REVIEW: The Leftovers – “Crazy Whitefella Thinking”

The following is a review and recap of the third episode of the third season of The Leftovers (HBO). Expect Full Story Spoilers.

The third episode of the third season – Crazy Whitefella Thinking – is a point-of-view episode from the perspective of Kevin Garvey, Sr. (played by Scott Glenn), wherein Senior is travelling around Australia to collect the chants of Australian tribes so that he can prevent a forthcoming flood of biblical proportions.

“Reach out and touch faith.”

Before we get to the actual recap and review, we have to talk about this week’s title sequence theme song. Because, as this episode seems to confirm, we are going to be getting different title sequence themes with every episode.

Now, I’m sure some people were annoyed that “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” wasn’t back this week, but I like the idea of getting fresh title themes every now and then. For Crazy Whitefella Thinking, we got a lounge-style cover version of Depeche Mode‘s “Personal Jesus,” by cover band Richard Cheese.

“And there you have it folks. The ducks are alive and well. Kevin Garvey, Jr. reporting.”

While the main characters of the show are either concerned with the messiah-like events in Kevin, Jr.’s life or with maybe, possibly seeing their family members again, good old Kevin Garvey, Sr. is marching to the beat of his own drum. Or rather, marching towards the chanting of certain Aboriginal tribes.

“Preventing the apocalypse. What are you doing?”

Senior is on a mission very different from the ones that Matt, Junior, or Nora are on. Like it or not, though, what Senior’s doing is against the law, and, once he was released, it was really nice to see him be desperate to get back the tape with him and Junior.

What I really like about this episode is that we get to see the perspective of someone on a vastly different track. To Senior, this is his story, and everyone else are all just living in it — at least, that is what it sounds like once Senior talks to Matt, who Senior is frustrated with for not having covered his mission in ‘The Book of Kevin.’

While we may all believe in what we’ve seen from Junior’s perspective – or what Matt preaches – some of the events can be explained by Laurie who just believes that he’s had a psychotic breakdown, and Senior sees everything a completely different way.

This show has always tiptoed around a perfect truth by offering different interpretations while still showing us Junior’s compelling perspective most of the time. But it is kind of amazing to see Senior just throw text from ‘The Book of Kevin’ in the trash.

“And do you know what I saw in that TV, Chris? A chicken.”

When Senior meets with Christopher Sunday and tells him his own story, the scene really backs up everything I’ve been saying. Senior and Junior are interpreting events two different ways. I think all fans remember seeing Senior on the television in the hotel (in International Assassin), but he was having a conversation with Junior through it.

Senior says that he spoke to a chicken after being offered an opportunity to ‘talk to God’ with a drug. Do we have the whole story? No, not necessarily, but Senior’s story is similar to Junior’s, even if the interpretations are different and if Junior and Senior don’t have the same recollection of the conversation.

Senior took this idea that he spoke to a chicken and ran with it — that is the baseline for his entire mission in the aptly named Crazy Whitefella Thinking episode. Only Senior’s singing can stop the coming flood — that is what his old tape tells him. That is what has brought Senior to Christopher Sunday, and, sadly, it is also what brings Chris to his death. Senior’s luck in Crazy Whitefella Thinking is almost as bad as Matt’s luck in Two Boats and a Helicopter. But, eventually, it does get him to Grace — one of the women who unfortunately drowned the wrong Kevin.

“Then I received a phone call…”

Grace’s story is one of the most horrifyingly sad that we’ve gotten on this show. She had basically misread signs on the day of the Sudden Departure and expected that her children were all gone, when they had in fact gone to look for her and died doing so. She didn’t think that she needed to look for them, and that inaction was what ultimately killed them.

And the only reason why she tried to drown a police chief named Kevin was because she had found Senior with a page from ‘The Book of Kevin’ in his hand. Thankfully, there was no time travel mumbo-jumbo here late in the show. It is all either just a coincidence that she got the information or a message from heaven. This isn’t a coincidence to Senior, though.

“You just got the wrong Kevin.”

Crazy Whitefella Thinking was the first The Leftovers episode set in Australia and it is a pretty great one at that. It calls into question everything that we know we believe as well as everything we think we’re certain about with this show. When you think about it, Senior’s story isn’t much more crazy than Junior or Matt’s. Scott Glenn really carries this episode well and I’m not sure I expected him to do it this successfully. It is a well-orchestrated episode that is also strengthened by Lindsay Duncan (who plays Grace).


– Jeffrey Rex

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