The Leftovers “The Garveys at Their Best” Review (1×09)

25 Aug


“A man said to the universe, ‘Sir, I exist'”. 

“However,” the universe replied, “that fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.”

“The Garveys at Their Best” makes its point known from the irony inherent in the title. Prior to the Sudden Departure, the Garveys were already a broken family, a group of people apparently fine from the outside but straining when you looked closer, and what resulted from October 14th was an extension off of what already existed. That, fittingly, is why people throughout this episode seem to sense that something terrible is about to happen.

Whether it’s Nora and “the foot feels the foot when it feels the ground”, Kevin and the exploding manhole, Kevin and the people who pull up to ask him “are you ready?”, or Patti and her ominous monologue at her therapy session, you get the sense that the lingering problems surrounding their lives have come together to create a sense of foreboding, a sense of uncertainty. In this episode, we get the “Why?” of the situation; it’s not the “Why?” of the Sudden Departure, but rather the “Why?” with regards to the characters we’ve been following these past nine weeks. Why them?

Why does Tom seem so enamored with Wayne? He isn’t Kevin’s biological son, and, as we see here, his preoccupation with his biological father is now playing a role in his search for purpose, his search for answers. Why does Laurie join the Guilty Remnant? She believes that “it doesn’t work” when we try to forget all the horrible things that may have happened in our past, and that idea connects her to the GR’s mission statement. Why does Kevin wind up attempting to continue along the same path? That’s his mindset:  we should just move on in life and forget about, say, a biological father we barely know.

Of course, those aren’t the sole reasons. Everything adds up, even the little details. For example, Nora’s daughter speculates about the deer and the fact that it “maybe lost its family”. Jill’s science project has to do with the disorder of the universe. Certain overarching feelings may linger after the Departure, but the tiny details remain as well, eventually consuming the characters as the days go bye. Nora continues to buy food for her missing family (at least, she did), and Jill goes the opposite route of her former, cheerful self.

As for Kevin, we see, pre-Departure, how he begins to wilt under the pressure of attempting to be the perfect father and husband. He feels like he needs to rescue everyone around him from one thing or another, and that’s summed up in his storyline with the deer. Eventually, though, it all comes rushing out: the deer’s hit by a car and Kevin’s forced to put it out of its misery, he argues with his wife and spits out “I wanted the dog because you wanted it”, and he cheats on his wife before all hell breaks loose. The funny thing is that hell may have already broken loose; in essence, he may have already killed himself, the deer.

In the end, we finally get to the Sudden Departure. Gone is the woman with Kevin. Gone is Nora’s family. Gone are kids at that science fair, thus breaking up the circuit. Gone is Laurie’s child. The last thing Kevin said to Laurie was “Fuck you”, and the last thing Nora said to her family involved complaining about phones at the table and getting angry at her kids.

Do we forget, or do we move on? Do we want to remember? Do we want those moments back? It’s a new world, but it might not be as different from the past as we may think.



– “You have no purpose,” Kevin Garvey Sr. tells his son, which is exactly the opposite of what he tells him after the Departure. That gets at a fundamental truth behind life: you may want more and you may expect more, but it does no good to constantly look for that larger purpose. However, after October 14th, is looking for purpose what helps you to survive?

-The above ^^ especially resonates with me because I just saw Boyhood, which deals with a similar theme.

-The cold open is really nicely done. The show’s always able to create that intriguing mood, and it stands in nice contrast to the cold opens we’ve recently had (many of which involved violence).

-The song Jill’s listening to is “Without You”. Fitting.

-Prediction=correct! Patti was Laurie’s patient, and it definitely helps explain why Laurie feels so drawn to the GR after the Departure.

-Another ironic moment: Matt’s the one with the medical issues before the Departure, but afterward, he has to occupy a role that his wife played prior to the Departure.

-Lots of reversals in the episode, the first one being the image of Kevin as the one who smokes.

-The balloon Kevin picks up off the dead deer says “It’s a Girl!” Final twist of the knife before he cheats on his wife.

-So, did Laurie’s baby disappear, or did she decide to terminate the pregnancy?

-I’m not so sure about the penultimate episode of the season being the “origin story” one, but it certainly does make various moments more poignant in hindsight.

-The show is taking next week off for Labor Day, so I’ll see you in two weeks. Hopefully, they stick the landing. We know there’s going to be at least a season two afterwards.

Photo credit: HBO, The Leftovers

5 Responses to “The Leftovers “The Garveys at Their Best” Review (1×09)”

  1. Ruben Carranza (@RCarranza_) August 25, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Great episode and great review. And that smoking makes me undecided about quitting or waiting for October 14.

  2. 13mesh August 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    One of the best episode of this season for me! Good post.

  3. Shannon August 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Role reversals!! Trading places was quoted to Jill from Tom! Looking good billy ray! Feeling good Louis!!

  4. Liz August 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    So do you think Kevin knew, or suspected, Laurie was pregnant? I thought he didn’t know; but was confused by his lingering look at the “It’s a Girl Balloon.”

    • polarbears16 August 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

      I agree with you. I think the balloon is yet another example of a situation in which something strikes at their subconscious, then takes on a whole new level once we realize what it means. So many strange, but ultimately relevant, signals and clues all over the place.

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