Monday, January 12, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 4: B.J. and the A.C.

Somewhat randomly, we start by watching a doll being made in a factory (something which makes the doll even creepier than it is), it being bought and dressed up as baby Jesus for a nativity scene. After a few days of being out in the open, the Jesus doll goes missing

Over to Kevin interviewing Patti, leader of the Guilty Remnant who, predictably, is completely silent (she does twitch a little that almost suggests a smile). There’s a library fundraiser coming up and Kevin would like the GR to skip protesting this one. He says he won’t protect them because it’s the holidays and no-one has any time for their shenanigans and people want to spend time with their families. She writes back “there is no family.” When he asks her to clarify this cryptic statement she just takes down a picture of Laurie (and Gladys) and puts it on his desk. In between mentioning how eager they are to arrest the GR, one of his officers tells Kevin the baby doll has been stolen. Unsurprisingly, Kevin really doesn’t care.

Kevin makes one of his many calls to Tom – only to hear his phone isn’t in service (Wayne destroyed Tom’s phone).

At home, between digging out Christmas ornaments, Kevin tries to ask Jill about her brother – but she claims ignorance. Aimee and Jill also disapprove of Kevin’s plan to replace the baby Jesus doll; Kevin’s clear that it’s certainly not worth his time for more drama with Jill.

What is Kevin’s responsibility is a dance at the school where they will be able to arrest the GR if they show up. The mayor also shows up and argues with Kevin over replacing the Jesus doll with Mayor Lucy telling Kevin to fake finding it because he needs something to improve his reputation. But when Kevin goes to the shop he decides not to buy a new one and to find the original instead.

While driving, Kevin’s car cuts out on him but he manages to stop safely (spooky music plays because car failure is spooky now). This means he has to drive around suspicious guy’s truck instead which he uses to harass the Frost twins because they hang around with his daughter and for some reason he’s decided Jill stole the Jesus doll. Also because one of the suspects was wearing a hoody (in winter? No, surely not Kevin!) one of the twins calls that profiling (no, really really no. Absolutely not)

And time for a late night party where, yes, Jill did take the doll. Aimee insists, again, on trying to be the voice of reason (or what passes for reason in their group). Jill doesn’t listen and plans to burn the doll – then decides not to.

Kevin goes home to find Meg and Laurie on his doorstep. He invites them in and tries to remember his awkward manners. Laurie’s written a letter for Meg to real aloud to him. During the recital Laurie describes Kevin as a good husband and we learn that Tom is her son from a previous relationship. Kevin tries to stop Meg talking and address Laurie directly but Meg keeps speaking. This is all a precursor to divorce papers Laurie is carrying. Kevin is not exactly thrilled to have Laurie refuse to contact him for 6 months then come home with divorce papers. He demands Laurie say their marriage is over – not Meg, Laurie. Laurie stays silent as he shouts at her – and Jill walks in. She takes a present from under the tree and gives it to Laurie, before leaving. Kevin asks Megan and Laurie to leave.

They leave and Laurie opens her present – inside is a lighter engraved with “don’t forget me”.  Meg tells her to keep it, that she won’t tell anyone. Laurie drops it down a drain

Back to Kevin who angsts a while in Tom’s room, where all his things are boxed up, before trying to talk to Jill which never works. At least as he leaves the Frost twins have dumped the Jesus doll on his doorstep (and tried, with ridiculous ineptitude, to run off without being noticed).

He heads to the dance, shows off that he got the doll back (no-one cares) before having a moment with Nora; it’s cute and friendly and kind of awkward since they talk about cheating spouses (Nora’s Departed husband and Kevin himself). And the GR does show up to protest but carefully avoids stepping on school grounds. Kevin arrests them anyway and plans to lie about where they were stood. Patti seems quite amused by being arrested – and Kevin realises only a few of the GR are actually present.

The rest are breaking into people’s houses and stealing all family photographs. As they drive back Laurie chooses to walk – and tries to recover the lighter from the grate but can’t reach it.

Kevin tries to return the doll but Rev Matt has already returned it. Since the doll is creepily staring at him, Kevin dumps it.

Tom is in Texas with Christine, waiting for Wayne to call and getting a little fretful since it’s been 6 weeks since they heard from him. A random half naked man appears and asks Christine why she’s in his dream – he knows her name. He suddenly, randomly, says “you walk over the dead” and starts strangling her. Tom fights him and he adds “they’re all in white” to his random ranting. Orderlies separate them and the man continues to rant “I know what’s inside you.”

They move on (and seem to run into another cult, this one painting bullseyes on foreheads) and Tom blames Christine for talking to the guy in the first place; he looks awfully menacing and threatening doing it and she becomes loud and angry with him.

Christine is pregnant so they go to see a doctor to get an ultra-sound: the doctor noticing extensive bruising on Christine’s stomach (I think from the raid). The doctor asked what happened and Tom speaks over Christine to say she was attacked by a random guy. The doctor gives him suspicious eyes and talks about checking Christine in. When she leaves, Tom tells Christine they have to leave as he’s guessed he is suspected of hurting her – Christine demands Tom say it wasn’t her fault she was attacked before she’ll move. He says it without a crumb of sincerity and she refuses to accept it. He gets more and more agitated and then runs, chased by security.   

He ends up on a bench at a bus stop staring at Wayne’s phone and being smoked at by two GR members. He begs the phone for a sign, for Wayne to call him and tell him why he’s doing it – and just before he throws it away it rings. It’s a telemarketer. Tom laughs hysterically. He doesn’t get on the bus.

He returns to the hospital, pretending to be one of the bullseye cultists (making a telling comment about being “abandoned by his father” at one point) and returns to Christine. She welcomes him back but despite his promise to protect her, he’s cold and distant.

The next day they’re on the bus which is stopped because the road is blocked by an accident – a truck load of fake bodies (replicas of people who Departed) has crashed on the road. They’re all in white – which Christine says is just like the man who accosted her’s dream

Ok, I get this show likes to work in metaphors to a degree – but I have no real idea why so many people cared so much about a missing doll. Jill, I could see, maybe just to be contrary which seems to be her oh-so-not-endearing reason for existence. Even Lucy wanting to replace it I can see. But Aimee? Kevin going to this much effort? I think the whole thing is meant to speak volumes about Jill’s conflicted edginess but it hasn’t really added anything

The Manpain is riotous in this episode. I’m not saying that Kevin and Tom don’t have many many reasons to be stressed, angry and upset – oh yes they do – but as is so classic when it comes to Manpain, their pain is given as a reason for them to rant and rage at others (specifically women) around them. I think Laurie, without saying a word, did a better job of broadcasting pain and, yes, as she calls it, brokenness.

I also don't understand how the GR gets away with as much as they do, especially since Kevin is so clearly gunning for them.

We still have a few hints of the weirdness around the edges to keep suggesting more is going on