Sneak Peek: The Leftovers Season 1, Episode 2 “Penguin One, Us Zero”

Posted: July 2, 2014 in Previews, The Leftovers, TV
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The Leftovers Splash

Episode: 102
Airdate: July 6, 2014
Directed by: Peter Berg
Showrunner: Damon Lindelof
Written by: Damon Lindelof (creator), Tom Perrotta (creator)

Last week’s premiere episode of The Leftovers introduced us to several different storylines, following people in and from the fictional small town of Mapleton, New York. There were a lot of characters, a lot of stories, and while this meant that things were at times a little disjointed, the upside for the show seems quite high. Lindelof and Perrotta set up several mysteries that will likely be full ten-episode arcs, as well as giving the audience some smaller-scale arcs in order to give some sense of resolution, even in the first episode. Taking a look at the Promo videos released by HBO this week, it appears that we’re going to see some further development from characters already become familiar, and a few that we’ve only had glimpses of so far. Click through for the promo videos and my thoughts on what we have coming up.

<<Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Leftovers Season 1, Episode 2 “Penguin One, Us Zero” includes promotional material from HBO, and will speculate on future events.>>

The title of this week’s episode is “Penguin One, Us Zero,” and the synopsis at IMDB reads: Kevin goes to see a therapist, after he has some unsettling encounters. Meg makes a decision about her future. Tom and Christine are left in a dicey situation. Jill and Aimee are interested as to where Carrie is.

Who, or what, is “Penguin”? I’m assuming that it’s either a code name, or it has something to do with the Guilty Remnant (GR). Somehow, I don’t think Batman is about to show up.

Kevin [Justin Theroux] seeing a therapist sounds like just what the doctor ordered. He’s already hallucinating, and as we’ll see below in the two videos released this week, it seems to be getting worse.

Meg [Liv Tyler] ended last week’s episode by showing up at the GR’s door, asking for solace after hitting one of their members, Laurie [Amy Brenneman] – who was stalking Meg and also happens to be Kevin’s estranged wife. Meg’s decision will, naturally, be regarding whether or not to join the cult.

Tom [Chris Zylka] (Kevin’s estranged son – sensing a pattern here?) was told in no uncertain terms by Wayne [Paterson Joseph] that he is not to touch Christine [Annie Q.] – he’s obviously interested in her – so the fact that the two of them are in a “dicey situation” in the upcoming episode suggests either that a) they decide to run away from the ranch together, or b) the ranch comes under some sort of attack (hence their paranoia shown last week, when the visiting congressman had to be blindfolded on the way in).

The last bit from the synopsis contains a typo – it should read “as to where Nora is”; Carrie Coon plays the role of Nora Durst, the Mapleton woman who lost her entire family during the October 14th event. Jill [Margaret Qualley] – Kevin’s, yes, estranged-yet-still-living-at-home daughter, and her best friend Aimee [Emily Meade] are apparently going to try to figure out something about Nora. I imagine that, with the morbid sensibilities already exhibited by the two teens in last week’s episode, that there is, for them, a certain kind of inexorable curiosity surrounding Nora’s rather tragic figure. What mysteries might they unlock, that the local police will inevitably not believe, being that Jill’s the daughter of the Chief and a sullen brat?

For a bit more insight, let’s take a look first at the promotional spot for the next episode, and then a second video subtitled “in the weeks to come”:

 

In the video, we get our first glimpse of Kevin Garvey, Sr. [Scott Glenn]. Kevin appears to be going through some sort of existential crisis, and he turns to his father for advice. We also see Kevin dealing with the loss of his morning bagels – did he perhaps name them Laurie and Tom? We also see that Nora is carrying a gun in her purse – now why would she need to be doing that? Christine looks to be in trouble – hopefully Tom will be there to save her. Lastly, Kevin is speaking with Meg, asking her if she wants to be with the GR – she looks nervously at the main organizer before replying, which is definitely going to get Kevin’s suspicions up. And speaking of getting Kevin up, what is Jill’s friend Aimee doing waking him while wearing panties and a loose top? And why does he need to follow her into the woods? Something is afoot, and it looks as though mysteries will deepen before we get any kind of answer.

Next is a second trailer HBO has just released, covering the next several weeks (but definitely relevant to this week’s upcoming episode):

 

So a bit more detail on several of the storylines touched on in the first video. In this one we also see a lot more of Matt Jamison [Christopher Eccleston], who is apparently a priest. Looks like he gets to turn the other cheek. Kevin is talking with a therapist, but based on his adversarial approach, he doesn’t want to be there. There is a major motif of fire throughout the clip, from Kevin waking in a burning bed, to seeing his feet and legs on fire when in the woods with Aimee, to a house in full conflagration; perhaps most interesting, is Jill holding her hand over a Bunsen burner, not even flinching.

There’s a fair bit of Tom and Christine, and Wayne explaining why he chose Tom to look after her (“You’re all suffering, and no…salvation”). And most ominously, right at the end of the clip, we see people in full Hazmat suits carrying bodies into a makeshift morgue, and incinerating them. Who are these dead? And why are some of their faces uncovered? This must have some sort of link with the missing, but what that link is won’t be clear for some time. There are several possibilities, but my personal belief is that it is the result of a government purge of cult members, likely from an assault on Wayne’s ranch (which amounts to much the same thing). The scenes where we see heavily armed men jumping out of the back of a van, combined with Tom and Christine being on the run, suggests that these events are tied together.

Episode 1 of The Leftovers was primarily used to set characters and backstory up for the viewers; if the events shown in these two clips are any indication, we should start getting into the meat of the story sooner rather than later, which will bode well for the series’ long-term success. Obviously, HBO is looking for a new summer series to replace True Blood, which begun its final season two weeks ago, and with the final season of Boardwalk Empire airing beginning this September, they’ll be desperate for a good solid drama to complement the solid spring numbers they have with Game of Thrones. Could The Leftovers be one of those replacements? We should know in a few weeks.

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