Cinema Coma

‘The Leftovers’: Perfect Strangers

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“We’re doing the Lord’s work believe you me,” the stranger tells Kevin Garvey about killing the once domesticated dogs now roaming the town and surrounding woods. A stranger that Kevin’s institutionalized father claims was sent to help. Possibly sent by The Departed or maybe his father really is crazy. Coherent one moment, then hearing voices the next. But what about Kevin? Is he going insane himself like his father?

Wayne’s compound is bombarded. No arrests are made. Orders are shoot to kill until the mystic, the holy one is found. But Wayne’s not around and Tom Garvey is the only one who can save the young Asian girl that is of great importance. Meeting up later, Wayne offers Tom a hug of salvation to release Tom from the inevitable physic torment he will encounter from killing another person. Tom refuses to which Wayne replies, “You’re all suffering and no salvation.”

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Meg is chopping down a tree and Laurie is watching her. Meg yells at her that she “[doesn’t] want to feel this way anymore.” Laurie scribbles quickly on her notepad, “Okay”. This is only the beginning of the process to become one of the Guilty Remnant. Later on, Meg gives up her grandmother’s sweater to Laurie as one of the last items from her former life. Putting off her old self to put on the new self in the likeness of the Guilty Remnant.

But back to Kevin. That penguin. That inflatable punching bag his therapist tells him is for children to let out their aggression. There it stands beside the therapist as if mocking Kevin. He is clearly bothered by its presence but it is a bagel machine that receives Kevin’s wrath. In the bagels go and nothing comes out. They disappear. Is he seeing things? Does the strange man who hunts dogs really even exist?

As wise master Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And they are all suffering. Kevin is afraid he will become like his father. Meg is afraid of her feelings. Tom is scared of what Wayne’s power could do to him. Kevin releases his anger on the bagel toaster, while Tom screams profanities at his stalled car and Meg aggressively chops away at a tree. It remains to be seen what they hate but the suffering is there, ever present.

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And where is their salvation? It isn’t found in the Guilty Remnant as Laurie tells Meg that they are “not a cult”. Tom has reservations (suspicions?) about Wayne’s ability to save. And Kevin is not finding any respite burying himself in work nor with the stranger who murders dogs, supposedly doing God’s work. No one understands. No one seeks God. The leftovers are like what the apostle Paul wrote: “in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” (Rom 3:16-17) Holy Wayne was right, all suffering and no salvation.

The elusive search for meaning amid suffering in a post-Sudden Departure world continues to play out with the leftovers letting their fear overflow into anger. Wound up and all bursting out in their own ways. October 14th has turned all of them into the stranger. Strangers united by the guilt they feel. Strangers protecting the important one. Strangers on a mission from God. Strangers who were once a family.

Perfect strangers. All lacking the dance of joy of their salvation.

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