Review: HBO’s The Leftovers – Penguin One, Us Zero

As any good TV reviewer would do, I found out that The Leftovers is based off of a book after some reading around so I suppose I could just go read the book instead of waiting for episodes to come on every week… but reading is for squares.

In episode one, the juxtaposition of life and death was paramount. Littered with sudden, disturbing flashbacks, we got glimpses in to what characters were talking about and what they had experienced. It’s pacing was like an out of control locomotive, but with “Penguin One, Us Zero” it’s slowed down quite a bit… I’d almost call this episode boring, bordering on filler.

 

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Liv, what you doin’ gurl?

We encounter another time skip, three weeks after last episode’s events – reasons unknown. The iceman has clearly paid a visit to the fictitious upstate town of Mapleton, New York. This episode hasn’t really placed any sort of closure on devices that were introduced in the last episode which is kind of infuriating – it’s almost as if you’re just supposed to take what you saw and roll with it. The Guilty Remnant sect is still viewed as a boogeyman. No explanation has been placed on why they’re smoking or why they only write on notepads to speak to each other and outsiders. Liv Tyler’s character, Meg Abbott, has taken up residence with them specifically for some reason and there’s no explanation as to why Kevin’s ex-wife and bespectacled old white woman stalked her – she’s in a place the police deem the Pledge House. Logic points to us wanting to hole up with our stalkers to escape from our problems, right?

 

Kev’s daughter and stoner girl, along with the awkward twins, take to stalking one Nora Durst – her relevance to the story has yet to be explained. The two kids go from sitting in a coffee shop, seeing a revolver in her purse by accident, Durst deliberately knocking a coffee mug off the table (maybe out of passive aggression because she overheard the two gossiping about her), to stoner girl driving the awkward twins’ Prius to follow Durst around because “she’s dangerous.”

Episode 102

“Do you have any hand cream?”

A cherry to top it all off is we find Wayne to have a less than glorious past and his “powers,” if he even has any, come from even less savory means. The CIA (or whatever agency) deemed him a threat to national security because of his interaction with fat Texas congressman. Wayne’s ranch gets some visitors in turn.

Kev’s son is still quite stupid, and you really don’t know his motivations other than trying to bag this Asian girl he’s supposed to protect. I think I’ll call him my least favorite character of the whole show so far. His father keeps trying to call him, and he even tries to call his father once, but there’s missed connection after missed connection after missed connection.

Kev, at the end of the episode, has dog murderer come by his house – he left his black Dodge Ram 1500 in Kev’s driveway, keys on the dash, with a bagged up dead dog in the bed. His reasoning – “I’m done with it.” The dip in his mouth has changed sides, so maybe that’s supposed to symbolize some kind of change in him or Kevin.

At best, this episode seems half-baked compared to the pilot. The directing this time around led to some of the actors coming off as a bit disingenuous. The camera work didn’t have that same lively shake as it did before, but the photography really made you feel like you were in the dead of winter like they’re currently in on the show. Let’s hope episode three does a lot better.

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It must be quite the honor, Brendan Burke.

 

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