The Leftovers Recap: Can We Talk?

The Leftovers Recap Gladys Dies

Since this week’s episode of The Leftovers was titled “Gladys,” and since nothing even remotely pleasant ever happens on this show (at least not unless Garvey and Nora happen to cross paths), you can probably guess that it doesn’t go well for the title character.

But what you probably can’t guess is that, over the course of the hour, not one but two members of the Guilty Remnant break their vow of silence, and what transpires on screen takes away our ability to utter anything but gasps. (It’s that horrific.) Scared? You should be. But let’s recap this sucker, anyway….

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FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK… | This installment opens with two members of the GR — the matronly, bespectacled one being Gladys, we learn — wandering around town being, as they are wont to, awful. When the other one takes a break from their awfulness at a gas station restroom, Gladys is grabbed by some masked men, dragged into the nearby woods, duct-taped to a tree and stoned to death. And, as despicable as she and the rest of the GR are, it is still damn near impossible to watch. “Please stop,” she finally says. But, of course, they don’t. (To borrow a line from Phoebe Buffay, “My eyes! My eyes!”)

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION | When Garvey is alerted to the murder, he’s already elbow deep in The Mystery of My Missing White Shirts and trying not to notice that Aimee has taken to sleeping over in lingerie that could’ve come from a Vanity 6 garage sale. To his surprise, Patti agrees that the GR must stay off the streets for their own safety until the killers are caught. Less cooperative is enigmatic, tobacky-chewing Dean, who happened upon the crime scene while hunting wild dogs and wants his rifle back. “It doesn’t shoot rocks,” he notes. Later, Garvey pays a visit to Jill’s school to let her know what has happened and that her mother is OK. But before he can get the words out, Jill imagines the worst and breaks down. Once she learns the truth, she’s pissed at herself. “I shouldn’t’ve cried,” she says. “She wouldn’t’ve cried for me.” Sad but, as far as Jill knows, true.

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THAT WAY MADNESS LIES | While Meg takes Gladys’ murder as a predictable side effect of the GR’s mission, Laurie is hit hard. So hard, in fact, that she suffers a panic attack. After she’s released from the hospital, Patti books the two of them rooms at a motel and gives her colored clothes to wear the following morning at breakfast. Then, over coffee and eggs and really pretty much everything short of mimosas, the GR leader speaks freely and explains that, every so often, they all need a day off from their BS their religion. She took Gladys there once, too, she adds, when Gladys had somehow found out that her son had been killed in Yemen. “She began to feel again,” Patti notes. And feeling is as bad as doubt, “because doubt is fire, and fire is gonna burn you up until you are but ash.” (Mm-hmm, check please!) Throughout the meal, like Gladys before her, Laurie doesn’t utter a syllable. But Patti continues to indulge herself by getting a doggie bag (to fill with her own excrement, if I had to guess) to leave on the doorstep of someone named Neil.

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMIN’ | Back in Garvey’s miserable corner of the story, the chief gives the GR rape whistles for protection (since the entire town council opposes the curfew he suggests/Mayor Lucy supports); he hits the roof when a very suspicious-seeming Det. Vitello directs Gladys’ murder investigation to a Fed (who creepily offers to make Mapleton’s cult problem “go away”); he all but assaults the dry cleaner who’s got his missing white shirts; and, finally, he sobs into a pillow after admitting to Jill that he and her mother are divorcing. (Anyone for a rousing chorus of “Everything Is Awesome”? Anyone?) Meanwhile, at the cul-de-sac, eager Meg starts wearing all white (Labor Day be damned!) to signify her commitment to the GR, and Laurie erases all traces of her humanity — and doubt — by interrupting Matt’s Mr. Microphone-assisted memorial service for Gladys by screeching at him with the very rape whistle Garvey left to save her sorry ass. Charming, no?

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OK, your turn. What did you think of the episode? As loathsome as the members of the GR are (extremely), didn’t you find Gladys’ murder beyond harrowing? Hit the comments!

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27 Comments
  1. Cesar88 says:

    I think you misunderstood why Laurie used that whistle, my theory is that it was her way of accusing him and his friends of murdering Gladys.

    • Fyrkat says:

      I agree. She wasn’t just trying to cause a disturbance.

    • marieakamary says:

      My theory is that by whistling to his face, she’s mirroring the fact that his words are like an annoying constant sound to her. The intentions behind her reaction are even more open to interpretation imho. I’ve liked reading what people thought of that particular scene. Since it’s all open to interpretation, then all interpretations have some sort of validity.

  2. dearlord says:

    Seriously, the most depressing show in the history of television.

  3. Para says:

    I love it more and more and more.

    What a profound show.

    • The biggest problem the show has is that it is far too smart for an audience.

      • I have thought the same thing when I read people that complain about this show. This show is brilliant, and like a good mystery drama, doesn’t feed you explanations to explain every single line. What really gets to me is tv reviewers that whine and complain. If you don’t have interest in the show, don’t recap or review. I never got into True Blood, however just because it isn’t my style of show after I tried it, I am not going to watch every week just to bash it. Millions of people love it.

        • jordan says:

          So, if people don’t like the show, it’s because the show is too smart for them? Or, maybe it’s because they just don’t like the show. It’s their job to recap the shows. I don’t see the point of this show at all. So far, it’s just watching people be miserable. There’s got to more to the show than that. But, this show is not too smart for people lol. Come on. It’s very easy to understand.

