Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
The Leftovers threw us another curve ball this week as we pretty much abandoned all of our previously established plots to focus almost entirely on one character. It’s a bold move to make considering the series is still finding its footing, but thankfully the story of Reverend Matt Jamison was magnificently captivating and didn’t disappoint at all.
Jamison (the brilliant Christopher Eccleston) has kind of flitted around the edges of the story for the last few episodes, but he took center stage here as we delved into all facets of his life. Again, it’s a bold move to focus on one character so wholly here in only the third episode of a series. Characters such as Kevin, Jill, Meg, and Tom got little to no screen time at all here, but it is a testament to the stellar writing and great performance from Eccleston that they weren’t really missed.
The Leftovers has been exceedingly dark and bleak so far, so with this episode basically kicking off with a priest getting the hell beat out of him, it was clearly going to keep up the same tone. Jamison’s journey in this episode seemed to consist of him seemingly having a small success only for him to be knocked back almost immediately. This steadily escalated throughout the episode and went to some pretty extreme depths. We managed to see nearly every conceivable side of Jamison as he swung back and forth between hope and desperation. He first appears as a devoted clergyman willing to take a beating for his beliefs, but once his church comes under threat he swings to a desperate man willing to blackmail his sister. Later we see his moment of triumph shattered by an attempted mugging, and in a fit of rage Jamison becomes a man willing to kill for his cause. Perhaps the most striking part of his run in with the mugger was he didn’t even show much remorse afterwards. We still don’t know if the man died or not, but Jamison didn’t particularly seem to give much thought to the matter one way or the other.
His home life has been absolutely shattered by “the departure.” His sister, Norah, is the intriguing woman from the first two episodes who has lost her entire family three years ago in “the departure.” Jamison’s wife was actually driving the car we see crashing in the very first scene of the series, an accident which has resulted in her becoming a locked in quadriplegic who requires constant care. The standout moment of the episode for me was when Jamison returned home for the night and laid down on his bed beside his wife and just gave into his emotions completely. He had been on the go all day, and when he finally sat still he broke down entirely, sobbing uncontrollably and imploring God to help him. Powerful stuff.
There’s a hint of a connection between Jamison and Kevin’s possibly not-so-crazy father here which I’m looking forward to seeing explored in the future. Kevin Sr. had a stash of money hidden in his back garden for Jamison to use whenever he needed it, along with a flier about a corrupt judge. Kevin’s earlier comments about coming over for dinner also suggested that Jamison may have been a regular visitor to the Garvey household in the past. As I mentioned above, Jamison was only on the outskirts of the story after the first few episodes, but after this week he is now firmly connected to several of our seemingly main characters.
Time and time again in this episode we saw Jamison get knocked down (often literally), but the biggest kick in the teeth came after his run-in with the mugger. After finally securing the money to save his church, he stopped at the side of the road to help out a Guilty Remnant that had been attacked, only for him to be knocked unconscious himself. It was the ultimate cruel twist of fate, exacerbated by him waking up and rushing to the bank only to discover he had been unconscious for three days and had missed his deadline. After being so nice to the Remnants, it seemed only right that they would wind up being the ones to buy the church out from under him and board it up. I will say though that after seeing what Jamison is capable of when pushed, that look he had on his face at the end of the episode would make me fear for some of the Remnants.
There was so much more to love about this episode, including some more pretty far out there dreams, but it was really all about a grandstanding performance from Christopher Eccleston. He carried the episode from start to finish, and the sad thing about it is he probably won’t get the same level of screen time again for a while. “Two Boats and a Helicopter” was a wonderful episode that gave us a peek into the life of a fascinating character, while also managing to deftly tie his story into those of previously established characters. I’d expect a return to the norm next week, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more of the good Reverend in the weeks to come.
Would you like to see more of the Reverend? Three episodes in, how are you liking ‘The Leftovers?’ Share with us in the comments below.
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