"The Leftovers" delivered quite the twist in "Two Boats and a Helicopter." Instead of focusing on the Sudden Departure or Kevin Garvey, the show focused on the painful story of the Rev. Matt Jamison.
Whether or not we'll ever solve the central mystery of the disappearance of 140 million people remains to be seen but "The Leftovers" provided a great hour of drama. Christopher Eccleston carried the entire episode and "The Leftovers" episode 3 revealed plenty about the life of Mapleton's resident troublemaker.
The reverend's story is a tragic one, beginning with his childhood battle with cancer and his wife falling into a coma following a car accident during the Sudden Departure. "The Leftovers" episode 3 starts with a sermon and of Jamison's newsletter comes back to haunt him as someone who knows Amber Johnson attacks him.
It's an emotional ride as you watch Matt deliver an earnest sermon about his battle with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Matt says it made him the person he is today. He recites another story about the comatose Emily, his congregation prays for her and he winds up in the same hospital as the girl.
In a funny sight gag: The reverend enters an elevator with a clown and says, "I guess you and me are going to the same place."
There is an early glimmer of hope for Matt as he performs his first baptism since the Sudden Departure. In exchange for the baptism, Matt learns about Andrew Sazaki, a man who reportedly gambled away his child's future. According to the reverend, he is trying to make the distinction between the innocent and guilty among the departed, "Everything that happened to us, all the suffering, is meaningless."
Matt soon sees several signs, blinking red lights and pigeons, and it looks like his luck his going to turn around. The "The Leftovers" continues to add complexity to the residents of Mapleton and “Two Boats and a Helicopter” is a great episode, focusing on one Mapleton resident and how his life has changed and been influenced by the Sudden Departure.
Matt's bad day continues as the bank has received an offer to buy the church, which is in foreclosure. The reverend needs to raise $135,001 in cash by the end of the next business day to save his church.
We learn a little more about the relationship between Nora and Matt. He asks her to borrow the money for the church and we find out the two are siblings although she says, “My parents died in a fire” when talking to Matt. Before he leaves, Matt tells Nora her husband, Doug, was having an affair.
Matt’s wife Mary is in a coma and he sleeps next to her on a foldout cot. He gets another sign and soon runs to the Guilty Remnant house where he uncovers $20,000, the bribe money taken by the judge and buried by Garvey.
Matt's faith continues to be tested and "The Leftovers" plays with a familiar plot device, the last minute attempt to save a failing business or home, as the foundation to explore Matt. The reverend wants to tell the truth and is driven by this passion. He's an earnest man who tries to find the good in people.
Against all odds, Matt turns the $20,000 into $160,000, playing the table on which the pigeons landed earlier in the episode. Matt’s rage gets the best of him after being robbed but he manages to keep the money and the show shifts its tone from angry to joyous as “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain and Tennille provides the soundtrack for the next scene.
His sincere nature almost costs him his roulette winnings as he tries to help a couple he met in the casino. While he seems to be at odds with the Guilty Remnant, he still leaves a donation box with two members and later helps when one of the Guilty Remnant is hit with a rock.
Matt’s happiness is short-lived and there is another dream sequence as he visits his church and relives the moments of his life that were mentioned in “Two Boats and a Helicopter.” The end of the dream sees Mary turn into Laurie, then Gladys, before Matt is engulfed in flames. Matt wakes up in a hospital and quickly heads to the bank. Unfortunately he is too late and the church was sold to the Guilty Remnant.
"The Leftovers" episode 3 title is a reference to the joke about a religious man during a flood. During a huge flood, the man rejects help three times, either from two passing boats or the same boat passing by twice and an offer to escape the flood via helicopter. The man drowns. When he gets to heaven, he why God let him drown. God says he provided two boats and a helicopter.
It's interesting to explore the episode with this joke in mind as there are many sets of three that Matt either ignores or follows. I don't think fans will mind much if there are more episodes like this in "The Leftovers" and Eccleston is terrific as he leads viewers through a tense and emotional journey.