The Leftovers Season 1 Episode 9 “The Garveys At Their Best”: My Unsolicited Review

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After this crap-filled mess of a pile of garbage that the writers of True Blood passed off as a series finale, I was really in no mood for any cryptic bullshit from The Leftovers. HBO must have known exactly what it was doing, and they must have timed their True Blood/The Leftovers episodes perfectly because while we were subjected to a dud of an episode of True Blood, we were treated to one of the best episodes of The Leftovers to date. This week, the show took a break from heading into more and more baffling territory, and went back several paces… so far back that the episode took place before the Sudden Departure. And herein lies why the episode was so good… because, for once, we actually knew what the hell we were watching, and where it was heading.

As such, I don’t think there will be any need for me this week to go deep into the episode and make any hypotheses (that for all we know at this point may be utter nonsense), and instead I’ll just take a brief look at how different the lives of our beloved main cast were before they all went batshit crazy the Departure.

First off, let me just say that I totally get why the Garvey’s are all moping around in this eternal state of depression since Laurie went off to join the GR. Hot damn! This woman was raking in the big bucks as a psychiatrist… holy hell, did you get a look at that house that they used to live in? In comparison, their new pad looks like a deer had trampled all through it… even before one had trampled through the kitchen.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first episode of the season that we’ve heard Laurie speak, and was it just me, or was it kinda weird hearing actual sounds come out of her mouth… you know, instead of just cigarette smoke? I would also like to take a moment to focus on the marriage woes of Laurie and Kevin. I’d already assumed that the two of them had had their issues… I mean, after all, why would Laurie have ditched her family for the GR if they’d been living in wedded bliss? However, it had never crossed my mind that the dynamic had been what it was. All this time I’d been looking at Laurie with judgemental eyes for bailing on her family for a bunch of fashion-blind lunatics, while Kevin had been the wonderful husband who was desperate to have his family back, and therefore necessitated pity from me. As is turns out, Laurie had been the one trying to make her house a happy home, while Kevin dismissed his marriage, wanting “more.” Ugh, nothing turns me off faster than this phrase, and things totally reversed flip-side in my head. It made things all the worse when we realise that she’d been pregnant, and had lost the fetus in the Departure – the hell!!

Jill, who most of you know has been the bane of my existence from the beginning of this show, was actually a super happy, perky totally positive kid before the Departure. I mean, this turn of events is totally cliché, but still slightly jarring. The thing is, considering how much depressed, emo Jill totally chaffed my staff, you’d think that this happy lovely Jill would be a ray of sunshine to me. Turns out that the only thing more irritating than morose Jill is happy Jill… and yes, I feel badly for still feeling this way about her. But it is what it is. It also makes her whole hard-ass shtick look more like posing than ever before.

Kevin Garvey Sr was still totally sane before the Departure, and was actually a kick-ass cop, decisive leader, and wise family man. I totally get now why people were so hesitant to attack him when he’d broken out of the hospital. It also makes it all the more tragic (and intriguing) the fact that he’s in his current situation.

Nora’s husband was kind of a dick! There, I said it! I have no pity for him that she acted so stoically in getting divorced from him after his Departure. I’m sure he was nice enough… he certainly seemed it. But he was one of those typical scumbag husbands: doting on his wife in the presence of his kids and outsiders, yet when it came time just between him and his wife, he was distant and aloof because it was obvious that he was screwing someone else on the side… like his kids’ kindergarten teacher. Her children, however, were all kinds of adorable and it’s not hard at all to understand why their disappearance was so difficult for her to get over. She pretty much lived for her. I thought it was quite a good move to show that, while the daughter was very much into her bedtime prayers, the son sneered at this routine, stating that praying was “stupid”. It strengthens the mystery of those Departed, as clearly not all of those who vanished were strongly religious or spiritual. Remember how in Nora’s Manhattan conference episode, she kept buying groceries that had been in the house when her family Departed, and she therefore kept the roll of paper towels in her kitchen close to empty? I totally felt a little something in my general cardiac area when we saw the original instance of the low paper towels… and it was even more powerful when we realised that it was accompanied by a spat of rage towards her kids. How awful is it that her last moment with her kids was marred by anger, and her daughter Departed in tears? Ugh, the feels… my body was so not ready for them!

