This show is filled with so many metaphors that they’re literally spilling off the screen. The Leftovers is a show based on the so-called “sudden departure” of loved ones and how the remaining people deal with being left behind. In the fourth episode of this striking series (most of the other episodes too), a lot of religious themes are used despite the fact that the creator of the show declared that the “departure” isn’t really related to the biblical Rapture but rather a twist on it.
Maybe I’m overthinking things or maybe sometimes when a message is so overt you can’t possibly believe what you see. Anyway, in the beginning of the show, viewers see a doll being created, placed in a perfect package and put on shelves in a toy store. Then, someone comes in the store and buys one of the baby dolls which just happens to be the doll used in the Nativity scene that is set up somewhere in the town. Months pass and the scene remains. However, around Christmas time the baby Jesus doll from the beginning goes missing. What exactly is this whole process symbolizing? Is it related to the show’s plot in any way? Is there some deeper explanation as to why Kevin would rather go looking for the lost baby Jesus doll instead of just getting a new one like the mayor instructed?
Anyway, there’s more trouble going on in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York, than just a missing baby doll. It’s near Christmas and it’ll be yet another Christmas without a lot of the town’s loved ones. There’s a Christmas dance going on at the library and Kevin invites Patti (the leader of the Guilty Remnant) to his office to try to get her and her crew to stay away and to let people be with their families. However, the only answer he gets from her is an angrily written note saying that “there is no family.” Not understanding what that means at all, Kevin takes it as a sign that the GRs won’t back down. So, he gathers his policemen together and they plot to arrest the GRs when they make their appearance.
Meanwhile, Tom’s son is dealing with his own baggage as he totes around Christine and waits religiously on Holy Wayne’s call. Still, Christine is young, naïve and isn’t averse to talking to complete strangers. However, when an insane, naked man attacks Christine on the grounds that he believes Christine was in his dream and “walking among the dead,” Tom and Christine make a run for it. They end up at a hospital and it’s revealed that Christine might be the most significant Asian teen in Holy Wayne’s harem because she’s carrying his child. Unfortunately for the traveling duo, the nurse thinks that the wound on Christine’s stomach was dealt by Tom since his knuckles were bruised from fighting off the crazed naked man. Tom, thinking that the nurse might call the police, tries to get Christine to leave with him but runs off when she refuses.
On the other side of insanity, Kevin’s car starts to give trouble and he nearly meets in an accident when the breaks stop working. Then he remembers the perfectly good truck that was given to him by the mysterious man who constantly invites him to kill dogs.
Tom is approached by two Guilty Remnants while he finds temporary refuge under a bus stop and laughs when they hand him a pamphlet saying “everything is inside you.” There are no words inside the pamphlet. It’s so strange. I mean, Tom would join Holy Wayne’s “organization” but denounce the GRs? I don’t get that at all. Both of them function as a cult. Is it because there’s more freedom in Wayne’s group or that the GRs are the complete opposite of Wayne’s crew? Anyhow, the fact that he’s seeing the Guilty Remnant around must mean that he’s close to home, right? Or have they become that popular that they’ve moved on to different towns?
Funnily enough, when he secretly asks that Wayne call him and explain everything, the phone does ring but it’s a false alarm, and Tom lets out an insane laughter but doesn’t get on the bus.
Meanwhile, Kevin approaches two of Jill’s groupies and questions them about whether or not Jill is responsible for stealing the baby Jesus doll. I kept thinking that Kevin was really ridiculous to believe that just because his daughter isn’t among the goody-two-shoes that she’d stoop to stealing plastic dolls. However, I’m proven wrong in the next scene when Jill and other teens are having a bonfire near a shore with the plastic baby doll in tow. For the first time in the show, Aimee seems to have more of a conscience than Jill as she urges Jill to return the doll. This is kind of surprising since I’d taken Aimee for the hard, rebellious chick who doesn’t know where to draw the line, but maybe there’s more to her. Apparently, Jill realizes this as she doesn’t burn the baby doll that they’d doused in kerosene oil.
Back at home, Kevin receives an unusual visit from Laurie and Meg. Meg acts as Laurie’s mouthpiece as she reads a letter which sounds close to a goodbye. Kevin is outraged, grabs the envelope the two had brought in with them and opens it to reveal a divorce form. Kevin loses his shit and demands that Laurie asks him to annul their marriage with her own voice. The air gets quiet when Jill enters the room. Jill doesn’t say anything but goes over to the Christmas tree, picks up a tiny box and hands it to her mother. Later, when Laurie and Meg leave and are walking down a street, Laurie opens the gift to find a cigarette holder with the words “Don’t Forget Me…” engraved on it. Meg says that Laurie should keep it and that she wouldn’t tell anyone if she did. Instead, Laurie throws the gift down into an open sewer.
Jill’s groupies bring back the doll, place it on Kevin’s doorstep and try to escape the scene in the lamest way ever. Later, when Kevin sees the pastor placing a ceramic baby Jesus doll where the old one used to be, Kevin takes the doll that Jill’s two goofs brought back in his van and spontaneously throws it out of the window. Obviously, with everything that’s happened to him, he’s fed up beyond belief.
Tom returns to the hospital, shoeless, with a target mark on his forehead from a hippie man whom he’d met at the beginning of the show. Apparently, he believes that dressing like this will make him and Christine invisible. Upon going into the elevator, he spots a sheriff who looks at him funny and then asks how Tom got like that. Tom responds that his father abandoned him. Then he goes, gets Christine, and they leave the hospital.
They take a bus that leads to God-knows-where and Tom awakens to Christine talking to, yet again, another stranger. This time it’s a soldier whose name happens to be Tom. All of a sudden their bus comes to a shaky halt. When they get out and explore the reason for the sudden stop, the passengers find bodies covered in white bags littering the road. Apparently, a truck that was carrying dead people to a funeral home was overturned. Why were there so many dead people? Were they just artificial products made to take the place of loved ones so that people whose relatives got taken in the October 14th incident could properly mourn their dead? The white bag did say “handle product with care.” Strangely enough, the crazed man’s dream did come true; Christine was walking among dead people in white.
Regardless of Kevin’s valiant approach to arrest the GRs at the Christmas dance, Patti only smiles like she knows something that he doesn’t. However, she frowns when he asks where the rest of the GRs are. In the next scene, the remaining GRs take to people’s homes – while owners are asleep or busy – and remove all the pictures from their albums, random pictures hanging around, everywhere. This is the part that got me really pissed. I mean, okay, people don’t agree with the Guilty Remnants on giving up their lives to remembering what happened and nothing else, but that doesn’t mean they have a right to strip them of their pictures. It’s not right to take away someone’s choice like that.
On top of it, not all of them are committed to the organization’s goal. When the episode is coming to an end, Laurie decides to walk back to the GR community instead of traveling in the minivan with the others. She does this just so she can go back to that same gutter and retrieve the cigarette holder her daughter gave her. Unfortunately, she can’t reach it no matter how hard she tries. This is another metaphor I saw popping out of the show. Laurie reaching for that cigarette holder seems as if it’s a metaphor for her reaching for her old life despite having taken up home with the GRs.
*Sigh*. There are so many things to be resolved in this show. I love mysteries as much as the next guy but I just hope when the curtain parts and the secret behind the whole event is revealed I won’t be disappointed by a simple explanation. At the end of this series I want the secret to blow my mind in ways I didn’t think was possible. I want to sit back in my couch, scratch my head and think “damn, I didn’t see that coming at all!”