TV Review: “The Leftovers” Expands Its World, Keeps Things Bleak

If you’ve been on the fence concerning HBO’s The Leftovers, tonight’s episode is the one that’ll either hook you in or send you packing.

“Two Boats and a Helicopter” is our first episode of the series that departs from the Garvey’s almost completely, save for a few scenes with Laurie and Kevin. In what is bound to be the way the show will progress narratively giong forward, ths episode attaches us to Matt Jamison, played with a fierce earnestness by Christopher Eccleston. Jamison, is a reverend, trying to keep his church alive despite a dwindling flock after the Sudden Departure. Jamison also prints and distributes a town tabloid of sorts, one that reveals the secret sins of the missing. Jamison doesn’t believe the Sudden Departure is the Rapture because those missing have sordid, and sometimes downright evil, tucked inside their closets. For Jamison, the Sudden Departure is a test from God, one designed to see what we do going forward.

“Two Boats and a Helicopter” builds a compelling story out of Jamison’s efforts to secure the already foreclosed upon church from the clutches of another buyer. As each avenue to find the cash needed ends, events grow steadily more supernatural. Not only is it something the show’s been hinting at since it’s beginnings, but these religious/spiritual themes are something writer/co-creator Damon Lindelof invests heavily in.

I really enjoyed spending this week learning more about the world and characters of The Leftovers. The show was beginning to feel a touch claustrophobic and familiar the more it stuck just with the splintered Garvey clan. Eccelston is a treat to watch as he takes us on Jamison’s evolutional tour. I also found it extremely interesting how the Guilty Remnant are slowly being set up as a villian on the show. It’s subtle, but I feel that the cult is gradually becoming an antagonistic force. It’s also worth mentioning that, despite our expectations for tings to wrap up in a more favorable manner, things conclude on a bigger downer note than before. SO, the show hasn’t found a ray of sunshine to help balance out the bleakness, and I wonder if it’s coming at all.

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