The Biggest Questions (and Theories) About the Guilty Remnant


The all-white clothing. The smoking. The vow of silence.

The Guilty Remnant certainly holds to some nonconventional principles. This week, even more eyebrows were raised when the G.R. – including Laurie Garvey and Meg – broke into Mapleton's homes and confiscated family photos they found inside, leaving frames empty. Audiences largely wondered what – and don't let the irony escape you here – the G.R. was trying to say. scoured online discussion, pulling together a handful of insights addressing watchers’ biggest questions about the G.R.

Why did the G.R. take pictures from people's homes?
Vox's Brandon Ambrosino hypothesizes that the stolen pictures were of the Departed. "Maybe the G.R. didn't like how Mapletonians were remembering their loved ones, in happy images of hugging and bonding and playing and loving," Ambrosino theorizes, taking a stab at their silent message: "You are remembering the Departed in the wrong way. Don't remember them as smiling faces. Remember them as Ghosts, as Deletions from your lives, as people whose faces you are unworthy to behold."

What's with the chain-smoking?
Reddit commenter trideout makes a guess about all the puffery: "I saw the smoking thing as a sort of 'legitimate' suicide. They want to die and join the missing, but in many faiths outright suicide is the path to hell."

Bustle's Jefferson Grubbs pointed to the sign in the G.R. house:


"The G.R. believes that the world as we know it ended on the day that 140 million people simultaneously disappeared," Grubbs explains, "And if the world has ended, why should they care if smoking is bad for them?"

What do they believe?
In a post-Departure world, everyone is searching for meaning and reasons… even the Remnant. "The answer to them is that there is no answer," Alicia Lutes of Nerdist suggests. "There’s no point. So why worry? To institutionalize that way of thought, turning it into a religious calling is certainly a unique way of dealing with ennui even if it is counter-intuitive to the point of 'there is no point.' But people like to feel like they belong – even if what they belong to is nothing. Because nothing matters. Humans will go to extreme lengths to find a sense of stasis."

Are they religious?
Mashable's Erin Carlson points out that "there are shades of Scientology in the G.R. philosophy, specifically members’ forced detachment from relatives who aren’t involved with the group." Another theory from Carlson? The G.R. "buy into the Rapture theory and are attempting to expand the religion in a long-term effort to save humanity."

On that note, Reddit user BeardKing explains some of the religion behind pre-tribulation Rapture: "Basically, people get raptured and a 7-year tribulation begins: 3 1/2 years of peace, 3 1/2 years of hell on earth. The Leftovers begins 3 years after the disappearance of 2% of all people. In 6 months, will all become hell on earth?" Reddit user QuesadillaSpalding adds: "I believe the Guilty Remnant subscribe to this theory and believe they will be saved when Jesus returns…they feel guilty for not living piously enough [to be Departed initially] and are now making up for it."

Why does the G.R. stalk people?
In an interview with New York Magazine, Ann Dowd – whose character Patti leads the G.R. – explains that the group targets the vulnerable. "It seems we have awareness of who is on the fence," Dowd explains, giving Meg as an example: "By stalking her and getting her to her breaking point, either she'll say, 'Get the f*ck away from me,' or she'll say, 'I can't do this anymore. I can't live this life.' They just try to get people to lose it, to let go into the chaos, because life is now chaos."

Why would anyone actually join the G.R.?
Bustle's Jefferson Grubbs turned to – book author Tom Perrotta’s site originally promoting his tome – for answers about the organization and found this quote on the FAQ page:

Do people join and then leave?

Hardly ever. The Old World is over. Why would you return to an illusion?

After learning this, Grubbs asserts: "Once you understand the purpose behind all of the G.R.'s seemingly bizarre behavior, the organization actually starts to make an odd kind of sense." Grubbs asks: "Who’s really crazier? The citizens of Mapleton who go about their lives as though 2 percent of the planet’s population didn’t just vanish into thin air? Or those who admit that the world has changed forever and find solace in a community of like-minded individuals?" 

Reddit commenter asoiaf-obsessed agrees: "To be honest, I'd probably join if I lived in that world. It would piss me off so much to see parades and statues and people moving on with their lives like nothing happened. (They should move on to an extent, but not nearly forget.)"

Are G.R. members dangerous?
It’s possible, of course. Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times isn't ruling anything out: "Last week, R Williams, a commenter here, wondered if the Remnant hadn’t planned the drive-by stoning that foiled the Rev. Matt’s plans for buying back his church. Garvey’s slashed brakes in this episode revived that thought. There could be something supernatural going on, but the cruelty of the Remnant’s final crime in this week’s episode suggests they are capable of far more than just surveillance."

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