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‘The Leftovers’ Review: The Most Profoundly Moving Boat Orgy Honoring a 92-Year-Old Lion You’ll Ever See

It was an orgy of madness on "The Leftovers" in an episode so crazy a seaward furry sex party wasn't even the wildest part.

The Leftovers Christopher Eccleston Season 3 Episode 5

Ben King/HBO

Big Questions

1. Is God dead?

Well, technically, the question is whether or not David Burton was God, as he claimed. But if the answer is “yes,” then God would, in fact, be dead. (Or at least trapped in a hotel.)

Devout HBO fans will remember Bill Camp from “The Night Of,” in which he played Detective Box. Devout “Leftovers” fans will remember Camp as The Man on the Bridge from “International Assassin,” as well as The Man at the Bar, from “I Live Here Now,” the Season 2 finale. In both of his appearances, Camp’s character only existed in the hotel — or the world of the hotel, to be exact.

READ MORE: ‘The Leftovers’: The Story Behind The Giant Gary Busey Blow-Up Doll

So what does it mean that we’re seeing him here, in the real world, on a boat full of lion-worshipping sex maniacs? Well, it means something, that’s for sure. The timing even lines up: The captain said Burton died “about three years back,” which would have been close to the same time Kevin went to the hotel (both times). So he very well could have died, gone to the hotel, met Kevin on the bridge and still been dead when Kevin went back.

But why does he claim to be God if he had the same experience as Kevin? Well, that’s easy to understand, really. Kevin isn’t a devout believer or even all that open to inexplicable phenomena. He’s firmly rooted in the real world and wants to stay there. That was the whole point of his trip, after all. So when he came back from the dead, his instinct was to ignore it, as much as he could — certainly he didn’t want to tell the world about it.

But Burton did. He had to explain what happened somehow, to himself, and this is a fairly direct leap to make, really. He died, he rose from the dead, so he’s God. Where he came up with everything about Jesus’ twin and denying responsibility for the Holocaust, well, that could be a psychotic break… or he could really be God. I hope not, though. Even if he does love throwing random dudes off boats, God deserved a better end than being eaten by a lion.

2. What will Matt do now?

Since he no longer has “pressing business” in Melbourne, how will Matt spend his last days on Earth? Ouch. Sorry. That was meant to be a joke about the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, but then I remembered Matt is really dying. Damn it. This show is sad sometimes.

3. Will anyone ever find Kevin?

Answer: only if he wants to be found. Kevin ran off with his father and Senior’s new lady friend, Grace (Lindsay Duncan), at the end of Episode 4. No one has met Grace before, and no one but Matt is close enough with Senior to track him down. Kevin, meanwhile, isn’t answering his phone. He’s off the grid, and he might stay that way — depending on how he feels about helping out his papa.

READ MORE: ‘The Leftovers’: Scott Glenn Wasn’t Looking for a Sign, But What He Found Changed His Life Forever

The Purpose Behind the Pain

The Leftovers Christopher Eccleston Season 3 Episode 5

“Everything you’ve done, you’ve done because you thought
I was watching; because you thought I was judging.
But I wasn’t. I’m not. You’ve never done anything for me.
You’ve done it for yourself.”
– David Burton / God (Bill Camp)

It all started with a prediction: “You’re going to untie me when you get what you want,” David Burton said. And at that moment, for Matt, he was David Burton. He was just a man; he wasn’t Him yet. But over the course of an intense conversation, aptly moderated by the king of the jungle, Matt came to see David Burton as exactly who he said he was: God.

The transition was captured beautifully by director Nicole Kassell. Note how the first time Matt raises his voice and the lion growls, Matt was taken aback. Burton noted as much by telling him to calm down. But when he demands Burton have a better explanation than “Because I could” for causing the Sudden Departure, the lion growls again, and Matt doesn’t even blink. He stares at Burton, transfixed; his intensity surpassing that of the creature beside them. Burton is going to have to answer Matt’s questions or face his wrath.

Whether Matt truly believed Burton was God didn’t really matter. Matt needed to have a chat with the man upstairs, and David Burton just happened to be the only voice willing to speak back. “Is that why you’re killing me?” Matt asked after Burton delivered the above statement — a jarringly on point summary of the reverend’s life. And as soon as God offers to save him, Matt unties the man he knows is a murderer. He fulfills God’s prophecy… right before He snaps His fingers and breaks the spell.

The glorious symbiosis of the episode’s emotional extremes comes full circle in that moment: Absurdity didn’t just reign supreme throughout “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World,” it also saved the titular madman. (That title, inspired by Stanley Kramer’s 1963 film, is the best of the series, by the way.) God literally snapped his fingers next to Matt’s face, right when Matt expected to be saved. It was so on the nose it became ridiculous, and Matt, seeing this firsthand, realized just how ridiculous his quest had become.

In a way, David Burton did exactly what he said he would. For the second time in Matt’s life, God saved him. But this time, Matt knows what to do next — even if he’s only got a few days left.

Grade: A

The Leftovers” releases new episodes every Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO, HBO NOW, and HBO Go. 

Bonus: How Funny Was “The Leftovers” This Week?

The Leftovers Christopher Eccleston Season 3 Episode 5

Answer: Very funny. Very, very, very, very funny.

  • An astute viewer pointed out that Matt’s pilot friend is watching a news report on the explosion courtesy of ACN. ACN, for those who remember, stands for Atlantic Cable News, the network anchored by Will McAvoy in “The Newsroom.”

The Leftovers - ACN / The Newsroom

  • Q: What’s the difference between a pimple and a priest?
    A: A pimple waits until you’re 12 to cum on your face.
  • (Laurie eagerly stepping up to deliver a nasty joke was just as funny as Matt having one ready.)
  • “The decathlon, but you only won the bronze.”
    “Well, that was before.”
  • “You’re denying paternity?”
    “Mary’s word vs. mine.”
  • “Jesus had an identical twin brother. That’s who everyone saw a few days later. Hence the confusion.”
  • And lest we forget… God was eaten by a lion!

The Leftovers - God is Dead lion attack gif

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