THE LEFTOVERS Recap: “Cairo”

     August 18, 2014


In an interview earlier this summerTom Perrotta, who wrote The Leftovers novel and is an executive producer on the show, said that there was a definite creative tension between himself and executive producer/showrunner Damon Lindelof over the question of whether the supernatural exists in the show.  This first season is, supposedly, a battleground in which either option could be true.  But by “Cairo,” that seems less and less likely.  Hit the jump for a look at why things in Mapleton need to expand beyond the gloomy suffering of its inhabitants, and what it means if they don’t.

the-leftovers-season-1-episode-8-justin-therouxFrom my understanding, in the novel, there is not a question of supernatural events aside from the Departure itself.  What makes The Leftovers TV show different though is that the question hasto be answered.  Because it’s a series, and because Kevin’s visions are getting stronger and his “lost time” is becoming more frequent (and more violent), we’re either watching a man struggling with being a part of something bigger, or our de facto protagonist is losing his mind in front of us.

Hannibal did something similar in its first season, where Will Graham’s loss of time included, potentially, violent interludes.  But it was also mostly clear that those interludes, as well as Will’s insanity (which had a physiological basis) were all under the careful control of Hannibal Lecter.  If Kevin’s visions and penchant towards violence is under the control of anyone, it lends itself to a supernatural occurrence; there is not anyone who is controlling Kevin, or has a reason to, of Earthly means.  His symptoms almost perfectly mirror his father’s, yes, but then what of the Mystery Man?  He is not just a hallucination Kevin has — everyone else sees him, too.  Patti suggests he’s a ghost, and he calls himself a guardian angel.  Either way, though, she interacts with him (as do others in town, including Jill), proving he at least as a corporal body.  He also talks into the air, saying he’s trying to get Kevin to do what he was meant to do, just like Kevin Senior does.

According to the Mystery Man as well as Patti, the “true path” is for Kevin to kill Patti.  She tells him he wants to, MM tells him he wants to, but “waking” Kevin resists.  Patti spends a lot of time mouthing off a lot of bullshit, and finally cuts her own throat to prove a point Kevin doesn’t understand at all (at least, not yet).  Before that, Patti went a little farther in “Cairo” describing the aim of the Guilty Remnant, but it didn’t illuminate anything other than the fact that she killed Gladys, because the GR thrives on martyrdom.

the-leftovers-season-1-episode-8-ann-dowdThere are a few ways to take The Leftovers as it is being currently presented.  There’s the world of the Guilty Remnant: one of nihilism and chaos, that doesn’t believe in a point to anything except remembering an event no one understands.  There’s the world of Pastor Matt and Holy Wayne, who believe that pain can be alleviated if it’s just embraced, and people move on.  In between, there’s the potential third way of the Garveys and the Mystery Man, who serve a figure prone to violence, about whom almost nothing is known (regarding motivation).

None of these are presented in a very appealing light on the show, which is part of what makes The Leftovers such a dour slog.  Nora had been something of a hero on the series because of how her life has moved forward since her encounter with Holy Wayne.  But Jill’s obsession with her being “better” comes to a disappointing end when Jill found her gun.  It suggests Nora isn’t ok, which means (as Aimee says) no one is.  With that depressing, crushing understanding of reality on her, Jill finds her way to the only logical place — the Guilty Remnant.

Those looking for any major answers in the final two episodes of The Leftovers should be careful of their own disappointment.  With the show having been picked up for a second season, there’s no rush to explain or reveal anything — and clearly, there hasn’t been, even from the start.  The other side of it is, given Perrotta and Lindelof’s different visions for the story, there’s also no guarantee that there’s going to be anything to reveal.  At that point, what is the point?

the-leftovers-teaser-posterEpisode Rating: C

Musings and Miscellanea:

– Interestingly, this is the only episode of the season not to feature Lindelof in the head writing credits.

– Really not sad to see Patti go, but it’s quasi-interesting that Laurie so comfortably has taken her place.

– It didn’t take long for Megan to start running her mouth again, did it?

– Looks like the GR has something really messed up planned with, presumably, those Departed dummies that we learned about in “Guest.”  Frankly, I would move.

– “Well now that I’ve been inspected for firearms, the worst is over” – Nora.

– “Do you really think Aimee was fucking Garvey’s dad?” “Probably, dude is ripped!” – The twins.  I doubt it, though.  And if they did, there’s no way she would have ever told him she thought it was wrong.

– So … are Aimee’s parents departed?  What is her deal.

– “I’m not going to lose my mind listening to the fucking words coming out of your fucking mouth. No, I don’t understand you.” – Kevin, to Patti.  Me, to this show.

  • anon

    I think you’re very quick to judge the shows tone and “lack” of decisive plotting. The last few episodes have been, at the very least, captivating in the way Kevin’s psyche is deteriorating (or clarifying?) based upon one’s assumptions as to the direction of the shows religious elements.

    I’m just confused how you hold each episode in such little regard as the last 3 have had bigger and bigger implications that, for me at least, are drawing me closer and closer to the Garvey family and the GR. My interest is guided by my questions regarding the character arcs of the major characters and I’m confused why you are so negligent of these characters regardless of how long it took to set up their stories.

  • mattinacan

    Damon Lindelof is one of the worst writers in hollywood, so i never bothered watching this show

    • Marvin

      Then why comment?

      • mattinacan

        why not?

  • Rob Ford

    It’s Lindelof, so you’re not going to get much of a payoff.

    • Ryan Marsh Thunder Fairweather

      *sigh* Sad that it’s true.

  • Marvin

    This show is quickly loosing interest for me and is not what I expected it to be. Not sure how much longer I’ll be watching.

  • wESh

    Seriously, what the f*ck… I used to like the recaps, now it’s like “here at collider, we don’t like the show and we will complain, constantly” Stop whining about it and quit it, I get it, You just don’t like the show, so why bother

    • Jimmy

      Thank you! I was looking for a recap, why would I click on your link if you were just going to complain about a show you clearly don’t connect with

  • blahblahblah

    Review Rating: E

  • marrowbonez

    Allison Keene, you should just stop watching the show. You obviously need fast payoffs and for plot arcs to be nicely wrapped up within 1 or 2 episodes. If the show is that boring and unsatisfying, you should just go back to watching True Blood because your ADD is ruining it for you. You know that this show does not have a lot of action or sex or teen drama. Since you need all of these things in the programs you watch, just move on to something else.

  • Matt

    It’s been really frustrating reading your reviews of this show and it seems in general that the media has decided this is a show to not get behind. All these reviews read like group think. One person decided they had this take and slowly everyone followed suit. In the same way that some shows get lauded and others don’t.

    I obviously read recaps and reviews because I find value in the thoughts and sentiments of those writing them, but it’s hard to take these criticisms as genuine and not just people saying, “I don’t want to bother thinking about any of this”.

  • Tony Wesh

    If it does go into the whole supernatural/biblical rapture type stuff, I hope Kevin is being prepped to become the savior/antichrist by the mystery man

  • Michael Ginzburg

    Fuck this fuckin C grade, don’t review the show! an A episode