“The Leftovers Pilot” Review

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Photo cred: pausethescreen.com

For some time, I’ve been back and forth in regards to following this show. From its beginning trailers and such, it’s a very interesting conception of a show; almost 2% of the world’s population disappearing all of a sudden, with the story following a small town’s struggle to overcome this happening three years later. The great Damon Lindelof hoisting this show’s sail, in addition to writing the pilot and having another talented person in Peter Berg directing this looks good on paper. Then again, maybe most of us can’t trust Lindelof after the series finale of Lost depending on who you ask? From multiple people I have heard both positive and negative aspects coming out of this show. Either that the story was just boring or that the actors’ performances were superb. I finally caved in to see for myself. One of the first directing choices I liked done by Berg to start was the small montage of audio 9-11 phone calls all at once informing of this mysterious and sudden disappearances before these normal people’s very eyes. No crazy camera shots, no overacting by numerous to have watch, just the sound of these frantic people with a black screen present. This makes you listen and by doing so, he has already captured your attention by using only just one of the two senses you need to watch television (unless you smell, taste or touch your TV). The episode as a whole was well shot, as I especially enjoyed the very short flashbacks by several characters in this pilot when talking or thinking of an event relatable or part of the conversation, showing what they’re saying is either probably true or probably false. My only fear is if Lindelof doesn’t pick up on those cut scenes, where we see Kevin having sex with his wife supposedly on October 14, or even with his son Tom witnessing the people committing suicide at his college, he’s losing out on potential. Although the latter may not have much to do with the plot going forward, it’s interesting to see as a viewer how characters start, evolve, and end up during the course of a season to its (or their) end. Let me just add as well I’d be disappointed if they killed off Tom’s character so quickly. Chris Zylka did a good job in the short time he had, not portraying the typical small town young guy who is brash and idiotic where by the time the episode is over, the audience won’t care for him. He may be someone who doesn’t know who he himself is or maybe he does. Clearly that is up to him, but I’d like to see more of him coming up. He and his father’s relationship is what I am definitely interested in, since we saw the dynamic of Jill and Kevin’s relationship throughout the episode. Both Justin Theroux and Margaret Qualley did outstanding in their roles, I very much so enjoyed their performances. The main theme seen is acceptance where although Jill looks to accept what has happened to her mother as her father Kevin seems to have accepted it but both haven’t. An interesting writing choice I liked how the high school students could not care less about the Pledge of Allegiance (which is evident from my personal perspective seeing other kids in my high school) but then seeing them go onto the floor to pray for those lost. To me, I always like the little aspects of an episode, heavily for me focusing on three components: Writing/Directing, performance, and story. I especially thought the performance as a whole was great by the actors, with the writing/directing as well as story were good in general. The whole time of figuring out who these people in white who do not speak during the episode lost my interest until the end with the fight. I guessed by the middle of the episode that one of the women in white was Kevin’s wife, which is an intriguing thought. The main story sees that there have been many who disappeared suddenly on October 14, where it looks as if Jill’s mother was one of those and not one of the people in white. That changes circumstances for the story going forward. I wish there were more hints to show who Laurie was and even though I had a good feeling she was Kevin’s wife, it was a good reveal. The ending confused me a bit as again it referenced to the beginning which I liked, but what I got out of it I suppose was how Kevin wants to make it seem he hasn’t changed much since this event happened and his wife left to be with the people in white. Whether he wants to admit it or not, he has and we see that he did when it came to the dogs. Theroux did an excellent job though in that and in many other scenes.

