The Leftovers – “The Garveys At Their Best” – Review
“Once upon a lonely
The sky was black and stormy
I was on my way to King Marie
This day of disaster
My heart was beating faster
I ran all the way to King Marie”
– “The Girl From King Marie” – Jody Reynolds
The departured were all regretted at one point. Laurie regretted…oops, let me start my Review at the beginning, much like that incredible episode did on Sunday night. All the way at the beginning. Then I can explain that first sentence and continue my thought. It’s a good theory, I think, and I will need all of your help to see if it is somewhat true or close.
The Leftovers aired their penultimate episode, The episode immediately before the finale, on Sunday night and it was exactly what we have been wanting and waiting for since the pilot. In a series that predicates itself on the events of October 14th, all we wanted to know was what happen on October 13th or, more precisely, what happened immediately prior to the moment of departurism (note: departurism is a word I just invented…I can do that…I think…but we all know what it means). The seconds, minutes, and hours before the Sudden Departure. And we got it in a brilliant flashback that Damon Lindelof has become a master at portraying.
So, let’s start at the beginning. A theory I had stated before is that the dogs are symbols of the Guilty Remnant. The episode this past Sunday has given us a load of answers to our burning questions and provided some twists and turns in the process. One twist is that the dogs are not the Guilty Remnant…hear me out. I think the dogs represent Laurie. Kevin is represented by the deer. I’ll give some interesting supporting evidence throughout my Review so keep an eye out for it and we can discuss in the comments below. More on this later.
We see Kevin right away in his beautiful home, with his beautiful family, as we are transported back in time three years (4 years?), just days before the SD. Much like there was a scar, or flaw, on the island of The Lord of The Flies, there is also a crack, or scar or flaw, in the foundation of the Garvey home (remember: Kevin sees above the painting the crack in the wall like a lightning bolt). The writers do a wonderful job at setting up our characters lives prior to the universal ‘tic-toc’ leading up to the SD. We see Nora Durst and her happy family at a time when she is ignorant to the fact that her husband is cheating on her. We also learn that Patti was a patient of Laurie’s long before Laurie had taken the white.
Not everyone was happy. That is not what the writers were trying to show us. People were not happy, then out of nowhere the SD occurs and people spiral into despair. Kevin was lying to his wife. Nora wanted out of the “juice-box” cycle of life. Patti was kicked out of her home by her ex-husband. We finally learn why Patti puts some crap in a bag and wrote “Neil” on it and left it on his porch. Laurie, her psychologist, told her to get rid of her bad emotions from her relationship by doing this.
One of the big revelations of life before the SD is that of Jill. Jill was, uncharacteristically so, very happy. Very very happy. I did not see a scene without her smiling ear to ear or singing. she loved her dad and thought her mom was the greatest. We know Jill as the melancholy school girl who is sad and angry at the world for destroying her family.
Getting back to my theory that Kevin is represented by the deer and Laurie by the dogs. When Kevin Sr. is telling his officers about the deer in town, he instructs them to put it down because it is dangerous and unstable. Kevin wants to save it, bring it back to the woods, and let it go. Much like he did with Patti. He took her to the woods, and let her go. Kevin is just trying to save himself from becoming unstable and from going crazy. At the surprise party, Kevin tells Laurie the deer is just ‘confused’ much like he has been for the entire series thus far. To top it off, Nora’s daughter tells her that “maybe the deer is just looking for it’s family?”. Kevin’s dream sequence a few episodes ago also alludes to this theory. Kevin hears rumbling from a nearby mailbox. Remember this is where Kevin hides his cigarettes from Laurie. When he gets closer, after seeing a deceased Laurie in the back of a truck, a dog pops out and barks viciously at him. Which brings me to Laurie being represented by the dogs. Laurie is the one that wanted to get a puppy and we see her coddling one with, none other than, Gladys (who seemed happy, but we know she lost someone in the SD). Laurie tells Kevin (finally happy they found the deer) “It’s trapped, better go save it”. Notice how Kevin was happy about the deer and upset about the prospect of the dog. Kevin, as the deer (he even sees his reflection in its eye), is trying to not get chewed up and eaten by the dogs as we saw in the first episode of the season.
