“The Leftovers,” a mystery TV series about the sudden disappearance of 2% of the world’s population, captures the essential questions we often find ourselves asking when caught in situations over which we have no control.
What is left for people to hold onto when their loved ones are snatched away from them in the blink of an eye – seemingly to have “poofed” into thin air? How does one make sense of such tragedy?
The world mourns as people try to find answers to this inexplicable event, but even after months of trying to forget and move on, the world continues to grieve.
Many people use religion to explain this mysterious catastrophe, saying that it must be the Rapture, that the “departed” are the chosen ones, and that they have descended to heaven at the Second Coming of Christ.
Some write books to put their experience into words, while others manage to carry on with their lives, leaving the past behind. But for many who have lost family members and other close ones, they remain devastated and at a loss for what to do. They have no one or nothing to blame.
As the nation continues to mourn, a cult emerges, calling themselves the “Guilty Remnant.” They commit to staying mute, dressing in white, and smoking cigarettes as they recruit members by targeting people one by one.
From the first few minutes of watching episode one, I was hooked. As confusing as the plot was, I couldn’t stop watching exactly because I wanted to know what was going on.
Where did those 140 million people go? Who are these Guilty Remnants dressed in white? Why are they refusing to talk, and what do they want? What does their cult even believe in? They say they want to serve as reminders for what has happened, but what does that mean?
One minute, the series talks about the struggles of one family whose mother has joined the Guilty Remnants and the next minute, we are put in the shoes of a widow who has just lost her two children and husband.
Amidst my own confusion, one thing was clear: this was one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Even up until the end of episode one, there was no sense of direction of what the TV series was trying to say. There was only confusion.
But that was exactly what got me addicted. I was left in shock, my jaw-dropping, trying to figure out what I was watching.
You’ll know what I mean just from the trailer of Season One.
Each episode left me wanting more.
I loved the idea that people need to hold onto things in moments of confusion. Certain people resort to religion to find comfort, while others grasp onto superstitious beliefs.
One of the characters that drew my attention the most was “Holy Wayne,” a man who claims he has the ability to “hug away” people’s problems. He acted as if he was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, descended on Earth to save humanity from all its sins.
I enjoyed making all these connections, uncovering all the numerous allusions hidden in the plot. Though it was only a TV series, it felt like I was reading a book, taking in all of its literary values.
Not that many people seem to know about this show, or if they do, their biggest critique seems to be: “There’s no point in any of the plot… They can make all of this stuff up, but not have any clue to resolve it. Will they even explain it in the end?”
But that’s exactly what makes the TV series so captivating. There are no real answers in real life. There is no knowing what’s going to happen.
As babies, we are forced to take in countless bits of information that we must learn to process. We put names to things we don’t understand. This is our way of comprehending the environment we live in – how babies’ minds develop from a blank slate.
Naturally, we want to make sense of things in order to survive. It’s human nature. We are constantly looking for answers from the day we are born.
But sometimes, we become obsessed with facts and figures even when there may be no truth to discover. Perhaps it’s because we are terribly afraid of the unknown. We crave answers like we crave food.
What we don’t know or what we can’t know terrifies us to the point that we must always come to some sort of conclusion just for the sake of knowing. That’s how myths have formed – since the beginning of human history. They answer all our unsolvable mysteries, from how life on Earth was created to what creatures live above the sky.
What I love about “The Leftovers” is that it makes you wonder: what would our nation do if it were to actually happen to us in real life? How would society continue to function with such chaos and disorder?
It would be that much more devastating precisely because we would have nothing to explain such a disastrous event.
For those of you who like movies that are solely plot-driven, “The Leftovers” may not be your cup of tea. But I urge you to give it another shot – with a new set of eyes.
“The Leftovers” speaks to our world today, a day where terrorism haunts people’s every waking moment. What are we to do in the wake of fear and innocent lives lost?
As a society, we are all the more horrified because we have no control over traumatic events, such as the Paris attacks or killings in San Bernardino. Yet, horrible things continue to happen to innocent people all the time.
Perhaps all we may do is find comfort in knowing that we are still here today: leftover, but free.