Oh boy. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a Kevin & Nora-less episode as much as I did this one, but I loved “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World“. Not only was Christopher Eccleston amazing (as always), but we also got to meet yet another crazy subculture that almost puts the Guilty Remnant to shame.

But let’s take it from the top: the episode begins with a rare instance of full frontal male nudity, as we follow a french naval officer basically streak though a submarine, lock himself in the missile launch room and fire a nuclear missile somewhere in the South Pacific. I’m not sure why he had to be naked for this but hey, it’s The Leftovers, I know better than to expect a sane explanation – if any.

For a minute there I thought this might be some bizarre flash forward, or at least somehow connected to whatever event might or might not happen on the seventh anniversary of the sudden departure. After all, it’s not a huge leap from the imagery in the Kevin Sr episode – Noah’s arc and boats – to a modern submarine. Alas, it was all happening in the present, and for the time being it’s safe to assume it was a red herring, or just a plot device to move the story along: all flights are grounded due to the blast, and Matt wants to bring Kevin home in time for the big 10/14 anniversary.

Luckily, Arturo, a member of his congregation, is a certified pilot, and there’s a cargo plane waiting for liftoff in Texas. Arturo is paid handsomely for his services – does everything on this show cost 20 grand, by the way? – and is more than willing to help after Matt gives him his spiel about this very special ‘rescue mission’ led by the… three wise men(!).

Arturo might be buying into Matt’s bullshit, but Laurie certainly isn’t. Matt is almost hostile towards the non-believer, and generally appears much more animated than usual. Okay, not just animated – he seems almost crazy, but then again, who isn’t a bit cuckoo on The Leftovers?

On the plane, Matt gets a nosebleed, and once again, it’s not a big twist. Nothing supernatural is going on here, much like nothing too significant was happening in the opening scenes: as we later learn, Matt is having health issues. What the show takes great pains to focus our attention on, however, isn’t the nosebleed, but the passage Matt is reading in his bible, which is about a lion, and the fact that, the minute Laurie doubts the validity of his faith in the Kevin gospel, the plane hits some turbulance as if to punish her for sacrilege. Matt is almost smug.

Also smug: Laurie at the docks where their group is trying to board a privately booked ferry from Tasmania to Melbourne. The lady in charge of the manifest asks them if Matt & co are a member of their pride is apparently willing to let them on the boat as long as they have no problem with copious amounts of sex. She asks Matt to tell her a dirty joke, and he tells her one about a priest (and child molestation, because of course). She allows them to board with a peculiar warning: the lady has free reign, and they’re not to speak “his” name lest they become “him”. Who is the “him” she’s referring to? Why, Frasier the lion, who is apparently also going to be on board. Okay then.

There are snippets of conversation during this long, weird ferry ride to Melbourne that are absolute gold. John might be one of the “disciples”, but he’s nowhere near Matt-crazy level, and he actually makes sense. Matt looks even crazier than before and is pretty cross with John for giving so much control to infidel Laurie. “Maybe if you’d given a little more control to Mary, she wouldn’t have left”. However, Matt’s faith is unwavering: Mary leaving was a test.

When he goes to the bathroom to take care of yet another nosebleed, a ferry employee asks him if he got punched by God. Matt, being the man of god that he is, looks personally offended by the implication that some guy on the boat claims to be God, which is hilariously ironic. He confronts the guy, who simply remains silent and hands him a card that basically states that yes, he is God, and even features a FAQ to ward off random… fans?

Meanwhile, the Lionness orgy is going full throttle below. Matt and Laurie have their first normal conversation of the episode, until Matt basically dismisses her so he can throw up, but not before he learns the fascinating story of Frasier the Lion, which is apparently just as real as Mark Linn Baker from Perfect Strangers. Whatever’s wrong with Matt seems to be getting worse. Matt hears some commotion above and sees this “God” fella throw someone overboard. With the Pride members pretty absorbed in their sexploits, he has no choice but to grab a floatation device and dive in after the poor guy, but in the end he comes up empty and the boat captain isn’t really sympathetic to his cause.

He does find out more about this “God” individual though: David Burton used to be a broadcaster and a decathlete before that. He had a rock climbing accident, was believed to be dead and shoved by his friend into a cave to keep dingoes at bay, only to be discovered later alive and kicking. Is this enough to shake Matt’s faith in Kevin? After all, Burton’s story is along the same lines as Kevin’s: a guy who should, by rights, be dead, is somehow still alive. Kevin isn’t that unique after all.

However, it doesn’t look like Matt is thinking about the implications of Burton’s story too much; his main concern is that no one really seems to care that he just witnessed a murder, and we get yet another gem of dialogue with John:
“You believe me right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Like when i told you i didn’t molest my comatose wife?”

