Me, BC, and Sean Kilby AKA the guy who sounds exactly like Charlie Day discussed The Leftovers on todays episode of Mailtime/BarstoolDVR, but a lot of my fellow TV junkies were asking for a recap blog, so I decided to give the people what they want.
Its Christmas in Mapleton, and we’re talking about a TV show with heavy religious undertones already as it is. So the scenery, setting, and events that unfold in this episode surrounding the Birth of Christ are obviously going to be very deliberate and meaningful. Some of the symbolism and religious metaphors jump out at you right away, some of them take a little more digging. But the whole episode is rife with meaning.
Right off the bat we see the doll that sits as Baby Jesus in the Manger disappears, so we know the figure of Christ and his relation to this post-Departure world is going to be important in this episode. When you watch B.J. and A.C. (the entire internet has speculated and concluded this means “Baby Jesus and Anti Christ,” which we’ll get to soon) with Jesus on the brain the entire episode becomes different. I know this because I watched it initially without focusing on a Jesus theme and then after Sean presented it to me recording Barstool DVR last nite I watched a second time and it was basically like watching an entire new episode. The main two focuses of this week’s show are Kevin Garvey and his son Tom, who – when you look a little deeper through the lens of religion - are in very similar situations.
Lets start with Tom Garvey – the religious angle is heavy with him and the people in his story line. He’s a disciple of a God like figure – Wayne – charged with the task of protecting a decidedly special girl – Chirstine – and her baby which Tom didn’t father. Sound familiar if you’re thinking in terms of the Bible? Wayne is like God, Christine is Mary, and Tom is Joseph. The baby Christine is carrying – if we’re subscribing to the “Baby Jesus and The Anti-Christ” theory with the title, is the “A.C.”
On the flip side of the situation, we learn from Laurie via Liv Tyler that Tom is not actually Kevin Garvey’s real biological son. Kevin Garvey also – like Joseph – raised a baby that wasn’t truly his. If you imagine Tom as his “Baby Jesus” - his son that didn’t truly belong to him, but one he still loved very very much – you understand why the disappearing doll affected Chief Garvey as much as it did. That missing baby doll is his missing son. At the beginning of the episode he wants to just replace the Baby Jesus with another doll, until his daughter Jill profoundly states that “you can’t just get a new one. Its sacred.” The same way he can’t just find a replacement Tom, he decides he can’t just buy a replacement doll. He’s not giving up on Tom.
The question in my mind is, has Tom given up on Kevin? When in the elevator at the hospital, he drops an ambiguous “My father abandoned me,” leaving us to wonder whether he meant his biological father? His step father Kevin? We still don’t know why Tom is in Wayne’s camp and now protecting the supposed Anti Christ, but you get the feeling that deep inside his heart is in the right place. He almost broke this episode, he almost “went home,” but a terribly hollow “sign” reels him back in. Still waiting to find out what sent Tom off in the first place.
So essentially this breaks down as Kevin and Tom in very similar situations despite vastly different circumstances. Both playing the role of Joseph in very different ways. In my mind, the contrast between the two kind of played up the ambiguity of religion that I believe in. I mean Jesus Mary and Joseph are three of the most revered people in Christianity, right? And here we have 3 of the “villains,” for lack of a better term, so far in this series – Wayne, Tom and Christine and the baby she’s carrying – essentially playing those same roles. The stories from the Bible and all religion exist on such a fine line between miracles and just flat out crazy, right? If a bearded dude today said the stuff Jesus did, we’d laugh and call him crazy. Well thats crazy Wayne in this post Departure world. Its all about which story you buy into and which you believe. Kevin and Tom are two guys in the same situation who are just believing and interpreting 2 different stories they’ve been told.
Ultimately, I thought the incorporation of the dolls was what put a nice “Leftovers” touch on this episode. We start off with a montage showing the fake dolls being created. We see one of these dolls ends up being “Jesus.” And later in the episode we see an overturned truck, with hundreds of fake dead dolls – which the soldier explains families of the Departed actually pay for so that they have a “body” to bury. The dolls bookend this episode nicely for me, and brings everything full circle to that omnipresent hopelessness this show exhbits week in and week out. Tons of religious analogies and comparisons and metaphors but in the end we’re all just like puppets – like dolls. Me, you, maybe Jesus, whatever baby Christine is carrying. All just kind of hollow on the inside and waiting for the end to come. Be it a “Departure” or otherwise.
PS – Cool to see the GR put into action. The infiltrating of the houses and stealing the pictures is the first time we’ve seen them do more than rip cigs and scribble out letters like they were playing Hangman. They’ve got the church, they’re making moves. The GR is coming.
PPS – Unless Nerf guns are vastly different in the world of the Leftovers, Jill Garvey had no fucking SHOT at hitting that Baby Jesus floating in the middle of the lake. You know how inaccurate the Nerf Bow and Arrow was? No way you could use it to give a William Wallace send off. And yes of course I still want to have sex with her friend Aimee and I cannot WAIT until the inevitable scene when she fucks Chief Garvey.