The Leftovers: Crazy Whitefella Thinking
May 2, 2017 5:24 AM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

With the clock ticking towards the anniversary of the Departure and emboldened by a vision that is either divine prophecy or utter insanity, Kevin Garvey, Sr. wanders the Australian Outback in an effort to save the world from apocalypse.
posted by LizBoBiz (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This season is looking at all the possible ways of answering the question: "what's worse, to lose your friends and family to an incomprehensible supernatural event, or to a horrific but mundane tragedy?" Episode 2 had the "at least I knew what had happened, I buried her and got to move on" conversation. And now this.

After each episode, my heart fits inside a thimble.
posted by kandinski at 7:07 AM on May 2, 2017

Good on these guys for at least trying to view the apocalypse in a slightly larger than western civilization (west texas) viewpoint.

Technically, ticking clock, lets do a trip to the outback and be back in under two weeks, how does that work?
posted by sammyo at 8:18 AM on May 2, 2017

Yeah, I love this show, and this episode was great if you're a Kevinist, but if I were aboriginal this episode was probably pretty hard to watch. They killed Christopher Sunday by tossing a Kevin at him. Crazy Whitefella Thinking indeed. I know they meant to comment on the sacred and the profane, and I think they did so in a very provocative and committed way. But they showed us one religion steamroll over another, and to do that to a living religion, one of the oldest in the world, made me uncomfortable. If that was the only point then I'm disappointed. I hope there's a redeeming justification for this.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:20 PM on May 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think the episode was clearly about cultural appropriation and as much as I thought killing Christopher Sunday in such a goofy way seemed strange, the show did pretty well in criticising Kevin Snr's actions. Though of course he still got the last word for the episode, even after Lindsay Duncan's magnificent performance.

As always when I watch American TV shows or films try to deal with Australian culture (whether that be indigenous or our own personal take on Western civilization), I was ready to find fault - and I thought they did a great job overall. Especially getting in a mention of the Stolen Generations ("We apologised for that!"), which seems apropos for this series.

And the timeline of the episode (with the reprise of the final scene of ep 2) shows how we're not that much closer to the 7th anniversary than we were last week.
posted by crossoverman at 11:20 PM on May 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

This episode made me really hate Kevin Sr. He reminds me very, very strongly of the father of one of my exes. Amazingly self-centered with a huge ego and no self-awareness. Also quick to become a wailing victim should anything not go his way. Very destructive as a a result.

All that aside, though, I want to know WTF happened during his God's Tongue trip. Like, how did he send Kevin Jr. flowers in the afterlife?
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:15 AM on May 3, 2017

If the point is to provide a lesson about cultural appropriation then it does it with a sledgehammer, and it could have been done with one of the many new and invented religions. It seemed like it wanted to be both ironic and sincere, and I'm not sure that works when you're using a real and endangered religion. And pardon the pun but its lesson about appropriation is preaching to the choir.

When Big Kevin was an ass to people who weren't aboriginal, you could clearly see him being a narcissistic dick, but when he was doing it to aboriginals it was as if we were being asked to forgive it because he was "called" to do it and if he's right, he could save the world. It's that framing that I find the most objectionable. If this new religion must destroy a religion in its way, why did it have to be that one?

This show has been too smart for me to draw a conclusion about it at this point, but it bothered me. I am completely aware of what they were trying to do and I give them credit for trying, it was just how they did it that I question.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2017

I can't say I know what the writers intended but I definitely didn't forgive it. The running theme of this show is that no one has the answer to save the world. Kevin Sr is obviously craz and it's Kevin Jr who would save the world anyways. He's the god of the new religion. It's like Sr got a glimpse of a tangent to the really story and thinks he's the main character. I did think it was entertaining to see "I'm a white guy from America and I'm going to do what I want" get shot down by just about everyone.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:45 PM on May 3, 2017

I watched this a few days ago and yesterday learned that an acquaintance of mine, who has a history of paranoid schizophrenia, threw themself in front of a train, losing both legs but surviving. They believed that their death would give the good side an advantage in a global war against evil.

When I think about Kevin Sr in this episode, now that's all I can think of. Delusions leading to this tunnel vision that hurts everything and everyone it touches on.
posted by tracicle at 1:31 AM on May 4, 2017

Kevin Sr. is a difficult cat to unpack. We're meant to think he has the answer, hidden under all the voices and so on, because Kevin Jr.'s voices were real and so why shouldn't we believe that Kevin Sr. has real ghosts speaking to him? He seems to know what he's doing, he's doing what his voices have told him to after all the time spent trying to ignore them whilst seeming utterly batshit to everyone around him, because he's totally committed to it. When he reveals that the incy wincy spider song is going to save the world, doesn't that seem to show that he doesn't actually have the answer, because that's patently ridiculous, right? But if this show has been doing anything, it's been showing us that what we see and what we may think of what we see is not necessarily what we think it is.

The worst part of binging the first two seasons is having to wait a whole week between episodes to find out where we're going. I'm going to be devastated when this season is over; I really love this show.

I think the Australian bits have been excellent. Not a bum note so far (I'll even forgive Lindsay Duncan's accent because it is sooo close).
posted by h00py at 7:11 AM on May 8, 2017

Not a surprise but Scott Glenn was amazing.
posted by whuppy at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2023

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