The Leftovers: Ten Thirteen
December 3, 2015 9:32 AM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

In this episode we see events from Meg's perspective - from October 13 - the day before The Departure - to the same day four years on. We learn that before she joined the Guilty Remnant Meg visited Jarden to consult Isaac, the psychic. Meg needed to know what her mother was going to tell her just before she died. We aren't told what it was, but it seems it was enough to send her to the GR. Tommy and Meg meet again and he makes a surprising discovery at the GR's outpost close to Jarden.

Tommy and Meg have to be two of the most fucked-up characters in this show - and that's saying something when you look at the various levels of fucked-up-ness of pretty much everyone in The Leftovers.

In one way this episode was a welcome break from the heart-stopping events of the previous two episodes. And I was glad to see some backstory filled in. But ultimately I felt this episode to be contrived and unsatisfactory.

On the positive side, I thought Liv Tyler's acting was superb throughout, as we skipped back and forth in time. Meg is genuinely terrifying, psychopathic. That scene on the school bus was horrifying.

There were too many things in this episode that didn't work for me. Meg just happening to meet Evie randomly in Jarden, and later Matt Jamison. Tommy going back to the GR to find Meg after she nearly killed him. Their 'date' in the honky-tonk. The way nobody woke up when he clod-hopped his way out of the dorm to look in the barn. Nobody guarding the barn. Seriously? After that poor guy stumbled on it? Sorry to say, this episode was a disappointment. I hope next week's finale is an improvement.
posted by essexjan (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I agree that this episode felt like it was moving pieces into place to set up the finale in an unnatural manner and that characters' actions were driven by plot considerations rather than the characters' motives.

I also flinched at the school bus scene. If that grenade would have exploded, I think I would have shut the TV off and never watched The Leftovers again. As a relatively new father, I seemingly am no longer able to handle representations of children being hurt.

Maybe I am a dummy, but I did not see the big reveal coming. This season has otherwise been so good - I hope they are able to wrap it up in a satisfactory way.
posted by Falconetti at 10:09 AM on December 3, 2015

As a movement, the GR has a way of causing women who arrive as pretty weak individuals--Patti, Meg and even Laurie--find their power, albeit within a wrapper of crazed despair. Now that we get a glimpse of the GR beyond Mapleton, we know for sure that it's not just a grass roots organization with weird ideas. There's a national organization with a hierarchy, expectations and standards. It's scarier as an organized cult.

I thought the girls had been kidnapped by the GR, but Mr. Carmicha thought they had joined the ranks. I argued that a) the GR appeals to people devastated by the departures and b) the GR would need to effect a "departure" in Miracle to take away the town's magic gloss. Mr. Carmicha countered that the point of showing Meg with Evie was to imply that the former could have been communicating with the latter and noted that GR folks may hope to be worthy enough for the next round of departures. I'm not convinced yet, but what do y'all think?
posted by carmicha at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2015

No, I don't think the girls were kidnapped by the GR. Their disappearance was orchestrated and planned (hence the silence in the car when they came back from swimming) and somehow Meg is involved but I'm not sure how or what.

Why would the GR want to be worthy of departures? Their whole thing is that they think the world ended, not that anyone went anywhere good.
posted by sweetkid at 6:26 PM on December 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why would the GR want to be worthy of departures?

Per their FAQ, the GR believe that they have been judged and found wanting--which I take to mean that they were not chosen for the rapture experienced by the departed--and they serve as living reminders of God's awesome power. If the next set of departures included them, it would be evidence that they had become worthy. It also says that they smoke because they do not expect to be alive for long. That could be because the end of the world is nigh, but it would also be true if they departed in the next wave.
posted by carmicha at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2015

That's the book's Guilty Remnant, though. I think the show's GR is much more nihilistic than that, especially under Meg's leadership.
posted by sweetkid at 7:35 PM on December 3, 2015

The girls are totally in on it. Wasn't there something in earlier episode that hinted that they (Evie and her friends) had some weird beliefs?

Meg just happening to meet Evie randomly in Jarden, and later Matt Jamison.

