The Leftovers, Season 2

Look, I knew that The Leftovers was a bizarre show.  Kish and I watched it faithfully (pun intended) last year, found it weird but fascinating, and were primed for this season — which has turned out, if anything, be even stranger and more inexplicable than the first.

In season two, we get glimpses of a social order, and people, falling apart, now years after part of the world’s population suddenly vanished.  People are still trying to figure out what happened, and one set of investigators suggests that its simply geometry run amok — and that it will probably happen again.  A man digs up a body of a woman who dies from a punctured jugular vein, goes to the police to confess his presence when she dies, and is simply released by a police officer because the woman is a member of a hated cult.  People are flocking to Miracle, Texas, because no one supposedly vanished from that town, but not everyone can get in.  And the encampment of the unfortunate — who have been left behind, in effect, a second time — is a toxic mix of filth, perversion, and religion.

The characters each are moving along their own arc, too.  Kevin Garvey continues to sleepwalk, now seems to be suicidal in his slumber, and is routinely counseled by the dead cultist — and now he’s starting to talk back to her.  His daughter seems at peace with the weirdness, but his son looks to be on the cusp of starting his own hug-based evangelical movement.  And his girlfriend Nora Durst — our favorite character — is willing to do just about anything to try to get back to a normal life, from spending $3 million on a ramshackle house in Miracle to adopting a baby left on her doorstep to handcuffing herself to her sleepwalking boyfriend before they go to bed at night to making anonymous phone calls that will allow her to smuggle her brother and his comatose wife back into Miracle.  Her moxie and her willingness to do whatever it takes to try to have a real life are enormously appealing.

And speaking of Miracle . . . well, something’s not right there.  There are earthquakes, and a hermit who lives on a downtown flagpole, and a kind of armed camp feel.  High school girls are glimpsed running naked through the woods.  People have disappeared, even though the general public won’t admit it yet, and one of the chief citizens is just angry at the world and his predicament.  He’s willing to burn down the house of a friend who he thinks is a charlatan, and he lurches between normalcy and simmering rage — and he nevertheless is somehow one of the most likable people in the town.

And then a guy with a goat appears.  Sometimes the goat gets its throat cut in a busy cafe during lunch hour for no readily apparent reason, sometimes the goat trots by without incident, and sometimes the goat is hit by a car.

We watch the show with keen interest (and some dread) and we wonder:  what the heck is up with the goats?  We really are enjoying this season’s voyage into weirdness.

Goat-Blood Government

There are some among us who might contend that a little goat-blood guzzling might be good training for a politician.

After all, if you’re going to be sacrificing your principles on a regular basis, why not sacrifice a barnyard animal while you’re at it, and suck down the lip-smacking, iron-flavored richness of its still warm hemoglobin as you thoughtfully consider the many rewards of your chosen profession?  It kind of makes you wonder whether some of the other significant political figures of our time haven’t taken a nip or two of billy goat blood from time to time after they’ve come off the Senate floor or just finished a contentious committee hearing.

In Florida, a Senate candidate named Augustus Sol Invictus (that’s not his birth name, which he legally changed a few years ago to those rolling Latin words that mean “majestic unconquered sun”) has admitted to quaffing some goat hemoglobin.  Two years ago, Old Sol apparently walked from central Florida to the Mojave Desert — any geography buff will tell you that’s quite a jaunt — and spent a week fasting and praying, and then when he returned home alive he gave thanks by sacrificing a goat to the pagan “god of the wilderness” and then drank its blood.  And really, who among us, upon returning from a week-long visit to California, hasn’t been tempted to do the same?

Sol is a criminal lawyer — do you think he runs ads that say “Better Call Sol”? — who’s running as a Libertarian.  He thinks the government is “waging war on citizens” and citizens therefore have “the right to self-defense on government,” and he sees “a cataclysm coming.”  He admits to being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, and other law enforcement personnel, but seems to take some pride in that fact and says he’s flattered that they think he’s a “threat to the stability of the system.”

I’m not sure about a threat to the system, but he’s proven that he’s a threat to goats.