The Leftovers – REVIEW 03×05 “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World”

Opening Credits:

“I am the only hope, the last defense of a species on the verge of extinction. The warlocks warned us. These wise truth seers, they said that these creatures will come, seven years after the first were taken, seven years after the Departure… and we were blind, God, blind to what we did not want to see. We are now on the edge of the ravine, on the edge of destruction. Once this monster is born, we’re done, because this monster is the end of mankind, with its seven heads and seven flaming mouths. We have only one hope: the egg. I found its nest in the warlocks’ maps – a submarine volcano. Thank you, God, for technology! We made the weapon to end all weapons: the nuclear bomb. Now, this terrible force may be our salvation, if its explosion can break the fragile shell and melt the demons inside. God, may the missile fly straight and true! Let it find the volcano nest and may the egg be unhatched so these unborn beasts can be destroyed before they rise to destroy the world”

The opening credits for this episode are so different than usual. This time it’s not a song to welcome us to the first scene, but a prayer. The man who recites it speaks French and talks about some evil creatures that will come to Earth after seven years from the Sudden Departure and bring the world to an end. The man claims he’s the only hope for human kind and that he has to take advantage of the technology given by God (the nuclear bomb) to hit an egg, hidden in a underwater volcano, that contains unborn and evil beasts that could rise and destroy the world (interestingly, in the Bible a seven-headed beast born from the sea is also mentioned.)

The images show a man on a French Marine Nationale submarine. He puts a French song on his iPod and turns the volume up, so everyone in the submarine can hear it. He takes a key from a safe-deposit box, gets naked and waits for the officer owning a second key to steal it. He runs naked through the submarine, followed by some soldiers, then uses a password to pass the security door of the control room. Here he tries to do something that usually requires the intervention of two men, that is turning two very distant keys at the same time. He starts stretching his body in order to turn one with his hand and one with his foot. The scene closes with his finger on the button in foreground. This scene explains the explosion that destroyed an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. I reckon this is the same explosion we heard about at the end of Episode 4 and also the reason why all flights are grounded and Kevin is stuck in Australia. We still don’t know the real meaning of this opening sequence but it looks like the attack was planned by another group of fanatics, like the Guilty Remnant, and based on some sort of new religion.

The ship of fools: Flights are grounded because of the explosion, so Matt, John, Laurie and Michael have to find another way to go from Tasmania to Melbourne and “rescue” Kevin. They end up on a weird ship that had been hired by a sex cult worshipping an old lion called Frasier. It’s sort of a microcosm reflecting the madness and extreme ways of living of the real world while facing the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure. Everything there reminds us of a tribal culture and its rituals: wild sex, worshipping idols, fertility rituals, forbidden names  and a secret formula for getting in (not to mention the dirty dirty joke that Matt was compelled to tell to the “lioness” at the entrance in order to be admitted on the ship). This grotesque world recalls the medieval myth of the Ship of Fools, loaded with mad and desperate people and left adrift in the sea. The Ship of Fools is also the name of an allegorical painting by Hieronimus Bosch which shows a boat loaded with people indulging in earthly pleasures and unconsciously sailing towards their fate.

Frasier the Lion: Frasier was owned by the Lion Country Safari in Laguna Hills, California, the nation’s first real wild animal park. Frasier was thought to be too old to mate but ended up fathering 35 cubs in just over a year. This happened in 1972, the same year of the famous copy of National Geographic. The lion on the ship is a descendant of Frasier.

Daniel and the lions: As soon as they are allowed into the ship, Matt reads a passage of the Bible: it’s about Daniel and the lions, as it happens: “The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Once again he turns to his faith, and reaffirms that what he has done until now and what he plans to do in the future is right because he’s always doing his best. He probably feels that he can walk safely through a madding world (and among the rogues on the ship) because his faith will always protect him.

David Burton: We all couldn’t wait to find out who this mysterious man was, and we finally got our answer: David Burton is the Man on the Bridge, the “hangman” (this is how he is described in The Book Of Kevin) tried to warn Kevin that killing Patti would have changed him. He gave him the choice to cross or jump. In I Live Here Now (Season Two Episode Ten), he tells Kevin he will have to sing a song to prove that he really wants to go back to his family. In this last episode we learn a little more about him: back in the 80s he was a decathlete medaled for Australia, then a broadcaster in the Sydney Games. He was already a celebrity, but he became even more famous when he came back from the dead and told everybody he was God. Apparently, he died in a rock- climbing accident and came back to life. Now he lives in a cabin in Tasmania and avoids answering people’s questions by giving them a card instead, reading YES I AM GOD, along with some weird informations:

From Damon Lindelof’s Instagram account

Now we know for sure that David Burton is real, and not just Kevin’s hallucination, and therefore that the Hotel is real as well. In this episode, after Burton throws a man overboard – like he had almost thrown Kevin from the bridge in International Assassin – Matt ties him to a wheelchair and has a conversation with “God”. He takes no responsibility for anything except the Sudden Departure, claiming he made it happen just because he could. He also makes fun of Matt’s faith and sickness. At the end of the journey, David Burton is killed by Frasier the lion. It seems that the attack was planned by a group of people who were on the boat, but it’s unclear whether they wanted to kill him or see if he is really what he claims to be.
Is he really dead? Or will we meet him again in Purgatory?