And finally, what I noticed about the people who were departured; the common thread amongst them. I noticed that they were all regretted by one of The Leftovers. Kevin regretted having the affair. Nora regretted her family, if only for an instant. Sam (the baby that departured in the pilot) was regretted by his mother who threw her hands up to Laurie in the car. I wonder if we will be able to point to this in the future as we learn of more people who lost someone on the SD.
This was definitely my favorite episode of the season. The writing was perfect and the flashback was orchestrated very well. It was great getting a lot of answers to our questions and seeing the SD before it happened and how it affected our main cast. The Leftovers, week to week, is a bleak look into the lives of the citizens of Mapleton and this past Sunday we were given a break form the morose souls and shattered bits of humanity. It was nice, even if it was for only a little bit of time, to see our characters in a different light and somewhat happy frame of mind. But, of course, this is Mapleton, and no one stays happy for long.
Thoughts and Discussion
– The music in the episode:
“Shotgun” – Junior Walker & The All-Stars
“Punching In a Dream” – The Naked and Famous
“Young Blood” – The Naked and Famous
“Without You” – Usher
“November” – Max Richter – This is actually the piano music you hear in nearly every episode when things are becoming clear or at the end of an episode when revelations occur.
– Did you notice…The Sudden Departure occurred at 2:23:48 PM. ’23’, ‘4’, and ‘8’ are LOST numbers. Other LOST references include the numbers 4, 8, and 42 on Laurie’s prenatal monitor in the doctor’s office.
– Did you notice…Jill’s Science Fair experiment dealt with Entropy.
– Did you notice…Laurie’s calendar quote reads – “The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground”. It is a small insight into life I believe. Nobody feels the world around them; they create their own world as they go. Maybe? What do you think this means?
– I like the little foreboding nods to the eventual SD. Like when Kevin Sr. stated “You have no greater purpose”, or Nora saying, “For the next four weeks, I have no family”. Kevin also saying to Tom, “Sometimes, you have to pretend”.
– Did you notice…Last week Patti told Kevin that Laurie counseled her. Now we know she meant it literally.
– Patti predicted the day of the SD. I suppose it could be chalked up to “A broken clock is right twice a day” type of thing, but still.
– Does everyone remember The Pattersons? The deer goes into their house where Kevin goes upstairs to corner it. These are the people that Nora interviewed for their SD check a few episodes back when they lost their boy with Down-Syndrome that we saw in this flashback episode counting coins and directing Kevin to the location of the deer.
– The deer could also represent feelings of being trapped. It affected certain peoples lives on the show. Just like the deer wanted to be free so did Kevin. The woman who hits the deer took a different route. The deer affected the woman Nora’s husband was having an affair with. And the old couple taking care of the boy with Down-Syndrome who tells Kevin that leaving the house “is not going to happen”. Kevin felt extra trapped which was foreshadowed by the dear having the balloon of “It’s a Girl” covered in blood on it. I love the symbolism in this series (The metronome on the floor of the school that Kevin stares at was perfectly placed).
– “A man says to the Universe…Sir, I exist” This was a great speech by Kevin and appropriate. The Universe responds, “The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation”.
– My favorite part of the episode was when the car full of women pulls up to Kevin sitting on the curb. They ask, “Are you ready?”. Did they think he was part of the Guilty Remnant? They could not have formed yet formally, but what if they knew beforehand? Kevin WAS wearing white. Maybe they thought he was a member? Maybe they were from wherever Dean came from or whoever speaks to Kevin Sr.? The situation could not have become any more mysterious as the manhole cover rattles and explodes in a fury of fire and heat. Did Kevin even think about this moment when he learned of the SD event all over the world?