The Year of the Goat

“Jerry, no, you gotta get it outta here.”           

In the latest episode of The Leftovers, “Lens,” as Jerry whipped out his handy plastic sheet, nearly everyone’s reaction in Miracle’s populace, whether verbally or facially, was resoundingly: “Let him do it!” But then, finally, Erica let her pot boil over in epic fashion and helped to answer the question: What’s up with the goats? Watch the scene play out again here:

While the goat slaughter in “Axis Mundi” was big, there are slight, seemingly insignificant goat moments in every episode but the Laurie-Tom episode, “Off Ramp.” We’ve all seen Jerry parading a goat around town on a rope. We’ve seen Jerry and a goat in front of the liquor store, walking by the grocery store, crossing in front of the scientist as he drives his rented golf cart. Personally, I’ve been watching for the goat as if it’s a game of Where’s Waldo?

Ponder if you will, that our story is taking place in 2015. Based on the Chinese Horoscope, this is the “Year of the Sheep (or Goat).” The Chinese have a very elaborate Astrology network dating back over 5,500 years, and the corresponding zodiac and animals related within offer a very unique correlation to The Leftovers. One striking aspect of this analogy is the energy the goat brings forth. As this astrology website explains, “This goat energy will take the leftovers from one source and turn them into a feast for another.”

Surely, an argument can be made that “the leftovers” are not the departed...but instead those left behind. So, would a greater question be that the source—the reason for the departures—is feasting on the energy of the ensuing chaos? Various far-fetched theories were sprung in this episode: Are certain people a “lens”? Is a demon involved? Was Jarden spared because of a solitary, sacrificial goat?

Much has been written about the multiple biblical references present in this show. Nearly everyone understood last week’s title of “No Room at the Inn” and the blatant parallel of a pregnant “Mary” needing safe harbor and her “Joseph” (Matt) travelling many miles, enduring fantastic hardship and being turned away at every gate, turnstile, door and tunnel. Now, returning back to the Old Testament, a multitude of sin could be covered by the sacrifice of an animal—many times, a goat. Likewise, Chinese astrology maintains that everything in the universe is balanced by its opposite.             

Yin and Yang. Good and Evil. As others have speculated, four residents move in, four residents move out. Yin and Yang. But where does the goat fit in? Oddly enough, the evil bestowed upon Matt and Mary when their bracelets were unjustly stolen, is repaid. The balance restored. The catalyst in that turn of events was none other than a tiny army of goats! As the father lie dead in the car to a cacophony of bleating goats, Nora clears the dead goats strewn across the road and the final bracelet is freely offered in the boy’s outstretched hand.  

Matt cannot remain in Jarden with his wife because he allowed the boy to be taken in by John. Matt yielded to the Year of the Goat, to balance the scales. In more ways than one. The Bible says that salvation is freely given. One small boy demonstrates the concept with his small, outstretched, grimy hand. He too, had no other course of action. Yin and Yang. Good and Evil. While, as we watch, it’s still unclear exactly who or what, is either.

Kristen Bush is a freelance writer living the good life in Eagle River, Alaska, with her husband, daughter and fluffy dog.