Time for another weekly wrap-up!
Episode of the Week
The Leftovers – “Two Boats and a Helicopter”
I wasn’t 100% sold on The Leftovers after the first two episodes – it was doing a lot of things really well (despite how bleak everything is), but hadn’t entirely clicked for me yet.
It clicked this week.
Sunday’s episode made the bold (and terrific) decision to shift the focus away from the Garvey family, and instead spend some time with one of the smaller side characters – local priest Matt Jamison. While the struggles of the Garveys have been compelling thus far, I think the premise works so much better when we get to see the various and drastic ways people have coped with “the departures” up close and personal. This was a terrific example of that.
Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of Matt was amazing throughout the episode. We got to see the many consequences the departures had on him personally – his wife’s serious injury in the car accident we saw in the series’ opening moments, his church congregation dwindling, and his relationship with his sister Nora (who lost her husband and children) strained. He comes across as trying to be righteous, but simultaneously does a lot of things to hurt those around him (like telling Nora her husband was having an affair out of spite while they were arguing). Eccleston hit the nuances of the character perfectly and was extremely compelling to watch.
One of my favorite sequences of the episode was Matt’s moment of glory at the casino. After watching him struggle with various things through most of the episode, to see him suddenly have this epiphany on how to save his church – and succeed, however briefly, was very rewarding. The tense build-up to his last big gamble and win was filmed really well.
Of course, the moment of victory was short-lived, as seems to be the case for most happy moments in Mapleton. He’s nearly robbed of his winnings – and may or may not have murdered a guy to make sure he kept his money. On his way to give the money to the bank so he could keep his church, he stopped to help some members of the Guilty Remnant who were being attacked – another example of his more righteous tendencies shining through – and earned himself a rock to the face for his trouble.
When he came to, he rushed to the bank to make his payment only to find out he’d lost two days and was too late. And just to rub salt in the wound, it was none other than the Guilty Remnant that had purchased the church from the bank. The episode closed on Matt watching angrily as the GR paint his church white. My notes from those last moments read: “And the motherfucking GR bought the church because of course they did”. It was the only way things could turn out for poor Matt.
This was an absolutely terrific hour of television, and I’m hoping The Leftovers can deliver similar episodes in the coming weeks.