This The Leftovers review contains spoilers.
The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 3
It’s such a shame that The Leftovers isn’t enjoyed by more people. What started as a grim meditation on grief and loss has evolved into a charming, strange and mysterious exploration of faith that’s just as capable of getting an odd gut-laugh as it is delivering a devastating gut-punch. From one minute to the next, tonight’s new episode “Crazy Whitefella Thinking” goes from sublimely beautiful and life-affirming to emotionally taxing and heartbreaking. At last the audience gets to spend some significant time in Australia, and the diverting change of scenery is time well spent.
Focused solely on the misadventures of Kevin Sr. down under, “Crazy Whitefella Thinking,” is only the standard episode length, but it feels like a feature-length exploration of one of the series’ most enigmatic characters. Since his introduction on the show we have never been sure whether or not Kevin Sr. is truly insane. After last season began flirting with more other-worldly influences and Kevin Sr. appeared through the television to Kevin during “International Assassin,” it’s become more likely that maybe something profound really is happening to him. The voices in his head began five minutes after the Sudden Departure and now they have led him deep into the Outback to stop a great flood from ending the world.
With allusions to floods and watching actor Scott Glenn hobble his way through wide, expansive stretches of nothingness, the episode can’t help but have a biblical feel. The Leftovers has always somewhat been a show about religion, but never has an episode truly felt like a retelling of some scripture. Director Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) is able to use her penchant for making stories about a coming apocalypse feel deeply personal and she perfectly utilizes the gorgeous Australian landscape and their flawless sunsets to cast everything in a warm glow.
We join Kevin Sr. as he’s making his way down Australia’s eastern coast, collecting the various verses of Aboriginal traditional songs after a fateful encounter with a magical chicken named Tony showed him that he would have to sing to stop the rain from coming. If that short synopsis sounds funny, it’s not an accident; large portions of this episode feel purposely played for laughs, almost like Kevin Sr. is the star of one of those Murphy’s Law comedies. Whether it’s trying and failing to avoid police, bureaucrats named Sharon, falling off of roofs, getting thrown out of ambulances, or snake bites, “God’s Path” for Kevin Sr. is a road of comedic mishaps.
Not everything plays like a road trip comedy though. When Kevin Sr. meets with a Cleverman named Christopher Sunday to acquire the final portion of the song, he details the twists and turns of his journey. In another memorable Leftovers monologue, Kevin Sr. lays out his time in Australia, complete with tales of hallucinogens, flaming beds in Perth, yes – the chicken, but more importantly, an emotional anecdote about Kevin losing his mother when he was eight years old. The story highlights the fact that Kevin Sr. isn’t doing all of this only to save the world, he’s also compelled by the love that he has for his son.
The other major monologue in the episode is delivered by Grace, the woman who drowned a police officer named Kevin at the end of the last episode. You would think that by now the writers would be out of creative, yet tragic and crushing Sudden Departure stories to take the air out of your lungs, but I guess not, because Grace’s story is a doozy. Losing her children and wrongfully assuming they Departed, Grace finds Kevin Sr., and a strange scripture about a police officer named Kevin who drowned and came back to life, in the same spot that she found the remains of her children. Lindsey Duncan makes the most of every line as Grace, and Leder keeps the camera tight on her face so we witness the pained delivery of each word.
What’s most interesting overall about this episode is the way that it weaves in and out of the existing storylines. Not only do we connect the dots of the last episode’s final ten minutes to Kevin Sr.’s story, but we get to see Kevin Sr. brush up against the other main characters’ stories. For instance, Kevin Sr. talks about taking a hallucinogen to talk to God, then says that he woke up in a hotel in Perth with a bed on fire and that he definitely didn’t talk to God. Now perhaps he doesn’t remember, but he did talk to Kevin while Kevin was stuck in purgatory. Is this further confirmation that Kevin is the Messiah?
We also see Kevin Sr. interact with a man just before the man commits suicide. The man says that “they wouldn’t take” him and that he answered the question, “Would you kill a baby if it would cure cancer?” wrong. Something tells me that this man was trying to be a part of the same program that Nora herself is traveling to Australia to take part in, but was turned down. Finally, we see Kevin Sr. call Matt in the middle of the night and Matt looks feverish and seems to be sweating profusely. Combine this with the mysterious bloody nose from last week and something definitely seems wrong with Matt. Hopefully, we’ll see the other side of these stories when we catch back up with Nora and Matt in later episodes.
The Leftovers has been beyond brilliant so far in its final season and I am already mourning the loss of this wonderfully rewarding show. With each episode more stunning than the last, I can only imagine what else Damon Lindelof and HBO have in store for us. Kevin and Nora will arrive in Australia next week, though Kevin Sr. said that he doesn’t want Kevin “anywhere near Australia.” Things are already interesting; next week, it looks like things will finally start getting climactic.