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.

The Guy In The Horse Head Mask

On a recent visit to Denver, President Obama shook hands with a guy wearing a horse head mask.  The photo of the incident is weird, and it will find its place in the ever-growing photo album of weird presidential events, like President Nixon’s meeting with Elvis and President Carter’s ill-fated encounter with the killer rabbit.

Apparently, wearing a horse head mask is some kind of bizarre internet meme that traces its roots to an inexplicable and disturbing Japanese anime character.  Who knew? 

Of course, it’s shocking that the Secret Service would allow any masked individual — much less a horse-masked individual — to get within handshake distance of the President, but let’s leave that aside and think about the guy wearing the mask instead.  Why wear a horse mask when you are shaking the hand of the President?  Even if you were just wearing it as a matter of course on your stroll around Denver when the President’s entourage happened by, wouldn’t you remove the mask before shaking the President’s hand?  If you specifically brought the horse mask because you knew where the President was going to be walking — which also would mean a security lapse, by the way — then you were obviously doing it as a disrespectful razz on the President.  But, why a horse mask rather than a sign?  What meaningful message is sent when you wear a horse mask when greeting a politician?  Are you just indicating that it’s all a joke?

As for the President . . . well, this incident didn’t turn out to do anything more than produce a weird and somewhat embarrassing photo.  In the future, though, I hope he would have the judgment and good sense to avoid physical contact with mask-wearing people or other oddball types.  A guy wearing a horse mask is probably capable of just about anything, and reaching out to shake his hand when there are plenty of other, normally attired individuals available seems like a bad decision.