For better or worse, its family time before season finale for The Leftovers. More in the review below.
The Leftovers: Season 1: Episode 9: The Garveys at Their Best: GRADE: B
It feels like an odd choice to have a full flashback episode serve as the PENULTIMATE(!) hour of the first season. This does one thing much like Lost did right in having flashbacks serve a purpose in helping to develop characters give the whole story where it is now of where it came from. This week we also get a character focus where out main focus is the Garvey family and admittedly, more of the town’s main players in the day leading up to The Sudden Departure and where they each where when it had happened.
But we also see really, Kevin wasn’t enjoying life so much before the Departure. He’s not happy, he’s unfulfilled that he hasn’t found his place and that’s because his purpose of saving something or another just isn’t there so much as when he saved Laurie from being a single mom and Tommy from a confrontation with his biological father. He has classic old hero complex and wants to be the person people can look up to in order to feel happy cause he clearly isn’t with Laurie anymore when he opens to her towards the end of the episode and the look on her face shows it too. He starts to feel something when a deer that’s been messing things up all over town is hit but a random attractive woman by taking her back to her hotel and have sex with her, only for her to vanish in the Departure.
He knows deep down he’s not a good guy, even his father knows, yes before crazy town banana pants, that something isn’t sitting right with Kevin when Sr. receives the Mapleton Man of the Year Award. Kevin feels like he has it all, the family, job, respect, all that, but wants more but Sr. tells him to cut the shit. Kevin has no real greater purpose.
Laurie is unhappy herself, wanting to add more to the family against Kevin’s resistance, which is probably why she holds off the dog talk for so long and doesn’t even reveal to him she’s pregnant at all. Seeing her as a psychiatrist before the Departure is intriguing to finally get some backstory into that character, even more so when her patient Patti can sense an impending event coming soon. She’s wanting more too, but feels more content than Kevin certainly does and as for a good portion of her depression that we see now, well we see what most likely finally pushed her over the edge, I mean besides the fading marriage, her fetus disappears in the Departure. Laurie looks on the ultrasound all happy then poof! Baby gone!
The kids get glimpses too, more so Tommy wanting to get back at his biological dad, but nothing’s much made of that or Jill who is just there this week. We already know Jill’s whole thing so yeah.
The focus isn’t primarily on the family, though the majority of the episode is, we get glimpses in what was going on with Nora before the event trying to get a job on the Mayor’s staff and adjusting to that new thing called motherhood. We see a bit of Matt right before it happens, that was nice and all, but it doesn’t add as much as the stuff following the Garvey’s does.
For as much as I feel like this could have served the show well into the beginning of it, having it right now does help give us a sense of life before it all happened and show how we got to where we are now, but I feel like it was such a detour given the big thing that had happened last week at the end and the momentum feels halted. This kinda does in ways feel like a filler episode, that they needed to find someway to justify its 10 episode order, but yet it still feels like a strong example of why the show is good from deeper understanding of characters and themes, wonderful cinematography, and great direction and performances. I’m certainly mixed with several stories going on, only Kevin and Laurie getting the best parts, but when the show works this week it does work. Here’s hoping for a good finale.