The third episode of HBO’s show The Leftovers is solely focused on Reverend Matt Jamison played by the established British actor, Christopher Eccleston. Rev. Matt Jamison is a fervent religious leader that believes that the “departures” were both good and evil, and that the truth should be told to all, whether they are interested in hearing it or not.
After the first two episodes focused primarily on the Garvey family, it was good of the show’s creators to expand on another of the show’s characters more extensively. The third episode of The Leftovers begins with the Rev. Jamison preaching a sermon to a notably small congregation in his church. While he is speaking about this boy with cancer, a montage is shown of Jamison’s daily chores to keep up the appearance of the church. His sermon is about a young boy who wanted more attention as a child, and ended getting cancer. He ties in the old story, which is actually about him, into more contemporary events, mentioning a young girl, who recently went into a coma after falling off a swing set.
At the end of his speech, a man comes walking down the aisle with purpose, hitting Jamison repeatedly. The man pulls out a flyer Jamison had been handing out about those who had disappeared. The flyer’s bolded title reads, “She Sold Drugs.” The man then crumples the flyer and shoves it into Jamison’s mouth, both physically and metaphorically telling him to shut his mouth about the departures.
Then Chief Kevin Garvey goes to the hospital to talk to Jamison, who is getting checked out after his attack. Jamison does not want to press charges, but does tell Garvey that his father understood Jamison’s desire to find the truth. Then the Chief quips, “yea, look where that got him.” The audience found out in the prior episode that the chief’s father is in a mental institution.
Jamison goes to visit the young girl mentioned in his morning sermon. The hospital bed is empty and the nurse tells Jamison that she woke up. Jamison looks ecstatic, saying that he prayed for the young girl this morning. The nurse reply’s quickly that she woke up the previous evening. It points to a larger lack of faith in the community, where religion has been poorly received of late, because they feel God left them without answers on October 14.
The third episode moves on with Jamison going back to his church, where he hears a knock on the door. A man, whose wife has lost her faith, comes into the church asking to have their baby baptized in secret, while the mother is having some alone time at the salon. This renews Jamison’s faith, highlighted by the golden light shone on the filming of the baptism, and the reverend’s enlightened facial features.
Jamison does not accept any money from the man, but does get a name of a man who departed on October 14, but was gambling away all of his family’s money before he left. Jamison goes to the Casino to try to find out more information. He uses a well-rehearsed speech on a security guard, asking if anyone close to him had disappeared. The security guard says his nine-year-old niece, and Jamison shows a picture of a rapist who disappeared as well, claiming the truth needs to come out about how many of these people, who disappeared, were evil and not worth remembering. The casino employee appears to go for it, though he says he knows how Jamison’s face got hurt, and gives Jamison a picture to use for one of his flyers. A group of pigeons somehow got inside the Casino and appear in front of Jamison on a roulette table. It is another example of odd animal symbolism, with dogs and deer occurring in previous episodes.
The reverend then goes to the bank after accidentally answering his Bluetooth phone on his car. Jamison’s life appears to unravel further. He has not been delivering payments for the church, and the banker tells him that he needs to come up with $135,001, or the bank will have to sell the church to someone else.
Jamison goes to Nora Durst, who the viewers find out is his sister. He asks her for money, which he knows she received from the departure benefit because she had three members of her immediate family disappear. She wants him to stop publishing the paper flyers, and just preach in his church. Then she will give him the money, but he believes people want answers, and he thinks those answers come in the form of his flyers. In an ambitious ploy, Jamison decides to tell his sister that her husband was cheating on her, and he has receipts to prove it, but he would never publish the information. This is supposed to show how good of a brother he is, but Durst just laughs hysterically, trying to hold back her tears.
Matt Jamison returns home to his house where a woman is waiting patiently. She turns out to be a nurse for his wife, who is completely paralyzed. The nurse is angry because Jamison has not paid her for weeks. A touching scene occurs where he baths his paralyzed wife and then goes to bed. He prays for help and suddenly has an idea on how to make the money.
He goes over to Chief Garvey’s backyard where he finds Laurie, the wife of Garvey, who has joined the Guilty Remnant. She clearly misses her family. Ironically, since the GR can’t talk, he says he will not saying anything to anyone if she does not. Jamison then digs up a can, which has $20,000 in cash inside left from Chief Garvey’s father, and then goes to the casino.
The third episode of The Leftovers continues at the casino, where Jamison exchanges his cash for chips, and goes straight to the exact roulette table that the pigeons were on earlier. Taking them as a sign of some sort, he places a $20,000 bet on red. Apparently feeling some divine connection he wins, places a $40,000 bet on red. He wins again and then wins again, ultimately receiving $160,000.
As he gets in his car though, a man approaches him and tries to rob Jamison of his money. At first it appears the attacker has gotten away, when the Reverend, still feeling the adrenaline of turning his entire life around by winning enough money to save his church, gets up and attacks the man, smashing his head into the ground repeatedly, and then letting out a primal scream of frustration and relief.
For the first time in the episode, the music has a positive overtones, instead of being dark and ominous. The Captain & Tenile’s Love Will Keep Us Together plays as Jamison drives away from the Casino. He witnesses a Jeep drive by a pair of the Guilty Remnant, throwing a rock and smashing a man’s head in the process. Jamison stops to call for help, but the Jeep comes back, and a rock hits him square in the forehead.
He is out cold and has a sequence of dreams about his past life from childhood to the events of October 14. The viewer becomes aware of how Jamison’s wife became paralyzed. She was driving when the disappearances occurred, crashing into a car that had no one driving inside. Eventually he wakes from his dreams as his hands are burning in the vision.
He is in the hospital, and gets up to hurry back to the bank in time to pay off the church with his gambling winnings, before the foreclosure happens at end of day. He yells at the nurse, telling her to call ahead once he realizes it is 4:30, and he only has half an hour to get to his car and then to the bank. He arrives as the bank is closing, but gets let in to talk to the bank employee he spoke to earlier.
Jamison rambles on how he has the money. The employee says he is sorry, but he is too late, and Jamison pleases that he is sorry for being late, but 10 minutes should not be that big of a deal. The man looks at him questionably and tells him it has been three days since they last spoke. He was out for three days after getting hit with the rock. They have bought the church, but who is they?
The Guilty Remnant members are outside painting the windows white when Jamison walks up within view of his old church. An epic stare down occurs between Patti Levin, the leader of the Guilty Remnant and Matt Jamison. This could either allude to the Reverend waging a war against the GR, or possibly, now that Jamison does not have a church, he will take the plunge inside the GR and try to become their leader himself.
The third episode of The Leftovers ends on that cliffhanger. Matt Jamison’s life was fully explored and explained, and has now possibly become the most interesting character on the show. The Garvey family, who previously was the main focal point, was almost non-existent in the show. They must make some kind of appearance in next week’s episode, with the Guilty Remnant still to be explored more; Laurie Garvey’s life could become the focus of The Leftovers, for at least an episode.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash