Matt Jamison is living in Groundhog’s Day – in more ways than one. Every morning he wakes up to “Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers, watches film of Mary (his comatose wife) while eating cereal, rubs lotion on her twitching hands, loads her into the car for mass, falls back asleep and does it all over again.
In the broader vision, Matt Jamison is living in Groundhog’s Day season-to-season of The Leftovers as “No Room at the Inn” could line up almost scene for scene to “Two Boats and a Helicopter” episode from season one, which – given the complexity and brilliance of this show – was understandably intentional.
Matt is a man of deep faith, not only in his religion but in people. He believes that generosity and kindness are rewarded, though the universe keeps telling him that is completely inaccurate. That, even if acting upon the good-will of his heart, people will ultimately let him down. This happened in Matt’s season one episode and it happens again (literally, almost the same exact incident) in this episode. On one hand it’s hard not to be frustrated with his naivety, on the other it’s hard not to be heartbroken by his suffering. As a pastor, he should believe that all people are inherently good and when he goes out of his way to help then gets beat over the head with some object (be it a wrench or a brick), you see just a little bit of his faith being stripped away. You see this as well when he is preparing Mary day after day with no change in her condition.
The mystery that unfolds throughout the episode begins in a hospital outside of Jarden when it is revealed that comatose-wheelchair bound Mary is a few weeks pregnant. As if in unison with the audience, Matt moves from astonishment to joy to uneasiness. He is so caught up in the excitement of the news that he (and I, for that matter) did not even think about the awkward implications that brings up to everyone else. Primarily, the whole: “did you have sex with a woman in a coma” thing.
The battle that Matt faces on a daily basis is a major underlying tone of the series – the battle of faith versus science and pragmatics. This is one of the many elements the show handles with particular dexterity – the way it keeps everything slightly ambiguous. The way you couldn’t ever believe that Mary wakes up from her coma and dances around for one evening then somehow falls back into her vegetative state, the way you can’t believe that Patti is a ghost and it must be Kevin Garvey falling off the wagon, or that the Murphy’s daughter couldn’t have possibly just disappeared into thin air. Though, with a universe and storyline that starts with a large percentage of the earth’s population simply disappearing why couldn’t that be possible?
This ambiguity is brought to the forefront when an intense confrontation ensues between Matt and John Murphy – the two men literally represent opposite ideologies.
Every week I harp on how outstanding the acting is, and this week is no different. Christopher Eccleston (also known from Dr. Who) is possibly my favorite side-character and both of his centric episodes from either season have been the most heartbreaking and intense. The amount of words Eccleston can say with only his facial expressions is brilliant enough – I could watch this man read a phone book and be satisfied.
This season also reiterates what seems to be a trend in television and film lately – the moral that being a good-hearted and trusting person is a naive and dangerous trait rather than a good one. That to survive in this world you need to have a little edge. From Ned Stark to Matt Jamison we are continuously told that if you have a strong moral compass and refuse to alter on your honor or faith you will get burned (or beheaded, hit with a brick, shot with an arrow…). It remains to be seen if that ever will be ultimately rewarded.
“No Room at the Inn” could line up almost scene for scene to “Two Boats and a Helicopter” episode from season one, which – given the complexity and brilliance of this show – was understandably intentional.