Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8: International Assassin

Kevin wakes up, half downed and naked in a bath. In what looks like a hotel room. Kevin I even more confused than I am – and considerably more traumatised. He finds a wardrobe with very different outfits in it with a sign on it basically telling him to dress as who he is. He picks a basic suit (notably not picking the cop uniform).

And someone brings him flowers in the name “Harvey” then tries to kill him with a knife. Oh and Kevin has a wallet full of Euros (a LOT of Euros). I think violent attack is a bit extreme for someone for not tipping. Kevin wins of course.

He goes to the populated lobby and sees the concierge – it’s Virgil. He pretends to know nothing but passes Kevin an illicit meeting apparently with ominous people watching. Then there’s classical music and a little girl drowning in a pool.

And a giraffe

Ok, no giraffe, but it would hardly make this less random. Kevin rescues her, daddy is not grateful.

He meets Virgil who a) advises him not to drink the water and b) tells him that his suit makes him an international assassin, hence the person trying to kill him. Also giraffe (no really, it would be no more out of place here).

Virgil gives Kevin a job to kill Patti who is running for president so he can then go home in a Godfather rip off scene. Why am I not drunk watching this? There really should have been a warning on – you know how you get age restrictions? Well this should have a minimum drink required

There’s also Guilty Remnant.

More randomness, a broken TV, weird music and another fire alarm and lots of weird little (a man with balloons - "it's a boy balloons" for an awake Mary - forshadowing? A woman arguing in Spanish about what looks like an organ donation).

Kevin ends up captured and interrogated by some senatorial staff (made up of Gladys, the dead Guilty Remnant because why not. Still no giraffe, but at this stage a giraffe would make more sense.) but mainly asking about why he smokes and pouring something unpleasant in his eyes. Smoking insight is enough to get security clearance.

Then his dad, in Australia and on drugs then communicates through fire and television screen and tells him to “get her to the well”. Because why not? Rapidly losing interest in the madlibs here. Including guy who searches Kevin and feels the need to comment on the doctoring of his cut hands.

Nah, I want a giraffe. If you’re going to be this random you might as well throw in a giraffe or a ninja hippy or something.

Wayne the hugger also makes an appearance. Finally Patti shows up and has some weird musings about assassins and a rather bizarre theory about John Wilks Booth she throws in there for reasons (still no giraffe) – she thinks that assassins secretly believe the messages of the people they kill. And Patti’s message is destroying families. She talks about the survival mechanism of loving, of being attached – because the Departure made it clear you can lose anyone at any time

It’s the actual pitch of the Guilty Remnant.

Also everyone keeps offering Kevin water

Kevin gets the gun, kills Wayne, kills Gladys but, against Virgil’s instructions, hesitates and doesn’t kill Patti. She claims she’s a look-a-like. Kevin kills her anyway. But the dream doesn’t end. Looks like she was telling the truth insofar as anything is true here.

He consults with Virgil – who now is the clueless concierge not just pretending to be one. He drank the water… Also Kevin’s cut has healed – with his Wolverine like powers

He goes back to his room to find his door locked – and the awful man is locked out by his little girl. The guy shares a drink with Kevin while telling him that he’s dead and revealing that he’s Patti’s ex-husband Neal via his sexual fetishes. And saying vile terrible things about the girl. Kevin, reasonably, murders the man.

He then greets the little girl – Patti. He follows his dad’s instructions and takes her to a well. The Well is in Jardin – Miracle – and a site many people have used to “unburden” themselves of something they want rid of.

There Kevin is attacked and dragged along with a noose around his neck by a guy who is cryptic and offer shim a choice – cross the bridge (and drown Patti) or jump. Jumping is his option for not killing a child. Kevin protests it’s not real the man disagrees. Kevin chooses cross.

He carries Patti to the well and she sits on the lip, at sunrise. She gives him the choice- pushing her in or dropping her in. Kevin feels terribad guilty – especially as poor little girl Patti recites her terrible self-worth of why she deserves it. All cut up – he pushes her into the well as his knees buckle

He then hears Pattie, adult Patti, call for help. He tries to crawl into the well and falls in. She also talks about her history on Jeopardy – her attempt to earn enough money to leave Neal. Despite winning she didn’t leave – and she confesses to being scared. Kevin holds her. Then drowns her.

One cave in later and Kevin pulls himself to the surface – in his own clothes and with Michael waiting for him.

This episode was… random and weird. Leftovers has always been random and weird. And this episode takes it to 11

Though, despite my giraffe comments, I don’t think it’s random without purpose. I think there’s a definitely purpose – there’s a huge amount of symbolism and metaphor in every tiny little moment on this show – but in some ways there’s too much. But I don’t know if that itself may be part of the metaphor. Does it sometimes seem like we’re seeing something incomprehensible we’re struggling to understand? Yes – but that’s the Departure – something incomprehensible, but powerfully meaningful and effective, that the whole world is trying to understand and find meaning in.

The Departure, and the show itself, has pretty much destroyed any sense of what is real. This could be a dream. It could be a vision. It could be a product of Kevin’s damaged mind. It could be actual supernatural powers. And because everyone’s viewpoint we’ve seen so far has, in some way, been deeply flawed or from a person who may not be connecting all that well with reality, that applies to every thing we see. What is magic? What is hallucination? What has meaning, what is nonsense? What is real? What is the product of a hurt and desperate mind?

Water, of course, raises again and again – not just this episode. Water vanishing is what saved Kevin from drowning when Evie disappeared. Michael tries to sell water. The water of Miracle is considered precious and special and this episode I overwhelmed with water references (a lesser man would have said “drowning” in it).

And we actually have a purpose of the Guilty Remnant that also makes sense – smoke to remember the world ended. Don’t form attachments because it’s all so uncertain now. Isn’t there some truth to that? What can you build – not just relationships but in general, in all things – what can you do when anyone and everyone could just vanish tomorrow and render it all pointless? No warning? No way of stopping it? No way of understanding it?

So is Leftovers on of the deepest, most nuanced, most thought provoking shows –or is it an epic game of madlibs by writers who have got their hands on some powerful stuff?

Or both?