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The Leftovers "Off the Ramp" Review

The Leftovers "Off the Ramp" Review

Wow! What an amazing episode to follow last week's excellent entry into the sophomore season for a show that received a fair amount of criticism for its overly depressing tone. The Leftovers has increased in quality each week since its premiere. One concern looms in the air in that each episode so far has focused mainly on a few characters whereas last season the majority of the episodes touched on the lives of every character from Kevin to Jill to Meg to Patti and to many others. Once all these characters converge on the screen in the same episode, something truly beautiful surely will occur in order to definitively claim this year's top spot for television shows.

Anyways, this episode followed the stories of Laurie and Tommy in the aftermath of last season's finale. The mother son combo has built a small but seemingly effective operation in which they attempt to lure fragile spirits away from the hands of the Guilty Remnant. Laurie has put her past career as a therapist into practice yet again to help reintroduce damaged people into the world that they abandoned for the Guilty Remnant. Basically, the operation involves Tommy infiltrating each Guilty Remnant chapter in order to find any individual who exhibits signs of pain such as sobbing while cleaning dishes in Susan's case or unwillingly giving up a watch as in Howard's case. On the other hand, his mother rehabilitates these individuals with a loving approach in which she provides cots, toilet paper, and clothing for each person as soon as he or she enters the therapy session room. Laurie stays with each person to provide some comfort and guidance while she furiously types on her laptop to complete her book on the evils of the Guilty Remnant's practices. This entire process, by the way, affects only one person, if Tommy and Laurie are lucky, as viewers later discover is not always the case. However, much sacrifice between Tommy and Laurie has touched the several people they have managed to help.

Before breaking down Tommy and Laurie, a few minor storylines provided many thought-provoking, interesting, and truly devastating outcomes. First, Meg returned to the show as an apparently high ranking member of the Guilty Remnant. She commanded the members who kidnapped Tommy with such ease and strength that she clearly wields some type of leadership role in the Guilty Remnant's operations. Her relatively brief appearance provided two truly shocking moments. First, she essentially raped Tommy who was handcuffed inside the truck and was powerless to whatever plans Meg had in mind. Tommy seemed to enjoy Meg's actions eventually, but this scene is quite shocking considering that members of the Guilty Remnant deny themselves of all worldly pleasures. After this chain of events, the male members doused Tommy in gasoline before Meg frighteningly stared at Tommy with an imminent threat of setting him afire. (Side Note: Great acting from Liv Tyler to give such a stoic performance in such crucial scenes for both her and Chris Zylka's characters.) After her decision not to burn him, she remarks, "Tell your mom Meg says hello." This thinly veiled threat truly affects Tommy later in the episode when he breaks down in front of his mother over the torture he endured as an undercover member of this sadistic cult.

Liv Tyler as Meg

Liv Tyler as Meg

Now, the truly devastating story in this entire episode is Susan's redemption and destruction. Susan abandoned her family for the Guilty Remnant for a few months, but Tommy managed to spot her sadness and bring her to his mother. She readjusted herself in order to enter the real world yet again, as her reunion with her husband and son provided such a poignant moment for the show that definitely evoked happiness in viewers everywhere. (Honestly, I personally cried a little at such a touching scene with an amazing score. Props to Max Richter, the man in charge of the score.) Therefore, one can understand any viewer's sadness at the heartbreaking twist in which Susan crashes into a truck; consequently, her actions claimed the lives of her, her husband, and her young son. As Tommy mentions, "She [Susan] was fucked up." Unfortunately, she faced numerous problems in her life while she also lived an extended period of time in loneliness in her stay with the Guilty Remnant. This powerful moment stings viewers, but it also helps them realize that life spirals out of control at times where some people, unfortunately, feel that the only viable option is death. This outcome should never be a solution because anyone can find an outlet to speak about their feelings, yet the sad reality is that some individuals do not find these services or that friend or that loved one in time. The Leftovers punched its viewers with a painful dose of reality and exhibited how such a tragic conclusion damages many other people.

Shifting to Tommy, whom this review has already mentioned several times, he reveals his "powers" that he received from Holy Wayne. Towards the end of the episode, he pleads to his mom that they need to offer something to the people they save because those people have huge gaps of emptiness within themselves after the habits and influences of the Guilty Remnant vanish. Therefore, his solution is to provide that comforting hug to individuals just as Holy Wayne provided millions of people. Tommy wants these people to believe in something. His gift provides a sense of hope and unburdens the stress in each person's life. Although his gift may seem manipulative or dishonest, his reasons for his lie merit a legitimate excuse because of the positive impact he will have on people's lives, especially if his arc follows a similar trajectory as Wayne's story arc last season.

Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey

Amy Brenneman as Laurie Garvey

Finally, Laurie provided an outstanding episode that undeniably has viewers cheering for her endeavors this season. She is such a wonderful person and, excuse the language, a badass. She steals back her laptop from the landlord of the office building for her book. And, merely minutes later, she runs over two Guilty Remnant members with her car to the sound of loud music blasting away as she escapes the scene. Laurie represents courage and freedom because she battles for what she thinks is right. Her encounter with the publisher for her book exhibits these qualities as she strangles the publisher for his unwarranted criticism of her book, an action which may have been warranted because he clearly did not read the book very carefully. He called Laurie a whack job and lunatic during her tenure as a brainwashed member of the silent cult. Laurie's actions may seem extreme, but she defends herself and fights for Jill and all the other individuals throughout the world under the trance of the Guilty Remnant. Finally, her breakdown with Tommy demonstrates the tremendous burden crushing her shoulders with her book, patients, son, financial problems, and much more. Laurie definitely deserves some type of award. (Here's an idea. How about voters award Amy Brenneman an Emmy for her magnificent performance in this episode? Truly, an Emmy worthy effort in this episode alone from Amy.)

Some final notes include the beautiful music from Max Richter that appropriately prepared the mood for each scene without the use of any actual songs such as the first two episodes of this season. The writing was top notch as is expected with The Leftovers. One great quote from the episode is "I love my book." This response is so genuine and moving because Laurie is an amazing woman who speaks her mind as seen when she scratched and clawed to protect the spirit of her book. The Leftovers is developing into  this year's best show with yet another tremendous installment in an already hauntingly beautiful series.

Thanks for reading. Apologies for the late review, but I will try my best to be more punctual next week. Look forward to a Fargo review by Thursday for an even better episode than the premiere. Come back for more content. Follow me on Twitter @mlozano2 and have a great day. 

The Leftovers "A Matter of Geography" Review

The Leftovers "A Matter of Geography" Review

Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey and Carrie Coon as Nora Durst

Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey and Carrie Coon as Nora Durst

 

After last week's very weird yet welcomed departure from the Garvey family until the final fifteen minutes of the premiere, The Leftovers focused solely on the Garvey family for one of the best hours of television this year. "A Matter of Geography" wrapped up many story threads from the Season 1 finale while also unraveling many new mysteries in the process.

Lindelof and Perotta have done a phenomenal job keeping the same aura of last season while also reinvigorating the show with entirely original source material. The story built upon the character's relationships in Mapleton whether through Kevin and Patti, Nora and her departed family, and Jill and her estranged brother and mother. Although the story lines seemed to conclude with these final interactions, Kevin's experiences with Patti still haunt him in Texas to where a safe guess would be that he has some mental disorder similar to his father. Additionally, Jill's talk with her brother Tom brought a nice sense of reunion at first, but Tom's poor attitude definitely showed how much better Jill is in her current situation as opposed to her estranged brother and mother, who could not even face Jill in the diner before Laurie herself picked up Tom. Finally, Nora's meeting with the MIT researchers revealed the unsettling reason that Departed's vanishing occurred because of location while a second Departure is an entirely likely possibility.

However, despite these rather dark moments early in the episode, the awkward interview with the social worker displayed Kevin and Nora's commitment to each other and their new family. The sad question from the social worker as to whether Nora and Kevin would like to adopt another child brings many questions to mind. Was a white child intentionally offered to perhaps make a "normal" family? Was that child perhaps the interviewer's? Are there simply not many individuals looking to adopt children? Perhaps the race of the child is a way to show that Kevin and Nora have accepted that things can no longer be "normal." Thus, the events that led to them adopting Lily really created an ideal match for a family that has gone through so many tribulations. Next, the child in the photo may have been the interviewer's because he quickly offered the photo off the top of his deck. There did not seem to be a stack of photos of children for adoption to offer eager parents. The worker also released a somber mood into the scene where he saw Kevin and Nora as the perfect family to raise his child. Lastly, adoption is just no longer a viable option for people looking to create families. Perhaps, families can not deal with the loss of another child or never wish to know that feeling as others in the world have felt. On the other hand, maybe some people think that these children are actually departed from other families, but the kids somehow survived. There are many possiblities that can stem from this short exchange, yet in its typical fashion, The Leftovers only gives a small parcel of information to viewers to add depth to the mystery of the Departure.

