Christmas time is here for The Leftovers, which is funny because it was October 14 only a few episodes ago. In this week’s episode, the Guilty Remnant has something big planned during the town’s fundraiser, while Garvey pulls double duty worrying about them and finding the missing Baby Jesus.

Did I expect this to be a Christmas episode so early into the season? No, I did not. That’s because The Leftovers is consistently keeping me (and probably you, too) guessing with where it will pick up, time-wise. The jarring snowy landscape in the second episode proved the show was willing to time-jump and have its audience confused. Episode three knocked that theory down by having an episode focus solely on a character who played such a minor role in the pilot and in “Penguin One, Us Zero,” and followed a non-linear structure to better understand the Reverend’s motivations.

All this amounts to the fact that The Leftovers is not your week-to-week kind of show. Time-wise, it does whatever is necessary for the characters, plot and story and expects you to keep up.

So when The Leftovers pulls this really lovely and slightly horrifying Christmas episode out from under its sleeve, expect to pay attention. 


Especially because The Leftovers kind of wants you to be slightly confused for the first 10 minutes of any episode. That’s why this episode starts with a montage of baby dolls being made to the tune of some Black Keys song. This particular baby doll’s life is important because it is Christmas time, which means the town needs a Baby Jesus for its Nativity display. Except that baby doll goes missing. 

Garvey, our sorta lovable, scary Chief of Police, meets with cult leader Patti to offer some water, coffee, drano — whatever suits her poison. He announces that there is a fundraiser tomorrow night for the new library and asks a favor: don’t do anything stupid. Or uncomfortable. Basically, chain-smoke in your house. You’ll die/suffer/whatever it is that you do better away from a town trying to enjoy the holidays with their family. Her response: “There is no family.” 

“What the f*** does that mean?” Garvey asks. Yes, I too would like to know, but that comes later.

Back at the Garvey household, Jill and Aimee decorate the tree and ask Garvey if the rumors are true about the missing Baby Jesus. Garvey responds that there are higher priorities — like the fundraiser — and he’ll just replace it, but Jill says it is cheating to replace it. Oh? Jill argues, with a bit conviction so you know she’s lying, that you can’t just get a new Baby Jesus since it’s sacred. Garvey flat-out asks Jill if she stole the baby Jesus. It’s such a funny exchange that leaves Garvey a little unsettled about his kid.

While the Chief is suspicious of the Guilty Remnant, the town and Mayor pressure him to “find” the Baby Jesus because the Chief needs a win. (But is it so he can have a future win? Are Chiefs of Police nominated and elected into office by the town or the Council? Or is the Mayor serving her own agenda again?) Finding Baby Jesus is pretty easy because he just needs to get a new one at the store. Since he suspects his own daughter of stealing it, he wants to find it. 

He happens to flag down the Frost twins, who are rapping on the radio in their Prius. They are so painfully suburban. Garvey cuts through the bull by straight-up asking about Jill, which you can do when you have the power to arrest someone. The twins respond that Jill is awesome (which she is). Which one of you is the smart one? No comment from the kids. Basically, Garvey offers a deal: if the baby is returned, no f***ing questions. 

Over in the cool part of town where teenagers have bonfires and drink and stuff, Jill is hanging out with the Frost twins, with Aimee and Jill’s weird masturbating friend from the pilot. They all want to set the Baby Jesus on fire and set it ashore. They have one of those flaming toy crossbows which they’ve set an arrow on fire. Logistically, though, how’s she gonna shoot that accurately? Is she the next Katniss? Even Jill realizes her skills must not be that great because she tells everyone to f*** off. The twins seem like actual friends and look overly concerned. 

I’ll Have a Blue Christmas in Texas

Amarillo, Texas — Tommy plays with a smiley face phone as he and Christine are at a hospital, with noticeably different hair and a bit of animosity between them. Like a lot. It’s been a rough couple of months on the road. The hospital is most likely a mental hospital because WARNING: a bottomless man approaches Christine, accusing her of being in his dream. Like, we full-on see his junk as he tries to strangle her and Tommy fights him off. The crazy man says, I know what’s inside you. What’s inside her? Baby Jesus, obviously! Didn’t you pick up on the theme?

At Christine’s ultrasound, the doctor is worried that she has had no prenatal care and of the bruises on her body (from the crazy dude). The doctor assumes Tommy is a psycho and calls the cops because of how tense things are with these two. I’m not talking sexual tension, I’m talking about, like, tension. Like I’m going to murder you with a machete tension.

