We have a very simple mission statement that describes our goals at “Not Just Another TV Site,” we have set out to follow shows that meet our parameters defining “Quality Television” and to share our opinions with like-minded readers. Our staff’s composed of people who refuse to accept shows that cater to the Lowest Common Denominator, we have witnessed some of the best that the medium has broadcast and we search for shows that live up to those magical moments.
As we considered the shows that we would cover in the Summer of 2014, one show that deeply intrigued me was the new HBO Original Series “The Leftovers,” project of novelist Tom Perrotta and Damon Lindelof, one of the show-runners of the classic ABC series “Lost.” I have a weakness for science-fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows and the premise of this new series seemed tailor-made for me. The show takes place in what appears as the not too distant future, three years after a cataclysmic event changed lives across the planet. On October 14, two percent or the globe’s population simply disappeared and are now called the Departed. In the ensuing three years scientists and religious leaders are no closer to discovering the reason behind the Departure, leaving all remaining behind with unresolved feelings and questions.
Although the show had an impressive pedigree combining the series creators with the network that has more Emmy nominations in the last 14-years than any other broadcast or cable outlet, I completed the first episode of the series feeling let-down and dissatisfied. We have watched the pilot episodes of other series that looked promising and after watching the show we have scratched them off our list. Although the HBO series, could have shared that fate, however I held out hope that the show would win me over.
Those hopes dimmed as the second episode aired, leaving questions from the pilot unresolved while adding a new slew of questions for its viewers. Episode three, made me believe the series had found its footing, as it stuck to the story of one character, the Reverend Matt Jamison and the plot was laid out in a more linear and less confusing manner than the first two shows. I walked away from that episode believing that my sticking with the show had paid off and it was on the right track.
Unfortunately, the series reverted to the form of the first two episodes in their fourth broadcast, entitled “B.J And The A.C.” and we have made an editorial decision to stop recapping the show. “The Leftovers,” has become a chore to watch as the characters all seem to lack any redeeming qualities, or feel relatable in any manner. There’s not one character on the show that I feel any affinity for and the plot’s lack of answers for the questions it keeps throwing out to the audience, have finally pushed this viewer away from the series.
This writer recaps two other shows on Sunday nights, “Ray Donovan” and “Halt And Catch Fire,” and neither show contains a hero, both revolve around deeply flawed protagonists. However, although both Donovan and Joe MacMillan from “Halt And Catch Fire,” are relatable and we can comprehend what motivates them even when they behave in a self-destructive manner. The HBO series seems to want each of the characters to react in the worst possible manner in every situation and along with the mountain of unanswered questions made me hit my breaking point as the latest episode drew to a close.
Perhaps the fault lies with this writer as I have some dear friends that have raved about this series from the first episode, but the only emotion it evokes in me is dissatisfaction. Feeling the way I do about “The Leftovers,” I would be doing our readers a disservice by carrying on with the recaps. For those who enjoy the series, I hope you remain pleased with the story-arc and perhaps a reader will convince me down the line to give the show another shot.
The third time was the charm for the new HBO Original Series “The Leftovers,” as episode three departed from the first two installments, by concentrating on one character, instead of going through the labyrinth of plotlines. We viewed the entire episode through the eyes of Reverend Matt Jamison, an outcast and divisive figure in the town of Mapleton. We see the Reverend giving a sermon to his congregation, that consists of about 20-people scattered through the pews. He first talks of a boy who overcame leukemia and then about a little girl named Emily who’s been in a coma for the last nine-days.
As the group bows their heads to pray, the front door of the church swings open and a large, hefty man stomps down the main aisle glaring at the Reverend. When he reaches the pulpit he attacks Jamison, first landing a blow to his nose, knocking Matt to the floor and then starts kicking him in the chest and ribs. He then pulls out a sheet of paper, that contains the picture of a young woman that vanished on October 14, and states she was a drug-dealer. The man crumples up the leaflet and sticks it into the Reverend’s mouth then storms out of the building.
The leaflet and others like them were creations by Jamison, trying to convince the departed were not taken from the planet as part of the Rapture, the Reverend searches for people with unsavory pasts to prove they were unworthy of being saved by God. This is far from the first angry member of the community, as many have reacted the same way since Matt started passing out the leaflets. His once high standing in Mapleton has vanished, as most residents consider him evil or possibly insane.
