‘The Leftovers’ Episode 3: Christopher Eccleston Shines

‘The Leftovers’ Episode 3: Christopher Eccleston Shines

“Two Boats and One Helicopter,” The Leftover’s third episode, shifts gears and turns up the torment, allowing Christopher Eccleston ( Rev. Matt Jamison) to shine while his character endures unrelenting strife.

Unlike previous episodes, Episode 3 delves into Rev. Matt Jamison’s life three years after the sudden departure. During the opening sequence, Jamison is viciously assaulted before his scant parish. Not only has he lost his flock, but his sanctuary, too, is fleeting.

Despite frequent beatings, he is determined to share the painful truth and distinguish the the innocent from the guilty. A community brimming with confusion and resentment has little use for faith and meets his truth with blatant violence. The primal and the spiritual clash.

Up until now, the show focused on Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux). Jamison and Garvey are important community figures who struggle to maintain the integrity of their positions, so why do they persist?

The episode draws heavily on Biblical allusions to the Book of Job. When Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) asks Jamison if he knows what took her family, he responds that it is a test, not for what came before- but for what is happening at the present time.

While this seemingly simple response insights more irritation than comfort, it helps viewers understand how a reverend without a parish finds the will to preach. But this is just one test Jamison withstands.

The day of the Sudden Departure, he and his wife are in a car accident, leaving her in a catatonic state. Not only did he lose his partner, but he now faces overwhelming financial burdens as a result of her special needs. But he persists and so do the tests.

In an effort to keep his church out of the hands of The Guilty Remnant, Jamison gambles to turn $20,000 into $160,000- an ironic move considering he is set to expose one of the departed for gambling away his children’s college fund. He somehow beats the odds and  makes enough money to save his church and to pay for his wife’s care.

Before he could exhale, he is robbed. Jamison refuses to surrender and charges his assailant, pounding the thief’s head into the pavement. The man of God turns to ungodly acts to safe his sanctuary- the sequence is dense with tension and irony. But he persists to meet still another series of tests.

As he rushes to the bank to save his church, Jamison stops to help a member of the Guilty Remnant after the man is hit with a rock. The assailants return and hurl a rock at Jamison- no good deed goes unpunished, indeed.

When he regains consciousness in the hospital, he rushes to the bank only to find he lost three days of his life…and his church. The gap in time mimics the resurrection of Christ who rose to glory on the third day; instead, Jamison rises to find his position lost to a group he treated charitably, the Guilty Remnant.

Jamison stands defeated. But does the Guilty Remant’s possession of the church and subsequent defacement of that property present him a new opportunity?  In an HBO interview, Eccleston remarked, “[Jamison] sees huge political capital in them making him an outsider. He’s clever…”

Surely there are more tests ahead of him in these tumultuous times, but has he handled the challenges with adequate grace? Has he too thoroughly compromised his Christian ideals in effort to hold on to what’s left of his parish and sanctuary?

Eccelston beautifully captures the mania and heartache of Jamison’s plight. This is, by far, the most intense episode of The Leftovers. This episode maintains the show’s usual reliance on animal imagery, omens, and existential crises, but the pace and performance keeps the audience at the edge of its seat. Let’s hope this momentum continues.

What did you think of this week’s episode? You can share your insight, predictions, and favorite moments in the comment section.

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Teacher by day, pop culture consumer by night- Melissa lives for good stories and loves to share them with fellow TV, movie, graphic novel, and book enthusiasts. As Galabout Bethlehem, she blogs, too, about her local arts and culture scene for figbethlehem.com. She also blogs about pop culture's influence on everything from her world view to her relationships at undertheinfluence76.blogspot.com-- she'd love for you to join in on her journey.