review “The Leftovers” pilot

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If you didn’t see the video on HBO or Youtube about this TV series you might think it’s a show about food. Something like “creative ways to use leftover food”? I dunno. It’s a bit misleading I’ll give you that. But fear not. It is not another show to make you drool. At least not literally. It’s a new TV series from HBO and Lost’s Damon Lindelof that premiered this weekend. Also, it is based on a book written by Tom Perrotta who is also involved in the writing of the show.

The leftovers, in this case, are the people who are still left on Earth after the day of October 14th, when 2% of the population disappeared into thin air without any trace whatsoever. 2% might sound little but in actuality there are 140 million people missing. Three years later, when the show picks up the action, still nobody knows what could have happened as scientists sadly recognize on TV that they simply don’t have any idea about the mysterious event.

     If you have a bit of knowledge about religion,
you might think the mysterious event alludes to The Rapture which in the Bible
is described as the event in which the true believers on Earth will be taken
into Heaven by God in the last days of the world, at the return of Christ on
Earth. But, at least by the ending of the pilot episode there doesn’t seem to
be a pattern concerning the people who disappeared. The town’s priest has its
faith challenged by this event. Of course he considers himself a true believer
and, beginning to investigate the people from the town that were “raptured”, he
now strongly believes that what happened was not the Rapture because, if it
were, he should have been one of those people who went missing.

     Central to the story is a particular family
whose members got alienated one from another after the event. The dad is the
chief of police in the small town of Mapleton, New York, his son left home and
college to join some sort of cult in order to find out his meaning on Earth; his
daughter is a teenager who clearly is suffering because her mom left them to
join another sort of cult, a group of people who call themselves The Guilty
Remnant. 

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      Basically, they are the ones devoid of hope. After the event, they chose the path of believing that there is nothing to this life, there is no meaning in having a family, a job and trying to live a healthy, happy life. They no longer enjoy even the little things in life as good food. They kind of have a death wish too. Everyone in the group smokes heavily, behavior explained by a quote in their house

“We don’t smoke for enjoyment. We smoke to proclaim our faith.”

What raises the level of weirdness about this pilot episode is one of the guilty remnant’s activities which is to basically stalk other people, possibly new recruits, with their all white outfits and straight faces just standing near other people watching them at whatever they are doing outside their house.

     Damon Lindleof said that the show is not about explaining what the event was, but more about human nature and how this event affected people. As much as I want some answers about the event itself, it is also very interesting to see the characters’ evolution through the episodes. Ultimately this show is also a bit psychological: we see how people cope with a mysterious event that resulted for many, in family loss. Many people still have faith they will see their friends or family again, or at least that they will be given some answers about what happened while others totally lost their hope like the ones from The Guilty Remnant.

     I will surely watch also the second episode to see where the story is going and obviously hoping at least some theories about what happened will be offered to keep things more interesting. I have high hopes that the show will spark many conversations episode by episode, having in mind Damon Lindleof’s work on Lost.

Did you watch the first episode of “The Leftovers”?  Feel free to leave a comment.

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