The Leftovers: “No Room at the Inn” Season 2 Episode 5 Review

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Matt Jamison can’t catch a break. In the proverbial sequel to last season’s standout episode “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” Matt did everything in his power to fix all of his life’s problems. As with that episode, things just kept getting worse. But his perseverance is undeniably inspiring, which is what makes the episodes that focus on him so powerful.

The extended opening as Matt watched recordings of his wife sleeping set the tone. He’s looking for any sign of life, and on any other TV show, this would be a set up for something to happen. But this is The Leftovers, an endless pit of grief where the point so far seems to be that nothing changes. I have to admit, “No Room at the Inn” came dangerously close to being hilariously bleak, a facet of the show that plagued many of season one’s lesser entries.  But largely thanks to Christopher Eccleston’s stirring performance as Matt, this was another episode laced with so much beauty.

The episode is really launched by the reveal that Matt’s wife Mary is pregnant, which puts Matt in a very uncomfortable situation. As he told Nora last week, Mary supposedly woke up for a few hours upon their arrival in Jarden. We learn this week that their brief reunion saw them making love before she returned to her vegetative state. Now, the show hasn’t revealed whether this is true or whether Matt just made it up, which forces us to deal with some very uncomfortable possibilities. Did Matt have sex with his wife, who is unable to give consent for anything in her state?

On the way back from the doctor, Matt stops to help a father and son stranded outside the city. They steal their wristbands and leave Matt and Mary to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere. The episode throws trial after trial at Matt, testing him every step he takes back toward his rightful home. With his pregnant wife in tow, Matt can’t be as righteous as he would normally be. He finally gets a chance to go back in and gets flushed out through the sewer, literally. That’s when Nora finds him and sneaks them back into town. Again, as Matt stares into his wife’s eyes in the trunk of the car, the show has us begging for her to show us a sign. Matt has proven himself to be too good of a person to deal with everything he has to.

He proves it one more time. On their way back into town, they come across a car accident. The father who stole Matt and Mary’s wristbands is dead, with his son hiding nearby in the brush. Matt gives Mary her wristband back and turns the boy over to John, leaving himself without a way back into town. So he goes to the Burning Man-esque outskirts of town to publicly stand naked to free the previous man in the shackles. It’s classic Matt, the man too good for the life this show has given him.

With “No Room at the Inn,” The Leftovers got to spotlight one of its best characters in this new environment. Matt continues to be one of the easiest characters to engage with, but the most difficult to watch considering his worse-than-average luck, even for this show. It’s a bold statement for the series to show us so much optimism from a man who should have none. But The Leftovers is a bold show. Grade: A-

Some Other Notes:

  • An episode titled “No Room at the Inn” follows a man trying to find a pregnant woman named Mary a place to sleep.
  • The guy with the goats who we keep seeing in the background, has he been in every episode? I assume not “Off Ramp,” but every episode in Jarden at least? Regardless, after his appearance in the season premiere, his continual appearances are kind of hilarious.
  • Matt asks John what happened to make him so against anything remotely supernatural occurring. John angrily denies him an answer. The Leftovers raises a lot of questions, many of which don’t even need to be answered. That’s not the case for this one. I want to know right now.
  • Man, Christopher Eccleston is just so phenomenal as Matt. It’s time to start loudly campaigning for this show to get some awards attention next year. This season has featured some of the best TV performances of the decade.

By Matt Dougherty

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