After Tommy runs out, he meets a couple of other bloodied-up Guilty Remnants. So it’s a national movement? The show is definitely implying that other cults have popped up around the country. They hand him a brochure that says, “Everything that matters about you is inside.” Inside? It’s blank. I’m not going to lie, I laughed kind of hard at that. Tommy has lost — he’s talking to a smiley phone cell phone begging for a sign. The GR stand in the background. And then it rings: “Have you lost someone?” It’s an automated call. Cue Tommy, hysterically laughing. 

Taking the sign, Tommy enters the hospital impersonating another cult with a painted target over his head. He’s shoeless and decorates Christine’s forehead to look like his. But in the elevator, someone says, How’d you end up like this, kid? I was abandoned by my father.

Wait — what? Don’t worry. All has been explained… 

The Big Plan

Garvey returns to home (after nearly hitting another dog — what is with Damon Lindelof and dogs, man?) to find Meg and Laurie at his door. Oh. Garvey invites them in, even allowing them to smoke. Meg is being used as Laurie’s voice, reading a letter Laurie wrote for him, describing how he is a great husband and father. 

Then it’s revealed that Tommy is not Garvey’s kid. Whoa. Laurie was married before, and before that she has always been broken. Garvey demands to know what is in the envelope in her hand. Meg keeps talking. Garvey tells her to shut the f*** up repeatedly before grabbing the envelope and ripping it open. Surprise, surprise — it is divorce papers. Are they making Laurie do this? She doesn’t talk to him for six months and she gives him this?

He refuses to sign it until she says she wants it to be over. She must break her vow of silence in order to appease him. Say it (out loud…). It’s a very powerful scene, and I just made a Twilight joke. The worst bit of this, though, is when Jill comes home (wearing an MPD) and has to see her mother. My poor Jill walks straight to the Christmas tree to give her mom a gift with hohoho wrapping paper. If you don’t love Jill, you are not watching this show right.

Outside, Laurie unwraps the box to find a beautiful lighter that says, Don’t forget me. Like, that’s so beautiful. But it’s just so painful when Laurie has to throw it down the sewer drain in front of Meg.  

The next day, the twins totally get caught returning the Baby Jesus to the Garvey household. Baby Jesus has been found! At the fundraiser, Garvey runs into Nora as they talk for the first time. They both grew up in Mapleton, but years apart. Nora confesses to Garvey that her husband was cheating on her. Garvey admits to cheating on his wife. Why did Garvey do this? Is there a good answer to that question? It’s such a set-up scene that, well, you should start shipping Garvey and Nora, folks. 

Anyway, Garvey’s busy trying to keep everything safe when he notices a bunch of GR outside of school property. He arrests everyone because it’s his word against theirs. Hah (but also — Garvey is going super hardcore corrupt). Patti looks like she is going to say something, but silently laughs. Because she knows where everyone else is. 

Dressed like Charles Manson followers, the rest of the GR invade people’s homes. Here’s a flaw with that plan: no one has a security system? Doesn’t matter because they aren’t there to take anything that valuable … except all the pictures of all the loved ones who disappeared. Whoa. That is ice cold, like, low-key terrorism. Basically, screw you, GR. That’s super harsh. 

After the hit, though, Laurie walks home instead of driving with everyone else. She finds herself back to the drain to reach for the lighter Jill gave her. Laurie does care! She is not as awful as we thought! But we don’t know if she grabbed it. 

Since Garvey doesn’t know about this plan, he is set to put the Baby Jesus back in the Nativity setting, but the Reverend puts a baby there. He had a spare (which is such a simple, sad way of saying he doesn’t have a church anymore). In the car ride home, Baby Jesus stares at Garvey, so he pulls over and throws the baby aside.  

Back in Texas on a bus outta there, Tommy witnesses Christine flirt with an Army man before the bus crashes. Or a string of things crash. As they leave the bus, they see the GR, laying dead on the ground, all in white. They have mailing addresses for loved ones. It’s just like the dream the crazy person had. Like Christine had. 

Other Thoughts

  • Jill is obviously my favorite character, in case you didn’t know, but I love how Garvey is such an angry person. I’m a fan of all the Garveys actually, even Tommy.
  • God bless the twins for offering some comic relief every now and again. 
  • Did anyone else want a scene of carolers singing as the Guilty Remnant smoked cigarettes from afar?

The Leftovers airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO.

(Image courtesy of HBO)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV