The Leftovers Recap: Scene Stealer

First it was 2 percent of the population. Then it was Garvey’s bagel. And now Baby Jesus has gone missing on The Leftovers. Well, not the Baby Jesus but the doll used in Mapleton’s Nativity scene. And that isn’t even the worst thing that happens as the beleaguered suburb celebrates Christmas in (what for us is) July. Pop a Prozac and read on. I’ll tell you all about it.

LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING | After Jill argues that just buying a new Baby Jesus is “cheating” and Mayor Lucy orders Garvey to do exactly that, he’s so annoyed that he makes it his mission to track down the sacred toy. Since he suspects his daughter, aka the only teenager sulkier than Bella Swan, he immediately questions her pals, the Frost twins, who of course lie through their identical teeth. But the chief’s instincts are absolutely correct: In fact, that very night, one of Jill’s classmates fits Baby Jesus with a Roman helmet (do yourself a favor and don’t look up what that means!) and then Jill herself takes aim at it with a flaming Nerf arrow in order to give it a Viking funeral. When push comes to shove, however, she can’t fire. (Okay, so maybe she’s not all bad.) Later, Baby Jesus is left on Garvey’s doorstep, and we think, “Yeah! Finally! A win for the chief!” Only, by the time he gets around to returning B.J. to its crib — d’oh! — Reverend Matt has already replaced it with a spare.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS | Meanwhile, Tom is having the crappiest holiday since Silent Night, Deadly Night. First ditzy Christine is attacked at a hospital by a pantsless nutso who claims, “I know what’s inside you” (Holy Wayne’s progeny, it turns out), then Tom has to beat a hasty retreat because the mother-to-be’s doctor thinks he’s the one who left her black and blue. And just when it appears that Tom’s day can’t possibly get any more sucktacular, he’s approached by the Guilty Remnant with a pamphlet whose cover reads, “Everything That Matters About You Is Inside” — and whose inside is empty. (Bitches, kicking a guy when he’s down!) At his wit’s end, Tom asks for a sign from Holy Wayne that he shouldn’t give up and go home. And at that very moment, his phone rings: It’s one of those prerecorded telemarketing calls, this one offering a way for Leftovers to feel like they’ve achieved closure with the departed. For some reason, this is sign enough for Tom, so he retrieves Christine from her hospital bed, and off they go again. But wait, there’s more. (Does this show ever let up?) When Tom wakes from a nap on their bus out of Dodge, Christine is flirting with a soldier, also named Tom. And next thing ya know, the bus has happened upon a highway full of Loved Ones — so far as I could tell, dummies that the bereaved bury in place of their vanished relatives. This somehow plays into dreams that Christine has been having and in time will somehow make sense. Somehow. Maybe?

CHRISTMAS EVIL | In case you thought that a pointless search for a kidnapped Baby Jesus was going to be the only indignity heaped upon Garvey in “B.J. and the A.C.” (and are we to assume that the A.C. is the Antichrist? Christine’s baby? One and the same?), he’s also paid a visit by Laurie and Meg. Since Laurie has sworn off talking, Meg reads Garvey a letter from his wife in which she thanks him for loving Tom like his own son (even though Tom is her ex’s) and for trying to fix what was broken in her. Unfortunately, “I think,” Meg says for Laurie, “I’m supposed to stay broken.” That being the case, the ominous envelope the women have brought contains divorce papers. Furious, Garvey is shouting at Laurie — “You want this over, you [bleeping] say it!” — when Jill comes home. And man, is there ever some ache in this moment. Jill quietly reaches under the Christmas tree and pulls out a present for her mom — a lighter (the perfect gift for a member of the GR, after all) inscribed with a heartbreaking message: “Don’t forget me.” All this, and we’re still not done piling it on poor Garvey. While he’s arresting the GR members who turn up in typically ominous fashion at Mapleton’s Christmas dance, the rest of them — including Laurie and Meg — are Grinchily breaking into people’s homes and removing from picture frames any photos they might have of the Departed. Excuse me, but that is some cold s— right there.

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? And how relieved were you to see, especially amid all this darkness, Garvey and Nora enjoying at least a moment of levity at the dance? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. After every episode I don’t know if I’m really intrigued by the show or if I’m just hoping to see those Mother F’rs in white have something really horrible happen to them for a change because honestly the other story lines are really dull.

