Last Sunday's flashback episode of The Leftovers pulled back the curtain on the lives of Mapletonians before the Departure. Beyond connecting the dots between characters, the episode referenced plenty of details from earlier installments of the series. Below are a list of several insights – collected by critics and fans alike – compiling elements that throw back to previous episodes.
Kevin Garvey, Sr. is named Mapleton's "Man of the Year," and during his party, mentions a previous winner – Ray Hader. Sound familiar? The man was called out in a flyer buried in Kevin Sr.'s backyard, where the reverend also located a wad of cash in a jar of peanut butter. Sean T. Collins of Rolling Stone identifies the name: "The last recipient of the Man of the Year award (which Kevin's dad had received) was the judge whose Departure caused the brain injury of Reverend Matt's wife."
Watchers learned of Matt's wife's condition in "Two Boats and a Helicopter." Her fate seems all the more tragic knowing that the "car crash from episode one probably happened right after leaving the doctors on the way to get drunk," Redditor Paulie_Ramone offers, as the Jamisons were off to celebrate Matt's cancer-free prognosis. Fellow Reddit user snakeoil-huckster implies another layer to Matt's grief: "He must feel horrible knowing she was driving so he could drink."
The hour provides further insight into Nora Durst's grieving. "In episode six, we learned Nora kept performing her motherly duties even long after her family departed," Vox's Brandon Ambrosino recalls. "She wouldn't replace the paper towel roll on her kitchen counter. The roll itself was empty, save the remains of a paper sheet that had been pulled off in haste." New light is shed on the object after learning about Nora's pre-Departure moments. "She yells at her daughter, grabs the last paper towel," Kelly Braffet of New York Magazine recaps. "No wonder she couldn’t replace it. No wonder she hired people to shoot her. How do you live when that was your last moment with your family? How do you look at that kitchen every day and go on?"
Kevin Sr.'s Advice
In response to Kevin Jr.’s toast at his father's party, Senior "tells him, 'You have no greater purpose,'" which is, Michael M. Grynbaum of New York Times points out, "exactly the opposite of what Kevin Sr. tells his son when he hands him the National Geographic" in episode 7. Junior's response three years later? "So now I have a purpose?"
A Couple's Callback
Experienced deja vu while Kevin hunted down the deer? "The couple whose house is trashed by the deer are the same ones interviewed by Nora back in episode 2," Alan Sepinwall of HitFix notes, "Their son vanishes not long after the deer invasion." The Departed's jars of pennies remain years later when Nora visits the home.
Kevin's Running Route
SllyStringBandit observes the dissonance between Kevin's route before and after the Departure: "In the beginning sequence, Garvey runs past the same house from the opening in the Pilot, and the Asian couple waves to him." Post-Departure, the same woman "was the one whose face was being put up on the side of the house."