We also got a deeper view of other situations that we already knew: Kevin wasn’t Tom’s biological father, Kevin cheated on Laurie in the precise moment that the Departure occurred and his mistress Departed during the act. Well, I guess we didn’t actually know this last part for sure, but I’d already figured it out from the pilot episode. Oh, we also got to see Patti pre-Guilty Remnant, and this bitch was either clairvoyant, or a total psycho from way back then. And considering the way she offed herself in front of Kevin with no warning at all, I’m leaning towards the latter. We also saw Gladys pre-GR, and she was a lovely lady who worked at a dog-breeding centre.

My only complaint of this episode is that every other episode of the season hasn’t been as good and easy to follow as it was. Next week’s episode is the season one finale and we’ll then be able to adequately judge if this first season was worth the patience, and if we should bother following for a second season. Check out the GIFs while you decide.

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6 thoughts on “The Leftovers Season 1 Episode 9 “The Garveys At Their Best”: My Unsolicited Review”

  1. So – I have to say, before I get too deep… I watched this episode and immediately thought “Well, WTF?! Why didn’t they start the season with this episode and then roll forward?!”

    But then, I stewed over it for the night and realized the next day … by getting to know everyone as f’d up, post-departure folks first, we could really make a stark “wow, they were so different before” comparison.

    I mean, just in comparing Jill and Tom… wow. Such innocent, loving kids before. Now… not so much.

    And I have to say, I have a whole new perspective on Laurie. For the longest time, I hated her. SO MUCH. I could NOT understand how she could let her family fall apart and join a cult. But her ultrasound scene, it made me cry. No quite four months ago, I myself lost my first child (yes, child – I wanted that baby with all my heart). I was 2.5 months along. Unlike her, I didn’t watch the baby just disappear in an instant on the monitor, but I did see the baby’s heart beating one week, and then just over a week later – gone. The loss you feel in that instance is incomparable. And the emotions you feel the months following are beyond words. I never thought I would say this, because I have never understood it before, but in that instant I knew 100% what could drive someone to consider or join a cult.

    Personal emotions aside, for once I can say – I’m actually looking forward to the next episode. I can’t wait to see what’s happening next. Will this mean renewing HBO again next summer…???

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    1. First off, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. That’s one of the most awful things that anyone can experience, and I wouldn’t wish it on the vilest person alive. I won’t offer you any cliche bullshit about “it happened for a reason” or “God knows best” or any crap like that, because if I were in your position and someone made the mistake of telling me rubbish like that, I’d destroy them and revel in the satisfaction at the sight of their carcass. What I will advise is that no matter how much it will hurt – and I know that it may always – don’t let it totally defeat you. Keep moving, and grab your happiness however the Universe may present it… because sometimes, that’s the trick to surviving this crazy messed up awesome awful terrible great terrifying thrilling thing called life.

      Now, you are, as usual, spot on with this. I thought the same thing while watching the episode… why couldn’t this have been the beginning? But yes, doing it this way made the contrast between the past and present of the characters a lot more powerful. I’m sure that it was the aim of the writers, and they definitely achieved it.

      This just proves that this show has so much potential… getting to the awesome just seems to be taking forever! I’m also really looking forward to the finale, so when that we’ve crossed that bridge, we’ll know where we stand. Now, I don’t know about summer, but I’ve already told you that you’ve got to get on this level and start watching Game of Thrones. It is your destiny! Ok, maybe not really… but still, you should!

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    1. Holy hell, that was amazing! Is that your blog?! If it is, why am I only knowing this now? We have to be blog buddies!

      Seriously, though, that piece was remarkable. It was so well-written and sincere. And everything that was said about being raised Christian but not subscribing to every doctrine of organised religion yet still trying to be the best and most positive person possible fits me to a T.

      I think I’m in love… with a blog post. Is that weird? Never mind, I don’t care! My love needs no explanation!

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      1. It sure is my blog, and we can definately be blog buddies. 🙂 But just so you know, my posts are usually a little less serious, and hopefully a lot more funny. (And for some reason, google is being a turd, so I’m responding via Facebook today)

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      2. Ever since Google took over YouTube, I think they’ve always been a turd. That’s what they get for trying to take over the internet… Mark Zuckerberg is a close second.

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