 

To finish, this pilot was good as a whole. What I liked was the way it started made it seem like it already had its characters established and there really was not much confusion to me, that this show just picked up somewhere randomly which is true, as we just saw October 14, and then three years later. The writing was a bit questionable for some parts as well as the story with both at times a bit unnecessary for viewers to continue watching so some of the choices made to me were ones I personally did not see interesting. Performances though, again, were great and especially by Theroux and Qualley. Lindelof did a good job in regards to starting this show fresh besides a few things here and there while Berg did excellent in directing this. I knew from the start this show is more about those who did not disappear, as it is called “The Leftovers.” In Kevin’s case, he feels as if his wife was one who disappeared as she is with the people in white and does not talk now. Kevin is one of these “leftovers” but for different reasons. Yeah, we may find out how and why these people disappeared but we may not. I don’t think we need to find out because more importantly the story is about those were left behind, and see their reactions and how they act with those gone. This is something for me that I need to watch more to get a better sense but for now, it has left a good mark for me.

 

Quick hits:

  • The decision for Meg to stay with the people in white didn’t make sense to me too much as I didn’t have much thought for her or her future to be husband, but seeing the woman in charge of this group finally talk was surprising. 
  • Again for me, I saw it as at first the ones who departed were those in white.  But clearly I was wrong.
  •  In addition, it was well done the moments of the parade and the music overtaking the rest of the sound as it showed the people in white preparing to go lift their signs up.
  • The decision of having Sam’s mother appear near the end of the episode I liked where the only other time you saw her was in the beginning.
  • I do like how (and hope) it isn’t just focused on Kevin and his family for the rest of the season but the screen time for his character was just right as I am definitely interested in those other few who are affected by this event.
  • Seeing even just a little bit of Christopher Eccleston’s character was great as his performance as the Doctor in “Doctor Who” is entertaining and great to watch.  So I am hoping as well his character in this becomes a key part in this show as Eccleston is one good actor.

 

“Inmates” Review

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Photo cred: walkingdeadcast.com

