Much like last year’s standout ‘Two Boats and a Helicopter’, this week’s instalment of The Leftovers shifts the focus entirely to Reverend Matt Jamison as it explores his religion, and his faith in the town of Jarden. It’s not quite as good as its predecessor – in fact, this is probably the weakest episode of the season thus far – but it is still compelling.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of ‘No Room at the Inn’ is the frustration that the viewer will feel. I particularly felt frustrated at Mary – aside from one brief interlude after Matt was attacked, Mary was comatose for the entirety of the episode. The grandiose nature of the sensitised narrative felt as though it was building towards a conclusion of Mary regaining her previous faculties.
Given that Janel Moloney who portrays her has been upgraded to the main cast this season I think it’s fairly safe to assume that she will get better at some point. Unfortunately I don’t see this happening until the very end of the season, annoying as that will be. It will be her baby, I think, who will parallel the cave woman’s from the prologue of season two, rather than Christine’s baby that is being raised by Nora.
This is the first week where I haven’t liked Matt. His religious devotion slowly unhinges him, and Christopher Eccleston is, naturally, brilliant. But I don’t like the accusations that are thrown at him by the doctor and later John. They both assume that Matt raped Mary because as far as they know she’s never regained consciousness – and as far as the viewer knows, she never did either.
We’ve never seen her regain her faculties. This all happened prior to the beginning of the season and we only have Matt’s word on what went on. Given how unhinged he is becoming, his stance as an unreliable character means that I can’t quite believe him at the moment.
But where ‘No Room at the Inn’ excels is in its emotion. The Leftovers as a whole is particularly bleak, and this is carried forward with this latest instalment. Any joy is short-lived. Matt is initially over the moon at discovering Mary is pregnant, but this soon mars as the doctor hurls his accusations.
Later still, Matt is once more blessed that John and Kevin have come to help him, only for him to turn the tables on John and question what happened to John to make him so detached. This will surely crop up again later when John and Kevin come to blows.
The ending of this episode is particularly divisive, too. It’s clear that Matt is attempting to redeem himself – whether in the eyes of his peers, or the eyes of his God remains to be seen – but the fact that he willingly decides to leave town, and his wife, is extremely frustrating. After all he has gone through to protect Mary, I find it hard to believe that he would just leave her with Nora and Kevin like that.
I hope there is a satisfying conclusion to this coming, because Matt does need to redeem himself. Not to his peers, and not to his God – but to the viewer.