Previously on The Leftovers, “G’Day Melbourne”
A season of The Leftovers wouldn’t be complete without a Matt-centric episode in which Christopher Eccleston deftly portrays the faithful, manipulative, and determined Matt Jamison as his faith is tested with hilarious and tragic results.
This season’s Matt episode is bookended by two caged lions who eventually lash out. First, Lyon, a French crewman on a military submarine, gets naked, attacks a crew member, and then locks himself in a compartment where he launches a nuclear missile. It hits uninhabited land, but it’s enough (of course) to ground all international flights, hence the events at the end of last week’s “G’Day Melbourne.”
This is just one obstacle Matt has to overcome on his mission to bring Kevin back to Jarden by the 14th. The first is convincing a parishioner (guest star Benito Martinez) to use his humanitarian aid plane to fly him, John, and Michael to Melbourne, and the second is trying to convince Laurie she can’t come along. The first is moved by the need to have Kevin in Jarden by the anniversary of the Sudden Departure, but Laurie? Not so much. Fully aware of the Book of Kevin, Laurie thinks Kevin is in the midst of a psychotic break. She wants him to come home for the help he needs, not because she believes his messiah presence is needed in Jarden.
“He used to look through all of our cupboards before he found the wine glasses, he has a tattoo that’s misspelled, and he shits four times a day. So, I refuse, Matt, to believe he’s the goddamned second coming of Christ.”
When their plane can’t go any further than Tasmania, the Jarden group have to sweet talk a sex cult who worship Frasier, the Sensuous Lion so they’ll grant them passage on their chartered ferry into Melbourne. Once aboard, Matt encounters one of The Leftovers’ most talked about mysterious characters, David Burton (Bill Camp).
In season two, The Pillar Man (may he rest in peace) had Michael mail a letter to David Burton of Australia. Also, there was a mention of a man in Australia who claimed he’d been to the other side and now couldn’t die. Finally, when Kevin was on his mission to push Patti down the well in “International Assassin,” he encountered David on a bridge and then again in the finale, “I Live Here Now,” when David told him he needed to sing to go home.
David and a friend claims that, three years ago, David died while mountain climbing, but was found a few days later alive and well outside the cave where his corpse was left. The one-time Olympian and sportscaster now claims he’s God. This is highly offensive to Matt, even though it’s exactly what he believes of Kevin. He’s further agitated when no one aboard the boat believes he saw David Burton push a man overboard. If they do believe, they don’t seem too care much.
Not even spilling the beans that Kevin claimed to have seen Evie in Melbourne (after he promised Laurie he wouldn’t) is enough to cause the necessary friction between Laurie and John that Matt needs; friction that might bring John over to his side of vigilante justice. John may have burned down the homes of men he deemed liars a few years ago, but he’s currently selling his own false miracles in Jarden and no longer needs to physically lash out at things that anger him or things he doesn’t understand.
When Matt finally has David Burton at his mercy, tied to a wheelchair next to a caged lion said to be a descendent of Frasier’s, we get to the heart of Matt’s righteous anger. David Burton has to be a liar. If he also has the power of resurrection, what does that mean for Kevin? Is Kevin less special? Is it all fake? Matt needs it to be real because he has, continuously, seen everything that has happened in his life as a test of his faith, and he’s lost so much to ensure he passed. As I suspected on the podcast, Matt’s cancer has returned. If David is God, Matt would like to know why his faith is now being punished.
He doesn’t like David’s flippant answers. As God, he has a lot going on and can’t be held responsible for everything. He does, however, take credit for the Sudden Departure; done simply because he could. Matt only endured sacrifices because he assumed God was watching, and since he says he wasn’t, Matt ultimately did all of those things for himself. Matt takes this an interesting way. What David could be saying, and what I assumed he meant, was that Matt wanted to be a good person so he tried his best to do what he thought a good, god-fearing man would. Isn’t that better than doing the right thing because you’re expecting a reward and you fear you’re being watched? Matt sees this as an admonishment (he’s selfish, needs to be a martyr, etc.) and asks if that’s why God allowed his cancer to return. Yes, David says, but he’s also willing to take it away with just a snap of his fingers.
Was it real? Did it work? Or was it just another fuck you like the “I am God” FAQ cards David hands out to strangers so as not to be bothered? Has Matt’s faith finally been broken? When the captain tells him a body was found in the water and that Matt may have to stay behind to tell the Melbourne police what he saw, Matt agrees as he has “no pressing business in Melbourne.”
On the other hand, once the boat docks, and cult protestors free the lion from its cage, Matt looks on completely unbothered as it mauls David Burton to death as he tries to flee the police. Just a crazy guy getting killed by a lion.
Of course, David Burton could pop up again, on the other side after Kevin drowns, with a helluva story about some American guy who tied him to a wheelchair shortly before he died.
Like Lost, The Leftovers has had several characters who don’t know they’re connected cross paths under bizarre circumstances. It was exciting to see David Burton somewhere other than the Other Side, and I don’t necessarily need Michael to know the letter he mailed was to the man he saw get killed by a lion, but I damn sure want to learn what David Burton whispered to Kevin or I may lose my entire shit. So, my fingers are crossed that Mr. Burton pops up once more.
Matt is annoyingly righteous and has a misogynistic side that was on full display in his interactions with Laurie. He saw this pilgrimage a job for the “three wise men,” not the three wise men plus one wife/mental health professional. Their back and forth reminded me a lot of Locke and Jack on Lost with their man of faith/man of science debates, but sometimes Matt dipped his toes in problematic waters and it was nice to see Laurie check him at every damn turn. And much will be said about Eccleston’s performance (he’s always great), but Amy Brenneman delivered some wonderful work. It appears we’ll get more of it next week as she’s going to be pretty outnumbered by those who believe in Kevin’s divinity.
David Burton mentioned that Jesus wasn’t the one seen outside the cave three days after his death; it was his identical twin brother. This is now the third time in as many episodes that twins have been mentioned (and don’t forget that Michael and Evie are twins). If you know the title of episode 7 and my crazy theory presented on last week’s podcast, you know that line of dialogue here sent me into a fangirl frenzy.
Leave your thoughts on the episode below or on our Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.