The Leftovers “No Room at the Inn” Review

The first season of The Leftovers had an episode devoted to Matt Jamison titled, “Two Boats and a Helicopter.” It wound up being one of my favorites, being both really eerie and tense as hell. The mix of religion, desperation, gambling, poor choices, and strange symbols really made it stand out, and it turned Matt Jamison into a very complicated character. He was always in the background up until that point, and he pretty much stayed there after his hour in the limelight, but that’s okay. He only needed his one moment for us to really understand what he was about and why he did the things he did as the season progressed.

Well, season two has its own Matt Jamison episode, and while I’m glad it exists, it’s not near as good as the one that came before it.

We start off with a heartbreaking sequence of Matt living his life with Mary and how difficult it really is. But more than that, it shows how desperate and hopeful Matt is to see his wife return to him. He’s been doing the exact same routine every day since they arrived in Miracle, hoping there was something to it that sparked her back to life. The music soars, the tension rises, and…nothing. She’s still stuck, and like I said about the last episode, I really don’t think she ever truly woke up. There are no miracles in Miracle, and the desperate are capable of mistaking dreams for reality.

Problems arise when we find out that Mary is actually pregnant. When she woke up, Matt stayed up all night with her, and that included every definition of that phrase. The problem is, no one believes him, and in her current state, Mary isn’t allowed to consent. If there truly are no miracles in Miracle, then Matt committed rape.

That’s some heavy stuff, and we contemplate it for a little while until Matt pulls over to help someone stranded on the edge of the road. I can’t tell if I hate the cliche of, “don’t help strangers; nothing good comes from it” as a storytelling tool or the appreciate the realism of it. Regardless, nothing good comes from it, and Matt is beaten with a wrench and his wristband is stolen. Things get worse when, in his concussed stage, Mary tells Matt to hurry up; if she doesn’t get to Miracle soon, she’ll lose the baby!

Here’s where the episode starts to unravel. With their wristbands gone, Matt and Mary can’t get back into Miracle; however, Matt is practically a public figure since he lives at and works with the local church. Had he thought calmly on the matter, and had he asked for help from the right people, he and Mary would have been back home in a few hours. Instead, he phones Nora who cannot help, who asks Kevin who cannot help, who gets John Murphy who can help. However, it’s long been established that John isn’t a good man, and he goes through Mary’s documents and finds evidence that she’s pregnant.

John was the one who firmly stated that there are no miracles in Miracle, and while the conversation he has with Matt isn’t quite as predictable as it sounds, the outcome is the same: You aren’t getting back in.

Instead of phoning anyone else, Matt and Mary head off to sneak in, and the episode devolves into a scavenger hunt of sorts. The good news is, we finally get to see what it’s really like in the camps outside of Miracle, and the better news is they’re strange as hell. There’s a mix of hippy nonsense, religious zealotry, mob mentality, and some other, unsettling factor I’m not sure I have figured out yet. Underneath it all is, of course, desperation, which is the big theme of this season.

I both liked the sequence and didn’t. On the one hand, I enjoyed the camp and the people therein, on the other, I hated how stupid Matt seemed to be acting. It’s hard to believe that as a figurehead in the church, none of the guards recognized him and allowed him entrance. It’s also hard to believe that he didn’t namedrop the Reverend of his church right off the bat, since that guy would certainly be well known on a place as religious as Miracle.

It is never fun when an episode progresses because a character isn’t acting at his best.

And unlike the ending to “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” which I thought was wonderful, I found the ending to “No Room at the Inn” a little strange. Thematically it worked, but once again, as far as characters go, it just left a lot to be desired. I like Matt, I still like Matt, but dang, I do expect better from him.