Tag Archives: TOM PERROTA

Tea & Review: The Leftovers – The Book of Nora

The Leftovers has come to an end. Three years of experiencing the maddening doubt of inexplicable loss through the eyes of an eclectic ensemble of characters and it turns out we were watching a love story the entire time.

“The Book of Nora” is as elegantly simple and simply beautiful a series finale as one could ask for. It provides potential answers while refusing to confirm anything; it gives us one final, meaningful look at characters we’ve grown to love; and it is as emotionally charged as anything on television has ever been.

This final hour (and a bit) devotes its first third or so to picking up where Nora (Carrie Coon) and Matt’s (Christopher Eccleston) adventures left off and seeing Nora through to her final destination, so to speak. She and her brother say their goodbyes, she records her last will and testament, she makes the final decision to enter to magical radiation departure machine, and she takes the plunge.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)

When The Leftovers premiered back in 2014, it was unclear if it was going to be a work of purely speculative fiction in which a mundane world experiences a single inexplicable event, or a magical realist series more on par with Damon Lindelof’s earlier creation, Lost. And though there were some surreal elements sprinkled throughout the first two seasons hinting at the latter, it wasn’t until “International Assassin” that it became clear the writers were intent on heading in a supremely supernatural direction.

Since that episode, the otherworldly elements have only grown in prominence, building a mythology that adds myriad layers to an already-thematically-rich world.

So it only makes sense that in “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)”—which serves as both a sequel to that aforementioned episode as well as the penultimate installment of the series as a whole—we would return to the dreamlike afterlife that first marked the show’s swerve into the mystic.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – Certified

The Leftovers has always, at least in part, been about the ways in which people deal with unpredictable seismic shifts in their lives. Of course, at its core the show is speculative, exploring what would happen if an undeniably supernatural event robbed the world of two percent of its population. But whether intentional or not, this potentially banal logline allowed the writers to build a sort of thesis statement about human responses to the often tragic forces that rock worlds and destroy psyches.

Across three seasons we have watched individuals try to cope with the Sudden Departure in ways both straightforward and indirect, with the potential results of their methods only having been hinted at, and pretty ambiguously at that.

Now, through the character of Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman), we’ve finally witnessed something close to a narrative culmination; not an answer per se, but a suggestion at what the totality of a person’s life could look like after a massive, otherworldly tragedy.

“Certified” follows Laurie in the days following her arrival in Australia, as she does what she does best and provides counseling to Nora (Carrie Coon), John (Kevin Carroll), and Kevins Sr. and Jr. (Scott Glenn and Justin Theroux). The episode’s structure is nonlinear, following parallel timelines in which Laurie spends time with Matt (Christopher Eccleston) and Nora in Melbourne, then the others at the country ranch that has become their base of operations. Cutting back and forth between these events almost gives the impression that she’s in two places at once.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World

Included in every season of The Leftovers, nestled within the grand, cosmically surreal narrative of the series proper, are more intimate stories dealing with the minutiae of the central characters’ lives. The most consistent and consistently entertaining of these have been focused on everyone’s favorite religious zealot, Matt Jameson (Christopher Eccleston), with each installment adding more depth to the preacher while testing bringing his faith to the brink of oblivion.

Season One’s “Two Boats and a Helicopter” was structured almost as a dark joke, placing Matt in the midst of a series of misfortunes as he battled the Guilty Remnant and tried to raise funds for his Church, ultimately losing almost everything. But still, his faith remained strong.

Season Two’s “No Room at the Inn” was more harrowing than wry, turning Matt into a sort of martyr figure taking on the burdens of the outcasts living outside Jarden, Texas. And though all signs pointed to him having become dangerously delusional, he was vindicated by the end of the season, his faith never wavering.

