The Leftovers: So Close, Yet So Far Away

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Episode recaps
Photo Courtesy Of Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The third time was the charm for the new HBO Original Series “The Leftovers,” as episode three departed from the first two installments, by concentrating on one character, instead of going through the labyrinth of plotlines. We viewed the entire episode through the eyes of Reverend Matt Jamison, an outcast and divisive figure in the town of Mapleton. We see the Reverend giving a sermon to his congregation, that consists of about 20-people scattered through the pews. He first talks of a boy who overcame leukemia and then about a little girl named Emily who’s been in a coma for the last nine-days.

As the group bows their heads to pray, the front door of the church swings open and a large, hefty man stomps down the main aisle glaring at the Reverend. When he reaches the pulpit he attacks Jamison, first landing a blow to his nose, knocking Matt to the floor and then starts kicking him in the chest and ribs. He then pulls out a sheet of paper, that contains the picture of a young woman that vanished on October 14, and states she was a drug-dealer. The man crumples up the leaflet and sticks it into the Reverend’s mouth then storms out of the building.

The leaflet and others like them were creations by Jamison, trying to convince the departed were not taken from the planet as part of the Rapture, the Reverend searches for people with unsavory pasts to prove they were unworthy of being saved by God. This is far from the first angry member of the community, as many have reacted the same way since Matt started passing out the leaflets. His once high standing in Mapleton has vanished, as most residents consider him evil or possibly insane.

Jamison is in the emergency room getting his nose stitched and other injuries attended to, while a plain-clothes detective asks the Reverend about his beating in a derisive tone. Just then police chief Kevin Garvey walks in, asks Matt if he’s pressing charges against his attacker and when the Reverend replies he won’t, Garvey dismisses the detective. There’s a connection between them as Matt was a close friend of Kevin Garvey Sr. and the Chief expresses concern about the Reverend’s campaign. Matt tells Garvey that his father understood what truly happened three-years earlier and the Chief reminds him that Garvey Sr. is in a mental institution.

Matt’s received a flurry of voice-mails from a loan officer at the FDR Bank and the Reverend is doing his best to avoid speaking to the bank employee. He soon realizes that he’s become a target of the “Remnants,” as two chain-smoking women dressed in white follow him where ever he goes. Finally tiring of the game of cat and mouse, Jamison offers the pair a box of donated clothes, apologizing that none of them are white. He also asks them to relate to their leader Patti, that they are wasting their time as he will not join their cult.

When the Reverend gets back to the church, there’s a knock on the door and a young father carrying his infant son asks if the church’s open, and Matt welcomes them both inside. The young man explains that his wife and he were faithful parishioners until the departure, but his wife would have nothing to do with religion since that day. He tells Jamison that she’s having a manicure and pedicure while he watches his son and asks how long a Baptism would take and Matt responds with a broad smile. Matt puts on his robes and performs the ceremony and when the man asks what the fee was, he’s told it’s on the house. The Reverend does suggest that he, his wife and newly Baptized son attend the following Sunday’s service, but the man responds that wouldn’t happen.

Matt accidentally picks up the phone as FDR Bank calls again, he explains he’s experienced phone trouble and tells the loan officer he would head straight for the bank. When he arrives he’s hit with some catastrophic news, the bank has a buyer for the church, as it became bank property when the loan for the building went into default. The bank representative tells that the group that made the offer would pay $135 thousand and if Matt could top that by a dollar, the bank will give him the church. Matt asks the deadline and the loan officer tells him by the end of business the following day.

We find out in the following scene that Matt’s sister is our old friend Nora Durst, the woman who lost her entire family in the departure. She asks Matt if his wife Mary’s okay and when he responds she’s fine Nora asks him what’s troubling him. He tells her that he needs to borrow $135 thousand to save the church. Nora’s not happy with the request and her brother reminds her that their parents used to run the parish. When she asks him how he thinks she has the money to lend him, he brings up the departure benefits she received for her husband and two children.

Nora tells her brother she will give him the money if he stops his newsletter campaign. Matt tells her he can’t, the exposing of bad people among the departed was his mission. He then destroys any chance of getting the money from his sister, when he tells her that her husband Doug was having an affair with their kids pre-school teacher and he had documented proof. Nora started hysterically laughing as she attempts to process what her brother just told her and why he would sink so low.

