The Leftovers: “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World” Season 3 Episode 5 Review

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I remember when I fell in love with The Leftovers. It was season one, episode three, “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” where Matt Jamison took the show’s first solo perspective episode and ran with it, creating a tragedy of errors that would boil over into comedy just as it needed to. That episode was a story about how a holy figure would stand by his religion and his values after an event like the Sudden Departure. Matt episodes have become something of a tradition for The Leftovers, continuing in season two with the outstanding “No Room at the Inn” and now concluding with “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World,” an hour that will undoubtedly go down as one of the show’s finest.

Matt Jamison is dying. The nose bleed we caught a glimpse of earlier this season was no fluke, and he’s not telling Laurie, who he really doesn’t want to come to Australia with him, John, and Michael. His reasons are childish. There is no Gospel of Laurie, and she certainly doesn’t buy into the Book of Kevin, so Matt throws a huge fit. But here, Laurie represents Matt’s inability to listen and hear from other people. He’s become so devoted to his beliefs that he’s alienated himself from absorbing everything the world has given him. This episode’s chief goal is to get Matt to a place where he works with the world and not against it. And boy is he on a clock.

The world is dying. The episode opens with the launch of a nuclear missile from a submarine. Four days to go to the seventh anniversary, and all the news is showing is a magnificent mushroom cloud. Whatever happens on October 15th (since we’ll presumably be in Australia for it), if anything, God’s not the only one who can take away the light. We can too.

With that added tension, Matt is determined to bring Kevin back to Miracle, apparently the only place on Earth where miracles can happen. With all flights grounded due to the explosion, the group is forced to talk their way onto a ferry from Tasmania to Melbourne bought out by a cult. Said cult worships a lion named Frasier that, in the ’70s, at the spry age of 91, impregnated every lioness in a California zoo after years of failed breeding attempts. How do they worship Frasier? Oh, funny you should ask, they dress up like sex-crazed versions of Broadway’s The Lion King cast and have a giant orgy (the Lion King/Eyes Wide Shut mash-up we all never knew we needed). Dear readers, I was honestly beside myself. This episode is a divine tragedy with a backdrop of highly sexual comic relief. Matt’s pleas with his surrogate family, his creator, and himself are all accompanied by people dressed as lions fucking around him, as if he needed anything more to drive him mad. It’s a piece of Matt’s final test, once again displaying The Leftovers‘ unmatched ability to spread great comedy heavily across intimate, tear-jerking character growth.

But what sends our good priest over the edge is a man onboard the ferry who quite literally claims to be God, handing out cheeky little cards that explain his role in the world. Matt witnesses the man posing as the creator murder another passenger by throwing them overboard. But everyone else is too busy having sex to notice or care.

So Matt takes matters into his own hands, hitting “God” in the face and threatening him next to one of Frasier’s supposed decedents. What the show does here is put Matt face-to-face with potentially his greatest enemy, God himself. Their grandiose showdown wreaks of finality, the first time this season The Leftovers has truly felt like a show that was ending. Matt has been waiting his whole life to stand in front of God for judgement, a moment he only grew more anxious about after the Sudden Departure didn’t take him. That’s why he went around in season one yelling the sins of those departed, to prove that they did not escape this world and rise to heaven. At first, Matt refuses to believe this man is God, but then he’s told a wisdom about himself Matt probably always knew, but never had the heart to face. God tells him that everything Matt has done for his religion, for his God, has really been for himself. This doesn’t make him a bad person, but it does tear down the pedestal Matt put himself on. And only by know this can he achieve a true form of enlightenment.

Matt please for the man to cure him of his disease, to which he snaps his fingers and walks away. The illusion is over. Matt’s greatest confrontation, his final test, was another shame. But no longer is Matt expecting to understand God’s plan for him, if there even is one. As John said earlier in the episode, at this point, they’re not realistically getting Kevin back to Miracle by the 14th. By the end of the episode, Matt accepts that, as well as the fact that he’s dying, as well as a great many other aspects of his beliefs that were holding him back. Matt’s enlightenment comes when he tears down his walls and looks the world in the eye, rather than trying to put the world inside his walls.

And finally, after another episode of the world relentlessly beating down on Matt Jamison, he gets his reward. Whether it be coincidence or divine intervention, Frasier’s descendent escapes and eats “God” as the ferry docks in Melbourne, finally giving Matt the victory he deserves after overcoming a great inner trial. But proof of his enlightenment comes when his reaction is serene. He’s not vengeful, or even horrified, merely complacent with what the universe just put in front of him, as insane as it might have been. Is this The Leftovers‘s greatest lesson? To stop looking inward and absorb the world’s poetic, brutal beauty? Matt is the first character that the show has put in a place that, if the show were over right now, I would be wholly satisfied. Sadly, the series has just three episodes to go, but through this last great series of unfortunate events, we can finally expect Matt to be an ally to himself and, thus, the world at large. God or no God. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • I love how the show dealt with the events from last week here, with Matt forcing Laurie’s hand in telling John what Kevin thought he saw in Melbourne. It was a moment that wholly supported Laurie and John’s respective season three storylines while keeping Matt at the forefront of the action.
  • How ridiculous and intense was the opening scene? A nude terrorist on a submarine manages to start a global meltdown. Goddammit these writers are geniuses.
  • The conversation between Laurie and Matt on the rail, with their clashing viewpoints, was wonderful. Laurie is nothing but gracious, even after all their shouting on the plane. They disagree, but also know better than to try an infringe their views on the other. It’s a display of religious respect a hell of a lot of people on this planet should take notes from.
  • But then there’s Matt’s hysterical grin on the plane after Laurie yells about Jesus and there’s instantly turbulence.
  • “That’s the guy I was telling you about.”

By Matt Dougherty

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