Jamison is in the emergency room getting his nose stitched and other injuries attended to, while a plain-clothes detective asks the Reverend about his beating in a derisive tone. Just then police chief Kevin Garvey walks in, asks Matt if he’s pressing charges against his attacker and when the Reverend replies he won’t, Garvey dismisses the detective. There’s a connection between them as Matt was a close friend of Kevin Garvey Sr. and the Chief expresses concern about the Reverend’s campaign. Matt tells Garvey that his father understood what truly happened three-years earlier and the Chief reminds him that Garvey Sr. is in a mental institution.
Matt’s received a flurry of voice-mails from a loan officer at the FDR Bank and the Reverend is doing his best to avoid speaking to the bank employee. He soon realizes that he’s become a target of the “Remnants,” as two chain-smoking women dressed in white follow him where ever he goes. Finally tiring of the game of cat and mouse, Jamison offers the pair a box of donated clothes, apologizing that none of them are white. He also asks them to relate to their leader Patti, that they are wasting their time as he will not join their cult.
When the Reverend gets back to the church, there’s a knock on the door and a young father carrying his infant son asks if the church’s open, and Matt welcomes them both inside. The young man explains that his wife and he were faithful parishioners until the departure, but his wife would have nothing to do with religion since that day. He tells Jamison that she’s having a manicure and pedicure while he watches his son and asks how long a Baptism would take and Matt responds with a broad smile. Matt puts on his robes and performs the ceremony and when the man asks what the fee was, he’s told it’s on the house. The Reverend does suggest that he, his wife and newly Baptized son attend the following Sunday’s service, but the man responds that wouldn’t happen.
Matt accidentally picks up the phone as FDR Bank calls again, he explains he’s experienced phone trouble and tells the loan officer he would head straight for the bank. When he arrives he’s hit with some catastrophic news, the bank has a buyer for the church, as it became bank property when the loan for the building went into default. The bank representative tells that the group that made the offer would pay $135 thousand and if Matt could top that by a dollar, the bank will give him the church. Matt asks the deadline and the loan officer tells him by the end of business the following day.
We find out in the following scene that Matt’s sister is our old friend Nora Durst, the woman who lost her entire family in the departure. She asks Matt if his wife Mary’s okay and when he responds she’s fine Nora asks him what’s troubling him. He tells her that he needs to borrow $135 thousand to save the church. Nora’s not happy with the request and her brother reminds her that their parents used to run the parish. When she asks him how he thinks she has the money to lend him, he brings up the departure benefits she received for her husband and two children.
Nora tells her brother she will give him the money if he stops his newsletter campaign. Matt tells her he can’t, the exposing of bad people among the departed was his mission. He then destroys any chance of getting the money from his sister, when he tells her that her husband Doug was having an affair with their kids pre-school teacher and he had documented proof. Nora started hysterically laughing as she attempts to process what her brother just told her and why he would sink so low.
Matt arrives home and in his living room a Latina woman is sitting on his couch, who’s the caretaker for Jamison’s wife Mary. She’s another not pleased with the Reverend as he’s three weeks behind on her salary. He gives her the little money in his wallet and promise to pay her in full as soon as possible. She’s not impressed by the money he gives her and tells him that unless she gets paid she will have to quit and tells him that Mary needs her bath. We see photographs of Matt and Mary, she comes across as a very pretty and vibrant woman, but she’s no longer that woman as she lies in bed gaunt and unresponsive with her eyes wide open. Matt bathes her and puts her to bed, then unfolds a cot for himself next to the bed.
As the Reverend climbs into his cot, the emotion he’s repressed comes pouring out as he cries and sobs so hard that he starts shaking. He then sees a painting of heaven and he realizes what he must do. He gets out of bed, gets dressed and calls his wife’s caretaker to watch over Mary while he goes on a mission. He tells the caretaker that she’ll be paid in full when he returns home in the morning.
Armed with a shovel, Jamison drives over to the Garvey house and walks into the backyard, when he’s startled by one of the “Remnants,” Laurie Garvey. He tells Laurie that her father-in-law had stashed something for Matt and he was there to retrieve it, Laurie writes him a note pleading that Matt not mention she was at her former home. The Reverend responds that if she says nothing about him being there, that he will respond in kind.
He enters the garage, moves a Webber grill and starts digging at the dirt where the grill had been. Quickly he finds a plate covering a hole and he pulls out a Jif Peanut Butter jar stuffed with cash. He pulls out two huge rolls of money and then puts everything else back where it belonged. Jamison heads to a casino and gives the teller the cash so he can get chips to bet with, she gives him $20 thousand in chips back.
