The Leftovers season 3 episode 1 review

leftovers

We open on a rural settlement in 1844. A wordless montage, set to ‘I wish we’d all been ready’ by The Good News Circle, tells the story of a family of three, beaming with optimism as they pack up and join a local doomsday cult. They soon they grow frustrated when over and over, the chalk circled date arrives and the rapture never comes. They are mocked in the streets and finally, after being tested to his limit, the father takes their son and leaves the church. The Mother’s faith in judgement day is so strong though, she stays. As instructed, she keeps climbing to her roof in white robes to wait for the end, only to be disappointed. Broken after another disappointing doomsday, and teased by the song’s lyric: “You’ve been left behind”, she staggers to the church and joins a group of white robed believers like her, sleeping on the ground. We pan across white shirtsleeves and arrive pretty much where we left off last season.

The white clothing now adorns the Guilty Remnant and Evie has awoken just in time to watch the drone-strike that ‘vaporises’ her entire clan.

It’s not made explicit that the 1844 group is the far flung beginnings of the GR, but they have essentially the same beliefs, just on opposite sides of the end of the world. It’s easy to imagine how a group like that might have pivoted around the time of the departure from “the end is nigh” to “hey, remember when the world ended?”

Until this point we were all for spraying the GR with hoses and slapping them across the face. But just as Star Wars prequel Rogue One let us appreciate the tragic events that kick off A New Hope by humanising the faceless rebel spies, this opening flashback, whatever it means, forces us to empathise with the GR. If your heart broke when the townsfolk were mocking that poor woman in 1844, you had to at least care a little bit when the entire GR exploded minutes later.

leftovers white robe

Three years on, Jarden has changed a lot. The bohemian outskirts of the town have erupted in and the whole place looks like Coachella. Kevin is the chief of police and his son Tommy has joined the force. Their day to day is stuff like escorting pilgrims into town on horseback and keeping inflatable Gary Buseys to under 15’. Kevin seems recovered from his madness, evidenced by his conversation with his old dog hunting buddy, Dean who shows up with a peanut butter sandwich dripping in human/canine hybrid DNA. It’s like we’re seeing Dean through Kevin’s eyes, and whereas his dog theories used to more or less hold water, now they sound absolutely insane. Kevin may have switched coffee for duct taping a plastic bag over his head as a morning pick-me-up, but it’s progress.

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Life has returned to a new sort of normal. The only thing looming is the seven year anniversary of the departure, which the whole town is hotly anticipating, especially Matt. By the end of the episode Kevin learns that Matt is writing a book about him, a new bible inspired by Kevin’s multiple resurrections, and John and Michael are both believers. It’s only now that Kevin realises why Matt was so willing to listen to his orders, why everyone got so hard for his divine intervention story at Tommy’s party, not to mention why everyone at church is copying his beard.

When Kevin confronts Matt about it and tries to burn the book, he is forced to confront the truth. He calls it made up stories but when Matt says: “it all happened, it’s still happening.” We know he’s right. Either Kevin can’t reconcile what happened with reality or he just won’t admit it. As police chief Kevin’s job is to keep the town calm by insisting that everything is normal. The GR were killed by a gas leak. The world’s not going to end two weeks from now. I’M NOT FUCKING JESUS. But when talking to Tommy about his traumatic experience shooting somebody, he flashes back to shooting Patty at the hotel. We know it’s still weighing on him, and like it or not soon he will have to admit, the beard does look good on him.

leftovers book