Review: HBO’s The Leftovers – Pilot

[box]WARNING: Possible Spoilers for Leftovers Ep. 1[/box]

The-LeftoversI had seen sparse trailers for the series and they left me feeling unsatiated, which I guess is the point of any good trailer. I saw the name “Damon Lindelof” and felt excitement for what was to come of this show. If you’re not familiar with Lindelof, he was one of the executive producers (along with Carlton Cuse) behind LOST, which I was a huge fan of. Mind you, I am not so big on that sixth season on but the rest I can stand behind firmly. I can recall seeing the long pilot air on ABC with my family that faithful decade ago like it was yesterday. I had never seen anything so unconventional in regards to TV and I just couldn’t help but want more – the names J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof will forever be stuck in my head thanks to that show.

I’m a little late to the party, but thanks to the power of HBO GO I was finally able to see the show. After seeing it, I’m left with the same feelings I had after watching the pilot of LOST. I’m unsatiated, I’m confused, I’m frustrated and I’m happy I found something that could light that same spark LOST did for me that other television shows have since failed to do.

It’s October 14th – year unknown. The episode opens up with a baby (whose name is Sam apparently) wailing in to the laundromat air, while his mother talks on her cell phone incessantly. She’s trying to tell her husband (?) to get the formula made, get an appointment scheduled…  you’re not quite sure what she’s talking about and she’s jumping all over the place – you never get to hear the other side of the line. The camera pans and cuts back and forth, to and fro, from the mother to this baby who just won’t stop crying. It incites feelings of anxiousness a la Punch Drunk Love. The mother sits the baby down in her car and then she gets in the driver’s seat of her dinky four-door sedan. The mother tells Sam “shhh it’s okay, baby!” and he magically settles down. Something’s off. Sam is clearly staring at something and he didn’t stop crying just because his mother told him to. It’s a look of bewilderment and genuine fear. The camera pans back over to the mother and all is silent from the backseat. The mother looks back and stops in mid-sentence as she’s still talking to our mysterious receptor. She sees the carseat is empty. She says “Sam… ?” For some reason, she can’t deduce that the baby has left the car so she gets out of the driver’s seat to look in from the rear window – “Sam… ?” she says again. She goes to the back right door and opens it. She begins exclaiming “Sam” as if the baby will magically respond to her incessant yelling. Hell starts breaking loose. A child is without his mother in the background, two cars crash in to each other and a swarm of patriarchs, looking to oppress this woman, begin to help look for her precious baby.


You would think the show would explain, at least vaguely, what happened or why there’s a three year gap but since Lindelof had a hand in this, I was asking for way too much. You see our handsome protagonist police chief Kevin Garvey (portrayed by the under-appreciated Justin Theroux) jogging, listening to his iPod – you can see his wife-beater creating a sweat pattern under his gray sweater so you know it’s some Rocky Balboa-type jogging going on. There’s some radio news playing over this and it’s quite frankly hard to discern what’s going on; I have no idea why I’m surprised. He stops in the middle of his jog to console a lost dog. As he’s trying to figure out whose dog it is, a bald man blows the dog’s brains out with his hunting rifle. Garvey was only a foot away from the dog. He looks on as the man speeds away. You feel helpless.

Would you look at Justin Theroux?

After seeing this, it will leave you with much more questions than answers. This show is heady, and you’ll feel like you ate the wrong kind of brownies at your buddy’s house. You want to love these characters and you want to hate them. You want to hug them and you want to kill them. You’ll feel scared and you’ll feel intrigue. Most importantly, you just want to know what on God’s green earth is going on in this crazy world.

For those that are fans of the LOST camera-work (maybe 24‘s as well), the steady shaking in every shot… it’s back in full force. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the pacing leaves you on edge. It’s impressive how much is going on within this one episode, in terms of character introduction/development and story lines, which also means you can’t just leave this on while you’re doing homework, or doing the laundry, and expect to understand everything. The Leftovers practically begs for your full attention. Every. Detail. Counts. Think of this as LOST‘s spiritual successor.

Don’t mind if I do.

There’s much more, but don’t you want to see what else there is? After reading any of this, don’t you feel a tad curious as to what I’m going on about? Go, watch it for the first time and savor the experience. If the rest of the series is going to measure up to this pilot’s caliber, I’m going to feel like a kid again watching LOST – sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting every week to see what happens next. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this from now on and I suggest you do the same. Get on the bandwagon before it gets full, kids.


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