The Television Thread

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
Just finished the first season of The Leftovers. I watched the show when it came out, each season, and loved it, but only saw it the one time. This is my first time rewatching it. I don't feel like I have nearly the same grasp on it I do Lost, but as I was thinking about that sentence it really hit me how special that is. We don't get much American TV which demands that much of you. It feels like we either haven't progressed too far beyond or have regressed back to the point in 1990 where Twin Peaks was expected to wrap up the question of Who Killed Laura Palmer in the opening seconds of it's ninth episode. We're doing seasons of that length nowadays and it seems like a lot of them have to end with reams of exposition to make sure nobody's left with any lingering questions. It's nice to have some exceptions to that.

When I think about The Leftovers I tend to think of it first in comparison to Chris Carter. The Leftovers is to Lost as Millennium is to The X-Files. A darker, even more ambiguous though less popular followup which ran for three seasons and has a cult following in it's own right, not necessarily tied to the other show.

The first time I watched The Leftovers I was just taking the ride, which is normal for me. Don't care to think too hard the first time through. This time through I'm starting to pick things out and form an interpretation. My thinking so far, we'll see how seasons two and three affect it, is that Matt Jamison is right, righter than even he knows, and the Departure is a test. It's essentially the story of God salting the Earth on the institutions of the modern world. All it took was that little push, this undeniable event with an abyss of meaning attached, to send our structures in the direction of fascism as an expression of the empty nihilism in the human heart after the event. Craven businesses profiting off people's pain, a means-tested benefits process meant to punish the loved ones of the Departed, the executive branch of government has turned into a gang of paramilitary killers, thinking up justifications to dispatch children with lethal force. These structures weren't formed after the Departure, they largely already existed, the groundwork was already laid.

Another theme which runs throughout the season is the blending of the profound and the profane. The Departure itself is an example, it resists the easy morality of the Rapture, a fact Matt Jamison devoted himself to exploring. A number of people seem to have been chosen to receive important information for the tough road ahead, in the parlance of Lost we'd call them "special." These people aren't otherwise exceptional or necessarily even good. A cop. His son, another cop who's even turned a bit crooked after the Departure. Patti, a nervous wreck due to her abusive husband, whose crack judge of character is a talent languishing until after the Departure, at which point she uses it to lead a cult and wage psychological warfare against the rest of Mapleton. Holy Wayne, a man in no way deserving of a special gift, a man in fact totally repugnant, chosen perhaps specifically because of that fact. It all seems tailor made to completely undermine the moral and power structures built up around religion. Then there's Dean, the dog killer, also special and seemingly sent to Kevin to aid his journey into whatever said journey is. Killing the dogs to me is a metaphor for humanity's decline into something feral, and it's interesting he sees the same visions as Kevin's dad while also believing the world is too far gone to save these dogs.

The May 1972 issue of National Geographic interests me. What secrets are held there? It has something to do with Cairo, Egypt which shares the same name as the location in New York Kevin has traveled to in his fugue states. It seems too specific to be a product of Kevin Sr's addled mind, especially since he had to seek it out. More to come there I suspect.

I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale yesterday. First time reading it and without question one of the best books I've ever read. This season of The Leftovers reminds me of it, just a great piece of speculative fiction.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
833
1,869
Just finished the first season of The Leftovers. I watched the show when it came out, each season, and loved it, but only saw it the one time. This is my first time rewatching it. I don't feel like I have nearly the same grasp on it I do Lost, but as I was thinking about that sentence it really hit me how special that is. We don't get much American TV which demands that much of you. It feels like we either haven't progressed too far beyond or have regressed back to the point in 1990 where Twin Peaks was expected to wrap up the question of Who Killed Laura Palmer in the opening seconds of it's ninth episode. We're doing seasons of that length nowadays and it seems like a lot of them have to end with reams of exposition to make sure nobody's left with any lingering questions. It's nice to have some exceptions to that.

When I think about The Leftovers I tend to think of it first in comparison to Chris Carter. The Leftovers is to Lost as Millennium is to The X-Files. A darker, even more ambiguous though less popular followup which ran for three seasons and has a cult following in it's own right, not necessarily tied to the other show.

