The Leftovers, this week, once again did that wonderful Leftovers thing of shifting perspectives and taking us into the journey of an important side character for an entire episode.
Scott Glenn's Kevin Garvey Sr. took the honors this time around as we caught up with him during his multi-year trek through the Australian Outback, trying to complete the sacred songline of the indigenous peoples via multiple counts of trespassing and cultural thievery.
"Crazy Whitefella Thinking" was a great episode, though Kevin Sr. is a strange cat to spend this much time with. The bulk of this chapter was played for comedy, or tragicomedy, as Kevin's misadventures in Oz, more often than not, took on a "crazy old fool" quality. Even Kevin accidentally killing the last piece of his song puzzle -- a one Christopher Sunday -- was played for minor laughs. This odyssey could have played out like one of Matt's famous (and splendidly depressing) episode-long ordeals, but instead it had a lightness to it. A lightness that represents The Leftovers' evolution into a series that can juggle and blend many elements and tones.
That's not to say there weren't powerful moments throughout. Kevin Sr. listening to the tape that Kevin Jr. recorded soon after his mother died, where he'd pretended to be a local news reporter, was very touching, as was Kevin Sr.'s affection for it. Which, granted, was also tied to his need for it as a guide on his journey to stop, supposedly, a Biblical flood. Even when the tape was destroyed, you wondered how much he was mourning the loss of a treasured family memory and how much he was grieving over, possibly, the loss of his purpose.
Because make no mistake about it, Kevin Sr. was out for glory. This is HIS story and he did not take kindly to the fact that Matt's been writing about his son being the savior. Kevin Sr.'s the one who's out to rescue us all from drowning in the rising waters of God's wrath. And in the end, after we heard the terrible tale of Grace (Lindsay Duncan) and her dead children, and how she didn't search for them and save them because she thought they'd departed, Kevin Sr. hit us with that silly slap in the face. Had Grace been spilling her guts and unloading on anyone else, she'd have gotten a more sympathetic ear and someone willing to agree that her Kevin the Cop theory was nuts. But she found the one man who was going to keep steering her toward the crazy.
Naturally though, we as viewers know that she's on to something. We've seen younger Kevin's time in the afterlife and know that Matt's new gospel rings true. Still, this is such a great show that just watching someone hit the right note, or find the right path, can make you cringe. Yes, it probably is possible that she can communicate with her dead children, but it still feels like the wrong decision. And Kevin Sr. feels like an insane enabler. But truth be told we're probably watching two of the only people in the world how have an accurate handle on things.
In her sad story too, Kevin Sr. found rediscovered sign post. His eyes almost lit up when he figured out how her story could relate to him. And how he could be the one to help her. Of course, it'll mean getting ahold of his son, who he already resented as someone who might supplant him in this saga, but at that point he just seemed happy get a new sign and welcome someone who, after all this time, would listen to his bats*** ideas.
- While not as supremely surprising and enjoyable as the Perfect Strangers theme last week, Richard Cheese's cover of "Personal Jesus" was a freakin' fun opening credits song. I assume this is to be the trend every week now? A new tune that plays over the Season 2 graphics. I also like how it contrasted with the aboriginal music that scored most of the episode.
- This episode actually reminded me of the premiere's opening movie, about the pious pioneer family who kept standing on their roof and waiting for the End Times, in the sense that Kevin Sr. was so lost, and almost unraveled as a person, that he became desperate to find signs. He was helpless without them. And not just in what we witnessed, with the tape mostly, but his whole time in Australia, which he explained to Sunday. His time taking acid and talking to prophetic chickens. I does make you wonder though why he stopped hearing voices once he left America. Kevin had to go to extraordinary lengths to ditch "passenger" Patti.
- I like how quickly we're getting answers. Like with Nora's arm and baby Lily, the explanations seem to be just a week away. It didn't take long to find out what the end of last week's chapter, with the Kevin drowning, was all about. Remember how we didn't know if that was a flash into the future or what?
- Speaking of answers, what do you think the guy setting himself on fire was about? Do we think it's tied to the scientists who are offering "depart" people using radiation?
- Scott Glenn did a spectacular job this week doing a blend of crotchety and humble. Of course, with the humility of martyrdom also comes that glory-seeking aspect that accompanies being "chosen."
The Leftovers continued its sublime streak of taking things seriously-but-not-too-seriously as we followed Kevin Garvey, Sr.'s desperate vision quest down in Australia. The fact that he's a hero/fool mix, like Don Quixote, works even better because of the dramatic irony at play. We know, for the most part, that he's probably right. Not about every aspect of his erratic journey, but in so far as the voices go. Because we've gone on enough Kevin, Jr. ride-alongs to know the truth. A stirring and fun (connected) detour.
Author: Jasmine Amber
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