Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 5: No Room at the Inn

Matt continues to focus on his wife, he has cameras focused on her all through the night so he can watch them and see if there’s any response at al. There isn’t, even as he cares for her, cleans her and clothes her.

He continues his daily life, taking her with him everywhere. She never responds as the routine goes on and on. Matt becomes less and less positive and more and more worn down and more and more desperate. The pattern he’s repeating from the food he eats to the places he visits are all copying exactly what happened last time when Mary spoke to him – only it’s not repeating.

Matt breaks his routine to take Mary out of the town for a doctor’s appointment – again we’re reminded how extreme this town is in being isolated from the people outside with only one narrow, heavily policed bridge in and hordes of people trying to get inside, running the gauntlet past the violent rangers.

And one of the doctors tells Matt that Mary is pregnant. Matt is shocked – they never could have children before. Whoa whoa whoa, never mind fertility, has he been having sex with her while she’s utterly incapable of communicating consent?!

The doctor warns him that she’s unlikely to be able to carry the baby to turn before hitting my outrage – Mary cannot possibly consent for anything. To which Matt insists that the ex happened during her miraculous wakeful period (which means I am both relieved and trying to avoid speculating on how bad Matt is in bed if she returned to a comatose state afterwards). The doctor is not that impressed with his explanation.

Matt is now completely elated over the pregnancy. So elated he stops to help someone with car trouble – who then bludgeons him for his Miracle wrist-band, breaking his hand to get it. Matt wakes up – because Mary is awake and telling him to get theme to Miracle.

His car disabled, he has to walk to Miracle, pushing Mary in a wheelchair. He manages to get to Miracle and through the crowds. At the gate, Matt has to try and convince the brutal rangers that he’s actually a resident – and surprisingly he is treated with compassion and allowed to go to the visitor’s centre to get a replacement wrist band.

Except there they just find so much delay and awkwardness doing that and impatient people in the line that ends up with Matt getting into a fight. And some guy saying something cryptic possibly about the baby because Leftovers

They are eventually picked up by Kevin and John (though John still isn’t his biggest fan). Sadly it’s not the first time something like that happen. John and Kevin learn about Mary’s pregnancy and Matt is obsessed with getting Mary back into town which will totally stop any miscarriages, honest. John, of course, ferociously objects because he is very very very against any suggestion that Miracle is a cure all (Erika, John’s wife, is deaf and hasn’t been “cured” which John points out in vicious comparison). John insists, for his help, that Matt will admit to raping his wife

It seems John is happy to let Matt into the town as a rapist, but not as a man who believes in miracles. When Matt pushes him on that, John turns and leaves without helping.

Matt ends up kicked out with Mary into the camp of people outside the wall, looking for a way back in. While doing so he sees several odd elements of the camp – including a man stripped naked and imprisoned in stocks. A woman tells him that if Matt wants to free the man, he has to take his place and a small crowd urges him to do so.

Mate becomes more and more panicky about getting Mary into Miracle and turns to dodgy offers (which he can’t afford) and prayer. And trying to exploit a woman’s faith to get that money. And the woman randomly asks him to hit a man with an oar – apparently he needs a man of god to hit him with an oar while saying Brian? A crowd gathers because these people are hella bored.

After beating some guy with an oar he pays to be shown a back way into Miracle… which doesn’t go well because it’s a storm drain and he takes it during a storm, he and Mary nearly drown.

Nora shows up and she and Kevin offer to sneak them into town. In doing so Nora has distracted the police with a fake tip about Evie and her missing friends.

They get back in Miracle – and find there has been a terrible car accident. The man who robbed him Matt has died – Matt takes back his wristband. The man’s son survives and offers him the other wristband with a hand shaking in terror. He takes the wristbands back – and then asks Nora and Kevin to take care of Mary.

Matt then takes the child to John and tells John that Mary woke up. Matt also hands over his wristband to John, saying he doesn’t want it and that Mary will wake up one day and reveal the truth – he also says the boy needs help since his dad is dead. He hands the boy over to John (whoa charity – helping a kid and making him someone else’s problem?)

Matt returns to the camp and agrees to free the man in the socks – stripping naked and taking the man’s place

I really don’t like the depiction of Mary and Matt. Matt’s despair is powerful and well acted and presented – but Mary is that so-classic and so painful of disabled tropes: a burden. It’s all she is. She is defined by being the weight around Matt’s neck, the source of his pain and anguish, the constant struggle that drags him down. She’s not a person, she’s a millstone.

I’m also leery about Matt being super happy a baby is coming after being so depressed – his wife is still non-responsible. It feels like her already absent personality is being easily dismissed in favour of being an incubator

I am glad there was at least some nod to the whole idea of Mary being pregnant when she is incapable of consenting. Even if they did buy his rather implausible situation. Except – is that even real? As we’ve seen after his head injury, he could very much be hallucinating Mary speaking – if so then he did very much rape her while convinced she was speaking to him. I think that was far too glossed over or passed over. Yes, John pressed Matt to say it – but it wasn’t out of outrage for Mary being raped, it was because he’s outraged over the idea that Mary is cured, because he has a crusade against anyone claiming miracles happen in Miracle. Whether Mary was raped or not seems irrelevant to his argument – his main aim here is insisting that miracles can’t have happened

Which is also why Matt’s constant kissing of the unresponsive Mary is really creepy. She is completely unresponsive and unreactive and he keeps kissing her despite no response – and no apparent ability to respond.

And Matt chose to enter the stocks out of some kind of contrition. Sorry, not a fan. I’ve always found this kind of self-flagellation as a way of expunging guilt to either be a sign that someone needs some help to more productively and healthily dealing with their emotions – or a rather prideful way of centring yourself in your “penance.” It’s a way of doing away with your own nagging conscience without actually addressing why you feel guilty (whether justified or not) or fixing that (such as helping those who are harmed). Especially since Matt not only left the child to be cared by someone else hoping a near stranger will look after him – and he leaves Mary into the care of others as well.

This generally means, despite the excellent acting, I’m just not that thrilled with this episode. There’s an elephant in the room yet no-one is paying attention to the monumentally deep shit.

Can we also have some explanations for the randomness? Now just woo-woo this time, the whole camp around Miracle is one grand Madlib.

I do have to give the nod that Leftovers is one of the few shows that doesn’t shy away from full frontal male nudity – it’s actually one of the few shows we’ve seen more naked men than women.