You want to hope that all these loose ends, open questions, and moments of sheer confusion will all be laid to rest in a few weeks when the final episode of the first season of The Leftovers airs. But I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re all going to be left floundering around, awestruck but still in the dark.
For now, my biggest question is this: what the hell is up with that issue of National Geographic that Kevin’s father busted out of the psych ward, risking his safety so as to bring it to his son? In a startling conversation between the two at a diner, the elder Garvey spews out a bunch of potentially meaningful and possibly crazy rhetoric, urging the younger to keep his eyes open and to accept his purpose.
The purpose very well could be Kevin Jr.’s loss of his mental faculties. Once again, he found himself in some kind of fugue state, waking up with an angry stray dog tied up in his backyard and a bite on his hand with no recollection of how either happened. And this all comes just as things were starting to get pretty good thanks to the blossoming relationship between he and Nora.
The implication is that he’s part of something much bigger, something deeply connected with The Departure and the future of the folks who remain. This episode does an interesting job paralleling Kevin Jr.’s story with that of his son who is wrestling with his own spiritual issues at the hands of Holy Wayne. He finds out that he’s not the only one protecting a very pregnant Asian girl who is supposedly carrying “The Bridge,” the child that will lead Wayne’s crusade forward. It’s only then that he realizes that the bullshit that he has surrounded himself with is actually bullshit. And he winds up with a bullet in his hand for his trouble, after the other pregnant girl goes bonkers.
Unlike the last few episodes, this week’s was undercut by some unfortunate directorial choices. As Kevin was finally arresting his father in the diner, they reverted to slo-mo, pointing the camera at Justin Theroux as he mouths the words, “Shut up, Dad.” Completely unnecessary, as was overlaying the whole sequence with medieval worship music. Director Mimi Leder also went for a weird Twin Peaks-like moment as Kevin dramatically prepares to take hold of the National Geographic that he just threw in his trashcan. Here, the music is a harsh burst of static that rises to a crescendo right before the scene cuts away.
Tough knocks on an otherwise fine episode of the series. Nowhere near as egregious as some of the choices Peter Berg made in the first two installments, but distracting nonetheless. And as with those episodes, there’s not enough to deter me from sticking with the show to find out just where in heaven or hell this is all leading to.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.