With each new episode of The Leftovers it becomes more and more apparent that the show writers are perhaps a bit too fond of the slow build tactic. Two Boats and a Helicopter opened with a lengthy sermon by clergyman Matt Jamison, the same person who has been handing out flyers showcasing the terrible things done by the Departed. His message certainly gave viewers insight into his character, but placed at the beginning of the episode like it was it made for a very slow start.
That is until someone – a friend or relative of one of those featured on Matt Jamison’s flyers – stormed in and beat up the reverend. This action was honestly the only thing that saved this scene, but then we weren’t given much of a reprieve from Jamison’s storyline, as it quickly became clear that he was to be the focus not just of the opening, but of the entire episode. While it’s been clear that Kevin Garvey is the slightly more important character in this ensemble cast, the first two installments of The Leftovers have included plenty of other plot points, and it seems a bit soon in the very first season for someone who was previously a supporting character at best have an entire hour dedicated to him.
Thankfully things picked up a bit. There was the minor mystery of the pigeons, followed by the revelation that the reverend is about to lose his church – and the person he asks for the money is none other than Nora, the woman who lost her ‘entire family’ on October 14th. Because as it turns out, she’s his sister.
For most of Two Boats and a Helicopter I was torn between feeling bad for Matt Jamison and just wanting the episode to end so that I didn’t have to watch him bumble about anymore. He offended his sister by telling her about her husband’s affair, but then went home to his paralyzed wife and the nurse he can’t pay…yet this all invoked pity more than anything, and seemed to take up quite a bit more time than was necessary.
Soon enough things picked up again, and next thing we know the reverend is at Kevin’s father’s house, digging up a jar of money that’s hidden in the backyard. There’s a flyer about a corrupt judge wrapped around the money, along with a note that says “Rev – you deserve this – KG”. Of course it’s not enough money to buy the church, though, so Jamison takes it to the casino he visited earlier – thanks to those aforementioned pigeons, in fact. This was certainly a clever move on the part of the writers, because it didn’t take long to realize that something was up with the pigeons, but it wasn’t until the reverend went to the roulette table the birds had landed on earlier in the episode that I realized he thought they were a good omen.
There was a decent bit of tension as Jamison played several games to make the amount of money he needed, but once he did it was obvious that the man who was watching him at the table was going to come after that money. Though that was certainly predictable, what happened next – Matt Jamison chasing the guy down and bashing his head in – certainly wasn’t predictable. Horrifying as this scene was, for a moment I thought that the reverend would actually make it to the bank in time. I even got a bit of a chuckle over the fact that he stopped on his way there to take down signs for things that had the name of the corrupt judge on them.
Unfortunately Jamison also stopped to help some Watchers from the Guilty Remnant when some people drive by and throw a rock at them, and was himself knocked unconscious when the attackers returned moments later. He wakes up in the hospital, leaves despite the nurse’s protests, and returns to his car to find the money still there. It was at this point that Two Boats and a Helicopter began feeling more than just a little bit contrived, which is disappointing because despite its slow start I’d actually started to enjoy it. A big part of that was the reverend’s fever dreams from when he was unconscious – some interesting things from his past that tied back into his sermon, his relationship with Nora, and finally, the accident that rendered his wife paralyzed.
The latter was by far the most moving, though, as it harkened back to the opening scene of the pilot episode in which viewers witness a horrible car accident in the background as the mother is screaming over her missing baby. As it turns out, the reverend and his wife were part of that accident, and in the end this flashback was one of the few things that kept Two Boats and a Helicopter above water.
In the end Matt Jamison lost his church anyway, because he’d been unconscious for several days. I’m not sure if it was meant to be surprising that the Guilty Remnant were the ones who purchased it; if it was, there were far too many hints throughout the episode to render me shocked when the reverend stumbled to the church to find them painting over the stained glass windows. Despite the fact that they wrapped up one of Jamison’s major points of conflict and yet managed to create a new one for him, mostly this episode just felt like a let-down. As I said, the writers clearly like building things up slowly in this show…but now that we’re three episodes in, how slow is too slow?
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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