The Leftovers S1-Ep7 Review: Solace for Tired Fans
This episode had the very meta title of "Solace for Tired Feet," and it was meant to be something of a respite for the audience as much as the characters. It was a little less bleak, a little more plot-driven, and even featured a scene in which Kevin and Nora, some of the most miserable characters on the show, laugh together. It wasn't one of The Leftovers' best by any means, but the fans could probably use a break from being emotionally punched in the gut and the episode did manage to advance the narrative enough, especially in the Holy Wayne plot thread, to not feel like a filler episode. (It also boasted one brilliant moment, in which Nora drenches the Guilty Remnant with her garden hose. Who knew this show could be so funny?)
The Tom-Christine subplot was well-done, as it finally begins to reveal Wayne for the fraud that he is, as well as exploring the psychological toll his lies have taken on his followers. And the line from Tom's counterpart, "Has he hugged you?... It's so fucking real, man" continued the most prominent theme of "Guest": the lack of a logical explanation for the Departure has made the word "real" lose all meaning, and everyone is seeking solace in something that can only be called an artifice. For many, it's the Loved Ones dolls, for Tom and Christine, it's Wayne's schtick, for Jill, it's testing out her nine lives, for Nora, it's her formerly fervent belief that her children must be in a better place, for Meg and Laurie, it's the Guilty Remnant, and for Kevin, it's Dean, the war against the dogs, and his own delusions.
Which brings us to Kevin, who at long last admits that he may very well be losing his marbles. Aimee doesn't seem at all surprised that he's losing time, which is disconcerting, as it may explain the ambiguously sexual undertones of their relationship. His acceptance of his possible insanity was well-written; that being said, I had mixed feelings about the National Geographic plotline. It shows that the episode was written by Damon Lindelof, since the random object connected to a large cosmic mystery was very Lost. It would also be very similar to Lost if he and his father weren't actually crazy, but instead "chosen" for something very important. Making the characters of a television show "chosen" or cosmically "special" in some way is always a hit or miss, but in my opinion it worked much better on Lost than it would ever work on this show. One of the main strengths of The Leftovers is its portrayal of a broken society that looks for solace in all the wrong places. If Wayne's powers are real, and if Kevin is a part of some larger plan with a capital P, that would undermine the nihilistic tone that the show has been carefully (and successfully) cultivating. On the other hand, if the National Geographic turns out to be just another example of an ill-advised cathectic object for Kevin to grasp, then I take back everything I just said.