Matt walks directly to a roulette table and puts all his chips on red, a floor supervisor walks over and informs the Reverend that no-limit tables are in the back, but he refuses to move from that table. The supervisor gets clearance from his superiors and wishes Jamison good luck. Lady Luck’s on his side as his money is soon doubled. He sticks with the same bet and seconds later his nest egg’s grown to 80 K. A young couple come over to watch and when Matt says he’s going again, the woman bets against him. The wheel turns round in slow-motion and we watch Matt’s impassive face light up with unadulterated joy. He now has $160,000, enough to replenish the peanut butter jar, buy the church with plenty left over to pay the caretaker.
He get’s into his car and the guy who was at the table approaches and congratulates him. He then asks Matt for one hundred to get he and his girlfriend gas to travel back home and Jamison peels off two hundred to give him. The guy then tells Matt to keep the two bills and grabs the envelope with the rest of the money and knocks the Reverend down. Matt however, summons the strength to rise chase down the thief, knocking him to the ground and then slamming his opponent’s head repeatedly against the black-top, grabs the money gets back in his car and releases a primal-scream.
It’s morning when Jamison enters the Mapleton town limits and “Love Will Keep Us Together” plays on the car radio, he looks at the envelope blood stained but filled with cash when he sees two male “Remnants,” attacked by a guy in a passing truck who hits one of the men with a rock in the head. Matt pulls over to help and calls 911 just as the truck returns and this time he’s struck by a rock and the screen goes black.
The Reverend finds himself outside his church with his face completely healed and sees groups of people heading into the building. One of his stalkers dressed in bright colors and greets him at the door, when Matt asks if he’s too late the woman responds all are welcome. He walks in and sees his church packed to the rafters, but he suddenly wakes up finding himself in a hospital bed. Finding out it’s 4:30 pm, he gets dressed and drives as quickly as he can to the bank with the money.
The bank’s closed, but he bangs on the door until a security guard comes out to tell him they’re closed, however the loan officer seeing it’s Matt tells the guard to let him in. Matt hands the man the money, but the bank official tells him that he’s three days late. Apparently the injury kept him unconscious for over 72-hours and the bank took the other group’s offer when they couldn’t contact Jamison. He tells Matt the group started work on the property the day before.
The Reverend drives to his former church and quickly realizes that the “Remnants,” have bought the church and are in the process of painting everything white. Matt locks eyes with Patti as the episode comes to the conclusion.
This was by far the most enjoyable episode of the series as we saw things through one character’s perspective, there were no perplexing unexplained developments as the story came across clearly and plainly. Matt Jamison is a flawed man battling inner-demons, but we understood his motivation whether we agreed with it or not. Creator Damon Lindelof, excelled at these type of stories in his classic series “Lost,” as we learned about all the castaways through flashback episodes. This episode gives me hope that “The Leftovers,” can live up to the standards I expected before the series debuted. This is a start and hopefully the show will start to follow this template more often, if not in every episode.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on HBO
If you went into the second episode of the new HBO Original Series “The Leftovers” this past Sunday night, hoping that some of the questions posed in the pilot would be answered, most likely you ended the episode even more confused. Very few outstanding questions got resolved and the second episode filled viewers’ heads with lots of new ones. Executive Producers Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta are not making it easy for an audience to stick with this show, hopefully all the effort will prove worthwhile once they start explaining why their universe exists as it does.
We begin the episode sitting in on a meeting between a middle-aged man and woman who are officials with some unexplained branch of law enforcement. As they start to discuss whom they want to target in their next operation we realize that they are talking about the mysterious “Healer,” Wayne whom we met in the première. His full name is Wayne Gilchrist Anthony but is now called Holy Wayne. The pair discuss Wayne’s infatuation with young Asian women and he was nearly busted for statutory-rape before fleeing Pennsylvania. They found him relocated at a ranch in Nevada and they enthusiastically agree to storm his home and to take down his operation in any way possible.
We shift to Wayne’s ranch just in time to see a SWAT team arrive and open fire on the ranch. Their motive is clear, they are not out to arrest, instead their mission is to kill anybody who appears suspicious. One of the officers chases Christine, the girl Wayne told his employee Tom Garvey was important and that Garvey was in charge of her safety. He stops her outside of the ranch and has her get on her knees with his weapon pointed straight at her and asks where Wayne is hiding. When she replies that she has no idea, the officer threatens to kill her if she remains uncooperative, causing her to cry even more.
