“We can’t just be going through all this for nothing, man.”
Most of these characters are probably thinking something along these lines. After all, this series is built upon faith, upon belief, upon the everlasting search for meaning in an increasingly confusing world. This is something that’s been well established over the course of the first two seasons, and it’s out in full force in the season three premiere. This episode wants to throw us back into the show’s world, but it also wants to paint a portrait of what essentially amounts to mass soul searching. We see an entire town that’s surprisingly content with the idea of an impending apocalypse, and we see people reverting to old patterns while other issues bubble to the surface. All of these are in service of something greater–or so they believe–and it’s a universal feeling that the series taps into here.
The show has such an evocative power to it due to its universality of emotion, and its creative team is so adept at wading through its complicated tapestry of characters, moments, and feelings. The opening scene of the premiere is a short film in and of itself, illustrating the Great Disappointment of the past and paralleling it with the characters’ modern day struggles. This cycle of belief, disappointment, and crumbling of belief is a cycle that’s been repeated throughout history, and the opening sequence is an incredibly beautiful way to convey that. The remainder of the hour allows us insight into these characters and the ways in which they try to believe.
We learn a lot in this hour–Dean’s all about dog conspiracies, Mary is leaving Matt, the Guilty Remnant gets bombed, etc.–but the main thrust of the episode resides in the story of Kevin Garvey. One of the most important moments here is Kevin telling the story about how he met Laurie and Tom. It was just a minor car accident, but Kevin refers to the meeting as the result of “karma” or “kismet”. How is it that Kevin Garvey, someone who hates the fact that a gospel is being written about him, applies belief in a higher power to the events in his life? Well, the show argues, people try to find meaning in everyday life, and that’s exactly why we’re watching this series.
-The opening song is “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” by Larry Norman.
-Lots of questions abound in this premiere. What’s up with the (wonderful) final scene? What happened to Nora’s arm? Where’s Lily? What’s up with those dogs? etc. etc. etc.
-This is a really well done episode in terms of balancing humor and drama. The dog running away with the sandwich is hilarious.
-We get to see Carrie Coon twice each week for the next few months. What a glorious time for television.
-I barely scratched the surface of this episode analytically, but I hope I provided a relatively insightful picture of my thoughts (and I hope to do so moving forward). I haven’t been covering much television lately, but this is a show that I adore watching and writing about. If this season nails the landing, the series will likely end up in my favorites of all time. Can’t wait to see how it ends.
Photo credit: HBO, The Leftovers