The first time I watched The Leftovers I was just taking the ride, which is normal for me. Don't care to think too hard the first time through. This time through I'm starting to pick things out and form an interpretation. My thinking so far, we'll see how seasons two and three affect it, is that Matt Jamison is right, righter than even he knows, and the Departure is a test. It's essentially the story of God salting the Earth on the institutions of the modern world. All it took was that little push, this undeniable event with an abyss of meaning attached, to send our structures in the direction of fascism as an expression of the empty nihilism in the human heart after the event. Craven businesses profiting off people's pain, a means-tested benefits process meant to punish the loved ones of the Departed, the executive branch of government has turned into a gang of paramilitary killers, thinking up justifications to dispatch children with lethal force. These structures weren't formed after the Departure, they largely already existed, the groundwork was already laid.

Another theme which runs throughout the season is the blending of the profound and the profane. The Departure itself is an example, it resists the easy morality of the Rapture, a fact Matt Jamison devoted himself to exploring. A number of people seem to have been chosen to receive important information for the tough road ahead, in the parlance of Lost we'd call them "special." These people aren't otherwise exceptional or necessarily even good. A cop. His son, another cop who's even turned a bit crooked after the Departure. Patti, a nervous wreck due to her abusive husband, whose crack judge of character is a talent languishing until after the Departure, at which point she uses it to lead a cult and wage psychological warfare against the rest of Mapleton. Holy Wayne, a man in no way deserving of a special gift, a man in fact totally repugnant, chosen perhaps specifically because of that fact. It all seems tailor made to completely undermine the moral and power structures built up around religion. Then there's Dean, the dog killer, also special and seemingly sent to Kevin to aid his journey into whatever said journey is. Killing the dogs to me is a metaphor for humanity's decline into something feral, and it's interesting he sees the same visions as Kevin's dad while also believing the world is too far gone to save these dogs.

The May 1972 issue of National Geographic interests me. What secrets are held there? It has something to do with Cairo, Egypt which shares the same name as the location in New York Kevin has traveled to in his fugue states. It seems too specific to be a product of Kevin Sr's addled mind, especially since he had to seek it out. More to come there I suspect.

I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale yesterday. First time reading it and without question one of the best books I've ever read. This season of The Leftovers reminds me of it, just a great piece of speculative fiction.
Good stuff. It's funny, I usually mentally approach The Leftovers as if nothing supernatural is happening at all, except for obviously the Departure. After that initial inciting incident, I view everything else as a realistic exploration of religious mania, of the ways people cope with unimaginable tragedy, the ways that mental illness inevitably intersects with all of this. The way that Kevin's arc parallels biblical prophets of old who very well might have just been suffering from epilepsy or schizophrenia. For me, it's purely a character piece first and foremost, even more than Lost, although the mythology stuff is certainly fun. The beauty of the show, as you say, is how open to interpretation it is: how it can be viewed both ways, and yet, even if you were to take a full-on mythological approach, and I were to take the completely “realistic” approach, I think we'd both get to more or less the same place in terms of what the show means emotionally and what it's saying about the human experience. It's remarkably cohesive and direct in that sense, while also being almost entirely open to interpretation. It's really quite a feat.

I own a copy of that National Geographic issue, and there are definitely a lot of Easter eggs strewn throughout the series. There's a Leftovers Wikia that was mostly edited by me...someone else had created it, but it was basically a skeleton until I went through it on my most recent watch three years ago or so. I added sections to the episodes noting any references to the Nat Geo, some of which are very obscure. I can't decide if it was just Damon having fun or if there was something deeper at play (if I'm remembering correctly, Tom Perrotta--who wrote the book and co-ran the show--said he didn't have any idea what the magazine meant). I view it sort of similarly to the Numbers on Lost--something that keeps popping up and seems to have some spiritual significance in these characters' lives, but maybe doesn't have a meaning that can be put into words. (Yes, I know there are at least two explanations given for the Numbers, but I don't view either as THE true definitive "meaning.")
 
