SEASON 3, EPISODE 5: IT’S A MATT, MATT, MATT, MATT WORLD
Everything you’ve done, you’ve done because you thought I was watching, because you thought I was judging, but I wasn’t. I’m not. You’ve never done anything for me. You did it for yourself. – David Burton
That was amazing. At times it was confusing, at times it was completely baffling, and at times it was uncomfortable. Yeah, that was a LOT of nudity. and it started before the explosion and kept creeping in throughout much of the remainder of the episode. I’ve seen weird television before, I’ve seen so many shows that go way past the line and attempt to be intentionally obtuse, but I’ve never seen it with this level of artistry. Next week, Showtime brings the world of Twin Peaks back into our lives, but even David Lynch might not have drummed up the story of Frasier and David Burton.
Actually, Frasier the Lion is a REAL thing. Cali is crazy, folks. Shirts exist. He’s the king of the jungle and the master of all mankind. He’s certainly the master of his domain. He’s more the queen of the castle than Elaine Benes…if you will.
What repeatedly came to the forefront last night was Matt Jamison, the seeker. Everyone on the series is in search of normalcy and purpose, but for Matt, it might be more difficult than anyone else we’ve encountered. He’s the man of the cloth, the man willing to sacrifice the love of his family to follow the teachings of God. Imagine giving up so much, only to be left behind after the sudden departure. When Matt begins speaking to David as if he’s finally saying what he’s always wanted to say to Jesus Christ, his words are more important than the scene itself.
Stunningly, David Burton’s responses are appropriate to explain to Matt that he’s not the selfless man he purports to be. Jamison is actually selfish, at least in part, because his good deeds aren’t entirely altruistic. There’s a larger point here, about why people follow a deity or subscribe to a religion. It’s impossible to separate the meaning behind good deeds, even for the person responsible for them. You can’t rationalize to yourself why you did that thing that put more of a hardship on your life, but it’s hard to sell the idea that you did it because you’re a good person. The truth is many churches exist to push hell fire and brimstone. Is it fear of a God existing that wouldn’t appreciate your works that forces you to do what you otherwise wouldn’t?
Matt is challenged with that very question, though it’s phrased as an absolute. David says the man in front of him has never done anything for him, and instead did everything for Matt Jamison. That’s incredibly heavy stuff, and it makes everyone watching with any religion in their lives question their own motives. Do you pray because you want the relationship with God, or do you pray because you’re afraid of what happens if you don’t? So much of Damon Lindelof’s previous show, Lost, dealt with subtle (and occasionally overt) spirituality. The reason I loved that show’s finale is it used the existence of a supreme being to explain what otherwise couldn’t be remotely described.
Could The Leftovers be setting up the same argument in the most roundabout way imaginable? Is it possible this show’s finale will use the absence of a supreme being to leave everything UNEXPLAINED? Matt tells Michael that Laurie Garvey teaches psychobabble, while he teaches John faith. That’s what he has. He has faith. Yet, it flutters on him when he speaks with Burton in front of the lion cage. The Bible mentions dealing with doubts, and talks of how it strengthens faith. If you simply accept every word, without ever searching for the truth, you stay in the same place, whereas if you continue questioning everything, you grow. You learn more, although you have to accept that if you’re to believe, you have to BELIEVE without factual evidence.
Thus, when it comes time for Laurie and Matt to argue, they’re coming from entirely different points of view. Laurie needed the science, whereas Matt would prefer to use the “eye test,” for lack of a better term. There’s no analytical rationale for faith and theology, but psychologists and others in mental health rely on scientific means to enhance the chances their own opinions and suggestions are accurate. Someone dropped me a message following the episode saying he wasn’t as excited going into this one, because he wanted more of Kevin and Nora in Australia. My reply to him was that last night’s hour was to get everyone else that mattered into Australia, so that the group can come together, likely on either the seven year anniversary of the departure, or the day before.
What happens at that point is anyone’s guess, but we’re going to know in three weeks when the series sadly comes to a close.
None of the Frasier the Lion content needed to occur, but it added that dark, but often very prevalent and raucous sense of humor that pervades the show. The “pride” on the ferry, all the sex, the ridiculous sequence with Matt saying the name and then almost becoming the seed donor for the entire boat; all of it insane. Using these things in an episode focused on Matt Jamison, who is forced to deal with all of it despite his station in life, doubles the effect. He finally lost it and used the handle to knock David Burton out. He’s torn himself to shreds internally, and even after his comatose wife came back to life, he still lost her all over again.
Of everyone in the series, he may be the most lost of all, despite telling himself he knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. He doesn’t.
John tells Matt he needs to prepare himself for the fact that whatever is going to happen to all of them is going to happen in Australia. There’s nowhere near enough time to get to Kevin, convince him to leave, and get back to Miracle before the anniversary. That’s my belief as well, especially considering elderly(ish) Nora on her bicycle in the season’s first big reveal.
“That’s the guy I was telling you about” was as great a walk-off shot line as television has given us in quite some time. David Burton is mauled by Frasier’s descendant while trying to run from the authorities. He was a bronze medal decathlete, but he went down pretty quickly when he was walked down by Simba, who was covering him down the field at cornerback.
Through all the nonsense and craziness, that PIMPLE joke, and Jesus’ little-known identical twin, The Leftovers gave us an episode that encapsulated just how jacked up this world is, but also how it’s regressed and given way to the lunatics as more time has passed. We haven’t met many normal people over the past three years, or maybe everyone we’ve met is normal. Considering this universe and the conditions within it, these individuals might be well-adjusted. The pride on the ferry represses emotion and instead either just “cares about fucking and Frasier” or they’re morally bankrupt and careless. If you were left behind, you might just go all in on the orgies and the drugs as well. Don’t say you wouldn’t. Certainly some of you would.
We’re left with just three more episodes of the series, and all the players are now at least in the same country and all are around the Melbourne area. The past three episodes have shown us different events within Australia, and now we move to a period where everyone comes together. I have absolutely no idea how it concludes, even though I agree with those that think we might have already seen one of the show’s final scenes in a flash-forward. We won’t have to wait much longer.
If you take these five episodes and think about each of them, you’ll find a collection of hours that are vastly different from one another in every conceivable way, but also a collection of hours that somehow relate to each other and make sense within the larger plot. To call that feat impressive would be a massive understatement. This show is “on one” right now folks. It’s a terrific thing to watch, and it’s going to suck when it’s over. We’ll cope together.
Where do you go from a massive lion orgy on a ferry with a man in a red hat who thinks he’s God? By the way, I have no comment on that unintentional symbolism, but I did laugh. I don’t know what’s next, but I can’t wait to find out.
I’m @JMartOutkick. Tada. You’re saved.