Film and TV

The Leftovers: The Business of Apocalypse

Maybe it's just because The Leftovers comes on after a so-far really disappointing final season of True Blood, but I am digging the hell out of this bizarre post-Rapture tale. And honestly? It's because of a really, really boring reason.

Do you know why World War Z (The book) is one of the greatest works of 21st century literature and why World War Z (The movie) is a pointless and forgettable piece of crap that proves why you should never give anyone more than $40 million to make a horror film? It's because the book is intimately interested in the science of the apocalypse. It looks, in minute detail, exactly what it would mean for us if something unimaginable became something definite.

That's why The Leftovers shines, and it does so even better because the Event is such a minor apocalypse. Two percent of the world population gone? Why that's nothing for end of the world. In The Stand less than that was left alive after the Superflu. Such an easy world to imagine, and nothing like the reality shown here.

That's what is to die for in The Leftovers. Just the minutiae and the constant reminder that we are just a couple of percentage points away from madness at any given moment. I like that.

In all honesty, the story didn't progress all that much this week. I'm still waiting for Christopher Eccleston to take center stage in his Reverend role, but that's next week apparently. Instead, we get a deeper look into the cult(s) that have sprung up in the three years since the event.

On the one hand there's the Guilty Remembrant (Who I believe are first fully named in this episode). The weird, smoking, silent, white-clad cluster of nutters were the most sinister part of the first episode. But just as every real life cult is made up of real life people, so is the GR shown to have a depth of pain and loss and anguish that belies a one-dimensional aspect that often permeates television.

I'm not saying the people there aren't off their trolleys. I'm just saying that survivor's guilt can do weird things to a person. Even make them leave their hot cop husband.

The second cult is the group headed by Holy Wayne, who we learn in this episode apparently fuels his ability to alleviate guilt via hugs by having sex with teenage Asian girls. This brings the federal government onto the scene, and they raid Wayne's compound by shooting first and asking questions not ever.

Sherrif Garvey's son Tom, who is in love with one of Wayne's favored playthings, ends up shooting an officer and going on the run with his charge. Torn between lust and loyalty, he stays the course, but my what a crooked course it is.

That's probably the best thing about The Leftovers. It's bewildered, guilty confusion incarnate, and if you can take that it's a miracle of a show.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner