As I’m forever saying, The Leftovers is already an astoundingly clever, beautifully acted, profoundly affecting drama, with a depth and perspective unlike anything else on tv. To push that envelope even further, as it did this week with “International Assassin” takes a lot of courage, particularly when setting a whole episode in what seems to be some form of role-playing Limbo; given the (undeserved) vitriol Damon Lindelof continues to receive for experimenting with a similar theme in the final season of Lost, he deserves all the credit in the world for being brave enough to go there again. Especially since there were any number of safer, easier, less radical ways to resolve the Kevin/Patti conundrum than this unapologetically mad mix of Alice in Wonderland, Dante’s Inferno and Spooks.
That said, however, I appear to be a big old hypocrite. I chastise programmes for sticking to safe, cliched stories and structures, then I see wildly experimental episodes of two different shows in one week and I dislike them both. Or, to put it more accurately, I dislike the Doctor Who one, but I hate The Leftovers’ one.
Yes, this ep was still astoundingly clever and beautifully acted. Yes, it had a depth and perspective unlike anything else on tv. But instead of being profoundly affecting, I found most of it really, really silly. There were some brilliant, complex ideas, some very big themes and quite a bit of black humour, but I was still bored and irritated through most of the ep so, for me anyway, it was an experiment which did not work. Critics seem to have absolutely adored it, however; the fact that I didn’t may mean that my taste in tv storytelling methods is significantly more pedestrian than I like to think.