The Leftovers: Typical Crazy

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This was honestly the first episode of The Leftovers I didn't like.

The problem comes from a single error that often destroys apocalyptic fiction. That error is that pretending that the apocalypse itself matters. It doesn't, and trying to make it matter is always a band idea.

It doesn't matter why the dead walk in The Walking Dead. What matters is how we deal with it. Sure, you can explore it a little. I always liked that Maximum Overdrive had aliens using our own satellites against us because it fit in nicely with the overall idea of godlike servant machines being the actual dominant life forms on Earth. That was just a footnote in the epilogue, though.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, The Leftovers is remembering that something happened to spirit of the two percent of the world that disappeared, and that something was clearly not something we normally understand. Therein lies the problem.

Take Sheriff Garvey for instance, our POV character as far as we have one. All season the show has been exploring the idea that not only might he be insane, but that he might have inherited a kind of royal insanity from his dad that is dedicated to fighting the new world in the wake of the Rapture. He blacks out and does weird things, and in this episode we see that he's graduated to kidnapping and murder in those black outs.

Don't get me wrong. Garvey's showdown with his victim over the running time is riveting TV. Possibly the best character-driven moments of the whole show. In the end, though, they force everything to take sides.

Is this a show about the wounds humanity would suffer in an inexplicable tragedy, or is it a series of weirds that need deeper and deeper explanations? The former is fascinating. The latter is boring late-Lost crap.

What has made The Leftovers great is its unique ability to put forward a ridiculous premise and then work well within it to create a new world full of time insanities that are ripping the world apart. It's a human story.

But with the Guilty Remnant set for their most ambitious demonstration yet you can't help but feel the show is on its way to trading in honest human stories for cheap surprises. I don't really care why the people who vanished did. Nobody does. What matters, is life among the ruins.

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.

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