In ‘The Leftovers’ recap, Kevin Garvey Sr. attempts to prevent the apocalypse as we follow his spiritual journey in Australia…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Over the course of two seasons, ‘The Leftovers’ has been a character study as much as a show about two percent of the world’s population disappearing without a trace.
Meticulous precision has been used to dig deep into Kevin, Nora, Tommy, Matt and several other characters on the show, many times with entire episodes devoted to only focusing on one or two of them at a time. While that might slow down the overall story just slightly, the payoff has always been worth it in the end.
But one character who has remained on the outskirts through the first two seasons yet played an integral part in everything that has been happening is Kevin Garvey Sr. (played brilliantly by Scott Glenn). As Kevin’s father, he was the chief of police in Mapleton, New York until the Sudden Departure happened and that’s when he lost his mind.
At least that’s what it looked like on the surface as Kevin Sr. suddenly started hearing voices in his head that led to his stay in a mental institution. He escaped at one point in pursuit of a National Geographic magazine that he believed would somehow play a part in the events yet to come but eventually he was released from the institution on his own accord.
Rather than admitting that the voices had been silenced, Kevin Sr. told his son that he finally gave in and started listening to them. That’s what led him to a journey that would end in Australia, which is where the voices told him to go.
The latest episode was devoted entirely to Kevin Sr.’s life down under as well as an explanation on what he’s been doing down there for the past few months and what he’s still doing down there now. The intersection with the conclusion from last week’s episode brings everything full circle but like so much of ‘The Leftovers’ we’re still not really sure what’s happening but it’s a hell of a ride watching the show get there.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Leftovers’ titled ‘Crazy Whitefella Thinking’…
Niagara Falls 81
It’s been a long strange trip for Kevin Garvey Sr. since he arrived in Australia.
When last we saw Kevin Sr. he was speaking to his son through a television while Kevin Jr. was locked in the Purgatory Hotel following his death and subsequent resurrection. That sort of gets an explanation during this week’s episode, but more importantly we pick up with Kevin Sr. as he’s traveling all over Australia on a spirit quest of sorts.
He’s been following different aboriginal tribes around Australia learning their songlines — a real tradition amongst the indigenous cultures in Australia with songs used to navigate across the land or sky — and Kevin Sr. believes these different ceremonies when combined will help him stop a great flood.
You see, Kevin Sr. is convinced that on the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, the skies will open up and a great flood will swallow up the Earth unless he can do something to stop it.
Being arrested and detained by local authorities won’t slow him down either because Kevin Sr. is convinced that he needs to learn these songlines in time to stop the apocalypse. Along the way, Kevin Sr. listens to another tape that contains recordings from a trip he took with his son to Niagara Falls back in 1981.
While Kevin Sr. continues to practice all the different songlines he’s learned since arriving in Australia, there’s still one more that he has to add to his repertoire. It’s the final songline that he needs before he knows all of the ceremonies of the indigenous tribes around Australia.
To learn this particular songline, Kevin Sr. needs to track down a man named Christopher Sunday, who is the leader of the final tribe that will finish out this spirit quest for him so he can save the world.
The Book of Kevin Sr.
Along his travels, Kevin Sr. also receives mail from the United States in the form of a package from his old pal Reverend Matt Jamison.
It appears he’s stayed in contact with Matt this entire time and actually encouraged him to write ‘The Book of Kevin’, which is what he received in the mail. Remember when Matt told Kevin Jr. that there was only one handwritten copy of the book in existence?
Well, Matt was telling the truth because after Kevin Sr. read through the pages, he tore one out and then tossed the rest in the trash before berating the good reverend for not telling the story the right way.
It seems Kevin Sr. believes the book was supposed to be about him, not his son and now he’s angry because Matt has told it all wrong.
Matt does manage to send Kevin Sr. some cash, which he puts into the middle of the National Geographic magazine that he sought out during season one.
In fact, Kevin Jr. stashes the cash on the page turned to the story about Cairo, Egypt, which was one of the prominent stories in that particular issue. Cairo was also the location (in New York) where Patti Levin took her own life during season one.
Does this reappearance of the National Geographic mean anything? Who really knows but it’s back again after Kevin Sr. went through hell or high water to get it in the first place.
By the end of the episode when Kevin Sr. reaches back out to Matt, the reverend has lost his patience with the former police chief and tells him to fuck off. Clearly these two remain at odds as the end of the world approaches — at least according to Kevin Garvey Sr.
Itsy Bitsy Spider
It takes Kevin Sr. quite some time and a little thievery to finally track down Christopher Sunday but when he does he explains how he arrived at his doorstep asking to learn the ceremony of the sacred songline for his tribe.
Kevin Sr. begins his story with the Sudden Departure and how the voices in his head started five minutes after two-percent of the world’s population disappeared. Before long, Kevin Sr. was living in a mental institution until he finally relented and started following the orders the voices in his head were giving him.
The last order received was telling him to go to Australia, which is exactly what Kevin Sr. decided to do.
At the time, Kevin Sr. didn’t know what to expect or where to go so he booked a ticket for Sydney and at least figured he’d get the chance to see the Opera House before leaving. When Kevin Sr. arrived, he ran into a hippie who offered him the chance to talk to God and he assumed that was the sign he had been waiting for when he got to Australia.
