I thought I had posted about this show but I searched and couldn't find it. Must have dreamed it. Yeah, I have forum dreams, so WHAT.
There's been a lot of fussing over it on the Twitter and such, but man I am really digging it. I wasn't going to bother. Like, I REALLY REALLY wasn't going to bother. I loved Lost and while it went off the rails big time I still enjoyed it in various ways. But I do not love Damon Lindelof and his smarmy d-bag attitude about people hating him for screwing the show up and giving it a terrible ending. After he ditched Twitter because he couldn't take the heat anymore, I wrote him off and declared I wouldn't watch his stuff ever again.
And here I am watching The Leftovers. Dammit.
It has some comparisons to draw with Lost -- mysteries that aren't explained, a big focus on characters more than plot -- but I feel like it has more going on that's grounded in reality than Lost ever did. The point of the show is that like ten percent of the population just suddenly disappears one day. Like poof, in an instant. The show isn't about that. These people aren't really exploring the mystery and trying to figure out where they went (although you get hints in the background that smart people have been investigating it and ultimately have NO idea what happened). The show is about the aftermath of such an event. You think on the surface, ten percent? Would that really be a big deal? I've had some arguments with people about it. Like that it wouldn't be a big enough deal to really have a huge effect on the world, and that by the time the show really picks up the story, two years after the incident, that people would be over it.
I don't know what these people are thinking. Death in the best of terms is still a painful thing that takes people years to get through. To lose people suddenly on a huge scale is remarkably tragic. There's the question of what really happened that might drive some people nuts with worry or fear. There's the actual loss. Feeling like the people in charge have no idea what's happening, the hopelessness. I think two years after this event, to have these people acting this way is absolutely correct.
I think that's what really intrigues me about the show. I'm a huge fan of character driven dramas that have a thing that happens and then becomes a background piece. I love that the show isn't about the disappearance. I love that it's about these people that are barely keeping their minds together trying to figure out how to live when they've lost loved ones and don't know what happens tomorrow.
It's not like the apocalypse. They can't just accept the world is ending. Life goes on. It's just surreal, and I'm really enjoying it. It's real, but it's just very keyed up.
It took a couple episodes to get warmed up, but by Chris Eccleston's amazing performance in episode three, it's been really turning out some heavy stuff.
It's definitely not everyone's thing, but it's worth a shot despite Lindelof and his dumb face.
I'm waiting to fully read this until I'm caught up (still 2 episodes behind), but I've been enjoying the show. It has a sloggy, questionable premise that may or may not ever get answered, but the show has bonafide moments, and a lot of them. And I love the opening credits!
I'll be back with more to comment later this week.
We have been watching this since it started. I agree with everything Kylie said, so I'll add my two cents (possible spoilers if you want to go into this show completely clean):
The manner in which the 2% disappear is the shocking element. One second your spouse, child, lover, friend is there next to you, at the kitchen table, in bed, in the bathroom, whatever, and the next second they are gone. Poof. The pilot episode shows the instant it happened from one perspective. Drivers suddenly disappear and cars crash. Pilots disappear and planes crash. Babies disappear from their car seats. Such events would change maybe not the whole world, but they would cause psychological conditions for millions of people in an instant.
However after the shock and awe of the beginning, we enter the day to day lives of the main characters, living in a fictional small town in New York state somewhere. The police chief, his daughter and her friend who live with them. The police chief (let's call him Chief Brody)is hallucinating and maybe having experiences while in some kind of a blackout. His father hears voices (Scott Glenn should be in more stuff, he's awesome).
Then you have the white people - groups of people wearing all white who smoke a lot, don't speak and generally bother the regular folk. From the previews it looked like these were the disappeared, but no. These are people who, for whatever reason, joined a cult-like group as a way to forget about the disappearances of so many other people. So you have two groups who have disappeared. Oh, and the police chief's wife joined this cult.
So that's kinda weird.
Then you get into the potentially supernatural stuff - obviously where Lindelof got involved. Every show needs a smoke monster, and in The Leftovers it is crazy animals. Apparently dogs were affected by the disappearances - we all know that dogs can sense spirits, so maybe they know something which threw them into chaos. Also other animals, such as a large buck who appears to Chief Brody sometimes.
And then there is this British guy living in the desert who heals people - makes them forget about being sad, and he's on the run from the ATF, and seems to have impregnated a few Asian women.
Yep, weird stuff.
I felt the first 5 episodes were pretty uneven. Each seemed to focus on one character's story, which is fine, but it leaves you scratching your head about when are they going to start figuring out what happened. Well this being a Lost-like show we won't know for sure until the last episode in like 5 years, or maybe never. So enjoy the ride.
But then the show turned a corner and some real juicy things started to happen. One episode in particular in which we leave small town USA and go to New York with one of the characters, I felt the show hit its stride.
Oh, and Liv Tyler is in it. She is the one person in the cult who speaks, so she is like the bridge between Us and Them.
Oh there's more, but I have given some basic stuff away already.
The pilot was directed by Peter Berg, best known as an actor (Chicago Hope) and lots of other movies and tv shows, and a director with a mixed bag (Firday Night Lights, Hancock, Battleship (we forgive you), Lone Survivor (incredible), Hancock 2 (ok?) - mostly good actually. Other episodes are directed by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact, The Peacemaker, ER, China Beach, Shameless). The episode that was the turning point for me, 106, was directed by Carl Franklin (House of Cards, The Newsroom, Homeland - these shows are benchmarks of well made tv).
As Scott mentioned, the opening sequence is amazing, depicting the main characters in Sistine Chapel-like frescoes, suggesting there is a religious reason for the disappeared, or at the very least that it has people bent out of shape (which religions tend to be very good at). Here's an article which further interprets things:
The animation was done by yU+Co who also created the HUD displays for Robocop, The Walking Dead and Silicon Valley, among lots of other ad work.
[Mike Cohen] "These are people who, for whatever reason, joined a cult-like group as a way to forget about the disappearances of so many other people."
It's important to understand that the Guilty Remnant -- the group in white -- is not trying to forget about the disappearances. They're meditating on the whole thing in an attempt to never forget that it happened. That's why they're the Guilty Remnant. You get the idea they believe they did something wrong, either to not be disappeared too, or to make the people disappear. Either way, they felt the event was important enough to stop living their own lives ("stop wasting your breathe") and devote their time to deep thought and wait until the inevitable, when the world basically comes to an end.
If you aren't 100% caught up on the show, I guess it might be weird that the chief's wife joined the group. If you watched last week's episode (which I'm assuming you have since you're giving your own spoiler warnings) you saw that she did actually lose something too. Dealing with a miscarriage, even one that is supernatural, can mess a person up. And in an already chaotic marital life, it's not all that weird that she would have said to hell with this and went to join the group and think about her life.
[Mike Cohen] "Each seemed to focus on one character's story, which is fine, but it leaves you scratching your head about when are they going to start figuring out what happened."
I think it's also important for people to not watch this show if they want to know what happened. I'm sure things will be unraveled a little, but I also think Lindelof himself said right off the top: we're not going to explain the disappearance. Which is fine with me. I'd rather not know either. That's not the point of the show for me. The show is character driven. The Departure is the magic bean that sets the show into motion, but the story itself is about these seriously messed up people. And lots of weird stuff that helps set the tone and reveal motivations in the post-Departure world, but that's it.
I agree that the episode focusing on Nora was one of the best things on TV this year though.