From the start, The Leftovers creator Damon Lindelof has tried to assure us that the oblique mysteries of the show were not going to be like his previous TV effort Lost—a puzzle box for fans to unpack and speculate about. That's fine, and I've noted in my reviews how much the show's more-inexplicable plotlines, like the motivations of the Guilty Remnant or the soul-healing powers of Holy Wayne, play beautifully into the characters' emotional states even if they don't totally make sense. But after a couple of arresting weeks, I have to admit to feeling very weary watching "Solace for Tired Feet," which was overloaded with vague portents and baffling, mystical plot twists.
First off: the show has never succeeded in getting me interested in Tom (Chris Zylka) and his pregnant charge Christine (Annie Q), and it certainly didn't help matters by revealing this week that there's another pregnant Asian woman also being protected in a safe house by another of Holy Wayne's cultists. Holy Wayne is only interesting when Patterson Joseph is onscreen, because his performance is spellbinding enough to make me wonder what's going on with him. But Tom remains a personality vacuum and I don't think I care whether or not his mounting frustration with Wayne is a test of faith or a giant scam.
So Wayne has hoodwinked more than one man into protecting a woman he's impregnated, and he doesn't really call to update his charges on what's going on. Tom's frustration is understandable, but another episode lacking in plot movement didn't do anything to make me sympathize with the character. If this show wants to explain what is up with Wayne, or just shift the focus to him, I'll pay attention again. But Christine giving birth to his baby girl, the big moment to close the episode, doesn't really change the game at all. This isn't Children of Men. People can still have kids. So who cares if she birthed a holy baby?
The same goes for Kevin's dad (played beautifully by a rangy-looking Scott Glenn), who escapes the loony bin this week to try and present his son with a 1972 copy of National Geographic that the voices in his head have been pointing towards. It's another mystery that hinges heavily on faith and reliance in the unknown—that's probably why Reverent Matt is so interested in all of this—and of course, it's also there to tell a story of Kevin trying to move on with his life and reject exploring the confounding mystery of his dad's breakdown.
Kevin, as he has been for the whole series so far, is in somewhat of a fugue state, coming home with dogs at night and seemingly interacting with his daughter's mischievous friend Aimee without any memory of it the next morning. This week we see him flush all of his medication, embark on a promising relationship with Nora, and turn down his dad's vague promise of an answer to so many questions. The copy of National Geographic sits there in the garbage, but will he pluck it out to search for clues?
It's hard to care, partly because we're not even supposed to know if we should care. The one satisfying aspect of The Leftovers right now is the character of Nora, who douses the Guilty Remnant gathered on her lawn with a hose to get rid of them and directly propositions Kevin after a few dates because she knows what she wants. She might be the only character you can say that about on The Leftovers right now.
I suppose it was inevitable that the show would delve into a bunch of storylines I didn't really care for after spending weeks with ones I did, but I still fear that things are going to get too dramatically inert. This is a show where Meg (silently) tells Laurie that her ex-husband is now sleeping with one of their prime targets in Nora, and Laurie replies by scrawling "SO?" on a notepad. I appreciate your nihilism, Laurie, but there's only so much of it we can possibly take week to week.