Season One, Episode Three
After the first two episodes concentrates mainly on Kevin and the rest of the community driven to grief and confusion a few years after two percent of the world’s population departed, The Leftovers changes gears in the third episode and focuses on Reverend Matthew Jamison. What we know about him before this episode was that he makes a point to alert the community of the wrongdoings certain people who disappeared committed, usually resulting in him getting beat up. Wait, that’s exactly how this episode begins.
From the start of the season I didn’t particularly like Reverend Matthew Jamison. Why would a man of faith preach so loudly about the sins of some of the departed? Wouldn’t someone in his position want to practice peace and understanding, not trying to rile and piss people off? But as we dive into “Two Boats and a Helicopter” (btw, what the heck does that mean?) we learn exactly where he comes from and why he’s doing what he is.
Matthew Jamison isn’t clean of his own sins, and he knows that, but he’s able to convince himself that everything happens for a reason. Why was he diagnosed with leukemia at such a young age? Because he prayed for more attention from his parents after his sister was born. How did the girl who was in a coma suddenly wake up from it? Because he prayed (though she woke up the night before he prayed). So why does he believe people disappeared on October 14? That’s still unclear but he’s trying to gather dirt on everyone he can to prove that the event on October 14 wasn’t The Rapture. As he explains to a security officer, shouldn’t people be able to differentiate the monsters who were taken from the innocent?
Reverend Jamison is faced with raising $135,000 to save the church from being bought. He has only one day to raise that money and just when everything seems hopeless, Matthew is able to do the impossible. This is when he falls into the shady area between what he believes in and what he’ll do to obtain it. He digs up $20,000 that Kevin’s dad left him (hopefully their relationship is clarified in later episodes). He then uses the pigeons he’s been spotting as a sign to bet it all at a roulette table, until he wins $160,000. He grins from ear to ear, believing that God has given him everything he needs to save the church.
But just like how Matthew is trying to tell the world there were good and bad people taken, there are still bad people who exist in the world as well. He’s thrown out of his own car and beaten for the money, but in a fit of rage Matthew bashes the guy’s head on the pavement and drives away with his money. And the most ironic sequence happens next. A car with a punk kid driving by throws a rock and hits one of the Guilty Remnant members in the head, knocking them down bloodied. The Reverend naturally calls 9-1-1 and tends to the injured man, but the kid returns and knocks Matthew out with another rock.
This becomes crucial because he wakes up three days later, misses the deadline to pay the bank to keep the rights to the church, and then has to watch as the Guilty Remnant are removing all the books into trash bags and are painting the walls white.
It’s a cruel world to live in and in the case of The Leftovers, it’s full of suffering and unanswered questions. What better character to examine this theme with than Reverend Jamison? If all suffering happens for a reason, then how does he explain losing the house of worship to the Guilty Remnant? He tells his sister, Nora, that her losing her entire family is testing her faith. She’s clearly lost her faith, like many people have in the community, but Matthew somehow still holds on. The real question that exists here is why were certain people taken and why weren’t others? Why do some people suffer and others just glide through life free of pain? I believe that every person has a breaking point. I’m curious if Matthew has just reached his.
Last but not least:
– The dream/flashback sequence was done very well, from Matthew receiving the news that the leukemia is spreading, to his parents burning in the house, to him possibly having an affair with Laurie.
– I love how Matthew and Nora are related. They couldn’t be any more different, yet are both going through plenty of suffering.
– It’s interesting to point out that Mary didn’t disappear on October 14, but Matthew lost her anyway that day.
– The same goes for Kevin, who we’ve seen had no one disappear, but he has lost his family regardless.
– There’s a fine line between seeing visions and signs while following your faith and simply being insane.