The Leftovers Recap: The Way We Were

The Leftovers Recap Season 1

The penultimate first season episode of The Leftovers takes us back in time three years, to the days leading up to the Sudden Departure. And, although the hour shows us exactly what its title promises — “The Garveys at Their Best” — it also reveals the cracks in the foundation of the family that probably would’ve broken it up even if the world hadn’t been turned upside-down. Shall we rewind?

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SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE | At first, the Garveys appear to be a pretty picture-perfect family. (And their house… good Lord, second only to Revenge’s Grayson Manor!) Kevin’s biggest sin is that he sneaks cigarettes behind Laurie’s back while he’s out for his morning jogs. Laurie not only is a successful shrink, she also talks — laughs, even — and wears colors other than white. Jill — adorable in her braces — is as bubbly a teenager as you’ll ever see beyond the Disney Channel. And Tom… well, he’s a bit fixated on his biological father, who wants nothing to do with him. But his angst is still preferable to the Holy Wayne mess into which he later gets himself. As for Garvey Sr., the chief is so beloved and sane that he’s named Mapleton’s Man of the Year. Meanwhile, just across town, Nora is also her radiant former self, doting on her kids and enthusiastically applying to be future mayor Lucy’s campaign manager.

ON CLOSER INSPECTION | Sadly, there’s more to our regulars than meets the eye. Among Laurie’s patients is Patti, who is sure that every day is the end of the world and suspects that her analyst can sense it, too. (We also find out exactly why Patti left a doggy bag full of poop on her abusive ex’s doorstep weeks ago… er, years from now — it was Laurie’s idea!) Laurie insists that she’s A-okay, but in fact, she’s anything but. She’s pregnant and reluctant to inform Kevin. Why? Perhaps because she can feel him pulling away. At Garvey Sr.’s Man of the Year party, Kevin looks at his amazing life and asks his dad, “Why isn’t it enough?” No man ever think it’s enough, the elder Garvey says, adding that “you have no greater purpose, because ‘it’ IS enough.” Later, try as Kevin might to save the deer that keeps accidentally trapping itself inside classrooms and trashing homes, the animal is hit by a car and he’s forced to shoot it to put it out of his misery. (Kevin and deer… they go way back, apparently.)

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POOF! | That same day, when we arrive at the fateful moment of the Sudden Departure, Laurie is at the doctor’s office, listening to her fetus’ heartbeat but leaning toward abortion. (Her husband doesn’t even want to get the dog that they’ve been discussing, so how would he react to a baby?) Kevin is at a motel having sex with the driver of the car that hit the deer. Tom and Jill are at her science fair helping make a circuit. And Nora… she’s playing out a scene any mother can relate to, screaming at her family because juice got spilled on her cell (just as Lucy was calling about the job). And that’s that. In an instant, Laurie’s fetus has vanished from the monitor, Kevin’s lover is nowhere to be found, Tom and Jill’s circuit is missing a link, and Nora’s husband and kids have disappeared into thin air.

OK, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Wasn’t it cool — and painful — to see how different people were before the Sudden Departure? Gladys was downright sweet! Hit the comments!

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20 Comments
  1. Walter Freeman says:

    I’m gonna pretend the True Blood finale suddenly departed before broadcast tonight.

  2. Guest says:

    OMG, all the departed were people that other people wished would go AWAY!!!

    Even the fetus!

  3. Emily says:

    I loved this episode. From a book reader’s perspective, I have been wishing that they would show some reasoning for how the characters got to where they are now (Laurie in the GR, and Tom with Holy Wayne). I think that this episode was a nice bridge to that point.

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  5. para says:

    chills every where

  6. Et al says:

    This show delivers every week. A riveting hour of television. I can’t believe it’s almost the season finale. I don’t want it to end.

  7. Edward says:

    This episode felt earned especially for those for us who stuck with this show for this long.

    • I agree. It was earned, because I’ve been sitting here watching this show, and thinking, while it’s challenging, and difficult to watch at times, there has to be a redeeming quality to it. So far, I hadn’t seen it. The acting is superb, but the story doesn’t allow for me to really attach myself to anyone from an empathetic stand point. People are doing things that make little to no sense, with no explanation for their actions. Finally we got some beginning as to why we have all these things going on. Finally I understand the many different struggles of motivation that are happening. Until this point, while I was challenged, I was also lost. Hopefully it keeps up, because I’m not into shows where there’s nothing for me to relate to, and crazy for the fact of crazy.

  8. Christina says:

    I agree with Edward’s comment above. This really did feel like a reward for sticking through the show. Which I do love by the way. But it is a fairly depressing show with not a lot of answers.
    This episode gave me everything that I didn’t even know I wanted. I have read many critics saying the show is too depressing to watch which I obviously don’t agree with. It is certainly heart-wrenching but I think it’s also wonderfully written and skillfully acted.
    This was by far my favorite episode

  9. amy says:

    Who were the people in the car that stopped by Kevin when he was out on his run on the 14th? I hope we get some follow-up to that, since it seems like they recognized he was important.

    • Valarie says:

      I agree I want to know also. He is important but he does not know it yet so they kept going. The made such a point in the episode for him to want a greater purpose.

    • John encalada says:

      I think the people in the car symbolizes the voices that garvey sr. Started hearing. The car stopped and asked him if he was ready, but kept it moving when they realized it was garvey jr, like they were looking for his father

  10. Lainie says:

    This was one of the most powerful, riveting episodes of television I’ve watched in a long time. Kudos to Damon Lindelof and the other writers for clearly showing us how invested we are in these characters now, no matter how difficult they are to figure out. The show has come a long way since the pilot, demonstrating in this penultimate episode how differently we view the characters now that we’ve been given peeks into their backstories. The acting is stellar as well, and what a pleasure it is to hear Amy Brenneman actually speak! She’s accomplished so much with Laurie without ever saying a word besides “Shh.” I’m so glad I stuck with this show when others gave up on it, and I can’t wait for next week.

  11. Bill says:

    Very good episode. This show just keeps getting better

  12. CountryQueen says:

    Love this show. This epi was great. I was thinking that the Garvey family is the opposite of Nora’s. No one disappeared. Yet their family was destroyed as well. Now we find out that a member of their family did disappear – their unborn baby – which she probably never told anyone about. Once again, after watching this show, I find myself wondering “what if?” Well done!

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