This episode of The Leftovers was, big surprise, weird. There was a nude man running around a submarine and setting off nukes. There was an orgy boat with a cult dedicated to a lion. There was a man claiming to be God that committed murder, was tied up by Matt, and eaten by a lion. Despite all of this, the heart of this episode is obviously Matt.
Christopher Eccleston is always fantastic in whatever capacity he is used. The Matt-centric episodes take advantage of his talents by providing amazing stories centered around a character that is frustrating and definitely easy to dislike or become annoyed with. This episode lays out what Matt really is. Matt is a representation of all of the baggage that comes with religion, both good and bad. He is the personification of the tough philosophical questions raised by religion.
The interaction with the man claiming to be God shows the irony of Matt’s belief in Kevin as a messiah. How do people differentiate between true and false messiahs? Or crazy and sane? Their conversation also illustrates one of the fundamental questions people must face about religion: Are people acting a certain way because they feel it is right or because they are only interested in an eternal reward for themselves? Matt has sacrificed a lot when it comes to taking care of his wife, the beatings from the Guilty Remnant, and many other actions he has carried out in the name of his religious mission. However, he doesn’t seem to be altruistic. He lets his wife leave when she questions his mission. He throws his morals to side when he boards the ship in the name of his mission. He has no problem telling half truths and manipulating people.
I am really wondering if Matt’s story is going to go anywhere before the end of the show. There are two things from season one that i have been waiting to come full circle for Matt. He had a naughty dream about Laurie Garvey, which at the time seemed to have some significance to me. She seemed like a temptation/demon. The other is the fire that killed his parents that he and Nora survived. I’ve always had a gut feeling that Matt killed his parents. We shall see!