BE VERY AFRAID

The Weekend Australian - Review - - TELEVISION -

any mean­ing. Near-mad­ness, men­ace and dan­ger lurk ev­ery­where in the pi­lot episode, much of it played out at night. “No­body’s ready to feel bet­ter,” Gar­vey re­sponds to Mayor War­bur­ton’s (Amanda War­ren) min­is­tra­tions. “We’re ready to ex­plode.”

Teenagers play de­struc­tive sex games at drunken par­ties. The town’s dogs are rov­ing around in feral packs, hunted down by a de­ter­mined shooter with a sniper ri­fle, and large deer loom out of the dark­ness at piv­otal mo­ments. The an­i­mals seem to rep­re­sent the nat­u­ral world, some­how party to a se­cret that eludes the dis­traught hu­mans.

Then there’s the spooky Guilty Rem­nant — a ni­hilis­tic group of silent watch­ers who wan­der the streets in same-sex pairs dressed in white over­alls, chain smoking, us­ing pas­sive-ag­gres­sive tac­tics to pre­vent peo­ple from mov­ing on with their lives. It seems they smoke so as­sid­u­ously be­cause they don’t be­lieve the cig­a­rettes will kill them be­fore the next De­par­ture. A sign in the can­teen of their com­pound says “We don’t smoke for en­joy­ment, we smoke to pro­claim our faith”.

Not ex­actly Christian, they be­lieve they are the liv­ing re­minders of God’s awe­some power. Sher­iff Gar­vey’s wife, Lau­rie (Amy Bren­ne­man), has sur­ren­dered to GR in despair; his daugh­ter, Jill (Mar­garet Qual­ley), is qui­etly dis­in­te­grat­ing emotionally; his son, Tom (Chris Zylka), has ditched col­lege and run off to Ne­vada to join a cult led by a man named Holy Wayne (Pater­son Joseph), who be­lieves he can heal peo­ple with a hug.

The show’s premise is ob­vi­ously sug­ges­tive of rap­ture the­ol­ogy, the belief that a pe­riod of tribulation will oc­cur be­fore the re­turn of Je­sus. Per­rott says that while he isn’t re­li­gious, he found him­self think­ing about the rap­ture not as a the­o­log­i­cal con­cept but as a pow­er­ful metaphor for get­ting older, for liv­ing with loss and mys­tery.

At times the show re­minded me of Flash­For­ward, the gritty cop pro­ce­dural set in a mys­te­ri­ous, but nicely un­der­played, sci­ence fic­tion con­text, and which had a shor­tish run a cou­ple of years ago. In it, a mys­te­ri­ous global event caused ev­ery­one on the planet to lose con­scious­ness for two min­utes and 17 seconds, dur­ing which they ex­pe­ri­enced a vi­sion of the fu­ture. The char­ac­ters made lit­tle at­tempt to un­der­stand com­pli­cated time-trav­el­ling para­doxes or no­tions of par­al­lel uni­verses. Nor did they place too much im­por­tance on the per­plex­ing or­ches­tra­tion of past, present and fu­ture the flash-for­ward brought to their lives. The fo­cus was on the down-to-earth story of peo­ple try­ing to live through the con­se­quences of a calamity.

De­spite the in­tense gloomi­ness, di­rec­tor Berg brings to The Leftovers an in­vig­o­rat­ing, syn­co­pated style. It keeps com­ing at you in sur­pris­ing, daz­zling ways, beat­ing out an un­com­pro­mis­ing, un­set­tling rhythm to Max Richter’s score. His re­peated theme Vladimir’s Blues won’t let go of you, a rip­pling, haunt­ing pi­ano tune with chim­ing notes. Mu­sic su­per­vi­sor Liza Richard­son’s startling choice of songs to ac­com­pany the set pieces is also mes­meric.

I’ve watched few TV shows that make you so thought­ful. Lin­de­lof and Per­rotta make you think about the uni­verse and whether our sense of daily pur­pose is too of­ten di­verted away from those who mat­ter most.

It’s a ter­ri­ble re­minder that we live with loss ev­ery day and that we can’t con­trol our fu­ture; and that all of us, what­ever we may say to the con­trary, are search­ing for some kind of res­o­lu­tion and peace. I still feel anx­ious. All I could hear for days was that damned pi­ano mu­sic.

Justin Th­er­oux plays a po­lice of­fi­cer try­ing to main­tain nor­malcy in top; Th­er­oux with Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston in the show, left

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