Meg meeting Evie doesn't bother me. It's a small town. If Meg had met someone else, then probably they would be in the camper with their friends instead of Evie and her friends. Meeting Matt isn't weird either since there can only be a few hundred people in the encampment outside the town. If she walks around long enough, they are going to run into each other.

Since Meg obviously has a plan for these girls, I wonder if whatever they do will be enough to clear Kevin in their disappearance. Also, the girls being in the trailer makes Patty a liar since she said they departed.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ghost-Patti has obviously been shown to be an unreliable narrator, if not just a hallucination. Kevin probably saw the girls' car after they already took off and in his mind they "departed", since everything was set up to look like they did, an unaware police chief shown those evidences would come to the same conclusion.

I agree about how likely it was that Meg would run into those people. Evie has always been eclectic and spirited, and she would offer a crying woman some baby carrots. She almost counters the practical negativity of her father. We'll find out what motivated the girls to go along with GR, but I'm not surprised that Evie would. And like LizBoBiz said, it's a small encampment. They've never shown it to be bigger than the little space under the bridge.

Goddamn Liv Tyler is so good at being scary.
posted by numaner at 1:05 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

One of the things I find amazing about Liv Tyler as an actress is how, as she has gotten older, she has come to use her beauty as a sort of tool. There are scenes where she sort of sags within her body, like her beauty feels long gone to her and she's just stuck inside this shell, and other scenes where she puts it on like a mask and lights up the entire room--in the case of Meg, usually as a manipulation. It's amazing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:54 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know, I feel all the comments about how Liv Tyler's an old beauty now and look how good she looks despite old and she has to really act now because old to be really sexist and tiresome. She's 38. She's two years older than Chris Pratt, and no one's talking endlessly about how he wears his age. No, Chris Pratt is at the very high point of his action figure career, and probably will be for the next fifteen years, before anyone starts calling him old.

She doesn't look exactly like she did in Armageddon but why on earth would she?
posted by sweetkid at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

That was not a commentary on her age/beauty/appearance pro, con, or indifferent. It was strictly admiration for how Tyler, as an actress, plays with expectations about her looks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:47 AM on December 10, 2015

Anyway, Liv Tyler is the best. She doesn't need anyone's approval on a goddamned thing, least of all her appearance. She's a great actor.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:54 AM on December 10, 2015

Any actor or actress of any age uses their appearance as a tool. It's not just you, Dirty Old Town, there is a ton of commentary on the show about how Liv Tyler is aging. Everyone's aging, but the whole aging thing is really, really gendered. A 35 year old actress is "aging" but a 35 year old actor is just "some guy, you know."
posted by sweetkid at 9:01 AM on December 10, 2015

It doesn't make one tiny iota of difference about how good of an actor she is or isn't but Liv Tyler continues to be insanely, ridiculously beautiful. And not in some kind of grading-on-a-curve-for-age kinda way, but in a for-a-human-being kinda way.

Certainly, there is some sexist shit about how women age going around about Liv Tyler. I think people have followed her since she was a particular kind of iconic beautiful young person and we don't often get to follow those people through several decades. Not everyone has a handle on how to appreciate that without being shitty about it. It's almost certainly true that if Chris Pratt had been a famous teenager, he wouldn't face this level of scrutinizing for being in his late 30's. So yeah, sexism abounds.

But really, all I'm saying is that Liv Tyler seems to know the various things people have over time come to think about her and her appearance and is shrewdly employing those impressions people have to her advantage. I'm not saying, "Good for her for getting older, she still looks okay!" I'm not saying "She knows how to make getting older work for her!" I'm saying "She knows all of the bullshit opinions you have about her looks and guess what? She can use those on you, too."

Certainly, someone can do this at any age. Maybe if I were to revisit her earliest films, she was playing on our impressions of her as a "pretty young thing." It wouldn't make it less cool how well she plays with our expectations today.