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MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
That's more or less how I engaged with it the first time through, though some of things in seasons two and three certainly threw me for a loop. Decided this time to treat it like Lost and see what comes up.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
833
1,869
That's more or less how I engaged with it the first time through, though some of things in seasons two and three certainly threw me for a loop. Decided this time to treat it like Lost and see what comes up.
There is admittedly one thing in season 3 that really can’t be explained away as anything other than supernatural or spiritual. Which in a weird way makes the whole thing even more intriguing.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
766
1,212
I heard an interview with Lindelof where he was self-deprecating about the second episode of The Leftovers being about a missing bagel, and what a terrible mistake that was to hook people into the show.

I found that strange as that's the exact kind of thing I love. Mixing the mundane with the eerie, supernatural. I also love bagels, and I often lose things out of nowhere as if by magic. That episode spoke to me, it actually captures a real life weird thing that happens all the time. Seriously, I really loved it. Don't get why he's so down on it.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
833
1,869
I heard an interview with Lindelof where he was self-deprecating about the second episode of The Leftovers being about a missing bagel, and what a terrible mistake that was to hook people into the show.

I found that strange as that's the exact kind of thing I love. Mixing the mundane with the eerie, supernatural. I also love bagels, and I often lose things out of nowhere as if by magic. That episode spoke to me, it actually captures a real life weird thing that happens all the time. Seriously, I really loved it. Don't get why he's so down on it.
Sounds like typical self-deprecating Lindelof. The bagel thing was based on something that actually happened to him though!
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
Probably hasn't done himself any favors being so self-deprecating over the years. I think that missing bagel is a simple but poignant way to signpost what's to come. Like Leland's jacket in the second episode of Twin Peaks or something.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
833
1,869
Probably hasn't done himself any favors being so self-deprecating over the years. I think that missing bagel is a simple but poignant way to signpost what's to come. Like Leland's jacket in the second episode of Twin Peaks or something.
I agree that Damon is overly self-deprecating, which I find charming because I have a similar personality in some ways, but I think it does give his detractors more grist for the mill. It’s why he finally had to leave twitter way back when, because he just kept engaging with all the negative post-Lost hate to an unhealthy degree, and ignoring the many many positive comments. Listen to the audio commentary on “Across the Sea,” where the entire thing is him just talking shit about the episode, in an obviously joking fashion, but also clearly coming from a place of deep insecurity. I think that insecurity also drives his best work, but it’s arguably better left to a therapy session…although, again, I personally find it charming that he can be so open about his insecurities…similar in some ways to Dan Harmon. There was a period there in the early 2010s where social media allowed creators to be available to fans 24/7 in a way that had never been possible before, and Lindelof and Harmon were really at the forefront of basically feeling like your neurotic friends. For people like me, who shared many of their struggles, it was sort of refreshing to get a sense of how flawed and human these creators I admired were. I think both Lindelof and Harmon have learned over the years to find a little peace with themselves, and to find a way to filter, and to engage with fans in a still open but much healthier way.
 
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AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
333
797
My memories of that period are that the emotional tone of my reading some of his tweets was the same way I feel when I see my hand move on its own volition toward another salty and/or sweet snack in spite of, or perhaps encouraged by, my being already well past a day's calorie limit. "No...not like this..."

I was second-hand proud in a way usually reserved for recovering addicts when I saw his departure tweet. Neurosis is already such a struggle when it's locked away safe in your head; involving a mass audience in the patter is an active disaster.

JFYI, my BMI is currently stable!
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
766
1,212
My memories of that period are that the emotional tone of my reading some of his tweets was the same way I feel when I see my hand move on its own volition toward another salty and/or sweet snack in spite of, or perhaps encouraged by, my being already well past a day's calorie limit. "No...not like this..."

I was second-hand proud in a way usually reserved for recovering addicts when I saw his departure tweet. Neurosis is already such a struggle when it's locked away safe in your head; involving a mass audience in the patter is an active disaster.

