I haven’t shared my thoughts on this show since I wrote about the premiere. We’re six episodes in with the seventh airing tonight. Here’s what I think so far:
There were a few working titles for this post. Most of them were some variation of “All of These People Are Horrible.” That’s not really true and when it is true, it’s a bit of an oversimplification. So, there’s no clever title here.
However, There Might be a Government Conspiracy
To start off, I want to address something that’s only been hinted at, which is the government’s role in the disappearances. Nora (Carrie Coon) works as a census taker of sorts. She asks families of the departed very personal and sometimes seemingly random questions about their loved ones. This isn’t nefarious. It makes sense that governments would look for discernible patterns in the disappeared.
What is suspect is that the government is paying restitution to the families. Why? What responsibility does the government have to pay people for what amounts to a natural disaster? This isn’t an earthquake, tornado or hurricane where government funds can help to rebuild infrastructure. As far as I know, the government did not pay the families of those who died in Katrina. Is the money a way for the government to assuage guilt over a failed military experiment? As much as I love the supernatural, I truly hope this is the result of something like a government experiment gone wrong. It’s more interesting.
There’s another thing that pushes me into this line of thinking: at the end of the 5th episode, Gladys, we see the FBI incinerate dead members of the Guilty Remnant. We learn that the FBI goes from town to town exterminating the GR. It seems the town’s leadership must invite them to do so, which means the town must condone mass murder.
The last time I wrote about the Leftovers, I posited that the GR saw people taken in the Sudden Departure and that left mental and emotional scars with which they could not cope. Now I wonder if they know something about the cause of the Departure. Sure, the GR is a nuisance (to say the least) but why would the government murder them en masse?
Since We’re Discussing the Guilty Remnant
These people are horrible. Unequivocally. No reveal as to their motivations will make me feel any differently. They haunt and stalk people. They want to scare people. They don’t care about anything but their agenda.
Based on Patti’s conversation with Laurie Garvey in episode five, part of their agenda is to dehumanize everyone and rid them of all attachments and emotional connections.
This was the motivation for them stealing family photos from everyone’s homes. At a time when people are still grieving for the sudden inexplicable loss of so many, removing such mementos is… well, there isn’t a word for what it is.
Then there’s Laurie. She’s not the only one who left behind a family to be with the GR, singling her out for that is moot. However, when the reverend (Christopher Eccleston) stands outside of the GR compound Laurie runs out and slaps him across the face for exhibiting the exact same behavior that they do.
We all know people like this. They don’t care what they do to others, but do the same thing to them and they lash out.
Matt, the reverend, wasn’t trying to convert them to his religion. He wasn’t trying to terrorize them – which is what they do to people.
Laurie’s Family is Another Matter
Since the start of this show, the storyline has centered around Kevin Garvey’s unravelling. Kevin has given all of his energy to holding his family and his town together, but his resolve is breaking. As of episode 6, he’s spiralling into alcoholism and possibly becoming violent.
The show has repeatedly played with Kevin’s sanity. At first we, and other characters, wonder if he hallucinated the feral dogs and Michael Gaston’s character Dean. Then, weird things start to happen in his house. His shirts go missing one by one. Is someone taking them or is he moving them elsewhere when he is in a dissociative state? Could be either one, really.
The only that is for certain, is that Kevin Garvey is one of two characters on this show with a decent moral center and cares more about others than himself.
His daughter Jill seems rather one note to me. The show could survive without her. She’s your average boilerplate teenage character with no depth whatsoever. Hopefully, the writers will give her some down the line.
Kevin’s son Tom (who is not Kevin’s biological child) is taking an interesting path. He’s an errand boy for supposed prophet Wayne (we’ll get to him in a minute). Tom is looking for redemption. He’s looking for a place in this world, one where he can hopefully be a hero. Yet, there is a deep sadness that drives him. It seems as though that sadness is about more than his mother’s abandonment.
Now onto the Prophet
We finally seen how Wayne unburdens people. It’s not mystical. In fact, it’s rather simple. He gives people a safe place to express the full scope of their pain without feeling lonely or judged. I’m sure those that are burdened have bawled on their kitchen floor, but there is loneliness in that expression of sorrow. Loneliness is its own burden.
Wayne is no saint. He has a fondness for teenage girls. The show focuses on Christine (Annie Q.), who is presumably carrying Wayne’s child.
This character trait is a bit disappointing. It’s tired and played out. It seems no one can write a cult leader without the character having a sexual appetite for teenagers. I want the writers to be better than this.
And There’s the Other Religious Man
Eccleston’s character, Matt Jamison, is the only other moral character, besides Kevin, that I’ve seen on this show. His faith has been shaken, but not lost.
At the start of the series, Matt is placing flyers all around town that list the sins and bad behaviors of the departed. Everyone in town hates him for it.
I don’t think it’s hateful at all.
Our society has a horrible habit of deifying the dead. When someone dies a tragic death, we wash away their bad deeds and often create false narratives of their niceness. We refuse to accept that the dead aren’t perfect.
In a world where people are crying that this was the biblical Rapture, it makes sense for a deeply religious man like Matt to stand up and say “Nope, not at all.”
In theory, the Rapture claims the best of us, the purest of us. But then why were so many infants left behind? Why were people who’ve murdered others taken? Matt wants people to wake up and explore the real reason behind this event. He should be lauded for that, not ostracized.
Did I forget any characters? What are your thoughts on the show?
The Leftovers airs tonight at 10 on HBO.