In my most recent analysis I attempt to explain The Leftovers TV show and the amazing episode that was episode 9 that was literally filled with electricity between brother and sister Tommy and Jill. Contains spoilers.
“We would absolutely love to make a circuit, wouldn’t we.”
As you can probably see by all the posts, I have been on a bit of The Leftovers bender lately. But I can’t help it, the show is filled with so many shipable pairings and even twin brothers! And the thing is you could see any of these pairings actually becoming canon since it is a show where anything can happen. Remember this?
Then episode 9 happened, aptly titled “The Garveys at their Best,” and the writers couldn’t have been more right! This one finally reunited the brother and sister pairing for the first time all season and the sparks flew!…Literally!
Before I go on, I should probably give you a quick synopsis of what The Leftovers is about. Well, that may be easier said than done, since the show at times can leave you saying “huh?” It is one of those shows where odd things can happen and many of your questions are never really answered. At its core though, it is about loss and how people cope or don’t cope with it.
It airs on HBO and is based on a novel of the same name, and the pilot just happened to be co-written by the author. It evolves around mysterious disappearances (literal disappearances, as in poof gone) that happened all around the world. The show specifically follows a group of people who are left behind in the suburban community of Mapleton, New York who must begin to rebuild their lives after the loss of more than 100 people.
What makes this show great is that the writers are not interested in stating the cause of the disappearance, they are not interested in solving their own mystery. It is not blamed on aliens or something supernatural, but merely puts the focuses on the characters. It is a really smart show that requires people to use their brains and think about the darker side of the reality we actually live in today.
It is a gritty, solemn, and very dark show. No one in The Leftovers is happy. Everyone is mourning the loss of their loved ones in the aftermath of this global event where 2% of the world’s population inexplicably disappeared. The people of Mapleton are also dealing with the pain caused by the subsequent suffering of people around them, and its consequences. The Leftovers has top notch acting and tells a captivating story that mainly focuses on The Garvey family; Kevin, Laurie, Jill and Tom.
Kevin Garvey is the police chief in Mapleton, who also enjoys his morning run. (And can I just point out this Justin Theroux (the actor playing Kevin) interview with Conan O’Brien, in which he claimed to have not known that his swinging bulge was “a thing” until his second jogging scene when he was asked to wear two pairs of underwear because it was so distracting.)
Ok back to the rest of the characters.
Kevin Garvey Sr. is Kevin’s father who was also a cop, but has since been thrown into a mental hospital since he hears “voices.” Kevin and Jill are living in his house.
His wife, Laurie, has left him to join the Guilty Remnant, a cult of people who seem to be slowly trying to erase themselves by never speaking, chain smoking, and wearing only white. They seem to be a metaphor for the whole show is about; what depression does to you.
Tommy is Kevin’s college-aged adoptive/stepson (Laurie’s biological son) who has also left Kevin to become a follower of Holy Wayne, a messianic figure. On a side note I am really glad the actor portraying Tommy (Chris Zylka) got this role because many of his roles up to this have been really stupid and not been able to show his full potential, which he clearly has.
Kevin’s daughter, Jill, lives with her dad Kevin and is in high school. The erosion of her family life has leads her to outbursts of aggression and a general sad demeanor.
Her best friend is Aimee and since it is suggested her family disappeared she lives with Jill and Kevin. And there is a lot of subtext there between her and Kevin as well! Jill and Aimee also hang out with two twins (Adam and Scott Frost) who are actual twins in real life.
Now I highly suggest watching the whole series, but I want to specifically talk about episode 9, that really you could even watch first. This was the second last episode of the season, a flashback episode that is also considerably brighter and happier then much of the other episodes. This episode is supposed to take place October 12 and 13, the eve of the Sudden Departure.
Life is almost cartoonishly good for the Garvey family. Everyone smiles and says “I love you,” hugs are abundant, a surprise “Mapleton Person of the Year” victory party is in the works for Kevin’s father (who appears very sane), and there are even plans to adopt a puppy! (See clip)
The Garveys are living in a gorgeous home, and Kevin and Laurie seem to get along (at least at first.) But Lurking beneath the surface, is a man unsatisfied with the whole thing. Kevin feels trapped, like the deer he insists on saving from slaughter.