She is good at acting is what I am saying.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's an unfair observation at all to note that Meg used sex and flirtation to manipulate Tom and that the sort of calculated way Liv Tyler picked up and put down her Beautiful Woman mask (as Meg) was mesmerizing and an impressive facet of a larger performance.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:23 AM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

On the subject of appearance, we actually gave more talk time in our house to Christopher Eccleston, who is a perfectly fine-looking man who the filmmakers seemed to intentionally film from angles that were unflattering. They kept shooting him from below, with ghoulish lighting from above that gave him weird shadows. We wondered to what extent they were trying to play down his looks and make him... I don't know, more of a gangly, awkward, schlub of a guy? It worked with his performance, in which he kind of downplayed his customary poise and charm to come off as... unmannered? Dopey? I can't find the word. Kind of... without artifice?

He is soooooo good as Matt.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:35 AM on December 10, 2015

I'm late to the party but OMG so loved this episode. Also OMG hated it.

I loved how they've suddenly snapped the picture into focus. There's a setup for the final episode. Meg is going to blow up that bridge. I don't quite know how the missing Jarden girls figure in, but everything else falls into place. Tommy, Matt, bringing everyone to Jarden for the big event. And it's great that the GR are super sinister and organized. I love how the GR military compound still obeys the rules of silence and smoking, but then people aren't wearing white.

I hated the rapey stuff. Meg raped Tommy after dousing him with gasoline and nearly setting him on fire. For him to re-victimize himself was just really awful, and I think the only reason the show got away with it was the gender inversion. Which I could sort of accept if the gender inversion was some thing they were playing deliberately, and maybe it was with her "I wanted to make you pregnant" line. But I was really upset by Tommy's being raped in the other episode and seeing her fall under her spell again this episode was awfully awful. Then again the whole show is awful, so maybe that's par for the course.

Liv Tyler is the best. DirtyOldTown I totally see what you're saying about her manipulating her beauty skillfully. The scene where she leaves the psychic's house in Jarden looking angry and upset and then turns on a dime to look all lovey-dovey for the boyfriend, I had to watch it three times to believe it.

(I do have to wonder about The Bridge. That part of Texas is pretty flat. WTF is there a bridge for? I guess conceptually it's the only path into the town but it just makes no damn sense.)
posted by Nelson at 9:41 PM on December 14, 2015

What part of Texas are you assuming Jarden is in (since it doesn't really exist)? The grotto where the girls "disappeared" and Kevin tried to commit suicide looked a hell of alot like parts of the Pedernales river, which would be in the hill country. I could of course be wrong though.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:52 AM on December 15, 2015

I've been assuming Jarden is where it really exists, in Lockhart, Texas. That's not really Hill Country and I don't think there's anything like that bridge there (although...). I guess I'm reacting to the implausibility of the setup of Miracle, that there's only one road in or out and it's a long, vulnerable bridge. The Leftovers is not a show that benefits from close examination for realism, but three times now that single-road-in thing has been a crucial plot element and it's grating on me a bit. No town in the US is like that.
posted by Nelson at 7:31 AM on December 15, 2015

The town itself probably has multiple exits. The National Park that was built up around it utilizes that single entrance as a means of controlling visitors to preserve the town.

Meg raped Tommy before dousing him with gasoline. And I don't recall Tommy being raped in other episodes, which ones do you mean?
posted by numaner at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I meant the one rape, which was a few episodes ago. This episode features Tommy seemingly being seduced by Meg, and it was super creepy. Which I imagine was the intent, so fair enough, but oof.
posted by Nelson at 11:01 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

three times now that single-road-in thing has been a crucial plot element and it's grating on me a bit. No town in the US is like that.

I get the feeling the single road in thing may not necessarily have been how Jarden was. It's a security thing added for Miracle National Park. There might be access roads elsewhere public services could use or that could be opened in case of emergency.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:33 PM on December 15, 2015

I do have to wonder about The Bridge.

Putting aside its narrative purpose, the bridge is

Moore's Crossing

Located just south of Austin's airport, which is quite a ways from Lockhart, but a great find by the location scouts!

(and yes, Miracle's dried up river is Pedernales Falls State Park)
posted by pjenks at 8:13 PM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Neat! Thanks for those links pjenks.
posted by sweetkid at 8:22 PM on December 15, 2015

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