The Leftovers: 1.03 Two Boats and a Helicopter

Finally The Leftovers gets to the story of Chris Eccleston's character, Reverend Matt Jamison; a preacher with barely a flock beyond the pigeons. He has angered the community by claiming that the disappearance was no Rapture, no summoning to heaven of the most godly. Tactfully he does so by pointing out the flaws and crimes of local Departed, which for some reason leaves their Leftover familes somewhat irked. Still, after he gets hospitalised by an aggrieved townsperson it gives us a chance to see the saddest clown again.

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With no money coming in from the flock or the community, the preacher is in danger of losing his church. He has 24 hours to come up with the money to save his church from an anonymous buy-out. He’s hoping he can borrow the money from former parishioners who received the Government Departure Benefit. A shame he has to ruin it by once more pointing out the sins of the Departed.

As well of crises of faith, finance and following, Matt’s originating trauma, his inciting incident if you will is his wife. Played by The West Wing’s Janel Moloney, she is utterly wasted as an actress as she is in a persistent vegetative state after an accident on Departure Day.

And suddenly, by a process I don’t quite understand, he remembers that Garvey’s father hid $20,000 for him under his BBQ. Taking this money to a casino, he puts it all on one large bet after another at the roulette table; and wins. He believes the Lord has shined down upon him and he takes his winnings, content in the knowledge that his church can be saved.

Too content though, this is The Leftovers after all, so clearly he gets robbed. Not willing to let his life as a crusader against sin be stolen from him, he beats the thief to death. And, because this is The Leftovers, on his return to Mapleton he is struck by a rock from a passing truck, allowing us to flashback to a dream sequence.

Emerging from his spirit journey, Matt rushes to the bank with the money, hoping to be on time to pay off the mortgage and avoid foreclosure. Sadly, he learns he was actually unconscious for three days and has missed his window of opportunity. The Guilty Remnant have bought his church and the episode concludes with them painting it their trademark white.

Ahead of watching the episode, I was told that this one was one of the better written ones of the series, a statement that proved to be correct. It flowed well, and focusing on a single character made it all feel a lot less disjointed. It’s just a shame that the feeling of eternal dismay never quite leaves.

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