The Leftovers Review by John Keegan

The Leftovers 1.10: The Prodigal Son Returns

The Leftovers 1.10: The Prodigal Son Returns

Written By:
Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrota
Directed By:
Mimi Leder

The Leftovers is a notoriously difficult show to watch; it is an even more difficult show to review.  The subject matter is so psychological that reactions are almost entirely subjective.  It either resonates or it doesn’t, and a lot of people are going to be turned away simply by the hopelessness permeating the entire series.  When all of the characters are damaged, maybe even beyond the point of repair, it can be fairly break viewing.


There is a substantial number of viewers angry that there isn’t a set of easily digested mysteries to solve.  Lindelof is perhaps doubling down on the criticisms of Lost by essentially telling the audience that there are the things that simply happen and the choices people make as a result.  Why things happen isn’t nearly as important as the meaning that we ascribe, the choices we make in response, and the consequences that we accept or reject.


Hence my ongoing depiction of the Guilty Remnant as spoiled children, lashing out at the world for not reacting to tragedy in the same way they choose to, for moving on.  It becomes incredibly clear by the end of this episode that most of them don’t embrace the abyss that Patti had; instead, they pretend at anonymity while plotting way to make themselves more visible.  They seek attention, and not only that, but negative attention.  They take survivors’ guilt to the extreme and plot ways to force others to lash out against them.  It’s about as self-indulgent a form of self-loathing as it gets.


This is all backdrop to Kevin’s long dark night of the soul, as he begins to realize that he’s the unreliable narrator of his own worldview.  Matters have spun so far out of control that he’s not even sure what the hell is going on anymore.  It was all too easy to believe that he was in that institution, falling deeper into madness than his father.  Embracing the tenuous threads of hope, offered by a false prophet, is all he has left, and events conspire to make it seem like faith in something, even something potentially (and likely) false, is better than sliding into nihilism.  This is reflected in the Biblical passage recited by Kevin, which is all about faith without proof or foundation.


The entire season, and this episode, might be summed up by the montage accompanied by the haunting rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” by Apocalyptica.  It captured the tone of the show perfectly.  Ending with Nora’s somewhat terrifying farewell, forestalled by the most unlikely of circumstances, points to the endgame: even when it seems hopeless, there is a reason to carry on.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Brings together the messages of the series well
  • The direction is excellent
The Bad:
  • It’s hard to know where things will go from here

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The Leftovers by - 9/9/2014 7:18 AM179 views

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