Ah, Matt Jamison. He’s not the main character of The Leftovers. He’s not the one most directly affected by the Sudden Departure, nor is he the one who’s lived most nobly in its wake, nor is he a handsome shining studly hero with a constant grimace (see: Kevin Garvey; John Murphy). But anyone who’s seen last season’s “Two Boats and a Helicopter” knows that Matt Jamison was the most passionate character in the whole of the show, the most tragic, and now that we’ve had another Matt-centric episode in “No Room at the Inn” it’s safe to say that those characteristics carry over into the second season.
We’ll talk about the cyclical writing involved in Matt’s stories, but first: Christopher Eccleston. There’s a lot of strong acting in The Leftovers, with Kevin Carroll’s John Murphy being the particular standout in season two. Eccleston is the veteran to Carroll’s newcomer, but the scenes between the two of them in “No Room” absolutely crackle. And for the duration of the episode Eccleston exudes an easy sense of identification with his character; he’s so natural as Matt that if more people watched The Leftovers Eccleston might stop being “the guy from Doctor Who” and start being “the guy from The Leftovers“.
Continue reading The Leftovers 2.5 – “No Room at the Inn”
Alongside the sixth episode “Guest”, “Two Boats and a Helicopter” provides the most effective hour of character drama in the stellar first season of The Leftovers. The first episode to zoom in on a single character depicts the sad struggle of Reverend Matt Jamison, portrayed with suitable passion by Christopher Eccleston, in the wake of the mysterious Departure. The first and second hours showed glimpses of Matt, passing out flyers at a rally that damn the Departed rather than deify them. “It was not the Rapture!” maintains Matt. In “Two Boats and a Helicopter”, he reveals what he thinks the Departure actually was: a test.
And his sister Nora sums up one side of the episode with perfect succinctness: “if it was a test, I think you might be failing it.” Thus is his post-non-Rapture existence a continuous test of faith wherein Matt attempts to hold onto his beliefs in the face of that unthinkable and impossible event. Matt’s story keeps turning in on itself, offering hope in one instant and ripping it away just as quickly. It’s a cruel-seeming existence, one that forces Matt to eventually view the smallest of occurrences as a direct sign from God. After a certain point, the letdowns are more or less inevitable.
Continue reading The Leftovers 1.3 – “Two Boats and a Helicopter”
The Leftovers isn’t easy watching. The premise is a tough one: roughly two percent of the world’s population suddenly vanishes one October day, leaving the other ninety-eight percent to agonize over where they went, why they went, and what the hell actually happened. Three years on, the weight of the uncertainty left in the wake of the event is so fresh that it might have happened just yesterday. Justin Theroux stars as Kevin Garvey, Chief of Police in smalltown Mapleton, New York, and in the pilot episode it’s already clear what kind of devastating effect the disappearance has had on Mapleton and on Kevin.
Damon Lindelof is a major player here, the writer behind such other head-scratchers as Lost and Prometheus, and his stroke is evident in the first hour of Leftovers. This is one reason why the show likely defies those happening upon it as they lounge on the couch and flip through channels until they hit HBO – The Leftovers isn’t at all a casual watch. Lindelof shares creator credit with Tom Perrotta, who wrote and published Leftovers as a novel before turning it to the small screen, and it appears they’ve both adopted the “mystery box” theory posed once by J.J. Abrams. The Leftovers shows us the box, shows the top and bottom and sides and practically makes us beg to see what’s inside it – and Lindelof and Co. are aware that that mystery itself is more compelling than actually opening the box. The main box – containing the answer to the question where did the departed go, and why were they taken? – is the framework for the entire show.
Continue reading The Leftovers 1.1 – “Pilot”