Matt arrives home and in his living room a Latina woman is sitting on his couch, who’s the caretaker for Jamison’s wife Mary. She’s another not pleased with the Reverend as he’s three weeks behind on her salary. He gives her the little money in his wallet and promise to pay her in full as soon as possible. She’s not impressed by the money he gives her and tells him that unless she gets paid she will have to quit and tells him that Mary needs her bath. We see photographs of Matt and Mary, she comes across as a very pretty and vibrant woman, but she’s no longer that woman as she lies in bed gaunt and unresponsive with her eyes wide open. Matt bathes her and puts her to bed, then unfolds a cot for himself next to the bed.

As the Reverend climbs into his cot, the emotion he’s repressed comes pouring out as he cries and sobs so hard that he starts shaking. He then sees a painting of heaven and he realizes what he must do. He gets out of bed, gets dressed and calls his wife’s caretaker to watch over Mary while he goes on a mission. He tells the caretaker that she’ll be paid in full when he returns home in the morning.

Armed with a shovel, Jamison drives over to the Garvey house and walks into the backyard, when he’s startled by one of the “Remnants,” Laurie Garvey. He tells Laurie that her father-in-law had stashed something for Matt and he was there to retrieve it, Laurie writes him a note pleading that Matt not mention she was at her former home. The Reverend responds that if she says nothing about him being there, that he will respond in kind.

He enters the garage, moves a Webber grill and starts digging at the dirt where the grill had been. Quickly he finds a plate covering a hole and he pulls out a Jif Peanut Butter jar stuffed with cash. He pulls out two huge rolls of money and then puts everything else back where it belonged. Jamison heads to a casino and gives the teller the cash so he can get chips to bet with, she gives him $20 thousand in chips back.

Matt walks directly to a roulette table and puts all his chips on red, a floor supervisor walks over and informs the Reverend that no-limit tables are in the back, but he refuses to move from that table. The supervisor gets clearance from his superiors and wishes Jamison good luck. Lady Luck’s on his side as his money is soon doubled. He sticks with the same bet and seconds later his nest egg’s grown to 80 K. A young couple come over to watch and when Matt says he’s going again, the woman bets against him. The wheel turns round in slow-motion and we watch Matt’s impassive face light up with unadulterated joy. He now has $160,000, enough to replenish the peanut butter jar, buy the church with plenty left over to pay the caretaker.

He get’s into his car and the guy who was at the table approaches and congratulates him. He then asks Matt for one hundred to get he and his girlfriend gas to travel back home and Jamison peels off two hundred to give him. The guy then tells Matt to keep the two bills and grabs the envelope with the rest of the money and knocks the Reverend down. Matt however, summons the strength to rise chase down the thief, knocking him to the ground and then slamming his opponent’s head repeatedly against the black-top, grabs the money gets back in his car and releases a primal-scream.

It’s morning when Jamison enters the Mapleton town limits and “Love Will Keep Us Together” plays on the car radio, he looks at the envelope blood stained but filled with cash when he sees two male “Remnants,” attacked by a guy in a passing truck who hits one of the men with a rock in the head. Matt pulls over to help and calls 911 just as the truck returns and this time he’s struck by a rock and the screen goes black.

The Reverend finds himself outside his church with his face completely healed and sees groups of people heading into the building. One of his stalkers dressed in bright colors and greets him at the door, when Matt asks if he’s too late the woman responds all are welcome. He walks in and sees his church packed to the rafters, but he suddenly wakes up finding himself in a hospital bed. Finding out it’s 4:30 pm, he gets dressed and drives as quickly as he can to the bank with the money.

The bank’s closed, but he bangs on the door until a security guard comes out to tell him they’re closed, however the loan officer seeing it’s Matt tells the guard to let him in. Matt hands the man the money, but the bank official tells him that he’s three days late. Apparently the injury kept him unconscious for over 72-hours and the bank took the other group’s offer when they couldn’t contact Jamison. He tells Matt the group started work on the property the day before.

The Reverend drives to his former church and quickly realizes that the “Remnants,” have bought the church and are in the process of painting everything white. Matt locks eyes with Patti as the episode comes to the conclusion.

This was by far the most enjoyable episode of the series as we saw things through one character’s perspective, there were no perplexing unexplained developments as the story came across clearly and plainly. Matt Jamison is a flawed man battling inner-demons, but we understood his motivation whether we agreed with it or not. Creator Damon Lindelof, excelled at these type of stories in his classic series “Lost,”  as we learned about all the castaways through flashback episodes. This episode gives me hope that “The Leftovers,” can live up to the standards I expected before the series debuted. This is a start and hopefully the show will start to follow this template more often, if not in every episode.

The story will pick up again next Sunday night on HBO

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