Did Matt finally find peace? Like the other times, I had the strong feeling that Matt finding himself on the same boat with David Burton was “meant to be”. Just like Kevin Garvey Senior finding his son by watching G’Day Melbourne in Episode 4. During this long and crazy boat trip Matt’s faith is put to the test: he started this journey to bring Kevin back to Miracle, believing he was the new Messiah and the only man on earth who could come back from the dead. He remained in Miracle alone and let his family abandon him because he believed God was testing him. And now not only Kevin isn’t the only man alive who can come back to life, he also starts doubting the specialness of Miracle, because it’s not the only place on earth where something special happened anymore. David Burton died in Australia and came back.

Matt talking to David Burton put him in a position of doubting everything he had ever believed in: if Kevin is not the Messiah and Miracle isn’t special, then all his sacrifices were useless and Mary leaving him wasn’t a test from God, maybe it was a punishment because, just like David Burton says, everything he did he did it for himself, and not for God. But Matt’s heart is pure and he knows his words aren’t true.

“This is the story of a a little boy. I’d say, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before,” but you have, and I don’t really want to be stopped. This boy, he’s a good kid; not perfect, but good, and when he’s about 10 years old, his mom and dad tell him he’s gonna have a baby sister. And the baby sister comes, and of course he loves her very much. But she’s getting attention. His attention. So he wishes actually he prays for that attention back and a month later, he’s diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia. And the cancer eats away at the boy until there is almost nothing left. But he fights it. He survives and now he has a choice to make. Does he decide that he was punished or that he was rewarded? Will he be angry for having been made to suffer, or will he be grateful for that suffering because it changed him?

This is the opening sequence of Season 1 Episode 3. I think that Matt asked himself the same question he did before: was he punished or was he rewarded? Is he angry for having been made to suffer, or grateful for that suffering because it changed him?

I think Matt didn’t lose his faith after talking to David Burton. He talked to a man who claimed he was God and was eaten by a lion a few minutes later. That’s divine intervention, that’s God’s answer.

It’s true, Matt’s faith was tested and came out stronger than ever. Maybe things aren’t exactly like he belived they were, but everything he did in life brought him to that moment, and he’s ready to face whatever has to come. Just like he accepted his wife and son leaving him, he now accepted that he’s sick and will probably die soon, but he is important and part of a greater story.

Matt and Laurie: Matt’s journey companion are John, Michael and Laurie. Matt seems to be annoyed by Laurie’s presence because they have two opposite points of view. Laurie thinks that Kevin is delusional and has hallucinations. On the contrary, Matt strongly believes that Kevin is special and that what he experienced in the hotel world is real. This takes us back to the old Lost contrast between the man of science (Laurie) and the man of faith (Matt). Laurie believes that Matt is crazy, but why doesn’t she think the same about John and Michael? Didn’t they tell her that Kevin was buried for eight hours after drinking mortal poison and was shot in the chest and still came back to life? Anyway, it’s beautiful to see these people sticking together although they have different opinions.

 

I’m 91 and i’m having a son: We hear this sentence a lot in this episode, yelled by Frasier’s people, and it’s the password for getting admitted on the ship. This is a clear reference to Sarah, Abraham’s childless wife (and this is not the first time that Abraham is mentioned in Season Three). Sarah is a sterile woman, and at the age of 75 she gives her slave Agar in marriage to Abraham, so they could have a child. When Sarah was 90, God promised her a son, and she laughed because she didn’t believe it could happen. This has also a strong connection with Nora’s character who, just like Sarah, laughed at Kevin when he told her he wanted to have a baby with her. In Season Three Episode One final scene we also met a woman that looks exactly like Nora but goes with the name of Sarah.

 

Interesting Facts:

– Once again an egg gets mentioned in the show. The prayer we hear in the opening credits talks about an egg that contains all the evil creatures that could bring the world to an end. Is Tony the chicken involved in this story too?

– When Matt tells Frasier’s name after midnight people ties him to a chair and tries to emulate Fraiser’s act of fertilize all the women by taking possession of his semen. This reminded me of Patti’s joke (Season 2 Episode 7) about a Cup in Cairo, Egypt, that had to be filled with Kevin’s semen.

– Matt pays 20.000 $ to rent the plane to Australia. That’s the same amount of  money that Nora payed for the LADR radiation treatment and that K.G. Sr left for Matt in a Jar, buried in Kevin’s backyard (Season 1 Episode 3)

– The plane starts shaking when Laurie says she doesn’t believe that Kevin is the new Messiah. Just like Kevin’s car stopped when he cursed (Season 1 Episode 4) and the earth shook when Nora yelled “Fix that Jesus!” (Season 2 Episode 10).

– Matt uses a wheelchair to move David Burton. It reminded me of when he used to take care of Mary.

– Matt hitting David Burton in the face reminded me of him hitting the Pillar Man’s son on the back (while yelling “Brian”) in Season 2 Episode 5.

– Frasier’s people are using a whistle to communicate, just like the Guilty Remnants did in Season One.

France seems to be important in this episode, even though I can’t really understand why. In the opening sequence we hear a prayer in French, then a French song. The submarine at the very beginning of the episode is French, and the episode ends with Que c’est triste Venise by Charles Aznavour.

– One of Frasier’s followers has the same tattoo as Kevin.

– This episode has a lot of similarities with Season 2 Episode 5, where Matt was surrounded by crazy people in Miracle.

– When accused by Matt, Burton refuses to take responsibility for killing the man because he’s “the authority”. He claims that he’s God – a ruthless and vengeful Old Testament God it seems – and even that Jesus wasn’t his son, but just a mortal man who never rose from the dead: he had rotten in a cave and was replaced by his identical twin brother – Episode Seven titles The Most Powerful Man On Earth (And His Identical Twin Brother).

 

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