8 Essential Symbols in ‘The Garveys at Their Best’

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 Though completely a flashback, “The Garveys at their Best” was full of symbolism and double meanings – much of concerning events to come. I’ve rounded up what I consider to be eight of the best of those symbols here with some explanation about why they’re so interesting. Note: These are all just observation and speculation, and I have not read the book (and don’t intend to). 

1. Kevin Smoking
Smoking is without a doubt very prominent in this series, but for different reasons. For Kevin, it seems to be a release. Every time he is seen smoking in “Garveys,” he is interrupted by something or another. The first time he is distracted by the deer in the forest, and the second time he is again interrupted again by the deer but at the school. The third time he tries to smoke, he is caught by his father outside the party. It seems like every time Kevin is trying to escape from his life for a while, he gets sucked back in by some outside force. It is also interesting to note how he tries to hide his smoking from Laurie and his family, but now as a member of the Guilty Remnant, Laurie is very public with her smoking habits.

2. The Color White
The color white was very prominent in this episode, and the Guilty Remnant wasn’t even present. Many of the characters in this episode were seen wearing white and light colored clothing. In the show’s typical context, white has become too associated with the G.R., which is why not many people seem to wear white anymore. It is interesting to see how Kevin’s entire house was painted white, almost to symbolize a peace and tranquility within the home and family. But as the years have gone by and the G.R. has risen and the people have changed, so has the meaning of the color white. 

3. The Deer
There are many different parallels happening with the deer in this series. Although it has not been talked about within the show, the deer have been a strong presence. To date, two deer have died in the series. If you look at the National Geographic issue that Kevin’s father gives him, it has a cave painting of two deer in it. The same painting can be found in the cabin where Patti is held captive. I’m still not sure what this could symbolize, but it definitely seems like it is important. The deer could relate deer to Kevin, and how he feels “trapped.” The deer could be a symbol of Kevin trying to find his way out of his current life, looking for a greater purpose. Also, the deer is constantly trying to fight its way out, which causes it to get run over. If the deer is meant to symbolize Kevin, he should be weary as to not get too rambunctious…or he may get himself killed as well.

4. The Crack in the Wall
Kevin notices a crack in the wall of his house when he comes home from his run. This could symbolize how his home is about to fall apart, not necessarily in a physical sense. Jill is seen singing and laughing throughout the episode, Tom is happy to be home with his family and all smiles, and Laurie seems to be content with what is going on. As the house slowly starts to crack and fall apart, so does their family.

5. Kevin’s “My Hero” Mug
When Kevin’s father is telling everyone about the deer in the precinct, Kevin notices his “My Hero” mug leaking onto the desk. Could this be a symbol about how Kevin’s personal hero, his father, will start crack after the Departure and be admitted into a psychiatric ward?

6. The Puppies
The puppies in this episode seem to be meant to symbolize Tom. Kevin is not Tom’s biological father, but is Laurie’s biological son. So when Laurie goes to the breeder (which turns out to be Gladys), she starts tearing up. Gladys tells Laurie to just take the dog home and Kevin will fall in love with it as soon as he sees it. This same situation must have happened with Kevin when Laurie brought Tom into his life. Later in the episode, when Laurie asks him to be honest with her after lying about Tom, he said he never wanted a dog, but only wanted it because Laurie did. This could also mean that Kevin never really wanted to be Tom's father, but did it out of his love for Laurie.

7. The “It’s a Girl” Balloon
When Kevin is forced to shoot and kill the suffering deer, he finds a bloody balloon on its head stating “It’s a Girl!” Unbeknownst to Kevin, Laurie is also pregnant with his baby. To me, this symbolizes how Kevin is the reason why the baby is never born. Laurie never told Kevin about the baby, and it looks as though she was considering getting an abortion. Why would she do that? Well, if you remember, Jill tells Tom it looks like their dad is about to leave their mom. Though unclear, it seems Laurie does not want to have the baby because of the way Kevin has been acting.

8. Laurie’s Calendar
When Laurie turns the page in her calendar, it reveals this phrase: “The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.” This means that the foot alone does not feel anything until it is confronted with something to feel. This could foreshadow Laurie stripping herself of all feeling in the G.R. yet eventually being confronted with something that makes her feel again. Laurie even said it herself that trying to forget about someone all together just does not work. 

Floyd is a Reddit user. You can join him and others on the fan-created The Leftovers Reddit page.