The Leftovers – REVIEW 03×03 “Crazy Whitefella Thinking”

Hi everyone! The Leftovers Episode Three is finally out and here I am, trying to put things together as always. This episode was special and beautiful, completely different from all the others. It almost felt like I was watching a movie about the amazing character of Kevin Garvey Senior. We didn’t know much about him from Seasons One and Two: he is Kevin’s father, he’s a former police chief and he stopped working when he started hearing voices. He spent an indefinite number of years in a mental institution, and he finally got better when he stopped fighting the voices and started doing what they told him to do. The last thing we knew about him was that he decided to move to Australia as the voices recommended. I could not wait to know more about him and this episode is just what we needed to understand what kind of person he is and what’s the meaning of his journey. Apparently, he’s not hearing voices anymore and the last thing they told him was to move to Australia, without telling him exactly where to go or why. So he arrived in Sydney, bought a ticket for Verdi at the Opera House – that’s the second time we hear about Verdi in the serie, it’s impossibile to forget about the amazing episode International Assassin with Nabucco always in the background – and waited for some signs to come.
The first signs he received was a hippie with a red headband who asked him if he wanted to talk to God.

“Son.. i’m fucked up on this s*it they call God’s tongue…”

“Then you’ve gotta talk in God’s tongue”, that’s what he told him. We already knew that “God’s tongue” is an high-end hallucinogen, used by K.G. Senior to communicate with Kevin through the Hotel’s television (International Assassin – s02e08). So… Do we have to take it for granted that Kevin is really God? Or that’s just a coincidence? But the odd part is yet to come, because K.G. Senior doesn’t remember a thing about that. He claimed he woke up two weeks later in a hotel room in Perth on the opposite coast of Australia and now he clearly has no memory of Kevin being in an identical hotel room. He doesn’t remember helping him with his situation, or telling him to take “his target” to the well. The only thing he remembers is his room with “a smoldering mattress and a bunch of white dudes lying around in war paint” and – and that’s the funny part – seeing a chicken in the television.

Apparently, on October 14th a small Australian town lost its entire population of 14 people, including the animals. The only living thing that didn’t depart was an egg, from which a few days later a chicken came out. Then people started talking about this chicken, claiming it could help people find what they were looking for. And that’s were K.G. Senior’s story really begins: he obviously went to see Tony, the chicken, and asked him to give him a purpose. Tony started pecking on an audio tape – the audio recorder was a present to Kevin from his mother, a month before she died – with a really weird and explanatory recording of Kevin and his father trying to stop the rain by singing a song. This moment brought two things to my mind:

  •  Kevin, trying to escape the Other Place by singing “Homeward Bound”, to prove his love for his family.
  • The National Geographic (may 1972) article about “The spider that lives underwater”. The song goes

“The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout – Down came the rain and washed the spider out – Out came the sun and dried up all the rain – And the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again”.

That’s an obvious reference to the National Geographic article and to something that Christine mumbled right before giving birth to Lily in Season One

“The are spiders underwater”

Anyway, according to the recording the song seems to work and we hear the rain stop.

“On the seventh-year anniversary of the Sudden Departure, I believe the rains will come, and with them a great flood. I have to sing to make it stop”

That’s probably what gave K.G. Senior the idea to use music to stop the Apocalypse: his plan is to go all along the Australian Songline, learn all the songs from every sacred site and sing them in order to stop the world from ending.

At this point in the story he needs one last song to complete his mission. He looks for an aboriginal man called Christopher Sunday, who owns the last song he needs. He tells him his whole story, about his journey to Australia, about young Kevin and his mother and he asks him to teach him his song. This is probably the longest (and weirdest and most beautiful) monologue of the entire serie – with Verdi again in the background: K.G. Senior cries for the first time, remembering how little Kevin coped with his mother’s death… At the end of it, Chris agrees to give his song to K.G. Senior, in exchange for his help in fixing some water leaks on the ceiling. While doing that, he falls from the roof and lands right on Chris, killing him.

