The line between faith and stubborn ignorance is once more explored in Episode 5 of the 3rd and final season of The Leftovers which focusses on holy man Matt’s quest to get Kevin back to the town of Miracle for the seventh anniversary of the departure (and possible Rapture).
Convinced that the day of reckoning is imminent and that Kevin Garvey is a modern day prophet, the episode begins with Matt commandeering a light aeroplane to get to Australia. Commercial flights have been suspended indefinitely because a naked Frenchman hijacked a submarine and detonated a nuclear bomb. This won’t come as a huge shock to you, having lived through the magic realism of seasons 1 and 2…
After a forced landing in Tasmania, time is running out and the only hope for Matt and his travelling companions (Laurie, John and Michael) is to get to the mainland is by sharing a ferry ride with a Lion worshipping Sex Cult (again… whatever).
None of this shakes Matt’s faith in his mission because everything that happens to Matt either a miracle or a test, his faith is unshakeable.
In the climax of the episode, Matt, who has tethered false prophet David Burton to a hastily sourced wheelchair, indulges the mans claim to being god and asks him why the disappearances happened seven years ago (almost). ‘There has to be a reason’! demands Matt. His constant struggle to make sense of the senseless, echoes the experience of watching The Leftovers. In many ways it is, itself, requires a leap of faith. Like Matt, you have to reassure yourself that completely bizarre events are part of a grander narrative. There has to be a reason why Matt is being raped in front of a pantomime Lioness. It makes no sense now but you trust that in the fullness of time, you will come to understand what it means.
The responses of the man claiming to be god to Matt’s interrogation is equal parts hilarious and brilliant. He baits Matt with the claim that Jesus didn’t rise again, he simply had a ‘twin brother’. He won bronze at the Olympics because he wasn’t god yet. And finally, as Matt becomes more unhinged, he offers to heal him from a terminal illness. When Matt submits to his supposed divinity for a moment and unties him, the man casually clicks his fingers and says ‘ta da. You’re saved’.
So is Matt cured? Does he believe he’s cured or conned? This is the question we’re left to answer at the end of the episode.
Matt isn’t the only character in The Leftovers to puts their faith in something with no guarantee that it is actually true. Everyone has to believe something – even if the choice is to not believe but Matt has been unnervingly devout to this point. When Laurie asks him at the end of the episode if he’s alright however, Matt replies ‘actually Laurie, I’m dying’. Not the words of a man who has just been healed, nor of a man who is days away from salvation.
Has Matt had an epiphany? Is he still comitted to the idea of Kevin as redeemer? Or is he ready to embrace the unknown? Leave a comment below…