Yeah I felt the same way about Dan Harmon. But he departed twice, first from Twitter, which I was 100% for, and then from his own podcast Harmontown, for similar reasons. That one hurt. Harmontown was my favorite show to listen to. I even went to a live show and you can hear me in an episode for a second! I just loved it so much and was really sad he pulled the plug. He kind of alluded to the culture being too much like vultures and picking apart everything everybody says and how privacy is much more safe and healthy for him.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
Finished season two of The Leftovers! Each season of Lindelof's TV work I've watched so far ranges from what I'd call very good (Lost seasons 1, 3, and 6 as well as The Leftovers' first season) to what I'd call truly brilliant (the other three seasons of Lost). The Leftovers season two is definitely in the latter category. It's emotional, stylistically bold, and elegant in how Lindelof explores his core themes from the inside out. Both his shows eschew your standard omniscient, third-person storytelling. Much like the classic 1999 video game Silent Hill, if our protagonist doesn't see it, neither do we. Lost does this beautifully, but it's existence as both science fiction and ensemble piece does allow the audience a bit more information than it's characters. The world of The Leftovers, as seen through the eyes of our increasingly confused guide Kevin Garvey, is an even more confounding place.

The irony of Kevin is that he's a man desperately wishing he had a destiny to run to, but when he greets destiny he isn't sure what to do. He leaves Mapleton for Jarden, Texas, only to find he's traveled to the Axis Mundi. Jarden is a special place where the planes of existence are linked, people have been drawn to this place since time immemorial, abilities awaken within people here, and nobody disappeared during the Departure. Special people can prematurely travel beyond the veil here, to the place where people work out their issues in life before either moving on or sticking around to guide people along in some capacity.

We find having someone from beyond guide you in the material world is a bit arbitrary. Who they are and what they say is dependent on their mood and they're far from all-knowing. Kevin is stuck with Patti Levin, and the quality of her advice can vary wildly from moment to moment. Perhaps not the best person to lead you to your destiny. Lucky he's come to Jarden then, which leads him to Virgil. Not an accident he's named after Dante's guide in the Divine Comedy! He guides Kevin to the crucible by which he can be free of this woman, bonded to him now through the circumstances of her death. Virgil becomes the spiritual successor to Holy Wayne, a man special despite nothing in his life signifying he deserves such a gift by our moral understanding. Ironically, in freeing himself from Patti, and just as much freeing her from him, Kevin might be moving closer and closer to his destiny the whole time.

My initial thought was Tommy dropping Lily off fulfilled Wayne's wish, now I see this moment of synchronicity only got the ball rolling. I wonder where Kevin's destiny may have lied otherwise? How would his receptivity have proceeded?

It's amazing how economical this season is at giving the characters depth. It manages to do this so simply while also moving them toward where they need to be narratively. Only one episode focuses on Laurie, and it tells us so much about who and where she is. The episode Ten Thirteen not only gives us a significantly deeper understanding of Meg, both now and retroactively, it also cements this as the role of Liv Tyler's career. She's brilliant here, almost a deconstruction of Kate from Lost. Kate's extreme beauty covers up for a long history of selfish, mercurial behavior. Meg's extreme beauty covers up something truly and deeply malicious, like glitter poured atop a pile of vomit. We see her indecisive nature in season one was an anomaly, she's a woman with an intense willingness and ability to commit, and in season two she comes back to herself in the most horrifying way possible. The alluring, poppy bounce of White Lines by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel is a perfect choice of theme for her.

International Assassin gives us a similar understanding of Patti, and she turns out to be a deconstruction of John Locke. Someone very special and deeply intelligent, a vast well of potential untapped due to years and years of accumulated baggage. The Island gives Locke something to believe in and work toward, and the Departure does so for Patti. Specifically the idea that nothing matters, the world is over, and we must all accept it by any means necessary. Both become reborn, highly driven and competent in ways they never were before. Ann Dowd is one of my favorite actors, and this is probably the role of her career, too. I'll miss Patti.

Lastly, we have the Murphy's, whose deep-seated family dysfunction drives the entire plot. John Murphy is a ball of anger, angry at what Virgil did to him, angry he fell in love with that man's daughter, angrier still that his attempt to kill Virgil just ended in another miracle in Miracle. While John was in prison Virgil was freed of his darkness and able to let go in a way John simply cannot. He can't go try to kill his kids' grandpa again so he lashes out at anyone in town peddling miracles, a real problem in a place which grants them more and more often these days. All this anger, papered over and left to fester as they live an outwardly happy middle-class life, trickles down into his kids, especially his daughter Evie.