Just at that moment, Tom sneaks up behind the officer and shoots him in the throat with a hand-gun, then apologizes for his actions but explains Christine is important as his victim draws his last breaths. They run and Tom opens up what looks like a wooden man-hole cover that covers an entrance to an underground safe-room and they both climb down, Tom shutting the lid behind him.
Back on the East Coast in the next scene as Tom’s father Mapleton Chief Of Police Kevin Garvey is asleep in his bed, when he’s woken by his daughter Jill’s best-friend Amy. Startled, he tells the teen she’s not allowed in his bedroom but she tells him to follow her that she has something important to show him. We can see that time has gone by as snow is covering the ground and the first episode took place in Mid-October, however Kevin is shirtless wearing just pajama pants and Amy’s dressed in shorts and a light top.
As they walk through the woods, Amy leads the Chief to a man with a rifle, the guy who killed all the dogs in the first episode. As Amy touches him he turns to Kevin and asks what’s wrong with his legs and Garvey looks down to set his feet and calves engulfed in flame. It was just a dream, but Kevin must have smelled the burning in his sleep as he looks out his bedroom window and sees his back fence is on fire. His neighbor accidentally caused the blaze trying to burn his departed brother’s clothes in a pile too close to the fence, Garvey puts out the fire and chastises his neighbor.
Tom and Christine have escaped the ranch and are to meet Wayne at a gas-station/mini-mart. Telling her to stay in the car he heads inside the store and finds the clerk’s been killed. He walks out just in time to see a vintage Lincoln pull into the lot driven by an elderly woman. She gets out of her car opens the trunk and Wayne jumps out, Christine is so excited that she jumps into his arms.
We rejoin Kevin talking to another man in what apparently is the man’s office and that is soon confirmed as we realize that Garvey is talking to a psychiatrist. When the police chief joined the unknown man in the truck shooting the pack of dogs in the final scene of the first episode, the other guy had left the scene by the time other squad cars had arrived. Because nobody else saw the other man, there is lots of doubt in Mapleton, that the Chief’s story is right, as some believe he’s delusional while others think he flat-out lied. The therapist does everything but tell Garvey that he thinks the story is false, ending the session on a tense note.
Jill and Amy on the way to school stop at a coffee shop and Jill trips over a woman’s handbag on the floor as she walks to her table. She stops to put the bag back in its original position when she sees a revolver inside. The woman and Jill exchange apologies, but Jill wants nothing more to sit down at her table with Amy and dish. The woman’s Nora Durst who lost her husband and two children the day of the departure the two girls theorize why she has a gun in her bag. As she leaves the shop they follow her and when she starts to drive away, they flag down their two male classmates that we met in the first episode. They follow her to the house of an elderly couple, she introduces herself to the man and explains she’s there to ask them questions to receive their departure check.
Turns out Durst is a government agent and has to ask each family that lost a loved-one on the day of the departure, 150 questions before she can give the families their checks from the government for their loss. She sets up a video camera to record the conversation and then starts asking a variety of questions about the couple’s dead son Charlie, who was 34-years-old and was born with Downs Syndrome. Needless to say most of her questions were about things Charlie missed experiencing.
We have our first encounter with the “Remnants,” as we are in what is known as the “Pledge House,” for people who have yet to prove themselves worthy to the other members to receive unconditional inclusion into their society. Meg Abbott who asked to stay with the group after running out on her fiancé is their as well as two men. They are not subject to the vow of silence of those in the main house and they can still enjoy luxuries like pancakes for breakfast. As they are in the midst of eating, Laurie Garvey who’s in charge of Meg’s training arrives with an axe and soon the two are hiking in the woods.
When they have hiked for a while, Laurie hands Meg the axe and motions to a big tree which she realizes that Laurie wants her to cut down with the tool. It’s obvious that Meg has never experienced any kind of manual labor and doesn’t accomplish much before telling her observer that she’s done, which Laurie questions by writing down Why? Meg just lets loose with everything that’s bothering her about her time with the “Remnants,” and calls the exercise stupid. Laurie writes down okay and the two head back to their homes.
Mayor Lucy Warburton heads down to the station house and finds the Chief with a couple of his officers in the break room and asks for some privacy for her and Garvey. As they leave the room Kevin asks Lucy if she would like a bagel, which she refuses and proceeds to toast one for himself in this complex oven-device. She then brings up the dog shootings and asks him to apologize to the therapist for his actions and promise he won’t ever do it again, but he refuses. He tells her that he can’t make that commitment as he may encounter another pack of what he refers to as “not our dogs.”
