The Leftovers Review: “Gladys” (Season 1, Episode 5)

gladys the leftovers

The amount of shit Kevin has to deal with on a day-to-day basis (also including his daughter’s sexy BFF parading around in negligee, his GR nut wife divorcing him, his aloof son palling around with a half-rate holy prophet and a pregnant wackjob, ATFEC nicking Gladys’ corpse, and the matter of Dean running around shooting all the dogs) is downright painful to watch. No wonder the guy’s cracking – you totally get it when he weeps and screams into a pillow at episode’s end.

But does watching Kevin’s torment have to be miserable for us too? The dude just can’t catch a break, and I feel equally dragged through the mill after five episodes of The Leftovers. It would be one thing if all the hurt and suffering felt like it was leading somewhere. AMC’s The Killing employed grim atmosphere to great effect as its lead detectives hunted horrific criminals. SundanceTV’s Rectify is still a real downer, but its characters are gaining small amounts of personal achievement and satisfaction, and that show feels like it’s leading towards some great revelations. I don’t see any redemption for The Leftovers yet – its end goals are so vague that they may not exist at all, and Mapleton, if anything, is going to hell, not rising from its ashes, which suggests that the sense of melancholia will only grow, seeping into more cracks in The Leftovers‘ complex narrative as the season progresses.

Other characters are also getting the emotional crap kicked out of them. After losing his church to the GR, Matt Jamison has managed to gather a small group of supporters, but his new religious agenda hasn’t been met with acceptance. He wants to believe that he can get through to the GR, although he doesn’t even understand their motivations. “Killing these people is pointless, because they’re already dead,” he tells Kevin. “What I want is to bring them back to life.”

So, Matt heads over to the GR compound with his new group of followers in hopes of reaching some of them. That plan starts off well, with him delivering an eloquent and respectful eulogy for Gladys, but what he isn’t counting on is that the GR don’t want a verbal recognition. A furious Laurie comes out and interrupts his heartfelt speech by loudly and incessantly blowing one of the whistles given out by Kevin to protect the GR, right in his face. Matt may think he speaks the truth, but the GR don’t want to hear it.