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The Leftovers Season 1: “Gladys”

By Rhiannon Kavity on Jul 28, 2014 to The Leftovers


“One of our…”

Anyone who has watched The Leftovers so far has surely experienced at least one moment of discomfort when it comes to the Guilty Remnant. As someone who read the book, I have a bit more understanding of their cause than the show has provided thus far but the entire organization has served its purpose of providing a terrifying reality of how people cope with tragedy. A religious cult, whose main desire is to constantly remind the world of those they have lost, is not a far cry from what might actually happen in our society should something like the Rapture ever happen.

The episode began with the horrifying scene where a GR member was brutally attacked and beaten to death with rocks. The Leftovers doesn’t hold back with these type of scenes, which can be viewed as an asset or a liability by its fans. Personally, the scene was a bit too graphic and only held the point of the member begging for her life with her voice, something the GR members are forbidden to use. This was also a huge change from the book, in which no such attack happened.

One of my biggest complaints as far as the book to screen adaptation is that the show seems to cash in on more of the violent aspects than the book did. This is not an uncommon thing, as those types of plots and sometimes draw a greater audience than the more tame story lines. I’m hoping that there will be more depth behind them than we’ve seen thus far.


“I shouldn’t have cried. She wouldn’t have cried for me.”

One of the things I love the most about this show is how realistic the reactions are. A big complaint about the series is that it’s disjointed and confusing for people just tuning in. My argument for that is that it’s supposed to be. The entire point is that we’re watching a show that dives into the very realistic reactions of human beings whose entire world has been ripped upside down and torn apart. Nothing would be 100% clear and concise after that happens.

We see this in Jill tonight when her father shows up at school and she immediately begins crying hysterically thinking something has happened to her mother. Despite the fact that her mother left them, Jill still has very realistic reactions for a teenage girl. She still went out of her way to buy her mother a Christmas gift and it’s still her biggest fear that she’s going to lose her even when she attempts to play it off as if she could care less.


“Doubt is fire, and fire is going to burn you up until you are but ash.”

Perhaps one of the most surprising scenes this episode took place in the diner where Patty gives Laurie the opportunity to revert back to her pre-GR ways. They wear normal colored clothes and Patty speaks despite the rules they’ve lived by in their society. Despite the fact that she is given a “get out of jail free” card and told that she can unburden herself, Laurie remains stoically silent. We learn that the exact same opportunity was given to Gladys, the murdered woman, and she remained just as faithful to their beliefs as Laurie did.

With their lack of vocal communication, it’s hard to grow attached to the characters in the GR. It’s easy to imagine them as cold, heartless, and uncaring. Tonight’s scenes between Laurie and Patty gave them a level of humanity that we have not seen yet, something that I think will make the entire GR organization just a little more likable.


“Killing these people is pointless. They don’t care because they’re already dead. What I want is to bring them back to life.”

leftovers10__1406541638_109.78.212.161One of the most surprising things for me as far as this adaptation is how Reverend Matt quickly became one of my favorite characters. I despised him in the book, something I think was expected, but the way they’ve developed his character in the show has been wonderful. Last week’s episode was easily one of my favorites and his scenes were beautiful this episode. He begs for an opportunity to pray over Gladys, simply because she was a familiar face, regardless of how the GR took over his church. While most people react towards them with violence and anger, he wants nothing more than to “save” them.

The “funeral” he throws for Gladys outside the GR home seemed like it was going to be a step in the right direction. Instead of attempting to force these people to speak as so many other characters do, he tries to give them a voice. Laurie dramatically emerging from the house and blowing on her emergency whistle only goes to show that these people don’t believe they need a voice.


“I’m the only person who gives a shit about you people…”

I’m a little surprised by the unity that’s developed between the GR and Kevin Garvey’s department. His resentment towards them is far from unfounded with the way his wife abandoned their family to join the cult. In the books, Kevin’s character is the Mayor rather than the police chief. Personally, I enjoy his character on the show far more than I ever did in the novel. He’s chaotic and damaged and real, and provides us with a phenomenal character to experience.

One of the things I’m enjoying most is the fact that despite everything, he’s still an inherently good man. The GR ripped his world apart and took away the woman he loves, but that doesn’t stop him from sleeping outside their facility all night to make sure that the people within are safe. If that doesn’t show some redeemable characteristics, I don’t know what will.

For the first few episodes of the season, I genuinely thought the man with the guns who goes around killing the rabid dogs (a plot point I will never truly be able to get with) was a figment of Kevin’s fractured psyche. We find out this episode through his interactions with other characters that he is actually real and might provide an interesting plotline. It appears as though he will star as Kevin’s antagonist, the character who consistently challenges him. I see him as a reflection of exactly what Kevin could possibly become, the worst version of himself, and I’m fairly sure Kevin sees that too.

A disturbing concept is introduced this episode when the ATFEC becomes notified of the GR murder and Kevin begins to panic that they are going to become involved in the investigation. The ATFEC agent volunteers to “take care of” the GR problem and restore everything back to normal in Mapleton. The idea of a large government agency turning against a singular group of people is not extremely farfetched but still a terrifying idea. Kevin denies the request, assuring the Agent that he can handle the issue on his own.

This is one of the things I find most fascinating about the show. None of the things that happen as a result of the Rapture are out of left field. Each and every one has a real possibility of occurring and despite the disjointed way they construct them, I love that they don’t back away from plots that might been offensive or upsetting to the viewer.

A huge shout out has to go to Mr. Jeremy Burnett, who premiered tonight as one of Kevin Garvey’s deputies during the murder investigation. Mr. Burnett took the time out of his busy schedule to give us a wonderful quote about his experience and perfectly sums up exactly what it is about the show that keeps us coming back for more:

“I wish I had the answers even if I did I probably wouldn’t give them away…but I think that’s the beauty of the Leftovers. It has everyone talking and making their own interpretations. It gets the audience wondering, which is why it’s one of the hottest shows this summer…whether you love it or don’t understand it, people are talking about it. My friends and family watch every episode at least twice and they get something different out of it every time and it keeps them intrigued. I think the best thing about the Leftovers is that it creates a world of interesting people, interesting characters, and an interesting story that gets people talking and saying “what if.” “What if that happened to my family, my child, my spouse?” People are wondering if it was aliens, the rapture, God, etc. And I think for a TV show to create this kind of buzz and mystery to a point that it has everyone wondering, tuning in week after week, re-watching episodes, debating with their friends. I think it’s great for everyone involved. Those of us that are Leftover.”

Check out the preview for next week’s episode, “Guest”:

  • Jef Dinsmore

    This episode was mostly about what the Guilty Remnant, obviously, and from it we learned two things.

    1. That even though, by their silence they make it look easy, it is a battle to suppress their emotions every day. Others like Garvey getting angry all the time is the other side of the coin. When it comes to dealing,with issues and grief Is it easier, healthier and better, to keep it in check or let it rage? That is an evaluation each of us must make for ourselves.

    2. Guilty Remnant members are, among other things, hypocrites. They can silently taunt, torment, and commit crime for their cause, but cannot tolerate it done to them. Laurie blowing the whistle on Matt was pathetic. they can dish it out, but cannot take it. Notice, however, no law enforcement was appearing in the background in response to the emergency whistle.

    3. No one deserves to be murdered but Gladys and her ilk are steadfast in their beliefs and attitude, and it was no surprise that one of them was killed. To me, this was the most emotional episode to date.

    In the end we get it; the journey is hard for the GR too, but it seems due to their convictions, they make it hard for themselves.

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