And now, with “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World,” his personal arc has finally reached its climax.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – G’Day Melbourne

Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) have never made a whole lot of sense as a couple, which is why their pairing on The Leftovers made perfect sense. Apart from their shared rejection of any sort of divine explanation for the Sudden Departure, they were never established to have a whole lot in common. They were just two people who were able to find some release in each other with the understanding that they were both too damaged to really come back from whatever losses they had incurred in the past.

So when their relationship seems to fall apart in “G’Day Melbourne,” the dissolution is both heartbreaking and a completely natural result of everything that preceded it. Their paths became intertwined for a while, and now a variety of factors have seen fit to untangle them.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s recall how we got here.

After the events of “Don’t Be Ridiculous,” Kevin and Nora head to Australia so that Nora can expose the people claiming to be able to induce departures for the frauds she believes they are. At least, this is what she has told Kevin. In fact, we don’t know if this is simply a lie she’s telling to hide the fact that she’s willing to risk death to be with her children again.

After an uneventful flight, the couple arrives in Melbourne and, after checking into their hotel, almost immediately go their separate ways. The remainder of the episode sees them embarking on parallel adventures which leave them both feeling more alone than ever.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – Crazy Whitefella Thinking

On The Leftovers, faith and abjection are two sides of the same coin. People like Matt Jameson (Christopher Eccleston) and other followers of pre-existing belief systems have tended to attribute divine explanations to the Sudden Departure, while the more nihilistic among the cast have mocked the idea of meaning in such tragedy. As with all loss, some look for any reason to believe it was meaningful, while others are determined to spit in the face of consolation.

And then there’s Kevin. (No, not that one.)

Kevin Garvey Sr. (Scott Glenn) was, until now, the least developed central character on this show. As the ostensible main character’s father, he was a part of the narrative from the very start, but he had always existed on the sidelines. Now, we not only get to get a glimpse of his Australian adventures; we also get to learn a little bit about his past and what makes him tick.

And here’s the thing—Kevin Sr.’s not a likable character. He refuses to believe he’s anything other than the savior of all mankind, and this leads him to degrade Australian Aboriginal customs, alienate Matt and disregard his son, and accidentally kill one of the few people who was willing to help him. As far as heroes go, he’s firmly of the ineffective variety, and he appears to have done more harm than good…thus far.

Faith has clearly played a big role in Kevin Sr.’s decision-making, though not the sort of faith we’re used to seeing on this show. This episode establishes that he doesn’t necessarily care about any sort of divine power. As far as he is concerned, the voices in his head are commanding him to save the world—whether it’s for or from God is beside the point. The mission is to secure a future for humanity, regardless of what the almighty wants.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – Don’t Be Ridiculous

Throughout The Leftovers, Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) has been portrayed as the central character most obviously affected by the Sudden Departure. While others have had more minor losses or been affected by the event in more indirect ways, Nora lost perhaps the most important people in her life: her husband and two children.

In fact, her loss was so profound that she has been contacted and harassed by researchers and conspiracy theorists who believe that people like her are focal points for whatever force caused two percent of the world’s population to disappear.

Early in Season One, Nora was hiring prostitutes to shoot her in the chest while she wore a bulletproof vest, clearly an odd coping mechanism that enabled her to feel the nebulous pain of loss in a more concrete way.

Later, after being hugged by Holy Wayne, she seemed to get over this fixation.

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Tea & Review: The Leftovers – The Book of Kevin

“You’re home.”

These are the words that close out the second season of HBO’s The Leftovers, spoken by Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) to her partner Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) when he returns to his half-makeshift family after coming back from the dead in a town about to succumb to the chaos engendered by the Guilty Remnant.

Both seasons of The Leftovers thus far, but especially Season Two, have been at least partially about how great tragedies turn disparate groups of people into families, and how the idea of home hinges around those families.

Obviously, this isn’t a profoundly new idea; its novelty and beauty is in its context. The characters on this show exist in a world torn apart by inexplicable loss—loss that we in the real world may not be able to fathom—and have managed to find love and companionship despite this.

But is it sustainable?

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