Religious Symbology…Or Everyday Craziness?

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

There is lot of very interesting religious imagery going on in The Leftovers. The stag in the forest with the glowing halo between its antlers – an image that’s linked to two different saints that converted to Christianity after seeing a cross between a stags antlers: Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace. (You might remember the later from Jägermeister bottles.)

Of course, it turned out to be a poor confused deer that had a reflective Mylar balloon stuck in its antlers. What at first looked to be a religious symbol turned out to be something mundane. At times of great stress, we tend to look at things with a hyper-awareness. We make connections that we normally wouldn’t. This is a great evolutionary advantage, but it's also a double-edged sword. Sometimes we see things that just aren't there.

What would have been a conversion moment to a man back in the Middle Ages is simply a sad deer with garbage stuck on its head. Ultimately the deer ends up being put down by Kevin, after getting hit by a car, which, to me is quite telling as far as it being a religious metaphor.

Maybe...just maybe that’s what Kevin is doing: putting a bullet between the eyes of belief.

All through this series there are religious signs and portents. There are new religions, there are failing religions. There is a hugging Messiah and a monastic order of chain smokers. We even get something of a burning bush in the form of an exploding manhole cover. Quickly followed by mysterious pilgrims asking Kevin if he was “ready.” There’s just so much post-Departure madness: religions being formed, madmen speaking of prophecy, and a group of collective survivor guilt victims taking up whites and yellowing their lungs.

Well, I think that none of it really matters. I think that in the madness and hyper awareness of the stress from the Departure everyone is seeing patterns that simply aren't there. 

It’s all just cigars. It’s just the normal everyday craziness – but because of the Departure a lot of meaning is being attributed to things that would normally be dismissed. Like our poor little deer dead on the side of the road. Not a message from God…just a sad confused creature.

And if you will notice, there are people that are using this to manipulate other people – from Dean to Patti to Wayne. They are all using this crazy time to manipulate people. I’m asking, though: To what end?

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