Kevin seems to have everything an American man is supposed to aspire to: a beautiful spouse, loving children, an exquisite home, and an honorable career. The contrast to his life post-October 14 is painful to watch. Kevin really had everything taken away from him in one fell swoop.
In this episode, Laurie is revealed to be a psychiatrist, and Jill proclaims what a great mother she has. I mean can we talk about happy-go-lucky, innocent Jill! Her braces, her overalls, her academic pride! Her singing outloud!
It is also cute how Kevin later tries to play the same app game as Jill was playing in the car, but couldn’t seem to figure it out.
Jill’s pre-apocalypse life was so unexpected! After watching episodes filled with this really depressed girl who couldn’t care less whether or not she woke up in the morning, it was a real eye opener to see how exactly Jill became the way she is. I never expected this chirpy, geeky, braces-wearing girl who attended science fairs, smiled a lot and constantly showed her family love.
In a previous episode, when Kevin asked Aimee what was up with Jill, Aimee responded that Jill was just being Jill, leading me to believe Jill had always been that way.
Then there’s Tommy, whose character didn’t really change as much. In the pre-apocalyptic world, he is this emotional college kid who gets into constant trouble with the police over harassing his biological father who doesn’t and never wanted him. It’s amazing how the October 14th incident only heightened Tommy’s sheep-like behavior and need for approval.
Tommy’s drunken persistence to understand how his biological father could have deserted him seems like another tacked on attempt to explain the daddy issues that Tommy has admitted to having. We’ve long known that Tommy isn’t Kevin’s biological son, but what we didn’t know is that Tommy has a habit of getting drunk and sneaking over to see his biological father’s house. Later Laurie has a talk with Tommy about it…And kind of checks out her hot son.
…And checks out his tattoos…And tries to feel his body as much as she can. But can we really blame her?
Tommy tells his mom he should probably just try and forget about the man. But Laurie tells him, “As a trained professional, it doesn’t work.” In both her pre- and post-October 14 careers, Laurie is a professional rememberer.
Then we have the big moment when we finally see Tommy with his family, who he so adores…Especially his sister Jill.
“Looking good Biliy Ray.” Tommy says. “Feeling good Louis,” Jill replies. These are the first words they speak to each other, as Tommy gives Jill a ginormous hug and kiss. It is so cute how they greet each other with quotes from the 1983 movie Trading Places.
Jill and Tommy at the science fair was when one of the most captivating moments of the series happens. Not only does it show what an awesome supportive brother Tommy is for helping out his sister with her project, but it also shows how the vanishings happened without falling down the CGI rabbit hole. And more importantly it is FULL of subtext!
Jill and Tommy also love and respect their parents and have been picking up clues that not all is well with mom and dad. “I think he’s gonna leave,” Jill tells her brother when he asks what she thinks is happening with their family.
When one of the teachers asks for volunteers to help make a circuit, Tommy volunteers himself and Jill.
“We would absolutely love to make a circuit, wouldn’t we.”
Ya, I bet Tommy, in more ways then one.
The way Tommy delivers these words to Jill, almost whipering it in her ear, giving it a secret meaning is really tantalizing. Then he grabs her and hugs her so tightly. I don’t know, I just found the sparks really were flying here!
As they join hands in a circle with several other students, completing the circuit and acting as a conduit for the electricity that will serve to light the over sized light bulb, Tommy makes faces at his sister to get her to laugh.
Suddenly the light that was illuminated by the human circuit has gone out because a number of children in the circle have disappeared. Jill and Tommy stare at one another. The episode also goes over where the other characters were when the vanishing happened, like Kevin having sex with a women (that was not his wife) when she disappeared (see clip here).
Perhaps it was done this way to show that because they experienced this traumatic event together, they will forever associate one another with that loss of human energy – the extinguished light. I think they really miss each other terribly and it is so sad!
I just hope they get to regain their light when they are hopefully reunited next season.
It seems I wasn’t the only one to pick up on the heavy flirtations.
The season finale (episode 10) was pretty great too, and even though Jill and Tommy were not reunited, we got this:
I hope you enjoyed my banter on this show and this episode. Let me know if you have seen or planning on watching the show. I am always welcoming of your comments, whether it be in the comments section below, an email or an anonymous ask.