The Leftovers, S1E5 – Gladys

Last episode’s end with those unlawful entries into people’s homes have shown us a more aggressive Guilty Remnant. This episode seems to continue that new note as Gladys, the pudgy older woman with blonde hair and glasses, and another woman step over an old man lying helplessly on the pavement and refuse to help him. They paint all the newspaper dispensers white, not making any new friends that way, of course, but it comes as a shock that the Gladys of the title gets abducted by a small, anonymous group, taped to a tree and stoned to death. She begs for her life with the first and last words we ever hear from her. That scene is outrageously violent and almost unbearable to watch.


I am not entirely sure it’s a good idea to try and pick up a bad episode with such a violent teaser, but let’s see further. Kevin Garvey, poor guy, has quite different problems: the burglar alarm is off, and some of his white shirts are missing. Was it that deer again? His working day starts of course with Patti’s plea to help with Gladys’ murder. I didn’t expect Megan to tell Laurie that this, well, was to be expected. Laurie seems to have an anxiety attack and flashbacks about Gladys’ death. That’s odd – she wasn’t there, was she? I don’t like what that short scene implies. Sooner rather than later, the series will have to come clean about some of its unexplained snippets.

Against Garvey’s wishes, the FBI gets involved in the murder inquiry. He stakes out the GR headquarters to make sure Laurie is safe, but Laurie and Patti are not there – they’re in a motel, in a non-smoking room. Patti treats them to a day off: normal clothes, breakfast and conversation. Laurie seems on the verge of talking. This is one powerful scene, people: Amy Brenneman and Ann Dowd are a pleasure to watch here. Just wait for the “doubt is fire” speech. (I have a soft spot for Amy Brenneman ever since Heat, and I really, really liked Ann Dowd in Compliance.) Their storyline suffers somewhat because Patti seems to dump her own feces in a doggy bag on the front porch of a certain Neil.


And then my third favourite character stumbles into Kevin Garvey at the drycleaners. Garvey wants to pick up his white shirts without a ticket, and who does he meet there but Nora Durst: “They turn up once you stop looking for them.” Is there another flirt in the air?

Garvey cross-examines Father Jamison. That doesn’t make much sense at first, but remember that during his odyssey, he got a stone to his head while trying to help a GR, who then bought his church from under him. Still, he cannot have done it, can he? We’ve seen him bash a man’s head in, but he would have acted alone if it had been him, don’t you agree? He says he was with his study group and then makes an astonishing request: he would like to see Gladys’ body and pray for her. Garvey says no, then he gets yanked out of the room into another room where he has to explain the 8pm curfew to the community. People don’t accept that they should be locked up because of the GR, first of all Dean. The council is unanimously against the curfew, so Garvey gathers the GR and gives them whistles. Bad idea, Kev.

Then he brings Father Jamison to Gladys’ mortal coil because this is the closest thing to a funeral she is going to get. On the way, Jamison quotes from the Bible and remarks that “killing these people is pointless. They don’t care because they’re already dead.” He wants to bring them back to life. And if that scene didn’t feature angelic choirs on its soundtrack, it would have been one of the strongest moments so far.


Back at the morgue, the body has already been shipped to the FBI in Virginia to Agent Kilaney. The body is sort of lost in the system, and Agent Kilaney offers to eliminate the infestation. Come again? Yes, he means the GR – all of them. Is that guy for real? Did he take part in Gladys’ murder? He cannot be FBI. Is he ATFEC? If so – who are they?

And Father Jamison steals the next scene, informing us about his swearing habits. Well done, Matt, but I am not sure you should stand in the GR front yard and talk about Gladys and try to recruit members for your church. Laurie comes out and whistles as loudly as she can. Father, you’re in trouble.

An inebriated Kevin Garvey wants to get back his white shirts and harasses the Indian proprietor of the drycleaner’s. That man is clearly afraid of him, and now Garvey is sort of sorry. Back home, he tells Jill that he and Mum are getting a divorce. This is the only moment where Jill seems to be herself.

The episode ends at the ATFEC processing center, and it is exactly what you think it means: an assembly line crematorium, where we see Gladys go up in flames, so maybe what Tommy and Christine have come across last time we saw them was a container of dead people. It has nothing to do with the disappeared. I feel slightly disappointed, which means that some hints at the mistery of where they are or what happened to them wouldn’t come amiss.

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