[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “The Leftovers” through Season 3, Episode 5, “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World.”]
When Damon Lindelof said “The Leftovers” had “more dongs than ‘Game of Thrones,'” oh boy did he ever mean it. Even before the massive, 11-hour, seaward orgy began, “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World” kicked off with a buck naked French sailor running full speed down the narrow corridors of his ship, his penis bouncing between his legs in slow-motion. Rarely has the male body been celebrated so thoroughly on television, and we applaud the feminist spirit of Lindelof and director Nicole Kassell, who made sure for every bare-breasted woman with only a lion’s tail covering her backside, there was a man whose front-side tail was given the same unflinching attention.
But even more than the equality, we remain impressed — perhaps more so than ever — with how well “The Leftovers” blends absurdity with substance. Among the people in headdresses and people getting eating by lions (OK, one person was eaten by one lion, but still), Matt Jamison came to terms with the cost of his extreme faith. Lindelof and Lyla Byock managed to find a pure moment of clarity among the continued madness, as Matt was given an opportunity to ask the questions that have been driving his faith all his life. And the answers, whether it was from God or just some guy, changed the good reverend forever. His ego has been checked and his path has been altered, all because of a murderer wearing a red cap.
Not many hour-long narratives can start with a hairy dude running naked down a hallway, scored to Charles Aznavour’s “Je Ne Peux Pas Rentrer Chez Moi,” and end with Sarah Vaughan’s “Frasier (The Sensuous Lion)” played over credits as the crowd tries to control their weeping. Matt is dying. But he’s finally found peace. And it only took, well, all that.
1. Matt is dying.
Remember when we first saw Matt’s nosebleed? It was in the second episode, when Nora came by his house to find out where Matt had buried The Man in the Tower. It was easy to assume, at the time, that Matt had been punched in the face. After all, he’s been stirring people up since Season 1, and we’re used to seeing a physically battered and beaten reverend find spiritual resiliency in his faith.
But that wasn’t the case. Matt was and is dying. But if you want to see the silver lining, you don’t have to look very far. After David “God” Burton snapped his fingers, the old Matt would’ve done one of two things: 1. He would have arrogantly stormed off and continued on Kevin’s rescue mission, or 2. He would have believed he was cured. Neither happened. Matt has accepted the lack of meaning in life, which is something he’s never been able to do before. No more signs, no more tests; no longer will he use God to push his own agenda.
In his current state, that means accepting his own mortality. He told Laurie he was dying, and, in doing so, he admitted as much to himself.
2. Frasier’s lineage might be over.
The gunshots rang out, and Matt turned to the camera. “That’s the guy I was telling you about.” But what about the lion, Matt?! Frasier’s descendant is dead! The cops just shot him! How will his lineage carry on? How will his seed continue to be spread? (OK, so no one said the lion on board was Frasier’s last descendant, but no one said it wasn’t, either.)
3. We’re not going back to Miracle.
Wedged in among the insanity that was Episode 5, John Murphy said something that should stand out: “I think we need to accept whatever is going to happen, it’s going to happen here.” In the moment, John was explaining to Matt how unlikely it was that they, along with Kevin, would make it back to Jarden by October 14 — and that was before Matt’s change of heart.
Now the line feels like a warning to the audience: Australia, which we’ve been building up to for quite some time, will likely be where it all ends. No, I don’t expect the flood to come and wash away the world, but I am thinking the finale will go down Down Under.
Continue reading for our take on the David Burton/hotel connection and the permanence of Matt’s revelation.