well.

Make no mistake, the show is a lot like Lost so it could go south in a bad way. I'm sure it's not going to end up being a favorite show for me or even close, but it so far is allowing me to be focused on the journey and not the destination. There are moments and episodes that are gut wrenching and real and creepy and beautiful. It really is worth a shot. So, maybe fuck Lindelof a little less now.

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