“Cause I’m not the one
No I’m not the one
You wanted it all
But I’ll give you none
Cause, I’m not the one”
- “I’m Not The One” – The Black Keys
I am sure there are a lot of people who take everyday matters for granted such as work, family and religion to name a few. Sunday night’s episode of The Leftovers hinted a little at that last one, filled with symbolism about what believing and having faith means and how it affects people in different ways. It was another great chapter in this equally amazing series. The show is not for everyone, I understand, and I believe quite a few people will find it artistic and dramatic enough for their tastes. I love seeing in the comments, after I post an advanced preview or a review, how fans initially didn’t care for the series and then came to love it, discovering little nuances that made all the difference. That is the genius with the creative team behind The Leftovers, whether it is the writing, editing or directing.
Last week we were treated to a whole hour of the Reverend and what he has been going through post Sudden Departure. B.J. and the A.C. gave us the whole cast again and what they have been up to. The town of Mapleton is gearing up for the big Holiday Dance fundraiser for the new library. After that interesting cold open, which I will get to later, we see Kevin pulling a fast one on Patti, the leader of the Guilty Remnant. The GR is quickly becoming the object of our animosity and Kevin brought Patti in to his office to, secretly, make sure her and her clan will make an appearance much like they did at the parade in episode one. He sees them as a nuisance and wants to arrest them all for trespassing, but being The Leftovers I imagined something else entirely was going to happen during the dance. Kevin definitely doesn’t hide his hatred towards Patti and the GR, especially when he casually offers her Drano to drink.
“There is no family”, reads the sign that Patti draws for the chief, reflecting much of what this episode is about. This brings me to the difficult time I had deciphering the cryptic episode title and, during a revealing moment watching with a friend, I think I figured it out. B.J. and the A.C. possibly has many meanings when interpreted by different people and yes, I am using that as a cop-out in case I am wrong with my meaning. The “B.J.”, I figured, means “Baby Jesus” and the “A.C.” took some time, but I came to the conclusion that, based on the theme of the episode, represents “Abandoned Children”. “Baby Jesus and the Abandoned Children” is the perfect title for this episode. Abandonment issues play a central role not only in this episode but the series as a whole. The fundamental element of the Sudden Departure was the majority of the remaining population feeling abandoned by their families and friends and left behind by their God.
Kevin spends the majority of the episode reluctantly locating the “Baby Jesus” figure that was stolen from the Nativity Scene. In one of the best cold open scenes, we see baby dolls being created from scratch in a factory. We view every step that is taken to produce the dolls from which one will be used to represent Mapleton’s Baby Jesus. The imagery used was perfect in how it symbolized Mapleton’s current religious outlook. The solution the mayor gave Kevin was appropriate as well, “Go buy a new doll and say you found it in a ditch or a Dumpster”, giving measurements as if the Baby Jesus were as interchangeable as that. The scenes spoke volumes and is one of the reasons why this series is so impressive.
Tom and Christine’s story line is one that I enjoy seeing every week as I find it so interesting. I wonder if Christine or Tom are falling for each other and you can see hints of it in this episode. They are in a cafeteria when a half naked man approaches them while shouting at Christine to “get out of his dreams” and that he knows what’s inside of her. His dream is that of Christine, walking over the dead who are all in white. Not necessarily a dream sequence that I have come to love from The Leftovers, but dreams do play an important role in this series and that, I suppose, counts as one. The crazy man roughs Christine up a little until Tom intervenes, having to take her to the hospital as a result for a checkup on the baby. Tom begins to lose faith in his whole journey due to the fact that Wayne has not called yet to instruct them what to do. He definitely feels ‘abandoned’ by his former mentor and father figure, Holy Wayne. For those of you confused about what happened next I will explain. If you do not want to be spoiled (like I haven’t spoiled the episode already for you, sorry) then stop reading. The call was a recorded message asking if he wants to join the Barefoot People. We have not been introduced to them until now. They wear no shoes and color a target on their foreheads so they become invisible, so the “creator” can find you easier. They do this so they can remain inconspicuous to the authorities looking for anyone associated with the Holy Wayne Movement. We learn quite a bit about Tom and Christine as well as our other favorite characters in this episode. (Spoilers ahead) Tom is apparently not Kevin’s natural child, revealing to the officer in the hospital that he was ‘abandoned’ by his real father.
