May 1972 National Geographic: Underwater Spiders, Riddles & the Cairo Connection


“Solace for Tired Feet” provided several significant clues for the remaining three episodes of The Leftovers this season. While several minor clues were given, perhaps none were as significant as the clues we can find by examining the mysterious May 1972 issue of National Geographic that Kevin Garvey Sr. tells his son is an invitation he needs to accept.

The May 1972 issue featured in the episode is real. It features a cover story about the 100th anniversary of the opening of Yellowstone National Park. While we might be tempted to focus on this story since it gets the most airtime – the cover is seen twice in the episode – it’s likely a red herring. Here are the stories in the issue of National Geographic that I believe relate directly to where The Leftovers is going this season.

The Spider That Lives Underwater
The first article in the issue that we cannot ignore is titled "The Spider That Lives Underwater." You might recall that Christine mumbles something about a spider that lives underwater while Tom is checking on her. The article tells us that the spider carries its own air supply and can live underwater...or perhaps underground in the case of Holy Wayne. The article goes on to say that the male spider fertilizes his female mate after a violent thrashing. The wording used in National Geographic is “A Battle That Ends With An Embrace.” Could Wayne’s hugs be the embrace of a deadly spider?

The Riddle of the Minoans
Another article in the issue has a headline that asks the question: "Have Excavations On The Island of Thera Solved The Riddle Of The Minoans?" The riddle of The Minoans refers to a culture of people that seemingly “disappeared” from the earth. No one knew why or could explain their disappearance (or extinction) for many years. However, this article from National Geographic began to crack open the explanation for what really happened to the Minoans. Could this be a clue that we will soon begin to discover answers for what happened in the Sudden Departure? Could the explanation for what happened to the Minoans be the explanation for what happened to the 2 percent?

Cairo, Troubled Capital of the Arab World
The final article in the issue that begs for our attention is titled "Cairo, Troubled Capital of the Arab World." While at first glance, this appears to have nothing to do with The Leftovers or any of the characters’ journeys. However, the next episode of The Leftovers is titled "Cairo." Affirming this connection is a cryptic message sent to The Watchers – a select group of viewers tracking the show this season – that was simply: 30.0500N, 31.233E. This is the latitude and longitude for the city of Cairo, Egypt. What could this possibly have to do with the story we have been left with at the conclusion of "Solace for Tired Feet"? Cairo is certainly a significant city for both Muslims and Coptic Christians. The connection to Islam is intriguing since Rev. Matt Jamison mysteriously quoted Yusuf 12:5 in the Qur’an – though to be fair the story about Joseph and his father is in the Bible as well. Is the Cairo connection a literal connection to the ancient city in Egypt? Or a metaphorical connection that we have no way to foresee this week?

Bucher is active on Twitter and runs his own website.

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