Matt is understandably agitated, starts yelling at the manifest lady and accidentally lets Frasier’s name slip. Suddenly the wackjobs start blowing their horns and Matt is swiftly seized and tied to a chair-like device, as a lioness model (effigy?) is ominously pushed towards him and some horny lady is trying to get to his privates and … extract some semen into that weird looking cup?. I don’t even know what the crazies were chanting – between the noise and their accents, I just couldn’t really make it out. What I can say is that I appreciated the (very perverted) callback to the time he was in the stocks back in Miracle.

Still pretty distraught, Matt confronts “God” about the murder and is promptly punched in the gut for his efforts. He is approached by a woman who confesses that “we’re not all like them”. Apparently there’s a plan in place, and she advises Matt to stay on the boat when they dock.

Matt is pretty hell bent on revenge by now, and John is unsuccessful in his efforts to appease him. “You used to burn men’s houses down for pretending to be something they’re not. What happened to you, John?“. Touché once again – Matt’s on a roll, but he lets something slip: this time it’s the fact that Kevin thought he saw Evie, which Laurie had confided to him earlier. He leaves John, Laurie and Michael to sort out the bomb he just dropped and goes to the infirmary “to get some rest”, which is really code for “I’m getting a wheelchair and an ax”.

For a minute there I thought he was going to chop this “God” person and feed him to the lion just to see if he could put himself back together like the Messiah he claimed to be, but his plan was much less savage: he just ties the man to the wheelchair and demands some answers.

What follows is one of the most interesting conversations we’ve had on this show, parts of which are pretty hilarious, like this little gem about Jesus:
“He wasn’t my son”
“You’re denying paternity?”
“Mary’s word versus mine”.

Oddy, this “God” only takes responsibility for the sudden departure. Pretty convenient, if you ask me, and I can’t tell if Matt is really buying into this bullshit or simply indulging the man to get some real answers. Why did he do it? Because he could, apparently. And just when you think this guy is just another delusional weirdo, he makes a very valid point about Matt: “Everything you did, you did because you thought I was watching, because you thought I was judging. But I’m not. I wasn’t.”

“Is that why you’re killing me?”, asks Matt. Oh boy. Whatever this illness he had as a child was, not only has it resurfaced, but it’s apparently fatal. Have we actually heard about this story? I don’t remember it mentioned before, but I hardly remember anything from Season 1, so maybe it just went over my head.

“I can save you again”, says “God”, and by now it’s obvious that Matt is desperate – to bring Kevin back to Miracle, to believe in his own “Book”, even to believe that maybe this guy is for real.

Well, at least he knows he isn’t insane – not in terms of what he saw earlier, anyway: the captain informs him that a fishing boat discovered the body, and the police will be waiting to arrest “God” at the port. The ferry finally docks, the woman and her co-conspirators free the lion, and just as “God” starts to run, the lion attacks and mauls him (luckily off screen). A few shots are fired, and I’m guessing that wasn’t good news for the poor lion, so I’m glad they spared us that sight too.

And there you have it – turns out “God” wasn’t really immortal after all, and almost every single character we care about is now in Melbourne. Given how utterly unpredictable this show can be, I have no clue what’s next, and I prefer it this way.

edit: Okay, so I totally missed the fact that this Burton/God dude is the guy from International Assassin – the one who made Kevin sing and who we saw again at the bridge in Miracle. I knew he looked familiar but it took me a while to make the connection…  (This is probably the strongest argument in favor of binge-watching a show. A year and a half is a hell of a long wait between seasons and a lot of details and nuances require a re-watch to really stick with you).

So what does this mean for the plot moving forward? Is it safe to assume that Burton/God wasn’t actually killed by the lion in the closing scenes, just like Kevin escaped death a few times last season? Furthermore, what does his presence in the Hotel mean for the whole Messiah theme of the show? We now know that Kevin isn’t the only one with a religious following implications, and whatever that Hotel parallel universe is, he wasn’t unique in his experience of it (nor, in fact, the first one there).

I need to watch International Assassin again to refresh my memory but I’m pretty sure Burton said something significant about the implications of Kevin’s intention to kill little Patti; was that a reference to the question about the twin babies from last week’s episode? We got yet another reference to twins this week by Burton himself: it wasn’t Jesus who rose from the dead, but, apparently, his identical twin. And identical twins just happen to be featured in the title of the penultimate episode of the season. Hmm.

I’m really interested to see how Matt’s faith in Kevinism shifts moving forward, not to mention Kevin’s own beliefs, now that he’s with his father, who obviously thinks this whole thing is a crock. With only three more episodes to go, there’s a lot of questions begging anwers and a lot of threads that need untangling. Hopefully we’ll get to a satisfactory conclusion….