Now, on to the others. We saw last week what Rick and Carl were up to, with the knocking on the house door, and Rick saying, “It’s for you.” to Carl. With last week’s midseason premiere ending on an interesting note, this episode ended with big ramifications in place going forward. You know that old saying “jumping from the frying pan into the fire?” Well in this case, it could be for the best. Starting from the beginning of the episode, we are narrated about the aftermath of the prison assault by Beth, who currently only has Daryl to rely on to survive. Thinking back to the end of the season premiere episode, “30 Days Without An Accident”, Beth is told by Daryl of her current boyfriend’s fate, resulting in her partner’s death. Daryl, clearly shaken by Zach’s death, is definitely disturbed, while Beth is almost a new person, simply moving on since she believes she has to and that now it is part of everyday life. Here, we sort of see that side come back. Very different then possibly almost the whole series, Daryl is again very shellshocked, more than the season premiere. The only other times we’ve possibly seen him like this was while looking for Sophia (especially after) and maybe after his brother’s death. It probably is more noticeable now since with just him and Beth, you would think he would step up for her. However, it seems like he has given up. He clearly has a connection to this group now, even the prison since for one thing he may have felt comfortable and safe for once while there. Now with the prison gone, the group separated, he looks to be done. Beth, though, is the one trying to help Daryl overcome his grief and to continue on. She is telling him to keep hoping, to keep surviving. This switch in characteristics is very interesting, leading to questions ahead. Onto Tyreese, the reveal of him taking Judith is a factor I kept thinking about. How they revealed that was quite good, showing him walking from his backside to showing him holding Judith. The one point I approve of is not making this a HUGE, EPISODE ENDING, even though they did in a way leave her fate hanging in the midseason finale. It’s good that they did not put so much emphasis on what happened to her for an episode ending sequence. Not that I don’t care, she’s an interesting factor in this new world, but you shouldn’t have the weight of an entire episode based on what happened to her. So a good thing for them now to show us that she is okay, giving us a sigh of relief during this hectic time. One huge scene that stayed with me after was when Lizzie was trying to quiet Judith from crying while walkers were nearby. Lizzie proceeds to cover Judith’s mouth. As her cries continue, you see the expression on Lizzie’s face as almost evil, not only possibly enjoying this but now looking like she’s trying to stop Judith from breathing. Honestly, this scene did bother me, not that it was bad, but just seeing this unfold was possibly more disturbing than any walker. Seeing how unpredictable this show can be regarding the adaption of the comic book is actually a good thing. As much as I want an adaption straight from the comics, twisting and changing some elements is unexpected and can lead to newer and bigger storylines, as long as it is again not something that will go completely against what does happen (example again, the death in the end of the S3 finale). Simply, I definitely will keep an eye on Lizzie, since it can say that she can be labeled as a “psychopath” which is accurate in a sense, I think it just something to follow and then determine. She killed those rabbits earlier; she shot Tara’s girlfriend, and possibly more to come. An early comparison of her now to Carl in points of Season 3 into Season 4, including when Carl shoots the teen from Woodbury in cold blood. What the difference between Lizzie and Carl is the latter seems to know he cannot be like a machine and just kill. Now onto Carol stumbling onto Tyreese and the two girls, it confuses me how this would happen. Especially the fact one of the girls even says something along the lines of “I wish Carol was here.” And then Carol appears to save the day! Although a good return to save them from the walkers when it looked like it was over for the survivors, what is the likelihood of her being there when the girl says this? To counter that, I believe Carol says she was nearby the prison during the assault, so it seems like she was lurking after Rick kicking her out. What probably worried Carol was the fact if Tyreese knew if Carol burned Karen’s body, but seeing them in danger caused her to act and save them. So what makes me curious is how Carol and Tyreese work together while one knows a secret of what happened to Karen. Next, the outcome of how Maggie, Sasha, and Bob are shown, them together after the downfall of the prison. The important element to come out of this is Maggie’s search for Glenn. They all go to the bus, where Maggie, along with Sasha and Bob, kill all the walkers to see if Glenn is in there. At one point, Maggie goes in the bus to kill a walker that seems to resemble Glenn? It looked like it was too, resulting in Maggie crying but almost happy to see he is not on the bus, and somewhere else, possibly alive. We transition to Glenn, who is at the prison, destroyed, and alone. Looking for Maggie, he decides to gather any supplies left, puts on riot gear, and goes off. A cool part of the camera being under the riot helmet and in Glenn’s point of view, with scratches and walkers coming at the screen. When about to leave, he sees Tara, the sister of Lilly, still alive and clearly scared as she is hiding in the behind the enclosed fence. As he says it later, Glenn needs her, really needs anyone at this point to help him find Maggie. In Tara’s case, her girlfriend and her own sister just died and is just not sure of what to do. So seeing Glenn, who she knows was a part of the prison group, does relieve her as she too just simply needs someone to follow. Now to my favorite part of the whole episode, when Glenn seems to be knocked out, and she kills a walker, she turns to be yelling at something (only seeing her face in the process). We are revealed to a rather large guy with a black mullet and a walkie talkie in one hand, a sexy woman of Latin descent who look tough, and finally a well built, red haired man who looks to be from the military. The latter is quite important and huge in regards to story, as even anyone who is not familiar with the comics this is new and unexpected. For someone who read them, this is AWESOME. Either way, anyone can tell big things are coming. The man who seems to be in charge, Sgt. Abraham Ford, is/will/should be a HUGE character going forward. From the comics, my favorite characters are Tyreese and Abraham, due to their unique, deep characters. More likely, Abraham is my top since there is so much to him than meets the eye. What caught my attention to was again the EXACTNESS of comparisons to the comic. Although their arrival is somewhat similar but very different. If you compare the last camera shot with the new three characters to The Walking Dead Issue #53 where they are first introduced, you can see almost the same elements! Down to their poses/positions, costumes (very well done and accurate), their appearances is probably the most accurate looking, as it was known show runner Scott M. Gimple wanted them to look like their comic counterpart. This way the episode ended was quite good to me, maybe not one who read the comics, but going forward this is significant. The format of the episode was interesting, as it looked to be out of order which I did favor, with the concept of seeing where everyone is now was what we needed to see and show how and what will happen. The suspense was high for each character, not knowing what would happen, and making you feel scared for them since they are all not together. Certainly this episode was good, better than last week, with a good way of reintroducing the rest of the group and where each was, leading to how Abraham will shake things up.