An interesting theme is how the power at the heart of Jarden intersects with the world of man. We see this power threatened by fracking, we see the people of Jarden turn the town into a tightly controlled police state, afraid their special sense of security will be diluted if too many outsiders get in. They don't seem to understand Jarden's power is eternal. Keeping people out creates a resentment which ultimately turns violent, but Jarden's power remains the same. Meg's ultimate plan is to bring the misery of the outside world and it's increasingly fascist institutions home to Jarden, to remind everyone what's happening outside their gilded cage.

Lastly, kind of funny how the actress who plays Evie bears a striking resemblance to an ex-girlfriend of mine haha
 
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Dom

White Lodge
Jul 10, 2022
826
798
I just noticed that the new Frasier series is getting physical media release next month... on DVD only! Seriously, wtf?! There's no excuse in this day and age to put things out exclusively on an old SD format. I've got a 4K TV and I'm supposed to watch something that should fill that screen naturally, but instead have to watch a format that has to be zoomed several times over! They might as well be putting out the series on VHS! The same thing happened with the new Hellraiser series. Bad enough that Fox dumped Blu-ray even on prestige series such as Legion.

I don't get this lunacy. CBS are happy to put out Strange New Worlds on 4K, but not Frasier on regular Blu-ray, having relatively recently put out the original Frasier series and Cheers rebuilt on Blu-ray! It's sheer insanity. 'Streaming prison' is becoming a real problem. I'm never going to subscribe in the UK to Paramount Plus. There are already too many streaming services to handle. I just cancelled Arrow Player, because I'm not watching anything much on there. Releasing a streaming series on a decent format after a certain period of time makes complete sense: people who don't have streaming will buy it and fans who want to watch it early will have seen it on streaming and will want a permanent copy as well, so the studio makes money off it. A DVD-only release is beyond stupid. Given the dire financial state of Viacom in this day and age, they ought to be going after maximum sales of their products.

I would have pre-ordered and bought the new Frasier on Blu-ray on day one. I'm not spending £20 (more than $25) on a f***ing DVD! They've cost themselves a willing buyer - and I'm one of many who will feel the same! It's ridiculous! Imagine people's reaction had Twin Peaks: The Return had been DVD only!

Rant over! ;)
 

LateReg

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
169
444
Finished season two of The Leftovers! Each season of Lindelof's TV work I've watched so far ranges from what I'd call very good (Lost seasons 1, 3, and 6 as well as The Leftovers' first season) to what I'd call truly brilliant (the other three seasons of Lost). The Leftovers season two is definitely in the latter category.
I go back and forth on whether I prefer Season 2 or 3 of The Leftovers...2 is perhaps a bit more brazen and hard-edged but 3 strikes me as the perfection of the episodic form, where it is chiseled down to bare essentials needed to tell the story and yet still does so in a surprising, uniquely structured, emotional way.

But just wanted to chime in with a very surface comment here. I think it's interesting or perhaps a little crazy to lump the first season of Lost into Damon's "very good" rather than brilliant seasons. On the one hand, Lost is just getting started in Season 1 and grows richer as it goes along. But on the other hand, the pilot alone is a gamechanger, the first season's themes are indelibly linked to the rest of the series and conclusion, and it's just such a wonderfully entertaining season that I think most casual viewers would still consider it the best season of the series. In some vague objective sense of how it sustains over the course of 25 episodes, it might actually be the strongest season. (I'm not saying it's actually the best or my favorite, however.) At the very least, I think it's closer in quality to Sopranos' first season than it is to that of The Leftovers. (Sopranos is an interesting comparison because it too grows infinitely richer over time after a similarly accessible and beloved first season.) I'm by no means a Leftovers Season 1 hater and am in fact a great defender of it, but it still feels wrong to me to put Lost Season 1 into the same "very good" category as that of Leftovers' first season.
 
