This was a monumental episode and one of my favorites so far this season, and not just because it proved my theory of Rev. Matt Jamison being an important vessel of information; it also showed how vital the idea of religion, or lack thereof, is to this entire series.
In last week’s episode, Matt told Nora what he was presumably trying to tell the congregation back in episode 1 of this season: that his wife Mary briefly woke from her comatose state the night they arrived in Miracle and they laughed and cried and made love. Again, we find ourselves playing “real or fake?” We know at least part of it was real, since Mary is – Ruh-roh! – pregnant.
Now Matt has to explain why his wife – who cannot confirm or deny consent to sexual acts and who was unable to get pregnant prior to the departure – is now with child. Matt seemed pretty sure of his story, so I was inclined to believe him (stranger things have happened on this show, right?) until he was clocked in the head with a wrench and we saw Mary wake up and tell him he needs to get her back into Miracle or the baby will die. I feel confident saying all of this is in poor Matt’s head.
This is a fascinating storyline that I’m dying to see more of: The fact that Mary is still around but has departed her body in a way is really interesting, and I can’t help but think (or hope) there has to be more to her than just a crutch to move Matt’s story along.
When Matt is around, we find ourselves constantly being pushed in and out of religion. It’s a really interesting dynamic with Matt because he walks a fine line between losing his cool like everyone else and pushing faith in the way of God and Christianity.
As Matt is trying to get himself and Mary back into Miracle after having their wristbands stolen, he goes to a cross-wielding camper to ask for money to pay off a man who can help sneak them into the town. She quizzes him on where he went to seminary school and how much he knows about the Bible. He tells her his favorite book is Job and the woman asks what Job’s wife’s name is, to which Matt says she is not named and only speaks once and says the verse. The verse is this: “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. This is so incredibly fitting to the situation Matt is in as we’ve seen him gamble, conceal a murder, and possibly rape his wife. Nearly as important as the verse mentioned is Job’s reply to his wife: “But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10. Does this mean after all this time and everything he’s done, Matt has never lied? Does this mean he’s not lying about Mary?
I want to quickly point out the parallel between Matt and Mary’s “miracle baby” (Remember, they tried to get pregnant for 10 years and she couldn’t) and the Virgin Mary’s “miracle baby.” I’m not saying Matt and Mary’s baby is the second coming of Jesus, but it is an interesting point to consider.
After Matt fails to get himself and Mary back into the camp, Nora and Kevin find them and smuggle them inside the town in their trunk. Matt recites part of a poem by W.B. Yeats, called The Song of Wandering Aengus:
“Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands…”
The part of the poem that Matt does not recite is where this man caught a fish that turned into a glimmering girl who called him by his name and took off running. This guy is seeing something happen that’s not really there (obviously a fish didn’t turn into a girl) but perhaps he was desperate enough his mind began to play tricks on him and he saw what he wanted to see. So, perhaps Matt is just seeing things and Mary never came back (the likely conclusion).
The last big Bible comparison I want to mention is the final scene where Matt sends Mary off with her wristband so Nora can take care of her. He gives his up and marches out of the camp to take the spot of the naked man trapped in the pillory with “Repent” carved into it. There is an interesting verse in the Bible that may or may not inform this scene: “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Perhaps Matt is finding his rebirth as he repents for his sins in the pillory? Remember, though, the naked man was only released from his post when someone else volunteered to take his position. How will Matt get out of this one, I wonder?
Throughout this episode, I find myself returning to what Isaac said to John when he attacked him at the motel: “Nothing more dangerous than a man who don’t believe in nothing.”
Watch The Leftovers at 9pm ET Sundays on HBO or On Demand..