Solace indeed. The first half of the rookie season of The Leftovers hurtles forward at breakneck speed, propelled by a whole lot of pain, a whole lot of angst, a whole lot of doom and gloom, and just a little tiny bit of hope. It’s fairly characteristic, actually, for an intense episode of this show to contain one small but valuable nugget of joy within the dark folds, although I’m not sure the darkest episode “Gladys” had anything of the sort. “Guest“, the sixth and best episode of the season, showed Nora more broken and identityless than she’s ever been — and yet her connection with Wayne (“Will I forget them?” “Never.“) was one of the most life-affirming moments in the entire season. Her brother Matt endured a series of cruelly hellish occurrences in “Two Boats and a Helicopter“, and yet his win at the roulette table probably elicited a smile as large as his out of most viewers. The previous episode “Penguin One, Us Zero” showed us just how tragic it could be to lost your bagel, and then it showed us just how exhilirating it can be to find it again.
So “Solace for Tired Feet” is just that: a breather. It’s not built with such intentionality, of course, and if anything it’s structured as a set-up to the final stroke of the season. “Tired Feet” says here is where everyone is, here is where they seem to be headed, and here is how they are all connected. The first two points are necessary to orient us towards the end of the season’s arc, but it’s the third point — the ways in which all of the characters are connected — that’s most impressive in this otherwise slow hour. To boot, instead of a full episode of straight-up intensity, “Tired Feet” provides a blend of hopefulness, revelation, and some intriguing Lost-style question marks.
Continue reading The Leftovers 1.7 – “Solace for Tired Feet”
I’m thinking of a movie. It came out in 1991. In this movie, a young hotshot investigator is faced with a particularly gruesome series of crimes. Stumped, the investigator seeks the help of a criminal already incarcerated for similar but unrelated crimes. The criminal is clearly a devious maniac, and his help is contingent on a cat-and-mouse game of psychological cabaret. He helps solve things in a roundabout way, but only after the investigator gives up personal feelings about the crimes. This movie features Scott Glenn in a fairly major role.
If you hadn’t seen Backdraft as the header for this review, you might have said The Silence of the Lambs. Either way, you’d be right — all of the above criteria fits with both films, strange as it seems. There’s no shortage of suspiciously-timed blockbusters that have a great deal in common — see Illusionist/Prestige, Tombstone/Wyatt Earp, Truman Show/EdTV, Antz/Bug’s Life, etc. — or just operate on a similar premise or gimmick, like the one-man-in-one-location flicks Buried and 127 Hours. But while Backdraft and Silence of the Lambs operate in fairly different territory, the similarities are far more numerous than those of the kindred spirits listed above. This can only mean one thing: an unfathomable conspiracy, deadly and ancient, marshaled and brought to bear for the purpose of ending civilization as we know it.
Continue reading Backdraft (1991)
Apart from having an awesome title, “Penguin One, Us Zero” serves to better establish what The Leftovers looks like as a week-by-week television series. The pilot episode did a great job of setting up the new post-Departure America while not hitting us over the head with that world-building aspect, but the second episode really begins to delve deeper into the hearts and minds of those still remaining.
Chief among these (get it?) is Justin Theroux’s Kevin Garvey. Later episodes of The Leftovers will take pages from the Lost playbook and focus entirely on single characters, and “Penguin One, Us Zero” isn’t exactly one of these. But Kevin is front and center, as he should be, and some key elements of his character come to the surface in this second hour. His relationship with his father (played by Scott Glenn) is also introduced, and that’s an important relationship going forward into the thick of the first season. Most importantly, though: there is a bagel. Yes. On second thought, screw everything else. Let’s talk about that bagel.
Continue reading The Leftovers 1.2 – “Penguin One, Us Zero”