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MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
I'm a big fan of both. I'd agree both shows get richer as they go. The first season of Lost is a bit inconsistent to me after the first ten or so episodes, but it is still a great season that to this day can surprise you with how varied each episode can be. Having Larry Fong as cinematographer for a lot of those first season episodes was a coup. The Leftovers' first season is a powerful piece of pure pathos and sustained sorrow. There are many good shows which, at their best, aren't as good as these seasons!
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
333
797
Something a viewing buddy noticed when we went through LOST and the Leftovers that I find to be a really interesting perspective is that there's kind of a recurring dynamic at play in Lindelof's stuff regarding archetypes and cast-killing. Both LOST & Leftovers begin with mere sketches as a foundation and then the characters undergo exponential depth growth, so that comparing characters from the back half to their versions in the front half shows extreme discrepancies; they begin as rough archetypes and become human at some indeterminate point along the way. In both cases, a crisis event takes people who are stunted (living archetypes!) and knocks them out of stagnation.

As for cast-killing, I'd say it might be a crutch of his; once characters start to demonstrate lack of a coherent conflict, you can sense their demise or departure is imminent. I'd say it actually added to the mythic grandeur in LOST's case, as it took on a kind of figurative feel; yeah, you could see that the characters killed were almost always the ones whose plotlines were wearing thin or lacked relative promise, but there were tons of theories about how it tied into the Island as entity, i.e. once you're spiritually resolved, you let go and pass from this mortal coil. Even on rewatch it retains that atmosphere and I don't feel the writer's hand to a disengaging degree. With Leftovers, though, you get to season 3 and the MC's kids are written off unceremoniously, just because it's rather clear there was no pathway to deepen them like everyone else, and unfortunately it makes the time spent with them to that point feel like dead air.

We happened to have watched Prometheus around that time, too, and our takeaway was that owing to the above, perhaps Lindelof just isn't apt for film scripts; Prometheus had the runtime for plenty of cast-killing, but didn't have the runtime necessary for him to inevitably flesh his characters out beyond archetypes, and so overall the film feels rather thin, even as a genre slasher flick.

Also, just for anecdotes sake, as an ardent fan I'm quite fond of Season 1 of LOST, but every more casual viewer I've seen it with has liked it the least!
 
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LateReg

Glastonbury Grove
Apr 12, 2022
169
444
@AXX°N N. ...I feel differently about the kids being written off in Leftovers. I love it! I totally see where you're coming from, and even in my analysis of the third season as one that cuts everything down to the bare essentials needed to tell the story one could argue that it is due to what you describe. But none of that makes the time we previously spent with them feel like dead air to me. It's such a bold move to acknowledge that the kids simply aren't worth exploring further in this storyline, where so much takes place offscreen, and the story gives you just enough to feel that they've found some peace outside of the story, for now. Those who are left are those who are searching for meaning in often selfish ways, which emphasizes their struggle and the crazed nature of it. It's telling that the kids are last heard talking to Laurie, who makes the choice to move on. It really works for me. (I also have a pet peeve regarding the common criticism of kid characters in things like Sopranos. Many think the kids ended up being mishandled and relegated to afterthoughts, but I don't believe each character needs to be given equal attention, and therefore have no problem with Meadow and AJ becoming less integral as the series advances. So again, I think Sopranos provides an appropriate comparison. Rather than let the kids sort of fizzle out, Lindelof knew the challenge that faced him and boldly realized his storyline no longer required them.)

Interesting cast-killing thoughts as they tie to Lost, Lindelof's tropes and weaknesses, and the mystical nature of the island, I like that a lot. But as far as your anecdotal evidence of casuals you know who've watched it, color me surprised! That's not what I've encountered, in personal life or the internet. Very interesting.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
424
631
Just concluded my trip through Damon Lindelof's art with the third season of The Leftovers. There was a lot of great discussion on season three which came as a result of our talking about season two which I figured I'd wait til I considered.

I can definitely see what people were saying re: this season being the ultimate melding of episodic and serialized televisual narrative. It felt like coming full circle on Lindelof's whole career, like seeing a mature, considered, prestige tv version of the first season of Lost. Every episode tells a story while also being character-centric, one even uses a flashback structure.