At the Holiday Dance, Kevin greets everyone with the news that he located the Baby Jesus, which turned out to be stolen by his daughter, but returned by the twins. It seemed fitting that virtually no one cared, given the current religious tone of the series and episode. Mapleton has definitely lost faith and it shows. They feel ‘abandoned’ by their God. They feel ‘abandoned’ by their family. This is the source of constant adjective I see used to describe The Leftovers, bleak. “Baby Jesus and the Abandoned Children” speaks to the whole of the series as much as it does this particular chapter. Jill Garvey feels abandoned by her parents, especially her mom. Why else give a gift asking, “Don’t Forget Me”. No one wants to be forgotten or abandoned, let alone a child by her mother. Tom feels so abandoned after the SD that he jumps from one group to another looking and hoping to find a home. Maybe he is so protective of Christine and her baby because he doesn’t want it to suffer the same fate of feeling the way he does, knowing that Wayne is probably long gone and not coming back.
Kevin’s initial plan to apprehend the GR backfired. His reference of the situation with them as a ‘briar patch’ seemed apt by episode’s end. A briar patch is a term used to describe a theoretical quandary or impasse. It is An intellectual or philosophical issue abounding with seemingly unresolvable problems, which, at this point, is exactly what the Guilty Remnant is to Kevin. He wants to catch them, but they seem to be a step ahead solidifying themselves as the villain of the season. They knew Kevin was trying to catch them during the dance so they planned to execute a plan of their own. While the police resources were being utilized in one area they decided to break into people’s homes and steal their photos of the Departured, leaving the frames. To what end, I have no idea, but I imagine it is because they think people have forgotten about the SD and what happened. When people come back from the fundraiser they will see their loved ones gone, in a sense. People will come and feel ‘abandoned’, again. I assume this what the GR hopes to accomplish. They don’t steal anything of monetary value, however, they just go house to house and rob people of what they treasure most…family. And remember what Patti wrote to Kevin at the beginning of the episode…”There is no family”.
This episode, B.J. and the A.C., is filled with thought provoking scenes and excellent acting. After last week’s episode we are asked again, “What does it mean to believe?”. What does it mean to have faith? Were all these people of Mapleton abandoned by their God or was something else at play? Kevin, who is definitely losing his grip with everything around him, barely believes anymore proclaiming to Nora in the hallway at the dance, “It’s not real”, referring to the Baby Jesus doll in his hand. I know he was just saying it about a doll, but I think he meant a lot more. It would explain his action of tossing it out the truck window as if it means nothing to him or anyone anymore. And, hey, he can always just go to the store and buy another one, right?
Thoughts and Discussion
- This episode had some great music throughout. Besides the one I referenced above, here are the rest for those that want to know:
“Joy To The World” – Christmas Carol — Right before Tom & Christine’s encounter with the crazy half-naked man
“I Don’t Want No Bloodstains” – Smokey Hogg — Kevin brings the doll back to the Nativity Scene
“All These Lights” – The Grouch and Eligh — The Twins get pulled over by Kevin
“I Must See Jesus For Myself” – Lin Greenwood — Closing Credits
- I wondered how the Rev would be dealing with matters in his own life after the events of last week and thought it was really cool how he was the one who “saved” the town and brought his “spare” Baby Jesus to replace the one that was stolen. Apparently his faith has not wavered even after everything that transpired.
- To play off of the ‘abandonment’ topic again, I thought it was fitting that Kevin’s car stopped working (probably also symbolic of this broken world and town) after he used the Lord’s name in vain and, therefore, had to use the truck he was given from the man who shot the dogs in previous episodes.
- Did you notice…The doll company is called “Aforda”. As if it is not a slight already that the Baby Jesus is being replaced by a generic doll, the name of the company alludes to something that is of a cheap and poorly made origin.
- Did anyone else think the operator from the recorded message when Kevin was calling Tom sounded very annoyed? Lol.
- Did you notice…The Guilty Remnant member that came up to Tom outside the hospital had a wound on her forehead. Apparently Mapleton is not the only place where they get attacked.
- Did you notice…We finally get a closer look at the “Loved Ones” company we have been seeing and hearing ads about. The company creates life-like bodies that people who lost someone in the SD can purchase for burial. That’s uber creepy. Also, did you notice the logo for the company? It is a stick figure drawing of a family with the “mom” floating up. I thought that was clever.
- Does that sheriff in the very beginning of the title sequence remind anyone of Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead?…no?…ok, forget it…
- Did you notice…The cold open ended with the Baby Jesus there one scene and gone by the end, mirroring the Sudden Departure. Also, probably mirroring how some people felt about their God abandoning them during the Sudden Departure.
- Did anyone else think of the scene in Game of Thrones, where Lord Edmure fails three times to set the funeral boat ablaze with a flaming arrow, when Jill was about to do the same thing with the Baby Jesus?
- What does everyone else think about Kevin’s car abruptly not working and Tom’s phone ringing at the appropriate time? Is it something supernatural?