Last season I examined the first episode to feature a spotlight on Matt Jamison “Two Boats, and a Helicopter” it wasn’t my favorite of the season, and I was erroneously still believing there would be a solution to the mystery of the “departure”. Since then I’ve really grown to respect, and cherish The Leftovers as a deep mediation into loneliness and abandonment. This episode is the reason why the show works, and why this season has been some of the best television I’ve watched in a long time.
“There’s a reason”
The show opens with a song by the Bellamy Brothers entitled “Let Your Love Flow”, apart from being a wonderful song it also sums up the character of Matt Jamison. He is constantly obsessed with a very simple idea “There’s a reason” his entire life is lived through the lens of purpose. He feels he was left on the earth for a reason, and is resolute in his claims and beliefs. The episode opens with him in an endless repetition of the same exact events that lead to his wife having a momentary relapse into consciousness. The fact that nothing seems to have changed leads the viewer down a path that will soon bring to light some truly horrifying questions. This episode represents what really makes The Leftovers a great show. You are left with many questions, but very few answers. It’s up to you to chose the meaning and the purpose of events and how they unfold.
As Jamison and his wife begin their journey outside of Miracle we get a very interesting bit of insight from Jamison. He comments a desire for a larger bridge. In order to dismiss his wish he states: “Then the town would lose it’s authenticity”. We get the knowledge here that Jamison believes in everything he has seen in the town. The false healing, the crowds of people waiting to be let in, the name “Miracle” its all as real to him as his belief in a higher power. Those who come into the town are enamoured with it, and yet those who have lived there see through the cracks in society. The fundamental conflict this season is between those who believe, and those who don’t.
Here we examine the most controversial aspect of the episode. The pregnancy, and the mysterious nature of its inception. We will never see the scene of Jamison and his wife reuniting, that would be an answer, Leftover’s doesn’t give us answers. It puts the viewer into the show’s conflict. WHO do you chose to believe? How do you view your life? Is your life filled with Miracles, and capable of wondrous things or is your life a lie, a shamble, a tower of false beliefs you use to hide yourself from the darkness of reality?
After being unable to get back to town after a brutal mugging we get to have a better view of the trailer park located outside of Miracle. It is an odd place with a collection of people seemingly straight out of a David Lynch film. Oddities, and what would be considered abhorrent behaviour is rampant. One such set of characters is a man and a woman. In order to get some money to attempt entrance into the town Jamison is forced into a situation where he must beat a man with a paddle as hard as he can whilst shouting the name “Brian”. We see Jamison’s savagery come out in this sequence, and we get a snippet of a story we may never be told that of “Brian” and whoever the man is Jamison is forced to hit. Jamison has just made a guest appearance in a story where he is not the protagonist. Just like in life when we pass by someone we may never see or hear from again, but we do something seemingly small that impacts their lives. Two of my favorite elements this season are introduced here in quick succession. One is the man being pelted by a multitude of thrown objects whilst stuck in stockades that are labelled with a single word “repent”. Jamison requests the man be let down, but he is told it can only be done if he takes his place. He refuses, which shows us the true dark secret of Jamison. He is selfish. Once the departure happened he had to prove to others that it wasn’t rapture. He had to gamble his way into saving his church. He keeps his wife alive, a shell of her former self, for her sake or for his? Is he so truly terrified of being left alone in the world, and being proven he is inadequate, that he will do whatever it takes to delude himself into heroism? In a future scene someone asks him his favorite book of the bible he replied “Job”. This gives us insight onto how he views himself. If one were to lobby accusations of “selfishness” he would respond by saying he was “suffering”. For those unaware to put it in simple terms the story of Job is about a man who loses everything but stays resolute in his devotion to God. God takes more and more away from him but he stands firm in his faith feeling he is doing what is just. This is another thing you are left to question: Is Jamison a Martyr, or a sinner?
After a beautiful long shot of a drain pipe, Jamison with the help of Nora finally manages to sneak back into the town of Miracle. Once they get back into town they see a car accident. The man who mugged Jamison early in the episode and stole his wristband is now dead. It seems his demise has been brought by a herd of Goats blocking the roads. With the excess of Goat imagery I am led to believe they may be referencing the book of Matthew 25:31-46 which has the following passage “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” The men outside the gates are the sheep, flocking, and gathering in a feeble attempt to enter the supposed holy land. Whenever a sheep manages to break in, he is either thrown out, or as seen in this episode killed. Sheep outside, Goats inside.
No One Laughs At God
The episode is bookended with another beautiful musical rendition, Laughing With by Regina Spektor. It leads to some beautiful sequences of Jamison facing his current situation. He believes he didn’t rape his wife, and he believe she awoke to converse with him once more. However no one else will. So instead of facing the town’s wrath he brings a punishment of his own making. He leaves his wife with Nora, and he goes back to the man in the stockades agreeing to take his place and repent. This is one of the greatest episodes of the series, because it truly challenges you, and wants you to think about what you believe in, and what you truly cherish.
Feel free to leave your thoughts below. We’d love to read what you think. You can also catch a preview of Episode 16 “Lens.”