Kevin's Bagel: Beyond a Burnt Breakfast?


One topic that had tongues wagging during Sunday’s episode of The Leftovers: Kevin Garvey’s disappearing – and reappearing – bagel. Questions abounded: Where did it go? What does it mean? Does it represent something more? The people of the Internet – recappers, Twitter commenters, and the Reddit community – all weighed in about the significance of the bagel.

Did the bagel embody the hope of finding those who departed? A.V. Club’s Sonia Saraiya thought possibly. “The bagel plot ends hopefully: They were lost, but now they are found,” Saraiya wrote and then added: “I wonder if that moment is the show tipping its hat at the greater mystery of the series – the idea that these people who are all lost might be lost for a reason.”

Over on Reddit, user CircadianHour took the bagel to mean that, maybe, the Departed could still be found…if people look in the right place. “When [Kevin] found the bagel in a hidden compartment within the toaster that made me wonder if the bagel is a metaphor for what happened to the people?” CircadianHour wrote. “They aren’t actually vanished from the earth – they’re just some place no one has bothered to look.” Collider’s Allison Keene had similar thoughts and contended the bagel was “metaphorical about how the people aren’t really gone, they’re just stuck somewhere getting burned up. Or something.” Keene added, in a nod to Kevin taking apart the toaster: “We need more drills.” The recapper at noted The Bagel represented Kevin’s mental state because “it’s something to hold onto, but it’s also sad because it’s an aspect of what little he has left.”

Blogger Adam Lauria took the bagel as allegory for the biggest mystery of The Leftovers. “That right there is the crux of the relationship this show is going to have with its viewers,” Lauria wrote. “We don't know why the bagel got stuck, but we see what effect it had on our protagonist. Similarly, people who are watching this show hoping for a tidy reason behind the major unexplained events are going to be sorely disappointed. The Departure just happened, and it doesn't matter why.”

Of course, there was a cacophony of pithy thoughts around The Bagel. Quipped Mashable’s Erin Carlson: “I wish the bagels went poof.” And viewers weighed in on Twitter, too:

Reddit’s thejimla offered an imagined thread for a continued storyline built around the bagel that featured “the bald guy in the pickup truck” proclaiming “They aren’t our bagels anymore.”

Much of the bagel discussion coincided with questions about Kevin’s sanity and grip on reality. Reddit’s Volleyfield offered: “Here’s what I got from this week: Bagel disappears then is found. Chief confirms that he is not going crazy.” EW’s Jeff Labrecque thought the bagel could mean Kevin isn’t crazy. “If the missing toasted bagels are there, clearly he's sane. If there are no bagels, then he's slipping into the abyss. He rips off the back of the toaster with a power screwdriver and... the burned bagels are there. So, he's not crazy?” The New York Times’ Michael Grynbaum used Kevin’s tussle with the toaster to psychoanalyze the character. “Garvey brandishes the burnt bagel like a trophy — he is triumphant, redeemed – but he clutches it, too, unwilling to let go. It is something solid to hold on to in a world dissolving before his eyes.”

The bagel as a representation of Kevin’s sanity also brings up an important question: Is it possible that Kevin didn’t actually find the bagel? Considering the blurry line between dreams and reality for Kevin, Reddit user AllyourBenefits postulated, “We don’t know if anything is for sure. Maybe he was dreaming he found the bagels?”

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