Yes, I made fun of the first season of “The Leftovers,” but I’m secretly — well, it’s not really a secret — obsessed with it. It has a lot of problems. As this Grantland article explains, the show suffers from the disease of Pretentious Bullshit as a substitute for the difficulty of depicting the complicated human experience of being alive in a changing world. (Yes, deers need to stop being a symbol of wisdom and piety. So do doves.) However, the show does have a hold on many things that we experience in our culture, like the casual weird acceptance in the face of the inexplicable violence. (For example, a guy shoots up a community college in Oregon and we all react with creepy normality because…”stuff happens”?)
I did almost drown in the barrage of metaphors that began with the Quest For Fire woman having a baby post-earthquake apocalypse and ended with fish flopping around on an empty river bed. We get it. Death. Primal woman. They Mystery of Nature. (The book by Tom Perrota had none of this and actually depicts grief better than anything I have read or seen.)
Ok, so here’s the recap of the first episode of the second season in one paragraph. Ready?….Go! Upper middle class black family in Miracle, Texas survive Star Treck Beam of Disappearance along with the rest of this Jesus Freak town. The family seems kind of perfect…you guessed it, too perfect. Adorable Daughter sings in a choir and Sweet Son feeds the town vagrant who dresses like a medival wizard and lives in a tower. The Good Dad does good dad things like play catch with his Adorable Daughter. But he also functions as one of the town’s Secret Service Police who terrorize those who espouse any spirituality outside of Christianity. Even if it’s his childhood pal, who now conducts a psychic practice from his home. Psychic Friend tells Good Dad that “something bad is going to happen.” (What kind of psychic delivers news this way?! The correct phrase is “you will face some challenges.”) Later, (possibly in reaction to this bummer news) Good Dad throws Psychic Friend out of his window and burns down the house. A little extreme? We later find out that Good Dad served time for attempted murder so what’s a little arson? The next day everyone goes to church like nothing happened. Bad stuff does happen at the end and (SPOILER ALERT) Adorable Daughter disappears along with the water that tethered the flopping fishes who, like the characters, are now out of their element. SYMBOLISM.
Also, a lot of strange things happen like a farmer brings a goat into a restaurant for slaughter in front of patrons and, apparently, the entire cast of “Perfect Strangers” did NOT depart/disappear in Star Treck beam. (Ok, so this was two paragraphs…)
Next episode? More weirdness, please.