What makes a person disconnect from balance, from wholeness? What happens in someone who is a daughter, someone who’s getting married, someone who has hopes and plans and a life, when those plans and that life disappear?
In some ways that’s what The Leftovers has always been about: How human beings respond when the world collapses.
It’s interesting to observe how people feel about apocalypse. Some people love the passages of sacred scriptures in which the seas turn red and angelic armies swoop down and rain justice and destruction on the wicked. It’s the same in politics and relationships...people who rage that the world is going to shit, everybody else is an idiot, the country’s doomed, our enemies are inhuman monsters? I find that those are the people who are least in touch with—and accepting of—their own pain and brokenness.
And that's the Guilty Remnant. Their website invites,
Are you feeling lost? Alone? Depressed? Alienated from loved ones, disconnected from your own body? Do you know, deep in your heart, that you've been judged and found wanting? … we know exactly how you feel, and we want to help.
The GR promises to take its members’ pain away. (Ironically, that’s what Holy Wayne, Tommy Garvey and Jarden have also promised.) Pain from your guilt, your fear, your confusion about the Sudden Departure itself, or perhaps about your mother’s sudden departure in a restaurant the day before. But it’s not healing from within; it’s healing by projecting pain outward.
I thought of the moment in Season 1 when Meg follows Laurie, carrying an axe, into the woods. Meg says she’s afraid Laurie will kill her, but instead, Laurie orders Meg to do the impossible: Take the axe and cut down the tree. Liv Tyler observed, about that scene,
It's that breaking point, almost like fight or flight, when a primal part of your spirit comes out. She's put to the test and something snaps in her. She discovers her own power and her own rage and she lets it out.
Before, Meg felt powerless—she had to snort cocaine just to make it through a lunch with her controlling mother. She went to psychics—even to Jarden itself—to find her mother’s last, unspoken message and assuage her guilt. But then she stopped. And joined the GR. And she quit trying to heal by finding balance or wholeness. And after a year of staring people down, she’s ready to project her self-hatred more...assertively. Meg wants to put her cigarette out in someone’s eye. Or blow up a bridge, or an Airstream trailer. Or reveal some missing teenage girls. No more baby carrots. No more smiling through tears.
I was reminded of John the Baptizer in the Gospel of Luke:
You sons of snakes!” he warned. “Who said that you could escape the coming wrath of God? Before being baptized, prove that you have turned from sin by doing worthy deeds. Don’t try to get by as you are, thinking, ‘We are safe’… Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised to chop down every unproductive tree. They will be chopped and burned!
Meg is the angry prophet. Meg is abduction and rape. Meg is gasoline and a lighter, Meg is a hand grenade, Meg is the axe.