As it turns out, the hippie was actually offering him a hit of an experimental psychotropic drug called ‘God’s tongue’ that put him into a two week long acid trip that ended with a hotel room, a burning bed and two weeks missing from his life. Now we know that during this two week sojourn that Kevin Sr. spoke to Kevin Jr. while he was locked in Purgatory after he died back in Texas — unfortunately it appears that Kevin Sr. has no memory of actually speaking to his son during this two week acid trip.
When Kevin Sr. finally woke up, he looked straight at the TV and saw a chicken but not just any chicken.
It was Tony the chicken — an animal that was the last living creature left in a small town in Australia where all 14 other residents, pets and animals disappeared during the Sudden Departure. At that time, Tony was just an egg, but when he hatched, the rest of the locals believed he must have some sort of power if he survived the Sudden Departure.
Kevin Sr. took this as a sign and sought out Tony the chicken for answers.
When he arrived, Kevin Sr. asked the chicken for direction and he was told to be specific with what he wanted to know. Tony ended up pecking away at Kevin Sr.’s backpack and a the tape from his trip to Niagara Falls that he took with his son back in 1981. It seems that tape recorder was a gift from Kevin’s mother just a month before she died from cancer and he took it with him everywhere after that.
When Kevin Sr. played the tape after Tony pecked away at it, the voices picked up at the exact moment when a great rainstorm had started and Kevin Jr. asked his dad to sing a song to help make it stop. Kevin Sr. sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and miraculously the water stopped falling from the sky.
That was the sign that Kevin Sr. needed to believe that a great flood was going to wipe out the rest of the world and only he could stop it. Now he’s asking for Chris Sunday’s help for the final ceremony in his gathering of Australia songlines so he can prevent the world from ending.
Chris agrees to hand it over so long as Kevin helps him stop a leak in his own house. Sadly, Kevin’s attempt to stop the leak ends when the authorities show up after he invaded yet another aboriginal land without permission and he falls off the roof — and directly on top of Chris Sunday, which ends in his death.
The Wrong Kevin
Kevin Sr. ends up being left in the middle of nowhere after his trip to visit Chris Sunday ends in tragedy. On his travels across the desert, Kevin Sr. runs into a suicidal man, who literally burns himself alive after asking him the strange question of whether or not he would kill a baby if he knew it would cure cancer. Kevin Sr. answers no, the man replies the same and then he sets himself on fire.
Later, Kevin tries to kill a snake for food but ends up being bitten instead.
Kevin Sr. finally passes out in front of a cross he finds while trying to seek out help. In his hand, he clutches the only page he took from ‘The Book of Kevin’ as he expects this to be the place where he expires.
Except he doesn’t.
Kevin Sr. wakes up days later in a remote ranch house in the middle of nowhere Australia where he’s been tended to by a family currently building a boat — or perhaps an ark — while looking through photo albums and attempting to get his bearings back after a brush with death. Later that night, Kevin Sr. wanders outside when he hears a strange sound and he encounters four women, who have just killed the local chief of police.
This of course was the scene we saw last week when four random women on horseback kidnapped the local chief of police and drowned him while reading a passage from ‘The Book of Kevin’ — the section where Kevin dropped a cinderblock into the lake in Jarden, Texas before an earthquake opened up a fissure that drained all the water away, thus saving his life.
When the women spot Kevin Sr. they shoot him with a tranquilizer dart before he wakes up a day later.
At that time, Kevin finally confronts the owner of the house — a woman named Grace, who is now racked with guilt after taking an innocent man’s life the night before.
Grace proceeds to tell Kevin Sr. how she ended up at murder while really only seeking a connection to her children, who had passed away.
It seems Grace was away from home on the day of the Sudden Departure and she was shopping at a local grocery store when the clerk blinked out of existence just like the rest of the people around the world. She was stuck in town because phones were shut down and there was no transportation that could take her back home.
When Grace returned there the next day, she found no one at home — her husband and all of her children were gone, their bibles laid out neatly in a line as if they all just disappeared while reading scripture together. In Grace’s mind this was a divine way for her family to go with God and she wasn’t even upset that she didn’t get taken at the time.
Fast forward two years later and the bones of Grace’s children were dug up a few miles away from her property. It seems on the day of the Sudden Departure — which she specifically refers to as the rapture — that her husband disappeared but her children were left behind. Because they had no idea if their mother was ever going to return or not, they started out on a journey to make it to town to find her.
Sadly, the elements got the better of them and they all died.
Grace ended up making a memorial to them in the middle of the desert where they perished — the same spot where Kevin Sr. passed out after his encounter with a deadly snake. When Grace rescued him, she found the page from ‘The Book of Kevin’ about a miraculous incident where a former chief of police was killed and resurrected in the same instance. She believed this was a sign from God that she could finally reconnect with her children and she needed Kevin’s help.
Grace sought out the local police chief named Kevin, thinking he was the person written about in those pages but when he refused to help her she decided to drown him just like the story because she believed it was a test of her faith. It turns out, Grace wasn’t being tested — she just murdered a man.
Now she’s ready to turn herself into the authorities until Kevin Sr. interrupts. He explains that Grace wasn’t wrong about the sign she received or the message from that page she read after retrieving it from his nearly dead hand.
She just had the wrong Kevin.
‘The Leftovers’ returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.