The season is as great as I remember it. Like Lost's final season it only grows more challenging in the final hours, Lindelof steadfastly refuses to reduce his narratives in the end, something which I deeply admire. Part 18 of Twin Peaks is another great example of this, being halfway through that final episode and realizing I have no idea where it's going and I'm running out of time.

Whereas Lost is primarily science fiction with supernatural stuff flitting around the edges until the very end, The Leftovers flips that. It's primarily a supernatural show with sci-fi flitting around the edges until the very end.

My interpretation is that Kevin fulfills his destiny. The flood is just Kevin Senior's Crazy Whitefella Thinking, the kind of which we see open the season. Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, and even our successful attempts to glean insight into the end are hazy at best (the seven year tribulation, the dispensationalist rapture, etc.) To further draw on Peaks analogies, perhaps Kevin's true destiny, following a path which was laid one stone at a time, was to solve for the problem that it was in their house now. Humanity had reached a point of technological progress which made destroying the planet possible, and along with it a complete lack of spiritual and social fulfillment. So profound was our misery we'd even begun to poison the afterlife. The Sudden Departure was the true rapture, which started the seven year tribulation of accelerating our conception of these social contradictions and beginning to set them right. The knowledge of the existence of this place is one half of the new gospel: The Book of Kevin. It really feels like an interrogation of the final season of Lost, like "must Bardo be Bush era America????"

The other half is The Book of Nora: the equally stunning revelation that another dimension or timeline exists, and it is accessible.

Lindelof's art is essentially apocalyptic in nature, in which the forces beyond reveal at least some of the secrets of the universe to us (The Island and its dreams, the Engineers and their hatred for our perceived failures, the voices and guidance of the dead after the Departure, etc). This truth results in the eschaton, but for Lindelof the eschaton needn't be so literal and physical. For him, it's usually internal. The death of an old age and the beginning of a new one (Jacob into Hurley, the Books of Nora and Kevin, etc.) Reminiscent of Richard Kelly's apocalyptic art in this sense as well, especially Southland Tales.

I knew Tom and Jill faded very much into the background this season, and wondered if I'd share the criticism of their absence making their presence earlier unfulfilling. I'm ok with it. If Lost is about people being whisked away from their lives to face destiny, The Leftovers is about it coming while we're fully entrenched in those lives. I also feel the episode Certified really pays Jill and Tommy off as characters. There's a recurring theme in The Leftovers, "am I in their story or are they in mine?" Turns out Tommy and Jill were part of Laurie's story, and seeing all that time spent with them really makes that final moment, the synchronicity which leads to her decision to live, all the more poignant.

The Leftovers also feels a bit like an answer to Lost. Lost deconstructs the reductive genre and sociopolitical narratives we tell ourselves to get through the world, The Leftovers is about the crafting of a new one.

My girlfriend had an interesting read on the ending, that perhaps everything we see in the future is just the recast vision of the afterlife, which I continue to call the flash-sideways. That they're dead here and it only reflects the new world rather than literally being it.

She and I came down on opposite sides of which we prefer. I prefer Lost, she likes The Leftovers. Anyway, it was great fun and thanks everyone for all the great discussion!
 
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Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
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Just concluded my trip through Damon Lindelof's art with the third season of The Leftovers. There was a lot of great discussion on season three which came as a result of our talking about season two which I figured I'd wait til I considered.

I can definitely see what people were saying re: this season being the ultimate melding of episodic and serialized televisual narrative. It felt like coming full circle on Lindelof's whole career, like seeing a mature, considered, prestige tv version of the first season of Lost. Every episode tells a story while also being character-centric, one even uses a flashback structure.

The season is as great as I remember it. Like Lost's final season it only grows more challenging in the final hours, Lindelof steadfastly refuses to reduce his narratives in the end, something which I deeply admire. Part 18 of Twin Peaks is another great example of this, being halfway through that final episode and realizing I have no idea where it's going and I'm running out of time.

Whereas Lost is primarily science fiction with supernatural stuff flitting around the edges until the very end, The Leftovers flips that. It's primarily a supernatural show with sci-fi flitting around the edges until the very end.

