Let it never be said that HBO doesn't know how to ramp up a show in the opening.
This weeks' episode begins with a member of the Guilty Remnant guilt getting duct taped to a tree and stoned to death in a gruesome and explicit manner. It's a horrific seen, even for someone that just watched Eric Northman ripping faces off the Yakuza just an hour earlier. It's especially painful as the GR cultist gives up her vow of silence at the end to plead for her life just as a rock shatters her skull.
In any good post-apocalyptic story you've got your new demographic. Bioshock has splicers. The Last of Us has the fungus zombies and the new authoritarian military. It's not really important what you pick as long as you pick something to define the new world paradigm.
The Leftovers has picked the GR, and they are wonderful for reviewing the world where so little had to change to drive it insane. Again, only two percent of population was taken on the great departure. That's all that was needed to make us lose our grip.
The GR continues to operate with its strange and incomprehensible agenda. They defy all conventional logic, and what we see is the old world in the form of Sheriff Garvey and Father Matt continuously try and enforce the old world on them at every turn.
In the former it's a desire to stop more violence in deafness to the fact that the violence doesn't really matter. It's not that the GR don't feel bad that one of their members was brutally murdered and wishes to insure no one else is. It's that the new world is ignorant of the nature of tragedy and death.
Father Matt tries to hold a vigil and service for the poor victim, and even goes to the lengths of staging an impromptu funeral outside the GR compound where he spoke of the little he know of the victim. I was reminded of a funeral I once attended for the girl I later named my daughter after, overseen by a holy man desperately reading from a list of factoids of a girl he barely knew to try and bring her mourners comfort as well as seek the message of God.
You sit through that with fists clenched, and a tiny part of me cheered when the GR rebelled in a small, sad, and yet loud way.
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Perhaps the ting that The Leftovers bests offers us is a look into the official mind. The death of the GR member threatens to bring federal involvement into the case. Eventually, they are deterred, but not before a terrifying meeting via phone where Sheriff Garvey refuses the offer of having a SWAT team take care of the GR. Waco-style
The tone of the conversation implies that such scrubbings are commonplace now.
Didn't I say something about how little it takes to change the balance?