She tells Kevin she is going visiting that night and he tells her to send his regards and she leaves the station. Garvey tries to get his bagel out of the oven-device, but it’s nowhere. Angrily tearing apart the machine still left him without a bagel and one of his officers looks at the Chief as if he lost his mind.
Wayne tells Tom that Christine’s safety is his biggest priority and that to make sure her protection she will travel with Tom than himself. He then tells Tom that Christine had told him of his exploits and he realizes that Garvey is torn up over his first kill. Wayne offers to use his powers to take the pain away from Tom, but the young man says he can’t do it. Wayne laughs and tells him that he’s the one person he’s yet to figure out; all suffering and no salvation.
Kevin drives over to the “Remnants,” complex and as the apparent leader Patti answers the door of the “Pledge House” he presents a warrant that gives him the right to search that house for reported missing persons. He sits down with Meg and asks her name and whether she is there on her own free will. She responds she is and he hands her his card telling her if she encounters any difficulty to call him. She holds on to the card, which Patti notices.
Getting into his squad car he gets a call from one of his officers telling him that they located the truck of the dog shooter and its in his driveway. Dennis Luckey is on the scene when the Chief arrives and tells him that they ran the truck of identification and came up dry. He then tells Garvey that the bag in the vehicle’s bed contains another dead dog and the keys are on the dashboard. Luckey suggests he moves the truck a couple of blocks away, but Kevin angrily tells him to report that it’s in his driveway.
He heads back to the station and breaks the news to Meg’s fiancé that she is living in the “Pledge House ” of the “Remnants,” but tells him that he believes her boyfriend can talk her back into returning to the life they shared. The fiancé asks Garvey why he would want to do that and the Chief replies that Meg needs him. The other man explodes and tells Kevin that he postponed their wedding for three-years due to her needs and he has reached his limit.
That evening Laurie comes to the “Pledge House” to conduct a nightly ceremony, taking away another of Meg’s possessions that she brought with her when she first arrived. At first she tries to convince Laurie to allow her one night that she can keep her remaining possessions, but her request’s dismissed. She asks Laurie if she has forgotten what it is to have feelings and emotions and Laurie responds by writing that Meg met her husband today and takes Kevin’s card out of Meg’s sleeve. Meg’s shocked wondering what Laurie is doing there when she could be living her old life with her “hot cop” husband. Laurie writes down that she still remembers and the two may have reached a meeting of the minds.
We find out where the Mayor went visiting, as the Chief enters the mental institution were his father former Chief Kevin Garvey (Scott Glenn) senior resides in. Lucy is just leaving when the current Chief arrives and she shares what looks like more than a friendly kiss with his dad. The former Chief suffered nervous-breakdown shortly after the Departure and it’s apparent that the son doesn’t visit his father often. He brings up the dog shootings and tells Kevin to tell the therapist he’s ashamed of the incident because he drank too much and it would never happen again. However any thoughts that the father retained his sanity disappears when Garvey Senior starts talking with a non-existent person, though oddly the message makes sense. The former Chief tells his son that he was just told that they sent somebody to help him, but he should keep the information private.
Leaving the institution he drops by the station before he went home and got some tools and disassembled the oven-device. He then found his bagel, burnt, cold and hard as a rock. What that scene represented went over my head.
Soon after arriving home there is a knock at his front door and the dog shooter is standing there holding a six-pack of beer and asks Garvey if he is going to invite him in. Kevin asks the man his name and the man in return asks if the Chief is asking as a friend or professionally? Garvey responds they are not friends and the man declines to tell him. Jill and Amy walk into the door as the man is standing there and Jill asks if the brews are for her, to which the man asks her to put the six-pack in the refrigerator for her father. As she walks away, the man tells the Chief he has located another pack of wild dogs and he wants Garvey to meet him the next evening at a school-yard at sundown so they can take them down together. When Kevin asks why the man needs his assistance he replies he gets lonely and tells Garvey he will meet him the next night and walks away.