He ends up wandering alone in the desert, where he gets bitten by a snake. This scene is very significant because once again we are in front of a spirit animal (he claims his totem is a bush snake). Also, he gets bitten by the snake on his left arm, in the exact same spot as the cave woman from Season Two opening scene was bitten (and that’s also the same spot of Nora’s tattoo).

Anyway, the snake poison makes him sick, he collapses next to a wooden cross and he wakes up in the same house we saw in Episode Two last scene. We discover someone has taken care of him, and has given him some medications. Right out of the house some people are building a big ark, so maybe they’re waiting for a great flood too. That’s where he finds out that Chris has died, and that therefore he won’t be able to teach him the last song he needs. He goes back inside, takes some random medications from a cabinet and finds a photo album in the refrigerator, showing the life of a young woman, her husband and their five adopted children. He falls asleep watching the pictures and he wakes up a few hours later. That’s where everything starts to make sense again: the four ladies from last episode are right outside his door and they’re drowning the “other Kevin”. They hit the poor K.G.Sr with a dart, and he wakes up next day. Grace, the blonde lady from last week’s episode, is looking at him waiting for him to wake up. She tells him her heartbreaking story, of how she assumed that her children had departed and found their bones two years later next to her house. She had a strong faith in God and strongly believed that the Departure was really the Rapture and her children had been chosen by God to ascend to heaven with him. She’s now devoured by guilt and she’s desperately trying to make sense of her tragic story. That’s why she thought K.G. Senior was an angel, sent by God to give her a message: he was standing on the exact same spot where her children died, with a page from “The Book Of Kevin” in his hands. She thought that God was asking her to find this police officer named Kevin, the only man on earth who couldn’t die and who was able to help her talk to her children for the last time. She didn’t expect her beliefs to cause someone’s death, again, and now she’s broken.
That’s why the last scene is so beautifully powerful. Grace is crying because she thinks God has forsaken her and it takes just one sentence to fix her broken heart:

“You just got the wrong Kevin”.

The world is not over. God is still there with her, and she has a purpose again. It seems that these two people are going to help each other achieving their destinies..

I really loved this episode in a special way. Kevin Garvey Senior is an amazing and strong human being. He sacrificed everything he had in order to save the world and help his son, even though he seems to think that he himself, not Kevin, is the only man alive who can prevent the Apocalypse, and that Kevin is just a part in his own story.

Interesting facts:

The National Geographic is back!!
“I don’t want him in Australia”. That’s what K.G.Sr says about Kevin. Why doesn’t he want him to go to Australia? I guess we’ll find out in the next episode!
– We finally found out something about Kevin’s mother.. Apparently she died of cancer when he was 8.
– K.G. started hearing voices five minutes after the Departure… Was he the very first man having a connection with dead people?
– K.G. Senior leaning on Kevin’s old recorder to protect it from the rain reminded me of Nora bent over Lily on the bridge (s02e10)
– In Season One K.G.Sr didn’t care about killing the deer. Now he apologizes to a snake, before killing him. His trip to Australia has changed him so much, now he even has a spirit animal, a totem.
– Matt seems to be sick again. 🙁
Grace’s last name is Playford, which is also the last name of Thomas Playford, leader of the Millerite movement in Australia!!
– Christoper Sunday is played by David Gulpilil, who was in a 1977 movie called “The Last Wave” where we meet a character named David Burton (just like our Leftovers character, who came back from the dead and found himself in a cave in Perth after being in the Hotel). The movie also talk about a flood that might end the world.
– The man on fire says “They didn’t take me”. Is he talking about the LADR radiation “treatment”? This scene is also a reference from the movie “Walkabout”, also starring David Gulpilil. (Thanks Jim Kathan for finding this news)

– Australia is the beautiful new setting for the story, so full of magic because of the aboriginal rituals and traditions, their painted bodies, and the sacred paths called The Songline. The wide evocative landscapes are often forbidden to strangers because traditional Aboriginal people regard all land as sacred, and the songs must be continually sung in order to keep the land “alive”. We are even shown a picture of Uluru, the main sacred rock of Australian aboriginal people, in the photo album that K.G.Sr finds in Grace’s refrigerator.