The Leftovers “Lens” Review

Posted November 9, 2015 by Chad Waller in Nerdy Bits

I never got around to watching Lost, but I’ve been lead to assume that the mystery style in The Leftovers is a staple of Damon Lindelof. The thing is, I read enough about the ending to Lost to know that sometimes answering the big mystery of a show is the wrong thing to do. When you’re working with realism and a hint of the supernatural, you have to tread very carefully. After watching “Lens,” I do wonder (and worry, but only a little), that we’ll eventually get a big answer to why everyone departed, and that answer will not be satisfying at all.

It’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario, but in this case, don’t is the better option.

Nora takes the floor as the main character this go around, and the episode starts with a rather obnoxious man from…somewhere (I don’t believe he’s from the Department of Disappearances though it’s something like it)  at her door to take a reading. He, and whomever he is working for, believe that there are certain people who have caused the departure and Nora might be one of them. Her whole family, after all, vanished, and as soon as she entered Miracle, three other people disappeared as well. That is mighty fishy!

It’s a possible answer, albeit a far fetched one, and one that works very well with Nora’s character. She spent all of season one feeling guilty about the disappearance of her family, and it’s only logical for the show to bring that back. Every other character is breaking down for one reason or another; she might as well join the party. However, as an idea, I really hate it. The departure works better as this Z factor event, this very random, very strange Act of God–in the insurance sense–that everyone just has to deal with. It’s like an earthquake, only the only thing shaken are the people left behind.

Thankfully the notion itself is mostly hand-waved away as something silly when Nora gets a phone call about a demon overlord possessing people.

And yet, giving us a possible answer really only highlights how it’s better to not give us an answer at all. When it comes to 2% of the world disappearing, there’s just no way to explain that away that will please everyone.

The rest of “Lens” is mostly characters moving around and interacting. We visit Matt who is thankfully no longer in the stockades or naked, find out who was delivering mystery pies to the Murphy house, find out why there’s a crazy man going around killing goats, see Kevin from the sidelines talking to Patti, get a surprise call from Lauri, find out that John is still paying vigilante man, and in general, watch as Miracle deals with the disappearance of three young girls. It’s interesting and compelling enough, yet not entirely worth writing about here.

I liked it all though, and it certainly adds to the buildup of more to come.

The real highlight to “Lens” is in the last ten or so minutes of it. The town gather together for a fundraising benefit, and in the middle of it, Erika takes the floor and chastises everyone present. She gives John’s “There are no miracles in Miracle” speech, but with the added caveat of scorning those taking advantage of Miracle’s newfound status. It’s a powerful scene, and it really helps showcase how broken Miracle has become.

Erika storms out, and Nora follows. She’s too scared to admit that Evie and her friends departed, so she steals the new questionnaire from a DoD detective and administers it to Erika. The back-and-forth is wonderful in itself, with Nora acting very cold and somewhat distant while Erika is on the verge of a breakdown, and it ends with Nora lying about the results. To her credit, Erika sees through the lie. There’s an irony there; the objective disappearance of a person would be considered a miracle by the definition of the word, yet Erika no longer believes in them. Nora, on the other hand, wants to believe Miracle is a miraculous town, so much so that she refuses to believe a miraculous event took place at all.

“Lens” doesn’t end there though. Nora heads back home and Kevin finally tells her what he’s been going through. He looks absolutely wretched as he does so, and while we never see Patti, we fully understand that she’s in the room with him and yelling at him.

I appreciate this, mostly because it’s my favorite plot thread of the season thus far, but also because keeping it a secret until the end of the season would have sucked. When Patti first showed up, I feared she’d be in the background and bugging Kevin until the end, and I’m glad that fear was proven wrong. With her in the open, tons of doors just opened up in terms of plot, and I can’t wait to see where we go.


About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company that just published The Land of Glass on Steam. You should check it out! You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.