Last night, I finished Broadchurch.
In preparation for the premiere of Gracepoint this fall on FOX, I’ve been watching the British show on which it’s based. Both shows are about a sleepy coastal town that gets rocked by the murder of a young boy. The resulting investigation leaves its mark.
The names give away the show’s interest in exploring, carefully and quietly, the relationship between what goes on in heaven and what happens here down on earth. It wants to know whether what we do here triggers punishments or, perhaps more importantly, whether there’s anyone up there who cares at all, or whether we’ve been abandoned.
What I was thinking about as I watched was how much it reminded me of True Detective (though, hear me on this: that show is far, far more brutal and graphic). In both, detectives sense that a sort of salvation rides on what they’re doing. Both are about investigations into unthinkable murders that wind up unearthing the darkest secrets. They’re also both beautifully shot and powerfully directed in ways we rarely see on television.
But there’s one very important thing both shows do, something that Christians, frankly, need to do better in their storytelling: they understand intuitively that sin is both a personal and a corporate matter. Sin is something in people’s hearts, and it’s also something that permeates a community. And when something goes wrong in a community, rarely is the perpetrator the only one at fault.
Episode 9: “The Garveys At Their Best”
With its penultimate episode, The Leftovers finally becomes a proper tale of apocalypse. Not so much because the end of the world occurs (though it does, after a fashion), but because it does what apocalyptic literature is meant to do.
And what is that? I can’t explain it better than James K.A. Smith does in his book Desiring the Kingdom:
Apocalyptic literature—the sort you find in the strange pages of Daniel and the book of Revelation—is a genre of Scripture that tries to get us to see (or see through) the empires that constitute our environment, in order to see them for what they really are … the point of apocalyptic literature is not prediction but unmasking—unveiling the realities around us for what they really are … the empire (whether Babylon or Rome) has something to hide and so tilts the louvers just slightly to cover what it wants to hide. But apocalyptic is revealing precisely because it gives us this new perspective, just to the left, which lets us see through the blinders.
In showing us the twenty-four hours just before the disappearances occur, The Leftovers pulls back the curtain just a fraction more on its characters subsequent grief. And this is the important part: nearly everything that happens in the “Rapture” was already happening before it. In fact, the events of October 14 just helped some characters make sense of things.
So we get Laurie—whom we get to hear talking—happy and self-possessed, but quietly in turmoil, knowing she is pregnant, not sure if she wants to be, and sensing that her husband is checking out. We get Nora coming to the end of her rope with her children and husband, who seems to be able to disappear even when he’s physically in the room. Tom has evidently been thrown into confusion by the discovery that Kevin isn’t his biological father, and is getting drunk and trying to fix that repeatedly. The Jamisons deal with chronic problems (though it’s Matt, for now); Patti anticipates the end of the world; the walls of the beautiful house are cracking.
Also, Tom and I found a speakeasy in Capitol Hill (Seattle) called Needle & Thread, and it was awesome. They ask you what you like in a cocktail and then custom-make it; one of mine involved rye and black pepper tincture. No photography inside, but I snuck a stairway shot.
Film writer types inadvertently converged on Seattle last night and wound up at Elysian. You won’t believe what happened next