The Leftovers: “Crazy Whitefella Thinking” Season 3 Episode 3 Review

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Is there any truth in the world of The Leftovers? The very laws of the universe are liable to break at any given moment, so what can be true? In “Crazy Whitefella Thinking,” another remarkable episode, Kevin Garvey Sr. thinks he can stop an impending flood with his singing voice. He probably can’t, but what reason has the show given us to believe otherwise?

Kevin Sr.’s definition of truth is a whole lot different from most of the other characters’, however. We learn here that he only started hearing voices in his head five minutes after the Sudden Departure. Now that he’s out of his psychiatric facility, he’s wandering the Outback in search of a supposed indigenous holy man by the name of Christopher Sunday, who he believes can complete the song he needs to sing to stop the apocalypse. His only guidance? Old tape recordings of Kevin Jr. asking him questions from when he was 10 or so. Apparently our favorite immortal once wanted to be a news anchor before taking up his father’s career. With that, The Leftovers found a way to make us feel for Kevin Sr. His cracked mind still draws upon deep emotions he felt throughout his life, before the world exploded on October 14th.

Upon meeting Sunday, Kevin Sr., through a stirring monologue delivered by the undervalued Scott Glenn, expresses his will to find purpose in this world. And The Leftovers has suddenly found truth through its most deranged character. The question of purpose, the most human question of all, changes when millions of people disappear into thin air while billions are left behind to keep living. The quest for purpose in this series is understandably more pertinent, as no evidence of purpose presents itself when events like the Sudden Departure can happen.

Much of “Crazy Whitefella Thinking” is Kevin Sr. wandering the Outback on crutches, where things happen around him that don’t really involve him, the best example being the man’s fiery suicide. Here, a chance at help comes along, but another soul fighting for a purpose, and presumably losing, quickly takes it away. Before Kevin Sr. collapses at the base of Grace’s cross, this is a lesson he must learn.

But The Leftovers isn’t all bleak meanderings. Is it chance that Kevin Sr. wound up on Grace’s footsteps? We now know that Grace and horseback riding gang weren’t just looking for other Kevins for nothing. She found Matt’s scripture, sent to Kevin Sr. all the way from Miracle to Australia, and there just happened to be a police chief by the name of Kevin 20 kilometers away, whom she accidentally killed at the end of “Don’t Be Ridiculous” (The Leftovers is the blackest divine comedy to ever exist). Grace, as it turns out, like Kevin Sr., like the rest of us, is just looking for some purpose. Her purpose as a mother certainly didn’t pan out, as we learn in this week’s second eye-watering monologue. For her, finding and guiding the new messiah, a police chief named Kevin, could be that purpose. And by accident, or maybe not, her quest now smashes together with Kevin Sr.’s. But at that point, who does he believe to be the messiah?

As usual, we’re left with more questions than answers concerning the general plot of the season. But “Crazy Whitefella Thinking” also left us with a lot of answers that informed one of the show’s least fleshed out characters. His role in the weeks to come looks to be pivotal, which makes this time spent exploring him necessary. But what could have been an hour that felt like homework was another masterful journey that find startlingly human ways to justify extreme emotions. The fact is, what we’re witnessing on The Leftovers this season could be unprecedented. A final season of an acclaimed drama’s best tool is its microscope, ensuring that this fantastical tale stays grounded in the human nature that provides the basis for the entire series. I hesitate to call these first three episodes a streak, but instead pivotal pieces to a complex whole. As a critic witnessing what could potentially become one of the greatest works of art the medium has ever seen, my only question is whether The Leftovers will ever waver, and if it doesn’t, how will that change television? Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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