Patti walks into the room where Laurie is sleeping and kicks her foot to wake her. She holds up a note that read Meg is gone and the shock is apparent on Laurie’s face. However Patti doesn’t realize that Meg has taken the axe and returned to the tree and starts hacking at it in a cathartic release, first laughing and then crying.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on HBO
Most likely you have read one of the omnipresent articles in the last few weeks about the début of the new HBO Original Series “The Leftovers” that debuted Sunday night. The new show had a fine pedigree, being televised on a Network that has set the standard for TV Drama, over the last couple of decades. The series was co-created by author Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel the show’s based on and Damon Lindelof, one of the two men behind the highly acclaimed former ABC series “LOST.” In most of his interviews promoting his new show, he opened up about how shaken he was by the fan reaction to the final episode of his earlier series.
The conclusion to the series that had captivated its fans for six years, did not tie up all the loose ends that had intrigued viewers during the life of the show and the ones they did explain, left many audience members unsatisfied. Although he professed that many fans failing to embrace the finale hurt him, it has not stopped him from introducing one of the most puzzling premieres ever on the small screen.
The title of the series fits perfectly, as we are dealing with the results of two percent of the planet’s population simply vanishing on October 14, three years earlier. We do watch the event unfold from the point of view of a young mother with her infant son Sam, in tow as she tries to rectify the results of a bad day at a Laundromat. Through a series of phone-calls, we realize that one of her family’s toilets backed up and flooded her entire first floor. Sam is just as unhappy about the situation as is his mother and he proceeds to let her know with a sustained wail.
She takes Sam and her laundry out to her car still talking on the phone with the infant crying even louder as she puts him into his car-seat in the back of her vehicle. She is talking about formula for Sam, when suddenly we realize the crying in the car has stopped, the mother does as well and looks to find her infant has disappeared. Not wanting to believe her eyes she frantically searches the backseat for her son, then exits the car and looks outside screaming his name. A little boy starts to frantically call for his father who seconds before was pushing a grocery-cart right next to his son. The mother screams for someone to contact 911 and we hear a series of calls to the service about people disappearing.
We jump to the present which is almost three-years exactly after the incident occurred. We meet main character Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), Chief of Police for the town of Mapleton, we aren’t informed what state, however it looks like a cold weather city. Garvey is out for his morning jog when he meets a stray dog; then the man and the animal approach each other warily. The Chief and the dog start to bond when a pickup truck pulls up about 100 yards away and the driver gets out of his vehicle with a rifle and shoots the dog dead. After recovering from the shock, Garvey attempts to chase the vehicle on foot, but soon gives up the effort. He puts the dog’s body in the trunk of his car and proceeds to drive to the home listed on the hound’s tags.
When he gets there he encounters the woman that had owned the dog and told her it had died. The woman responded brusquely that the dog had run away from home the day of the incident and had never returned in the three ensuing years. She tells the Chief that it was her husband’s dog who had vanished and Garvey offered her condolences for her loss. She sarcastically responds, is that what it is; and shuts the door.
The officer gets back in his car and calls his subordinate Dennis Luckey (Frank Harts), to find out if the other cop has any information on the man who shot the dog. Luckey asks his superior if he got a plate number for the vehicle and Garvey chastises him for asking the question. He then tells the junior officer that since he’s got time before his meeting with the mayor he will head to animal control. Luckey replies that the meeting is taking place momentarily and that the other participants are waiting for him.
Mapleton Mayor Lucy Warburton (Amanda Warren), is reminiscent of former Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice, in appearance, dress and manner, an intelligent, articulate woman who wants to maintain control. She welcomes Garvey when he arrives late to the meeting and the Chief responds that the fault lies with her office staff, who had scheduled the meeting for noon. She had gathered the Chief and other town officials to talk about the inaugural celebration of “Heroes Day,” the following morning, the third anniversary of the departure. One of the men at the meeting ask why folks refer to the departed as Heroes, when his brother-in-law disappeared and he was a bum. The Mayor responds because Americans admire Heroes and not bums.
Warburton is doing her best to sell the concept of the next day’s celebration as a great idea, something that her constituents need, to turn the page and move on with their lives. She tells the officials that people are ready to have fun again, but Garvey totally disagrees with her position. He counters that people would rather explode than to have fun and warns the Mayor that a group he refers to as the “Remnants,” will attend and cause a fight to break out. Warburton asks her Police Chief if he wants her to cancel the events and he replies that he does, but the Mayor tells him that will not happen.
