“Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your light
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
No masters or kings when the ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
Amen. Amen. Amen”
- Take Me To Church – Hozier
Spoilers for Episode 3 of The Leftovers Below
I struggled with writing this Review. It took me some time to understand how the title, Two Boats and a Helicopter, related to the story being told in this chapter of The Leftovers. I was stumped for a little bit. I usually spend some time analyzing what message writers are trying to get across to the audience and it most often does not take that long. I suppose the reason this episode took a bit longer is because it is religious in context and maybe there is no definitive way to explain the meaning because it will have different meanings to everyone who watches. For those of you who do not know the origin of the episode title let me explain. It is a very old joke that when told brings to mind theories of faith, blind faith, miracles and hope. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in jokes. In fact, while watching this episode I was reminded of a joke I heard Woody Allen tell in the movie Anything Else. It must have been over 6 or 7 years ago, but I always thought about it when giving advice to someone about doing things for themselves and not rely on outside assistance, even from their faith. Here is the joke:
“There’s an old joke
about a prize fighter in the ring.
He’s getting his brains beat out.
And his mother’s in the audience,
and she’s watching him getting beaten up.
There’s a priest next to her
and she says, ‘Father, pray for him.’
And the priest says, ‘I will,
but if he could punch, it would help.’”
- Woody Allen – Anything Else
This episode of The Leftovers deals primarily with the trials and tribulations of Reverend Matt Jamison. I have to say that this was one of my favorite hours of television. I think the story was put together so creatively and the dream sequences in The Leftovers keep getting better and better. I would imagine that anyone not a fan of this series, or ‘on the fence’ since the pilot, is a fan now after watching this episode.
Until now, Reverend Matt Jamison was a minor character. He was largely in the background and we only saw him for a few moments; once at the parade when he was handing out fliers, hugging Nora when she was being followed by Aimee and Jill, and a few other times. The cold open involves the Rev in front of his small congregation due to its dwindling attendance as a result of the Sudden Departure and followers waning faith. You would think after witnessing the SD that people would have a renewed interest in faith and religion, wanting to be on top of the list if it were to repeat itself. That’s what I think anyways. There’s a lot of aspects of civilization I imagine happening as a result of experiencing a Sudden Departure, but maybe the creators will delve into that area as the season or series progresses. He finishes telling the story of when he was a little boy with cancer when a man enters and kicks and punches Matt. The man did this because the Rev hands out fliers alerting people to the malevolent actions of some of the Departured, one-by-one.
The reverend does this because he believes the people that ‘left’ must be exposed for who they truly were and what they truly did, because if you can’t separate the innocent from the guilty, everything that has happened to them, all of their suffering, is meaningless. Most people believe that the Departured were ‘chosen’ for the Rapture by God. If that is true, then they must have been good people and everyone not taken is bad. The reverend hopes to alert the community that there was no method to who was taken or why. He creates fliers of each individual announcing their atrocities while alive.
This episode is my favorite for many reasons. One is the fact that it elicited so many intense, edge-of-my-seat, scenes and moments. The first 30 minutes were all set-up and the final 30 was like soaring downhill of a roller coaster ride. When the Rev was at the Roulette table I was actively cheering him on, wanting him to win and catch a break. He may do some dumb things (like the fliers), but deep-down he a very good person. He baptized Craig’s baby “on the house”. He donates clothing to the Guilty Remnant. He pays his wife’s caretaker when he has nothing left for himself.
Reverend Matt’s impetus was his vision of the painting in his wife’s bedroom. The painting is the left panel of the Jabach Alterpiece by Albrecht Dürer in 1503 or 1504. It depicts the prophet Job sitting, with a desperate expression on his face, after Satan has defied him to keep his allegiance to God even in the most tremendous afflictions . If you notice in the painting, his properties are on fire (much like the in the dream sequence) in the upper left. His wife is pouring water over him while a small devil flees in the background. Reverend Matt is very similar to Job. Job was beset with horrendous disasters that took away everything he holds dear; his family, health, and prosperity. This mirrors the Rev’s life in many ways. The Reverend kept waiting for the two boats and the helicopter, knowing that God will reward him. He kept his faith through all of his adversity.
The episode’s title is “Two Boats and A Helicopter” and is a reference to a very old joke. It mirrors what Reverend Matt has been dealing with throughout the episode. Is he holding out for hope? Is God testing his faith like the Rev mentioned to Nora? He had opportunities to avoid being robbed and subsequently smashing that man’s head on the ground. He also didn’t have to help the Guilty Remnant member that was struck by a rock thrown by the same person that incapacitated him by the same device.
