The Leftovers improves upon its outstanding debut with a strong follow up, but at the cost of our dearly beloved bagels. All this and more in my review of Penguin One, Us Zero.
The Leftovers: Season 1: Episode 2: Penguin One, Us Zero: GRADE: A
Well the second episode of the new series starts of with a hell of a bang with a government S.W.A.T. team invading the compound of Holy Wayne’s compound after a cold open with a couple of government people shown brief on Wayne and how he can hug the pain away from some of Capitol Hill’s finest and his fondness of younger Asian girls, which might explain his high interest in Christine and her”important” role. Oh yeah, guns blazing that concludes with Tom and Christine hiding after Tom saves Christine from near death. Hell of a way to open that adds more intrigue and mystery to Wayne as we do see him catch up to Christine and Tom at an abandoned gas station and we get the start of an on the run storyline for the show here with them and that wasn’t quite was I was expecting or wanting this to go to so soon, but its a brief problem I had given the quality of actin that was involved with it.
The said raid on the compound is greatly done and that’s mostly due in part to director Peter Berg, yet again, who does this sort of thing very well and is shot with such urgency and energy and a quick pace that really works for something we just get thrusted into so quick. It starts things off perfectly.
Only to be followed by a weird ass dream Kevin has where Aimee wakes up in his bed and stands in fire as they join the mysterious hunter from the pilot. Yep, this is definitely gonna be a memorable one. Kevin is trying to find the mysterious man from the pilot after the end of last week’s pilot which shows that quite sometime has passed since then and I think that’s actually very good, more on why in a moment. But here, Kevin’s determination is to jut get peace and move on, but the mysterious man proves unwilling, he thinks he’s got him a new hunting buddy. The search does lead to Kevin finding the mysterious man’s truck parked in his driveway, with another dead dog in the back of it, a gift the man calls it, and he’s left to wonder what the hell has he gotten into.
Even more of Kevin’s family life is explored when he visits his father, played by Scott Glenn, who is mentally unwell, hearing voices saying someone was sent to guide Kevin, maybe that’s what the mysterious man is, Kevin’s guid in this upside down turned world. Scott Glenn has been a favorite of mine, despite questionable decisions like Sucker Punch, and he does fine work here, as does Theroux with his reactions to seeing his dad this time around. He’s really selling me on his amazing range here.
Back to the time progression since the pilot, Jill’s continued downslide is done perfectly in a sudden moment after her and Aimee take the Frost twins on an impromptu trip to follow Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) after seeing the widowed/rapture victim (?) mother and wife has a gun on her and after seeing her hug Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), former reverend running a self-published tabloid about people taken in The Sudden Departure not being that great. Not only do we see she’s helping give benefit packages to those who lost family in it, but Jill’s decline as when she suggest Aimee go check out her car, she’s suddenly overcome with excitement and honks the horn of the twins car loudly, risking being caught and suddenly going back to who she was as she and Dora lock eyes. Normally, teenage rebellion and such annoys me as most teens and kids aren’t written too well but here, I’m very compelled by the story of Jill. Its been three years since her family fell apart and she just wants some semblance of that back. The arc is interesting and has some promise from the very good acting off the respective actors.
Well we also get to see more of the Guilty Remnant as Megan is still living there since the end of pilot and is being mentored by Kevin’s wife, Laurie into joining as we discover she’s held off her wedding for the past three years and well obviously the GR are her way out of dodging it completely instead of just calling the whole thing off. Also seems to answer why they targeted her, to recruit her. They stalk to get people to join, though given how they were in the pilot, I just assumed they stalked anyone. Seeing how things work in the GR, and great acting with facial expressions off of Amy Brenneman and Ann Dowd, show something bigger here waiting to happen with the cult. Body language really helps them too, even Liv Tyler who gets to speak, as she reluctantly falls in line here wanting someplace to fit in during a troubling time and depression certainly brought on by The Sudden Departure.
This episode features a theme of trying to find what is lost, even though we just can’t see it there. We all been there, lost photos on a hard drive, a stolen car in the driveway, and a missing wallet. We all go back there thinking of some sense of retracing our steps to find what we thought we lost. That’s what I think the bagel meant to Kevin, going back and just finding any level of existence that it was there before it was gone. Its small, but powerful in how its done.
The Leftovers is clearly telling a parable tale here, but it feels deeply rooted in its own universe like a fantasy or sci-fi story, but yet its a great blend of those two. So much ambiguity still to explore and already in two episodes I am much hooked, like I was with Lost, which yeah, I imagine so many others will bring up, I’m gonna try to not bring up Lost, only when it feels right to make the comparison. The show has proven strong right now and how well its holds up will determine if the hype is really worth buying into.