  2. knd says:

    The scene with the cult members stealing the photos killed me. That’s beyond cruelty. At the same time I still don’t know how I feel about this show.

    • Lia says:

      I know how you feel.

    • Fido says:

      Found it chilling, but did they remove EVERY photo or JUST those who had been teleported ?

      • ME says:

        That’s what I was wondering, I didn’t feel it was clear. In the first scene, the lady wrote a note to Garvey saying there is no family. I assumed they just removed all the photos in the houses. I mean, they would had to know specifically who departed and who didn’t to know which photos to remove right?

  3. Bobby says:

    I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I’m not jaded or trying to be overly critical, but the show is predictable, the writing is terrible, the dialogue feels unnatural and shallow, the acting is bad aside from a couple actors, most characters like the daughter and her friend are universally unlikable, and there are many flat out ridiculous things like a chain-smoking cult who constantly write on paper because they vowed silence (what’s the point then?). Not to mention there are scenes which just don’t make any sense. Why does the guy bolt out of the hospital after saying “they think I did it”. First of all, if they asked the asian girl she would say he didn’t. That’s all it would take. Additionally, there were TONS of witnesses who saw the naked brit do it. What way to look more guilty than run out the way he did? It’s so strange to me to see people commenting on this show the way you have when you write for established magazines. Most people know the show is bad, yet still there are reviewers like you who find some redeeming qualities by staring at every scene and every shot, hoping to find a golden egg. You could find things to praise the way you did in absolutely anything on tv. If this show was not on HBO I could see it barely being acceptable, but don’t you realize how cheap and poor quality it is compared to something like True Detective or Game of Thrones? Seriously, compare the writing, direction, and cinematography to that of True Detective (and I’m not even gonna mention the acting since it’s unfair to compare them to such big screen actors). Any reviews like this just reflect the absence of any aesthetic sensibilities in the reviewers. I’m sure you are a nice person with a talent for eloquent descriptions, but when a show sucks, it sucks. Plain and simple. And anyone writing reviews for mass audiences should know that, at least as well as the common person does.

    • me says:

      I mostly agree with you. Except there are only two kinds of actors; good actors, and terrible actors. Your distinction of “big screen actor” is nonsense.

    • Matt Cail says:

      i agee with you 1000% try to get into the mystery all we get is white dressed cigerette smoking no talking cult . wrootng is not there . no suspense

  4. chip says:


  5. Tahoe Mike says:

    Aimee is hot, this shoe is not. What a bummer after the fun of True Blood.

  6. G. says:

    The life-sized ‘Loved Ones’ mannequins for vanished people were mentioned in an advertisement on TV — I think in last week’s episode.

  7. Matt Cail says:

    i will give this series one more week , it isnt going anywere ,sure strange things hapen the chief car suddenly dies no power . otherwise i am board

    • knd says:

      Agreed. I don’t think I can waste anymore time on this show. It just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There really is no objective.

    • Tangerine Green says:

      This show is just one hour of frustration after another. I only watch hoping that someone will punch or shoot or run over one of the cult members. Justin Theroux is the only good thing about this dismal fiasco.

  8. AnnieM says:

    It’s my understanding that the book this show is based on never explained anything either – so what’s the point of watching? I gave up on it, but hubby is still watching. I use that time to read a book.

  9. CountryQueen says:

    I listened to this audio book when it first came out. I’m a big fan of Tom Perrotta, He never does explain in the book what happens – BECAUSE THAT’S NOT WHAT’S IMPORTANT. This is a story about the survivors, who have no idea what happened. Imagine how that would change our world, imagine how that would change you! Yes it’s depressing, it’s suppose to be. Not everything is all sunshine and roses in entertainment.

    The cult is interesting. Everything that matters is inside – I immediately thought “Of you” to finish that sentence.” But would I think that way after people disappeared? Dunno.

  10. ME says:

    OK, so is the reason why we have seen all these things happen to these people for the last few weeks without explanation due to the fact that they (show creators/producers) want to put the viewers in the same mind frame as the main characters? I feel increasingly frustrated as I watch the show, similar to how Garvey, Tom, the reverend, etc feel as they have no answers to what is going on around them. Are we supposed to be questioning stuff and figuring out things along with them? This show requires patience, even when there isn’t any reason to have any. I’m not sure that is a good thing for a television show trying to find an audience. I feel like this show is going to go one of two ways, there’s going to be total payoff at some point or it’s going to end up making me mad for wasting my time.