My interpretation is that Kevin fulfills his destiny. The flood is just Kevin Senior's Crazy Whitefella Thinking, the kind of which we see open the season. Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, and even our successful attempts to glean insight into the end are hazy at best (the seven year tribulation, the dispensationalist rapture, etc.) To further draw on Peaks analogies, perhaps Kevin's true destiny, following a path which was laid one stone at a time, was to solve for the problem that it was in their house now. Humanity had reached a point of technological progress which made destroying the planet possible, and along with it a complete lack of spiritual and social fulfillment. So profound was our misery we'd even begun to poison the afterlife. The Sudden Departure was the true rapture, which started the seven year tribulation of accelerating our conception of these social contradictions and beginning to set them right. The knowledge of the existence of this place is one half of the new gospel: The Book of Kevin. It really feels like an interrogation of the final season of Lost, like "must Bardo be Bush era America????"

The other half is The Book of Nora: the equally stunning revelation that another dimension or timeline exists, and it is accessible.

Lindelof's art is essentially apocalyptic in nature, in which the forces beyond reveal at least some of the secrets of the universe to us (The Island and its dreams, the Engineers and their hatred for our perceived failures, the voices and guidance of the dead after the Departure, etc). This truth results in the eschaton, but for Lindelof the eschaton needn't be so literal and physical. For him, it's usually internal. The death of an old age and the beginning of a new one (Jacob into Hurley, the Books of Nora and Kevin, etc.) Reminiscent of Richard Kelly's apocalyptic art in this sense as well, especially Southland Tales.

I knew Tom and Jill faded very much into the background this season, and wondered if I'd share the criticism of their absence making their presence earlier unfulfilling. I'm ok with it. If Lost is about people being whisked away from their lives to face destiny, The Leftovers is about it coming while we're fully entrenched in those lives. I also feel the episode Certified really pays Jill and Tommy off as characters. There's a recurring theme in The Leftovers, "am I in their story or are they in mine?" Turns out Tommy and Jill were part of Laurie's story, and seeing all that time spent with them really makes that final moment, the synchronicity which leads to her decision to live, all the more poignant.

The Leftovers also feels a bit like an answer to Lost. Lost deconstructs the reductive genre and sociopolitical narratives we tell ourselves to get through the world, The Leftovers is about the crafting of a new one.

My girlfriend had an interesting read on the ending, that perhaps everything we see in the future is just the recast vision of the afterlife, which I continue to call the flash-sideways. That they're dead here and it only reflects the new world rather than literally being it.

She and I came down on opposite sides of which we prefer. I prefer Lost, she likes The Leftovers. Anyway, it was great fun and thanks everyone for all the great discussion!
I appreciate that you're taking the more macro view on all this stuff. As I alluded to, I tend to approach the show from the more subjective aspect, which feels particularly appropriate to the episodic-but-not-episodic nature of this season, where each episode feels very much like one character's personal journey, where they act as the prophet in their own story, as do we all on a daily basis. The way all these personal narratives and belief systems intersect, in selfish and unselfish ways, the way characters impact the other people around them while pursuing their own bullish agendas, is such a powerful statement on humanity, faith, and the desperate need for purpose and validation. I still think it's one of the strongest seasons of television I've ever seen. And yes, I believe that Nora (my favorite character) is lying at the end.
 

MasterMastermnd

Waiting Room
Apr 12, 2022
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I considered that possibility but did end up believing her! I kind of wanted not to believe her but it just felt so in keeping with the rest of my interpretation of the show. I like how we leave many of our principal characters in these situations where they'll either be reborn or die, and all ending up submerged in water. Either baptism or drowning.

I think I've said before but one of my shorthand comparisons is to say if Lost is The X-Files, The Leftovers is Millennium. Both Millennium and The Leftovers make you feel like a crazy person more than any other show I think I've seen. The whole picture in X-Files and Lost is hazy, but you know something is happening. The other shows make you wonder what even is. Carter achieves this by giving you pointedly contradictory information which replicates the nature of conspiracy theory, like holding two completely incompatible narratives in your head at the same time ("Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK" vs "the CIA and Mafia killed JFK" for instance). Lindelof approaches this by giving you something so vague yet portentous you feel like Kevin Sr. the more you dig into it.
 
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