“Crazy Whitefella Thinking” is about commitment. Kevin Garvey, Sr. battles through police, a snake bite, dehydration, and several bouts of unconsciousness to continue his self-imposed mission. Viewers set aside the questions swirling around from Episode 2 and went on the journey with him.
In this desert-centric episode, Jeff Labrecque from Entertainment Weekly dissects the hour’s motifs about water starting with young Kevin Junior’s tape recording about ducks: “Ducks diving to the bottom of a pond for 10 minutes is natural; 140 million people disappearing is not. But it’s an interesting idea, introducing this episode with that particular recording: Are the Departed just ‘underwater’ in some other dimension due to some scientific anomaly, waiting to pop up for air at some moment in the future?”
Labrecque’s focus on water and Senior’s concerns about a flood continues with throwbacks to moments from Season 1: “One of the stories in the 1972 National Geographic was titled ‘The Spider That Lives Underwater,’ describing a vicious critter that lives almost its entire life underwater. Also, when pregnant Christine woke from a fever in Season 1, her first words to Tom were, ‘Spiders underwater.’”
Beyond water, there is significance in fire. The man who sets himself ablaze was on everyone’s minds after Sunday’s episode. IndieWire’s Ben Travers wonders about the “would you kill a baby?” question the man had seemingly failed to answer correctly: “So… what’s up? How did that factor into his decision to kill himself? Who asked him that question? God? A false prophet, like Holy Wayne? Someone with the power to take action and cure cancer? Again, I have no idea, but it’s worth thinking about.”
The New York Times’ Noel Murray connects the man with the group Nora has come to Australia searching for, “But if Nora is correct about this bunch, the results of the man’s trip ended up the same anyway: He was incinerated.”
Comments were also made about the overall purpose of Senior’s songline trek. Murray remarks that, “As the episode’s title implies, ‘Crazy Whitefella Thinking’ is in part about the arrogance of an outsider who embraces his messianic delusions at the expense of other people’s feelings and property.” Fans also responded to the story of “Tony the chicken” and Senior’s assumption he was the one who could fix it all.
Senior meandered and stumbled his way to Grace (played by Lindsay Duncan) who packed a powerful punch with her monologue at the end of the episode. Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall remarked that Grace’s story, like Senior’s, is “full of devastatingly mistaken assumptions.” In his recap Travers says, “I dare not recount the specifics of her story, for fear I’ll break down yet again into a sobbing mess, but a combination of performance and writing in one pivotal scene gave Grace complexity, motive, and tremendous heart.”
What was the significance of the burning man? Will we ever meet Tony the chicken? Will Grace find “the right Kevin”? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.
Watch new episodes of The Leftovers Sunday nights at 9 pm on HBO.
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