Here is the joke for those who have never heard it:
There’s a huge flood and a man climbs onto his roof as the waters rise around him. A boat shows up and the guy says, “Climb in, I’ll get you out of here.” The man replies, “No, I’m waiting for God to save me!” The boat moves on. Soon the waters are half way up the roof and another boat comes by. “Get in,” The guys says, “I’ll get you out of here.” The man replies, “No, I’m waiting for God to save me!” So the boat moves on. Now the waters are really raging and the man has to climb on top of his chimney to stay above them. A helicopter flies up and they throw down a ladder. “Grab the ladder and we’ll get you out of here,” they yell. “No,” replies the man, “I am waiting for God to save me!” The helicopter flies away and the man clings desperately to his chimney as the waters rise. Soon he is overcome by the flood and drowns. When the man arrives in heaven and sees God, he is very upset. “Lord,” he says, “I trusted you to save me? Why didn’t you deliver me from the flood?” “What do you mean?” God replies, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”
There are, of course, many versions, but that is the basic telling. The Rev is the man turning down the boats and the helicopter. God is testing him by giving him many outlets for his situation. He needs $135,000 to keep his church from being sold. He only has a day and in that day goes to great lengths to accomplish what he set out to do. However, there are obstacles in his path that he must continually overcome. Are the obstacles a metaphor for the tests God puts in front of him? I would love to hear all of your thoughts regarding this. Is it God that put the pigeons in front of the Rev? The first pigeon showed up on the front steps of the church, then two showed up on the roulette table he used to win all that money. Was that God delivering a boat or helicopter to the Rev? Three pigeons sat on a traffic light that blinked red, which the Rev took to mean that God wants him to bet on that color. Is the whole episode a tale about how miracles can come from anywhere? That God may be watching over all of us and helping us on our path? Is the ending supposed to mean that even though God helps us along the way we still must be able to fight? That is what I believe the episode is about in all its complex glory. The writers are trying to tell us that God may be watching over all of us, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless. We must exercise our free will to be able to continue the fight. You must do more than just believe. It may not end the way the Rev wanted, but at least he gave it everything he got. And who’s to say that it won’t pay off in the end?
Thoughts and Discussion
- Did you notice…The cork board in the Rev’s office has fliers of some of the Departured and newspaper clippings I imagine are for future fliers. One article reads, “U.S. exports toxic waste to third world countries.”
- The lyrics at the very top are from the song that plays at the very end of the episode when the Reverend views all that he has worked to preserve being transformed by the new owners, the Guilty Remnant. The music selection so far in The Leftovers has been excellent. The writers have picked the best tunes and lyrics appropriate for the scenes they overlay or the episodes they represent.
- The other song in the episode is Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”. I thought the placement of the song was funny as it was right after the Rev smashing the man’s face form the casino into the ground for stealing his winnings. Also of note for all you LOSTies, this song was in the LOST episode, “Some Like It Hoth”.
- I thought it was interesting that during the dream sequence a young Nora repeats the phrase, “Why isn’t anybody doing anything?” and the Rev’s wife says, “Why do you persist?”. Again mirroring his quest to follow the path to his ultimate goal.
- Nora mentioned Matt’s issue with a certain judge. I assume this is the judge whose flier Matt created is framed and on the wall in his office. It is also the flier that Kevin’s father wrapped the money in that Matt found under the grill. It basically states that the judge collected illegal bribes, but we are still uncertain about the connection to the Rev. We are also uncertain as to why the Rev took down the street signs with the judge’s name on it. Hopefully we will find out in future episodes what it all means. Something to make note of.
- Did you notice…There were many LOST Number references in this episode. I don’t like to compare anything to LOST, but thought it was ok to put in this section of the Review. The judge paid $42,000 for a cigarette boat. The Rev’s first winnings gave him a total of $40,000, his second $80,000, and third $160,000. The roulette table the Rev is gambling at is located in Pit 4. The second number the Rev wins on is Red 23.
- Did you notice…The book on the nightstand in the Rev’s house is “Perforated Heart” by Eric Bogosian. It is about a man who discovers his old journals from when he was much younger and discovers how much he has changed over time and the pivotal moments of his life.
- In the church scene in the beginning of the episode behind the Rev is the word Epiphany. This word is used in the New Testament to mean several things, one of which is the Second Coming of Christ.
- Keith Gordon directed the episode and I think he did an incredible job especially with the dream sequence. Damon Lindelof & Jacqueline Hoyt wrote the episode.
Thank you for reading my Review! I hope you enjoyed it. Please comment below, I would love to hear all your thoughts on this awesome and amazing episode!