          • Not what I said. I said “an audience”. I didn’t say “people”. Big difference. My comment is actually critical of the show, not of people who don’t like it.

      • jordan says:

        I don’t think the show is that smart at all. It’s pretty easy to understand.

      • KevyB says:

        Which parts are too smart for an audience? The part where the dude elbows a picture of his wife? Or the part where his daughter oh-so-meaningfully pieces it back together? Or maybe the part where half the scenes involve people who won’t even talk? Or all those dreams, are they smart? Or maybe it’s the part where we are actually supposed to feel some sort of FEELINGS for a bunch of people we don’t know and don’t care about? I know! It’s the part where 2% of people have disappeared, a number about twice as high as the number of natural deaths that happen naturally and this town has gone batcrap crazy over losing about 50 more people than it usually does in a year???? AND THEY ARE STILL BATCRAP CRAZY AFTER THREE YEARS!!!!

        Just because it speaks to you, it doesn’t make it smart. This is Lost’s Damon Lindelof. He don’t know smart; he only knows pretentious.

        • Just because you don’t “get” it doesn’t mean other viewers don’t. Its a very difficult, unpleasant, uncomfortable and complex show, and its probably shot itself in the foot for that. Its also probably one of the best pieces of human drama currently on television.

  4. katastica says:

    I feel like this show is one of those shows that does weird things that are supposed to make us watch for answers but the answers never really come. They just keep doing the weird things that are supposed to have meaning but they haven’t figured them out yet either.

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  6. JohnG says:

    Fantastic show, but god DAMN is this show ever depressing and hard to watch sometimes. I have to be in a very specific mood to watch it.

  7. CountryQueen says:

    Interesting how we feel it is so hard for Laurie to not talk, and then the Rev goes and tells the story about how the easy thing is NOT to talk – to speak the truth. It does seem so cowardly, to me, to think that feelings are as bad as doubt, that doubt is fire that will burn you to ash. To me, these people are hiding from the despair they feel and see everywhere, they are insulating themselves, they don’t want life to be their problem. And they are trying to force others to feel this way (which is why they stole the pictures). No family seems to be their theme, but family is always what you make of it, something they’ve forgotten.

    Glady’s death was terrible. Very hard to watch. And we were all waiting to see if she would finally break, and talk. She did, but they didn’t listen to her plea, anymore than she listened to the gentlemen’s plea when he fell in front of her, and the other woman on the sidewalk. The final scene was chilling, lots of cult people heading into the crematorium.

    This show is certainly depressing, but I am enjoying it. Not everything has to be happy happy joy joy. Romeo and Juliet are a prime example. I love things that make me cry as much as make me laugh.

  8. Josh says:

    Does anyone else think that the higher ups in the GR movement were behind the murder? There as that scene at the beginning between Patti and Gladys… I think Gladys agreed to sacrifice herself to the cause. I was expecting a reveal at the end of the episode… I still think we’ll see it later in the season.

    • CountryQueen says:

      I think it’s just, sadly, a natural progression of events. Garvey predicted that things would escalate when they had Heroes Day, and we did see the clash, and with the GR taking pictures of peoples loved ones that were lost that day, people are going to be very mad. Some people will take to killing the GR the way that guy is killing the dogs. We are already seeing that people didn’t really care that she was dead, or how she was killed. The cops were making a mockery out of it, and the Fed even offered to come in and wipe them all out.

    • GGD says:

      Totally agree with you! Maybe instead of being a martyr for the cause, though, Gladys was accepting her punishment for being too emotional and wavering in her faith? I think Laurie had that panic attack because she knows the GR stoned Gladys. And later she was warned by Patti that the same thing could happen to her if she continued to show emotion!

  9. Fido says:

    Why no town wide uproar about all the photo pinching ?

    • G. says:

      It was mentioned at the town meeting in an oblique way — “They broke into our houses on Christmas” — but yeah, I agree : I’d have liked to have seen some follow-up to this attack on dozens of people by the cult.

      Not at all surprised the people have begun to strike back. I don’t think this war is over.

  10. Sheldon W. says:

    I found what happened to Gladys’ body in the last sequence to be more harrowing than anything else that happened in the ep. It made the callousness of her murder seem puny by comparison.

    It’s weird – normally I give a show three eps to impress me and if it hasn’t then I stop watching. So far, there have only been maybe three or four moments in five episodes that impressed me – not nearly enough to keep me watching. And yet, I’m still watching – through enough eyebrow acting to make Jaden Smith in After Earth look decent, no less.

    I really have no idea why.

  11. O V says:

    Poor Poor Poor Kathy Geist.

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  13. R.O.B. says:

    I haven’t read the book, so just specualting here. It seems to me that certain people who were left over were left there to be tested. The last image of all the cult people being incinerated. These cults are all over the country, apparently, operating independently. How does that happen, unless it is supposed to happen? Unless I missed something, I have no idea what the Guilty Remnant’s purpose is other than to be thorns in everyone’s sides. There is something to them showing Garvey waking up surprised, like he didn’t realize he fell asleep – happened twice in the episode. Something to the white shirts being hidden from him. Similarly, Matt is being tested – whatever is his deal, it revolves around traffic lights.

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