A member of the Guilty Remnant is brutally murdered and only two people in town seem to care very much at all…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
A lot has been said already about the brutality exerted in last night’s episode of ‘The Leftovers’ where a Guilty Remnant member named Gladys was kidnapped, duct taped to a tree and pelted with stones until she was bloody and beaten to death. It was a difficult scene to watch, but one that shows the sheer magnitude of hatred somebody can carry inside of them and when it’s unleashed, it can be ugly, unsettling and down right vicious.
Part of the creepy factor that follows the Guilty Remnant around beyond their all white attire and constant cigarette smoking is the fact that they are silent. To hear from a member of this cult you have to read their words and become an expert in facial expressions. But poor Gladys just moments from her own death found her voice again as she begged her attackers to please stop, but of course they did not. Rock after rock came flying and as the blood dripped down her ivory jacket and pants, Gladys suffered a cruel and despicable death — but also not uncommon when you really start to dig into the hate crimes that take place in this country every year. Was it disturbing to watch a woman get stoned to death? Of course it was, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen and facing these harsh realities is something television should sometimes be applauded for showcasing so long as it’s done in a manner that makes sense to the bigger story.
The story here is that the Guilty Remnant exists to remind the world that when the rapture happened, all of the good souls were taken and at this point there’s nothing left worth living for anyways. They stalk people, buy up churches in town only to paint them white, and essentially live to torment the town and the folks who live there. But does that mean they deserve to be tied to trees and bludgeoned to death with rocks? It’s that moral conundrum that envelops this latest episode that made it one of the season’s best.
Chief Kevin Garvey is torn in his role as the leader of the town police asked to protect everyone under his jurisdiction, while also facing the reality that his wife left him to become a member of the Guilty Remnant. He hates the cult group, but also wants desperately to protect them to ensure his wife is not harmed. So when one of the members of the group is attacked and murdered, Kevin first has to assure his daughter that her mother is okay. Jill has been emotionally numb all season long, but she burst into tears the moment her father showed up at school already thinking the worst had happened. When Jill learns that her mother is okay she dries up the tears, and proceeds to go back into full on sulk mode proclaiming that if she died, Laurie probably wouldn’t care about her.
At work, Kevin (with one white shirt left mind you) has to deal with an insubordinate detective who took it upon himself to call the FED’s to report the death of one of the members of the Guilty Remnant. The detective sees this as a chance to hand off the cult case to a larger governmental agency and wash the department’s hands of it. Kevin is none too happy about this and immediately calls the case agent who is supposed to take over the murder investigation.
Once he finally gets the guy on the phone (after three calls), the agent tells Kevin that it’s too late — Gladys’ case is already in the federal database, her body has been claimed, and they are taking over the investigation. The only problem is the case agent doesn’t seem to care much that Gladys died or how she died. She’s just another number to him in a long string of hate crimes against these cults that sprung up after the sudden departure. The only solace the FED offers up is a disturbing deal where he promises to get rid of the Guilty Remnant once and for all from Mapleton — which as witnessed earlier in the episode it seems the government’s way of handling this problem is to send a slew of armed soldiers into their compound and capturing or killing everyone involved.
Kevin pauses for a moment but ultimately decides not to hand over the Guilty Remnant to the government. He’s still protecting his wife, even if she’s not asking for his help any longer.
Following the attack on the member of the Guilty Remnant, Kevin tries desperately to get the town to pass a curfew to keep people inside, but he’s shot down. So instead he hands the members of the cult a bucket full of rape whistles so they can scream for help without every using their vocal chords.
Meanwhile, Laurie is hit the hardest by Gladys’ death and ends up having a panic attack. On her way out from the hospital, cult leader Patti picks her up, turns on some Hall and Oates and they drive to a local hotel where they check in for a restful sleep on a fluffy bed and showers with hot, running water. In the morning, Laurie finds colorful clothes left for her by Patti, and she soon wanders over to the local diner where the Guilty Remnan leader is sitting in equally non-white clothes, eating breakfast and chatting away.
Laurie is shocked and refuses to talk even when given permission. Patti brought her here to this place one year after she did the same thing with Gladys. It seems the recently departed found out somehow that her son had died overseas in Yemen and the shock of that news hit her quite hard. Patti saw the same glimmer of emotion twinkling in Laurie’s eyes so she brought her to the diner as an intervention of sorts. Throughout the entire meal, Laurie doesn’t speak a word, they eat their meal, pack a doggy bag for somebody named Neil and head back to the compound.
It seems Laurie passed Patti’s test and she proves that even more when later that night Reverend Matt shows up with a group of parishioners and a megaphone speaking consoling words to honor Gladys in death even if the people closest to her refuse to even acknowledge much less mourn her passing. As Matt tells Kevin earlier in the episode when he’s first suspected of committing the murder after the Guilty Remnant took his church and he was stoned that day, he’s not here to hurt the cult. His mission is to remind them what it’s like to live because they believe they are already dead.
Matt’s efforts are thwarted when Laurie goes outside and gets right in his face before blowing the rape whistle with everything her lungs can muster. It’s clear she’s committed to the Guilty Remnant and Patti smiles in approval.
The Best of the Rest:
— Kevin’s season of missing items continues as he loses all of his white police shirts and he eventually has to accost a dry cleaner to find them. Not sure what this is all leading to, but it’s clear loss haunts Kevin everyday of his life, but he didn’t actually lose anyone in the sudden departure. There’s more to this, but it’s unclear what it is right now
— Dean, the dog hunting tobacco chewer, shows up again to put down a couple more canines before telling Kevin that his curfew idea is all kinds of stupid
— Meg finally commits to the Guilty Remnant with a few cigarettes and her new all-white wardrobe. She tells Patti ‘I’m ready now’ and the cult has its newest member.
— It’s clear that Kevin and Nora are the one happy spot in this entire series as they make eyes every time they see each other. Unfortunately, Kevin also notices that Jill’s best friend Aimee walks around the house dressed in very little and clearly something bad is going to happen there.
— At the end of the episode, Kevin finally breaks down and tells Jill that her mother has filed for divorce and their marriage is over.
Overall, one of the strongest episodes of ‘The Leftovers’ yet and you have to start to wonder if there will be any levity in this series before the season finale airs in a few weeks. Gladys’ death was disturbing, but necessary in the larger scale of understanding how much the people in this town hate the Guilty Remnant and don’t seem to care much if they live or die — or in this case how sickening the death happened to be. Kevin finally faced up to the reality that his wife is gone and she’s not coming back. Maybe that closure will give him some relief, but something tells me his internal torment has only just begun.