“HAIL TO THE CHIEF.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I’ll go on the record here and say I’m not a huge fan of flashback episodes, especially when they’re the episode before a season finale or following on from a game changing episode. “The Garveys At Their Best” had the dubious honor of meeting this criteria, but thankfully it really worked. Maybe it was because I didn’t know whether it was a flashback or some crazy Kevin nightmare, but I was on board with this episode from the start and ended up loving what it managed to add to our already well-established plots.
The Leftovers has taken its time to build up all of these characters and storylines, so hitting the brakes after last week’s shocking events may prove to be the correct decision. The only problem here is the show takes a break next week, so by the time the finale airs it will have been three weeks since Kevin’s trip to that cabin in the woods. If the show hadn’t already been renewed it would be a little worrying ratings-wise, but for now it’s just a little annoying to have to wait!
Let’s get into the most revealing aspects of the episode, which showcased the moment of The Departure for the majority of our leading characters and their immediate reactions. Watching Kevin and Laurie’s marriage breaking down before our eyes was certainly quite telling, but the big twist of this was left until the end. Finding out that Laurie’s unborn child also departed was a clever twist that also gives us a proper and clear reason why she would join The Guilty Remnant in the first place. Up until now it seemed like the Garveys hadn’t lost anyone in The Departure, but unbeknownst to everyone but Laurie, a member of their family had disappeared.
One thing that flashback episodes always offer up is a look at characters at a different time in their lives. In the case of The Leftovers, you’d expect that it would be a happier time for most of these characters, but that wasn’t the case. Nora had her family, but she was also desperately seeking some space from them. Kevin ended up cheating on Laurie, and she was keeping secrets from him. All of these people’s lives were already starting to spiral downwards and The Departure only managed to set it off in a different trajectory. Seeing characters such as Gladys, Patti, and Laurie outside the confines of The Guilty Remnant was especially jarring, considering they actually had lines of dialogue!
One thing’s for certain though, strange things were already starting to happen before The Departure. I’m not sure how common it is around the country, but I wasn’t under the impression that massive deer regularly go on bloody rampages through schools and houses. Patti may have been a little crazy, but her insistence that she knew something terrible was coming was pretty unsettling. Kevin encountered a car full of strange women who were travelling somewhere, and then he almost got himself blown up when an underground explosion occurred. 140 million people disappearing off the face of the Earth is obviously a supernatural event, but there are plenty of little hints in the past and present that suggest that this is an ongoing event.
My favorite scene of the episode was the montage towards the end of the episode that showcased where numerous characters were at the exact time of The Departure; Kevin in the hotel room with the random woman, Laurie in the clinic, and Nora’s family disappearing behind her in the kitchen. Jill and Tom’s portion was the standout for me with the science fair circuit being broken when their classmate disappeared. The reactions of each character were as varied to be expected too, ranging from confusion to flat out panic. The acting was top notch as usual, but special mention must go to Margaret Qualley and Chris Zylka for their radically different portrayals of Jill and Tom respectively.
It might be an odd time for a time-out, but “The Garveys At Their Best” was a revealing episode that gave us a big chunk of backstory. Seeing these characters immediate reactions to The Departure was something I feel we needed to see at some stage. So, it’s probably better to get it out of the way now so that it can aid in the development of future storylines. An episode like this only helps to further explain certain characters’ motivations so in that regard, “The Garveys At Their Best” was a success. It’s going to be a long two weeks before we find out the aftermath of the events in the cabin, but judging by how this show has grown over its first season, it’ll be worth the wait.
Was this the correct time to have a flashback episode, or should this episode have aired earlier or been kept for a later season? Let us know in the comments below.
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