Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Leftovers Season 3 Review

The Leftovers (2014-2017)
Season 3 - 8 episodes (2017)
Buy The Leftovers on Amazon Video / Start a Free HBO trial with Amazon Prime
Created by: Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta
Starring:  Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Live Tyler, Margaret Qualley, Carrie Coon
Rating: TV-MA

Three years after the disappearance of 2% of the global population, a group of people from New York struggle to continue their lives, while they cope with the tragedy of the unexplained nature of the event.

Season one started in New York. Kevin was Chief of Police and his wife had joined the Guilty Remnant. In season two, Kevin had moved to the miracle town in Texas with Nora.
In season three, the final season, it's seven years after the disappearance and three years since season two. The characters are readying themselves for the anniversary of the event and Matt has written a book about Kevin.

I started season 1 and quit after five episodes. After rave reviews for season two, which acknowledged how difficult and off-putting season 1 was, I went back and watched season one. It got marginally better, but it's a tough season. Season two felt like a reboot of season one, tweaking everything that was wrong.
Parts of season 3 felt like a build up to something we never got. You can claim it's not the destination, it's the journey, but why did this season set up so many potential plot lines only to ignore them? HBO's synopsis for the final episode is fitting for the entire season. "Nothing is answered. Everything is answered. And then it ends." Do we get answers to self-contained questions within the final episode? Yes. Will you have a full understanding of what happened in this series? No. This is a show you should have known wouldn't answer everything. There was no way to do it. I wasn't expecting answers to everything, but I did want something meaningful.
It's clear this season is the end as it trots out various characters for a curtain call. More than a few episodes are disconnected from the narrative this season, as is the last episode. The pacing is terrible as the writers ostensibly tried to shoe horn in all the stories that wouldn't really fit into this series.
As the them song states, "Let the mystery be." This season is only worth watching if you've managed to make it through two seasons, and even then it's debatable. I can't recommend watching this series, unless you just watch season two.
It depends.

The first episode reintroduces the characters. It's been three years since season two and we're coming up on the seven year anniversary. Kevin is a cop again. Matt is writing a gospel about Kevin, convinced that Kevin is the messiah after his resuscitation in season two.
There's a tease about a woman, Grace, from the 1700s that's potentially immortal.

I don't like the theme song this season. While it's upbeat and the lyrics fit, I miss the moody piano theme from season 1. The song does still appear as background music throughout the season.
This season initially revolves around Kevin Sr. and Matt thinking Kevin is the messiah. The question of who is immortal lingers as it's hinted Kevin Sr. may be immortal as well. Both Sr. and Matt are convinced a flood is coming.
Nora struggles with the loss of her family, with the question being how far do you go to see them again.
Episode three felt like filler. It uses the entire episode to connect Kevin Sr. and Grace. Sr. thinks he can stop the impending flood that will occur on the seven year anniversary. It took a full episode just to connect those dots.
Episode four sets up the end run, putting all of the characters on a path to Australia. The show includes an orchestral version of Aha's 'Take On Me' as a gag, at least as far as I can tell.

This season tells us where the characters need to go and then deliberately spreads them out, making the season about getting them together again, prolonging the inevitable. This season, I kept waiting to get into the thick of the plot and it never happened. What could have been an intense string of episodes running up the finale, delays the end. This season just isn't cohesive.
For it to be the final season, we get a lot of tangents that slow the pace. We should be barreling to the final outcome at this point.
Dream episodes are difficult to do well, but episode seven is engaging. It manages to encompass a lot of whats going on in the season. This is a shining example of the style done well, but with this being the second to last episode it also feels like yet another detour and out of place. I wondered if this was going to be Kevin's death dream, building to something big, but it's just an exploration into how he feels.

The final episode has some really cool moments, but it's a meet cute episode between Kevin and Nora with some weird head games. The show tells us a pretty story and then sends us on our way.
This entire season is the writers forcing all of their ideas that never really fit the show into the season before it's over. It has some great moments, but the story itself is the worst of the three seasons.

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