What Was the Deal with the National Geographic Magazine and the Aborted Biblical Quote in 'The Leftovers'?
This week’s episode of The Leftovers was definitely one of those Lindelof mindfucks designed to make us chase our tails a little, but for those of us who enjoy reading way too much into the details, it was a fun thought-provoking episode. I’ll return later this week to explore the many questions raised by this episode (Holy Wayne!) — and some questions from earlier in the season that still haven’t been answered — but for now, I want to focus on two specific references in this week’s installment, “Solace for Tired Feet” (and if you haven’t seen the episode yet, spoilers are forthcoming).
The first reference is the Biblical quote that Reverend Jamison attempted to deliver to Kevin Garvey, Jr., after Kevin Sr. had been returned to the nuthouse, but before Kevin Jr. cut him off and told him to f*ck off. The full quote is as follows: “My son, relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee: for Satan is a clear enemy to humanity.”
That’s actually a quote from the story of Joseph and his dreams, one of the many parallel stories that exist in both the Quran and the Hebrew Bible. For fans of musicals, it’s also the same Joseph from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.. The gist of what Reverend Jamison was trying to tell Kevin was that he should keep his dreams, hallucinations, his prophecies, etc. to himself because they are likely to incite jealousy and/or violence or, as in the case of his father, institutionalization. It’s similar to the warning that Kevin’s own father gave him earlier this season. Does Matt believe that Kevin Sr. has some insights into the Departed, or that Kevin Jr. is some kind of prophet? That’s hard to say, but the nice thing about the warning is that it applies equally either way. Whether you’re crazy or you’re sane, keep your mouth shut lest you end up like your father.
Speaking of Kevin and his father, let’s turn to that National Geographic that Kevin Sr. offered his son and insisted that he accept. “May, 1972. They were very specific,” Kevin Sr. told his son about the magazine that he destroyed a library to find, that he traveled a long way to get, and that his granddaughter, Jill, also ordered on the Internet. “It had to be this one. I need you to take it … you need to accept it.”
Why that particular issue? Here are the major stories from that issue:
— Yellowstone’s Hundredth Birthday
— Cairo, Troubled Capital Of The Arab World
— Living In A Japanese Village
— The Spider That Lives Underwater
— Have Excavations On The Island Of Thera Solved The Riddle Of The Minoans
After some research, I ruled out connections between the first four stories and The Leftovers, but the Minoan riddle is an interesting one (explored in further detail, below). However, after a commenter Jim Wells pointed out that an ill and pregnant Christine mumbled something incoherently while she was sick about a “spider that lives underwater,” the connection became clear (and the Minoan riddle likely moot).
Both Christine and National Geographic were referring to the diving bell spider, which lives its entire life under water and breathes air in bubbles that it traps. This seems to be a reference to Holy Wayne, who basically lives his life underground. How the hell Kevin, Sr. and Christine are connected through a National Geographic, however, is a goddamn mystery, unless the voice speaking to both of them is Wayne.
Moreover, as Syed Ali Haider noted on Twitter and ini5o in the comments below, during Kevin’s dream sequence, someone on the walkie talkie clearly said “Cairo.” So, Kevin is connected to these voices, too. Fascinating! (And, by the way, the title of next week’s episode is “Cairo.”)
Incidentally, if you’re curious about the Minoan riddle, it refers to what happened to the once flourishing Minoan culture on Crete, which completely disappeared around 1450 BC? There was some speculation that a volcano on the island of Thera had spread enough ash onto Crete to wipe out their civilization, but archeologist later ruled that out by determining that the Minoans existed in Crete long after the volcano erupted. Some people assume that they were wiped out by invading forces. Other theories suggest the Minoan civilization had simply exceeded its environmental carrying capacity and died off. Like the Departed in The Leftovers, nobody really knows what exactly happened that caused them all to disappear.
For my full recap of the episode, click here.