Alongside father Kevin is daughter Jill Garvey played by actress Margaret Qualley.

Alongside father Kevin is daughter Jill Garvey played by actress Margaret Qualley.

Shifting to the Garvey's long awaited arrival to Jarden, Texas, numerous beautiful shots truly exhibited the beauty of the world amid all the confusion and turmoil in each individual's life. The writing eloquently ties the Garvey and Murphy overlap in the story lines together with very subtle clues that reward attentive viewers. For instance, the Garveys' original home burning down provided a great nod to the premiere because John Murphy ordered the burning of that home due to Isaac's dishonest practices. Another connection that may be crucial later is that Kevin Garvey, Sr., embarked to Australia for an indefinite amount of time while the town guardian in the tower of Jarden handed Michael Murphy a letter that needed to be sent to Sydney, Australia. The overall activity in Jarden is such a refreshing change of pace where activity is prevalent throughout the city as opposed to the lonely and cold world of Mapleton. A sense of freedom and security prevailed throughout for the Garvey family, but closer analysis shows a strict and authoritarian state. Law enforcement officials reign throughout the town and control a highly organized town. A small example is the quarantine of the Garvey family dog. The officer practically snatched the dog from Kevin's hands. This level of "security" portends a possible conflict later in the season.

Finally, ending with Kevin's problems, he fights with Nora, fears his hallucinations of Patti, and somehow wakes up from what seems like a failed suicide attempt. Kevin is all sorts of messed up, yet he manages to control his life to the best of his ability, an attempt which is admirable and should have viewers rooting for him. Although Nora did spend three million dollars on a dilapidated colonial home, Kevin needs to realize that Nora views Jarden as a symbol of security for her family, especially after her interview with the MIT researchers who suggested another departure event could occur. Jill even points out the obvious that Nora feels safe. Kevin's question about Jarden's safety in comparison to other places elicits an amusing yet heartfelt response from Jill. Jill says, "Then why do we have these awesome wristbands? Please don't fuck this up, dad." This response captures the golden opportunity each member has to reinvent himself or herself as well as grow into whatever "normal" is in this post-Departure world. Kevin's bouts with Patti divulge the severity of Kevin's mental problems. After all, Kevin dug up Patti's dead body and, intentionally, sped past a cop in order to be captured purposely. However, his actions earlier in the episode did not compare to the twist at the end. As soon as the show seemed to conclude with Kevin in bed, he awakes in the empty lake with a brick tied to his foot. This scene implies that Kevin attempted to commit suicide during his blackout. After he watches John and Michael Murphy frantically search for the missing Evie, Kevin glances at his hallucination of Patti. When Patti says, "Uh oh," Kevin's facial expression suggests that he finally accepts his hallucinations of Patti as a problem he cannot abandon. Patti's remark translates to what Kevin hinks about the dreadful situation where his neighbors have a missing daughter, he tried to commit suicide, and he needs to deal with this Patti problem.

Certainly, there is more to dissect from the episode as well as more to analyze in the scenes mentioned above, but The Leftovers loves to provide mystery and intrigue to its viewers as the story slowly unravels each week. Some other highlights of the show are quotes from Patti and Matt. After Kevin leaves the Police station, Patti's question "What the fuck was that?" perfectly captures what every viewer probably thought of Kevin's stupidity. The next great quote is from Matt who excitedly remarks, "We have a tent!" These small moments do not top Jill's brilliant response to her father, but they were welcomed humorous highlights for such a dark and complicated show. Nevertheless,the most poignant portion of the episode is the beautiful overhead shot of the trailer park and bridge around the 29-30 minute mark where the Garveys enter the city. That hold sequence  deserves an Emmy nod with such stunning cinematography, remarkable music in Ruelle's "Take It All," and masterful directing from Mimi Leder. Bravo!

Thanks for reading. Apologies for not getting the premiere review up in time, but I will try my best not to miss another episode. Look forward to a Fargo review Monday or Tuesday for its Season 2 premiere. Come back for more content. Follow me on Twitter @mlozano2 and have a great day.