The Leftovers did a Christmas episode but it was far from merry.
A nativity scene has been set up to celebrate Christmas in Mapleton but someone has stolen the baby Jesus. We’re back in the company of Chief Garvey Jr (Justin Theroux) this week who is tasked with finding the pint sized saviour. The Chief thinks the search is not police business but the Mayor demands he do something because it’s making people upset. In the wake of The Sudden Departure it’s the little things that drive people crazy and the passive aggressive atmosphere of The Leftovers is amplified by the work of one thief.
The Chief goes to the supermarket to buy a new doll as an easy fix but gets emotional and ditches the idea. This scene hints at the trauma that tore the Garvey family apart. On the drive home Chief Garvey freaks out and his car loses power after he takes the Lord’s name in vain, a huge red flag that The Sudden Departure is the Rapture, and a higher power is still messing with people. The Leftovers is always tentative to use the ‘R’ word to define the situation but the supernatural elements are starting to become more apparent especially across the country with Chief Garvey’s son.
Keeping with the nativity theme a strange ‘Joseph and Mary’ situation is brewing between Tom Garvey and Christine who are on the run from the cult of Holy Wayne (the guy that hugs the pain out of people). It turns out that Christine is pregnant with Holy Wayne’s child which explains why Tom was ordered by Wayne to protect Christine at all costs. While Tom and Christine are waiting in a hospital a man wearing no pants (HBO making up for their penis quota) attacks Annie screaming “You walk over the dead” and “They’re all in white!” The final creepy message the guy delivers before he is hauled away is “I know what’s inside you!”
Tom and Christine leave the hospital and are driving down a highway when they get caught in a traffic jam. They leave their car to discover a truck has rolled leaving cargo strewn all over the road. Dead bodies wrapped in white cloth litter the road. The truck carries branding for a company that provides a service where people can buy a corpse to be used in a funeral service for loved ones lost during The Sudden Departure (this company has been referenced several times in radio and television advertisements during the first three episodes). The highway scene is an incredible moment and another example of the grieving mechanisms put in place to help people cope with The Sudden Departure (and when it goes wrong during transportation). Annie walks amongst the wreckage and finally makes the realisation that the naked hospital man’s prophecy came true of “You walk over the dead” and “They’re all in white!” The question now is what is Annie carrying?
The Leftovers is a Damon Lindelof show so it’s time to start theorising about what’s actually happening. The title of this episode, B.J. and the A.C, has been pointed out by many Internet commentators that it could stand for ‘Baby Jesus and the Antichrist’. There’s a good chance that Annie could be carrying a baby of great significance, and according to my shady memory from religion class at high school, following the Rapture is a period of seven years called ‘The Great Tribulation’ where the people left behind die in apocalyptic events. Once everyone is gone the Second Coming occurs. Again, my memory is a little foggy but this could be the template Lindelof and Tom Perrotta are using in their interpretation of the Biblical event.
Three big revelations happen during the episode when Mrs Garvey shows up to ask the Chief for a divorce and another freak out occurs; Theroux is mastering having breakdowns in this series. The Chief’s daughter is revealed to be the baby Jesus kidnapper and the Guilt Remnant break into houses to steal family pictures and leave the empty frames behind. Also, the Chief finally finds the grubby missing baby Jesus but after a moment of triumph he pulls over to the side of the road and throws it into the forest; Mapleton will have to suffer a little longer.
B.J. and the A.C showed The Leftovers going from strength to strength and I’m looking forward to seeing more theories pop up about the narrative. Many have complained the series has been too depressing so far but real life has proved to trump The Leftovers with bad news lately. I can understand people wanting escapist television (again, read the news) but The Leftovers is a fascinating study of nihilism wrapped in grief.
Cameron Williams – follow Cam on Twitter here: @MrCamW