“After” Review

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Photo credit: comicbook.com

Moments right after the second prison assault. “Flashbacks” to past moments and past aspects. Only three main cast members featured in the entire episode (not including David Morrissey and Scott Wilson’s “appearance”), this should not be something new to WD viewers, as the same three main cast members (Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira) were the only featured in “Clear” (guest starring Lennie James). The big difference between “After” and “Clear” was its overall impact. Not putting down “After”, but as is the case for not only this show, but any show for that matter, midseason premieres should hold the purpose for any regular season premiere or finale: Welcoming back. Given, those from TWD have already stated regarding this second half will be different from any point in the series. I can 100% believe that, it being more of a psychological thriller and for the better too. “After” was a good episode, just not “midseason premiere” good. It had quite a few good moments, stemming from Gurira’s performance as well as Riggs’. Starting with Gurira, she as Michonne, a pivotal, iconic character from the comics, put on one of her best performances. Michonne is a very quiet, independent person, although made connections with almost everyone in the group, but she keeps to herself. Here, we get to see her as who she really is. Before the poop hit the fan, she wasn’t a katana wielding, intimidating woman. She was the opposite: that is one of the positives to come out of that dream sequence, taking us back to who Michonne once was. I think from here, we’ll start seeing not only her personal side and true side, but her need for maybe not companionship, but just not simply being alone. In regards to Riggs, we really have seen him grow up so much as an actor, from starting off as that annoying kid Carl, always never in the house, to a young man, only focused on survival. With his superb acting, we have seen Carl become a key figure in this group. Right from the beginning of this episode, we see Carl already taking charge, leading his father away from the debris known previously as the prison. Given that Rick was just beaten up severely thanks to the Governor, I don’t think Carl necessarily led because he had to, but because it was instinct. Riggs’ acting took almost complete control of the episode, ranting to his father, when both awake and not, finally letting out long frustration towards Rick. Showing by the end, he really needs his father during their stint on this new world. And in this one episode, we see Carl’s quick change, which should be recognized and praised. Writing wise, I had no good or bad opinion about it. I suppose I lean towards the negative side, as I can honestly say I expected more out of Kirkman. Same with Nicotero, while a great director, this episode does not seem to match others under his helm. Kirkman did not have much to work with, regarding little dialogue, but I suppose the pace could have been a bit faster, due in part to both Nicotero and Kirkman. Finally, the aspects of the comic books are what intrigued me. As a big fan of the comics, the first 15 minutes stayed not only true to the comic (more possibly than the entire series has as a whole), but even literally page by page, box by box, it was dead on. I’m one who believes in a strong, close adaption of the comics, since I think that is what the fans from the start of the series. I enjoy re-interpretations, altered revisions, but with big changes (such as the ending death in the finale of S3), I get annoyed since HUGE plans should be in place. That is for another day, but simply put, a great positive out of Kirkman’s writing for “After” was good in staying true to the comics. Little moments such as Michonne stabbing the head (although a different head), Rick’s struggle with that one walker, Carl yelling, “Wake up!”, Carl taking out those walkers on his own, to Michonne and the Grimes’ soon to be reunion, these scenes were taken right off their pages, bringing a joy to myself and many other comic fans alike. All and all, this was a good episode. I expected more of this midseason premiere, more (personally in addition) out of Nicotero and Kirkman, but great performances by Gurira and Riggs with a great adaption of the comics to the screen, I believe it sets up well for the rest of the season. Although a bit slow, it was understandingly slow, as it has to be for the rest of the story to come to fruition, and deliver high impact emotion soon. If it follows suit like this episode has, this looks to be a great second half, as I always think something to start slow should build up to be done correctly, and I have the upmost confidence with this following the comics now, it should not disappoint.