The show’s usual religious symbolism is not so much obvious as practically written in capital letters across the screen throughout: faithful Matt pushing wheelchair-bound Mary, pregnant with her Miracle baby, along the dusty road. Judged for a sin he hasn’t committed, turned away from
the inn at Bethlehem the Visitor Centre at Jarden… calling the episode “No Room at the Inn” means all that’s missing is a donkey.
How you react to all this depends on how much you enjoy Father Matt and his cheerful endurance in the face of misery piled upon unbearable misery. I mean, of course, this guy’s favourite book of the Bible would be Job.
I’m not a big fan of Matt’s, though – small doses I’m fine with, but a full episode of his almost dementedly optimistic saintliness (and Christopher Eccleston’s startling take on an American accent) in the face of an almost parodic number of catastrophes and disasters? No, thanks. Especially when it ends with Parson Pious in self-imposed exile, masochistically volunteering for yet more pain and mortification. WTF? Do the writers hate him, too?
I know that characters dealing with awful things is the Leftovers’ USP, and its portrayal of that regularly moves and fills me with admiration, but that particular trick didn’t work this week, unfortunately. “No Room at the Inn” had some striking imagery, some very clever writing and some truly arresting moments, but, by the end, Matt and his endless trials and tribulations were really getting on my nerves.