Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Sudden Departure

Happy Departure Day, everyone!  If we happen to get another one today and another 2% of the world's population vanishes, well, it was nice knowing you.  Or, if I'm one of the 2%, it was also...uh, nice knowing you?  I drink two percent milk, so that's probably a bad omen.

I realize that "The Leftovers" won't actually investigate what caused the Sudden Departure since what answer could possibly be satisfying without making the show vaguely silly (or, at least from its present vaguely silly state to flat-out goofy) and because Damon Lindelof isn't nearly foolish enough to wrap another of his shows up in another vast unanswerable question.  Still, I kind of wish the show more often explored the effect that the Departure had on the world at large rather than focus so directly on the Garveys.  (And, this season, the Murphys.)  It's not a surprise that "Guest," widely regarded as the best Leftovers episode of the first season, is also the one that took a broader scope of Departure-related matters.

Ratings for the show aren't great, so you probably need some background.  The Sudden Departure is the name given to the event on October 14, 2011, when two percent of the world's population just vanished into thin air.  No flash of light, no puff of smoke, no clothes left behind, they were just gone.  Humanity, as you might expect, went a little nuts over this.  Frankly, one of the show's flaws is that it was set just three years after the Sudden Departure and things are more or less running normally on the surface --- if a Departure happened in real life, I highly suspect it would be the end of the world as we know it.  Earth would devolve into total chaos and even if it was painstakingly rebuilt, it would take way more than three years.  It would probably take more than three years just to figure out the scope of the Departure, in fact.

"The Leftovers" frames this particular event as inexplicable, yet also not completely alien to how we grieve in the face of other disasters --- natural disasters, terrorist attacks, plagues, etc.  It's just that in making the tragedy so singularly bizarre and then never explaining it, the viewer focuses only on grief for grief's sake.  You can make a case that Lindelof is now running the show that should've been called 'Lost' and his old show sould've been the one called 'The Leftovers,' but such is life.

Anyway, let's hope nobody vanishes today.  I'd rather not have to constantly refresh my Facebook feed for hours on end. 

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