The Guilty Remnant: Making Them Remember?

If you’re like me, then you’re still trying to dissect the Season 1 finale of The Leftovers. I’m sure you realize that there was plenty to examine – the dream sequence, anyone? – but I still find myself wanting to go deeper into the Guilty Remnant and how they made everyone remember.

You could sense something big was happening, but as always with the Guilty Remnant, you can never be sure what that would entail. We’ve seen protests, lurking, stoning and suicide – but never something this extreme. I believe what made this – their stunt with the Loved Ones – the most radical exercise the Guilty Remnant ever partook in is because it was emotionally damaging. Not to them…but to everyone else. The residents of Mapleton were forced to remember what they tried to repress for so long and with that came emotional pain and anger so horrible that they all had different ways of acting upon it.

Most people took all this anger and pain and channeled it into violence against the Guilty Remnant. They burned there houses down, beat them senseless, and, it seems, even killed some. They wanted the Guilty Remnant to pay for what they did, but a question remains: What did they really do? Yes, they made Mapleton residents relive the past…but what is the point of this all? To be fair, the Guilty Remnant members actually did nothing. Sure, they have protested and killed one of their own, but when looking back, they’ve actually done nothing to everyone else. It’s just that everyone has some connotation that they had something to do with the Departure, and while I think they may have, everyone is acting on suspicion. 

I think we all believe the Guilty Remnant have some sort of higher order that they follow, and I believe that they have a plan even bigger than this and that these are just tiny puzzle pieces they’re trying to put together to execute a grand masterpiece. I don’t know when these questions will get answered. Hell, they may never be answered. I think while there is mystery in wanting to know what happened to the Departed, The Leftovers makes it a point to look at society and their responses. While some people took it upon themselves to act on their anger, there is also, for instance, Nora. She’s hurt by the Loved Ones prank deeply, but she instead finds a message within it all. She doesn’t want to kill herself, but instead finds something else. Another way to keep on living. She realizes she can’t stay in Mapleton, so instead she decides to move on. She doesn’t know where. She just knows it’s time to carry on with her life…somewhere else.

Back to the Mapleton residents who turned their pain into violence. After seeing what the Guilty Remnant did with the Loved Ones, they suddenly found themselves filled with not only sadness but also anger. They try to harm and/or kill the Guilty Remnant members. They seemingly didn’t think their actions through – they just went on instinct. The first thing Kevin sees when getting back into town is two members of the Guilty Remnant carrying what looks like a dead body (which turns out to be a Loved One) while a woman fires shots at them. The town is in chaos. After what, though? Remembering?

After this, we then come to find out why this is all happening: Rev. Matt Jamison spots two members of the Guilty Remnant and after untying them and asking them what they did, Meg simply writes, “We made them remember.” The reason I mention and go into detail about this scene is because those four words are strong. The Guilty Remnant made Mapleton remember what everyone has tried to oppress. But why do the residents need to remember there loss? Why is it important to the Guilty Remnant that these people relive the past? Is it because all of the residents of Mapleton who lost someone are…guilty? Did somehow, through their unknowing, they have a major part of their disappearance? 

While these answers may or may not be answered in Season 2, all we can do is analyze what we have in front of us. Whether that be the show, book, or even the mysterious tweets The Leftovers on Twitter. It’s all still rather vague, but for some reason, I found the response to the residents very interesting, and I wanted to try to scratch below the surface. Do you have any thoughts to add to this discussion around the Season 1 finale?

Grimm blogs on his own website and is on Twitter.