On the subject of the horrific fate of the titular character this week, only one conclusion can be drawn. She had it coming. There’s a reason it was so harsh, a reason no mercy was shown, a reason it was premeditated. There’s a reason her kidnapping and execution led to something as primitive as a stoning. There’s the tiniest little bit of Shirley Jackson in this story, and always has been (and she too was an upstate New Yorker, as we learn is the general location of Mapleton this week); the show is highly aware of the chaos seething just under our thin veneers of normality. In the Leftovers world, a triggering incident has happened: the Sudden Departure. Inexplicable, immediate, final, it is the traumatic catalyst for all that follows. And the Guilty Remnant are the most extreme, most consistent, widest spread and most disturbingly direct response: which can be summed up in their mantra of “Let Us Smoke.” That simple, self-destructive parody of true faith symbolizes all that is most insidious about their passive nihilism. They give up on their health. They aren’t gym-goers. They abandon family ties (“no family”). They don’t have privacy. They don’t indulge in simple pleasures like good food or attractive fabrics. They buy churches and then whitewash out the powerful cultural iconography. They shutter stained glass. They throw the crucifix in the dumpster. That’s not all. They also stalk people. They recruit through harassment. They play complex mental games involving denial, self-denial, abasement and punishment. They are trying to tell everyone how futile it all is. They are not content to simply follow that belief. They seek to spread it. They’ve made themselves silent observers, hoping to engender the guilt that is all they believe in. They proselytize, using written and body language if not spoken words. We see Gladys step indifferently over an old man who has fallen in the street this episode. We remember that she and her fellows used a holiday event to break and enter in private dwellings last week, stealing and vandalizing private property. They are a cruel, ruthless, smug and criminal group. So despite her last-minute pleading, despite the horrific pain and violence she suffers, despite the familiarity of having watched her destructive actions for the past month: she still had it coming. As Meg says to Laurie in the aftermath (before she too finally begins her vow of silence), they must have foreseen this, right? Isn’t it what they want, just driven to the extreme by those they’ve been goading all along? In other extremes, Kevin can’t find his white shirts (and you know how much he hates when things go missing), but at least Nora uses the same dry cleaner. Laurie has a panic attack. “Ms. Mayor” actually agrees with Kevin for once when an underling foolishly contacts the Feds (and then tries to read his boss chapter and verse from the freaking manual, come on dude!?), and also supports him in an ill-advised curfew that would probably keep people safe except the very idea triggers more rage. Why did Mayor Warburton agree so readily that calling the Feds was a mistake? Maybe she has an inkling of the kind of offer Kevin gets when he finally reaches the agent, who can’t return the homicide remains (they’re on a one-way trip to a cremation center that seems to be run by the CDC) but offers to clear his town of its “infestation” in very sinister tones. Which sounds crazy, but we saw them do it to Wayne’s compound already. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Cults takes no prisoners post-Departure, it seems. Kevin might be able to handle this weirdness (at least he declines the offer), if he wasn’t also drunkenly searching for those shirts and also finally in the midst of accepting his ruined marriage (with an apology to his daughter Jill followed by dissolute heaving sobs into his pillow). The suffering on this show can seem non-stop. At least we were spared Tommy and Wayne this week, singularly focused instead on saying farewell to a character who won’t be missed, but who in her demise inspired an episode almost as good as the one about Father Matt. The Leftovers 1.05 "Gladys"4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.