The next scene gives us our first look at the “Remnants,” and their lifestyle. These people have taken a vow of silence and their motto is “We Are Living Reminders.” Their entire existence seems to revolve around constantly reminding their fellow citizens of the departed. Our first view is a room filled with women sleeping on mattresses, all dressed in white and there is a clothing rack in the room that’s filled with nothing but white shirts and pants. The camera focuses on a woman in her early to mid-forties (Amy Brenneman), as she wakes up, gets ready in the bathroom and then joins the others, both male and female who are undertaking tasks, while chain-smoking cigarettes. We see ashtrays overflowing with butts while people are puffing on cigarettes, with their next one tucked behind their ears. There is a purpose behind that as well as a sign proclaims “We Don’t Smoke For Enjoyment, We Smoke To Proclaim Our Faith.”
A man walks into the room and puts a clipboard upon the white dry-erase board that occupies a wall, it contains a list with the names of the “Remnants,” assigned to attend the “Heroes Day,” events in Mapleton the following morning. The woman that we’re focused on does not see her name on the list and goes to an office where another woman (Ann Dowd), is working. She writes to the second woman that her name is not on the list and she wants to attend. The other woman writes okay and the matter’s settled. We see on a TV monitor in her office that a Senate hearing is taking place on C-Span, as they interview a scientist on possible causes for the incident three-years before. A Senator then tells the scientist that religious leaders have stated that God was not the force that took away 160 million people from the planet, so they are hoping that science can provide a reason. However the scientific community has not come close to coming up with the cause of the incident.
A man in his fifties drives into a parking lot, gets out of his car and into the pickup truck of a much younger man, who is the Police Chief’s son Tom Garvey (Chris Zylka.) He refers to his new companion as Congressman and tells him that he will need to wear a blindfold to make the last leg of the journey. After some huffing and puffing the older man complies and then asks his driver if the man he is taking him to see is the real deal? Young Garvey, responds that he is and that soon his companion will no longer feel burdened. The Congressman asks Tom if he says that to every person he drives to see Wayne and the young man replies that most times he says abandoned.
The pair get stopped at the check-post outside Wayne’s residence and then they get cleared to proceed. An elderly woman greets the Congressman and then takes him to meet Wayne (Paterson Joseph), a black man wearing an open caller dress shirt and a beatific smile. Tom then heads to another part of the house where a group of young attractive women are sitting poolside. He heads over to one young woman and gives her a bag of candy and they share some flirtatious banter.
We shift to Mapleton’s high-school as the school day begins in the classroom of Jill Garvey (Margaret Qualley), the Chief’s daughter. We hear announcements emanating from the intercom, then the principle asks for the students rise and recite the pledge of allegiance which nobody does. He then says that it is time for those students that would like to pray to do so and almost all the class stands and begins praying. Jill abstains and she catches the eye of a boy she likes in the front of the class who is also seated and pantomimes shooting himself in the head. She responds by pretending to tie a noose around her neck, but perhaps she is a bit too dramatic as the boy looks away.
The next scene is Jill and her BFF smoking weed outside of the school, when the boy she likes and another young man ask them if they are going to a party that evening and the girls respond that they may. Jill’s friend then teases her that this will be her big chance to hook up with the boy. They head to Jill’s house for dinner and the friend asks Kevin, if Jill and she can borrow his car to attend a party on the other side of town. After being reassured his daughter won’t drink, he gives the girls permission.
We head back to the “Remnants,” house where the woman and another heavier woman with glasses are given a picture of a woman that they have been chosen to stalk. The heavier woman writes a note saying that the woman in the picture is pretty. We meet the woman Meg Abbott (Liv Tyler) and her fiancée in the next scene and we can see she is distraught over their upcoming wedding. As they head out of their home and into the their car they see the two members of the “Remnants,” are standing outside their house like wraiths. The couple does their best to ignore them and drives to a restaurant for dinner. In the middle of the meal the women show up outside the restaurant and just stare at the woman, her fiancée tries to reason with them and they leave. However when they arrive back home they encounter the pair again. This time Meg can no longer control her emotions and hits the first “Remnant” that we met.
Back at Wayne’s house the Congressman is laughing and having a grand old-time, Tom notices the change in his mood and the older man proclaims that he’s been unburdened. Tom is ready to drive the Congressman back to his car, when the older woman tells him that Wayne would like to talk with him and that he will be staying the night, while another employee will chauffeur the guest. Tom asks if there’s a problem, but the woman ends the conversation saying Wayne will talk to him later.
We head to the party that Jill’s at and we watch as all in attendance are in the process of getting high, or engaged in playing a game in the center of the room. The game is an advanced version of “Spin The Bottle” using a cellphone that tells the couple what deed they will engage in. Jill’s evening comes to a crashing halt, when the guy she’s interested in gets her friend and they’re told to have sex. Jill’s friend says that if she minds that she will say no, but Jill plays the brave soldier and tells her friend it’s fine with her. Jill is then picked soon after to have some groping with another guy and she participates but is crying as she does.
The next scene is later that evening at Wayne’s as he walks into the room that Tom is in and finds him sleeping. He wakes up his employee and starts talking to him about the young woman Tom had given candy to. The young man tries to act as if he barely knows her, but Wayne busts him, telling him he is well aware of his bringing the girl candy and talking with her. He tells the Chief’s son that the woman is very important, that it is Tom’s job to protect her, but even more importantly to keep his hands off her. Wayne then tells Garvey about a dream he has had repeatedly. He sees his son in the dream who had vanished the day of the incident, with a message that things will get quite ugly on the third anniversary of the incident, the following day. He then closes his eyes and touches his forehead to Tom’s.
Kevin is driving back to his house when his car’s radio starts acting up and then suddenly his windshield cracks for no apparent reason. He gets out of his car and hears the squeals of an animal under the front of the vehicle, but then everything disappears and he is on his bedroom floor woken by the sound of the phone. Dennis Luckey is on the other end telling his boss that the celebration’s set to start in five minutes. As Garvey goes downstairs to leave his house he realizes their kitchen is in ruins as it looks as if a wild animal had gone amok in there.
When the Chief arrives downtown he sees the man that shot the dog early in the episode. He tries to stop the man from driving away by pulling out his service revolver, but it falls to the ground. He yells to the man that he can’t go around shooting “our dogs.”
He arrives at the ceremony as Mayor Warburton is addressing the crowd from a podium. Two grade-school girls read the names of the departed, then the Mayor introduces Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), a resident that lost her husband and two young children three-years earlier. She tells the audience that she had the best day of her life shortly before the incident. The family was at the beach and her son and daughter were building a sand-castle and she and her husband were in total bliss. She then recounts a story of about a year before that when the family was sick with the flu and huddled together in her bed. She told the audience that she really thought she was going to die from being sick and could feel the heat emanating from the bodies of her children. She then said that she was not greedy, she would settle for having her family reunited as sick as they were that day.
Whether she had finished talking or not, that would be the last thing she would say as the residents saw that the “Remnants,” had arrived and were holding up placards that spelled out “Stop Wasting Your Breath!” As Garvey had predicted, the residents had finally had their fill of the “Remnants,” and started attacking them. The Chief and his officers tried to form a restraining line between the two groups, but there was a lot of fighting before they got the scene under control.
The next scene Kevin pulls up in the cull de sac that the “Remnants,” reside in. He knocks on a door and tells the man that answers the door, that he realizes he won’t speak, but he wants to find Laurie and asks the man to point to the house she lives in, which he does When Garvey walks over to that house, he’s confronted by a stocky man that tries to keep the Chief away, but he subdues the man. He then starts calling for Laurie and we realize she is the first member of the “Remnants,” that we met. We soon realize that she also is Laurie Garvey, Kevin’s wife and mother of Tom and Jill. Garvey pleads for his wife to return home with him, but we see the conflict on her face. At that point, the man that tried to stop Kevin earlier gets behind him and slams his face repeatedly into the hood of his car. He then drives off without his wife. Seconds later a taxicab pulls up and out steps Meg Abbott. She asks the woman that has her own office if she can stay with them for a couple of nights. We hear the woman speak for the first time as she tells Meg she can stay as long as she wants and tells her, that her name is Patti. She then tells Meg that this will be the final conversation between the two of them.
Garvey is finally heading home when he stops his car when a buck’s standing in the middle of the road. He asks the animal if he had been in his house the night before when a pack of wild dogs appear out of nowhere and start attacking the buck. Shortly there after the man (Michael Gaston), who shot the first dog arrives with shotgun in hand. He then says to Garvey they’re not ours and Kevin asks the man what he means. The man says that the dogs are no longer theirs, that the incident had changed them forever and starts shooting the dogs. Garvey asks the man if he’s really awake and the man responds that now he is, as the Chief starts shooting the dogs as well.
I had great hopes about this series heading into the première, but the pilot left me rather bothered and bewildered. I have enough faith in the show’s creators that I am willing to give the show time to develop. However if it stays as confusing and disjointed as it was in the first episode, it may lose me as a viewer before this season has completed.
The story will pick up again next Sunday night on HBO