What Was the Deal with the May 1972 National Geographic Magazine in 'The Leftovers'?

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What Was the Deal with the National Geographic Magazine and the Aborted Biblical Quote in 'The Leftovers'?

By Dustin Rowles | The Leftovers | August 10, 2014 | Comments ()

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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.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Elbio

    I'm far behind all of you at the moment since I just watched this episode, but the spider living under the water to me implies a hidden threat that most cannot see. The Departed are the bubbles that have been trapped so that it can "breathe" - No idea what the Cairo connection is. The dogs pick up on this threat and want to destroy it, while the threat itself has servants among the people who want to eliminate the dogs that give them away.

    All just theories of mine and I'll be wrapping up S01 soon, but I'm loving the show. Thanks for the article!

  • Earl Lee

    The Minoan religion was devoted to the use of hallucinogens, cannibalism and human sacrifice.


  • Tank_ED

    National geo volume 141 No. 5 Looked up psalm 141:5
    Let a righteous man strike me--that is a kindness; let him rebuke me--that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

    Also. The judge on the flyers in the peanut butter jar is the dog killer.

  • NuMetalGod

    Hey Guys,

    It's really fun to be interpreting all of this. Here's some bible stuff and philosophy mumbo-jumbo that can maybe give someone a clue to something.

    The rapture is supposed to take place with the sound of a trumpet, and in the “twinkling of an eye.” This idea is based on two passages, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:50-58.

    13. But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

    This is the whole premise of The Leftovers - people who have lost hope and have "fallen asleep" by the words of Kevin Sr. There's definitely a major deficit in hope in religion, family values, traditions after the Departure.

    14. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God, which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,

    The overtaking of the church by the GR and obviously Wayne, who's kind of a false shepherd. The funny thing is that there really isn't a "good guy", even the reverend became furious when they stole the casino money and he essentially committed sin by feeling and acting violently, so there's definitely a battle between Good and Evil happening on a larger scale. The only ones who are trying to make a sense out of the whole situation and are starting to see through the game are the Garveys.

    I really like the fact that this is a messiah story, but the messiah role has been distributed among everyone in the Garvey family. Both Kevin Jr. and Tommy receive the left hand injuries at the same time, stigmata anyone? They both denounced the people who gave them some sense of false purpose - for Jr. it was Dean, asking him to shoot down the dogs, one of which Jr. saved and consequently got bitten for (most probably by Dean) and for Tommy was breaking the phone and cutting his relationship with Wayne, leaving him caring for Wayne's child and a wannabe Mary Magdalene. Basically, shit is just starting to go down.

    16. forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

    Forbidding to speak sounds a lot like GR territory. The main objective of the guilty remnant is to refuse people the chance to be "saved" and preventing them from embracing their own mortality. They smoke to pronounce their faith, because only meaning is mortal, yet chaos is eternal and cannot be taken away from us.

    They strive to isolate people by cutting their roots with their past lives (see what they did there by cutting the tree) and forcing a solipsistic point of view on the members. The GR are fighting for the Heideggerian concept of "nothing", which is not constituted by the absence of the desired object, but by the absence of desire itself. The plan with recreating the bodies of the departed makes sense, because it will force a huge part of people to become more susceptible to conditioning. The stage of the GR cult is "viral" at the moment and their aim is to recruit, recruit, recruit until they reach critical mass and are able to establish a United States of Nothing, which will not be much fun for anyone.

    Much of this doesn't make sense, but it's late, so I'm posting.


  • Elbio

    I enjoyed this very much, thank you.

  • GR Roberts

    Yes--my initials are really GR. No--I am neither guilty nor a remnant.

  • mzbitca

    The one thing I keep reminding myself of is that the first two episodes set up all these "mysterious" situations only to have it turn out the boring simple answer was the right one. Is their something fucked up going on, or, do people really need something else to be going on to help the mystery of the rapture sit right with them.

    Almost every mysterious thing in this article can be easily explained. Kevin doesn't remember, because he's on a cocktail of meds, he had a run-in with the gun guy (dean? not sure) and maybe was feeling guilty about killing dogs so he tried to save them. His dad is nuts and hearing voices, Matt's a pastor so of course he throws out bible verses and Wayne is just your run of the mill manipulative asshole.

  • Elbio

    I would disagree with you strongly and go into full on web-argument-mode with you, but....well, Lost. :-/

  • GR Roberts

    The "someone" coming to help him are the people he already told he did not want help from ie the gr assasins.

  • CJR

    Has anyone considered that the "spiders underwater" references are the actual red herring? We have seen that there are quite a few people having "vision"-type experiences...Or outright messages. Not all of these messages should be trusted to be properly interpreted (or communicated) by fallible beings. If that's the case, then it's possible that Christine DID "see" the cover, but missed the important piece. It is more likely a reference to the article regarding the Minoans and their "mystery", which might be, quite plausibly, about the as-yet-undeciphered! historical Phaistos Disc, widely believed to be a religious text.

    Assuming elder Garvey was being entirely earnest about "everything in here is true", then it stands to reason that what he MEANS is that the photos of the Phaistos Disc, in this issue, contain valuable information.

    Just a thought.

  • HVH

    The latest preview showed a note from the guilty remnant saying "so they remember" now the episode before Nora Derst met that guy at the convention that created lifelike dummies of the dead that could be created from photos. Now does anyone else but me think that the guilty remnant are stealing people's photos to have replicas of the dead made so that the leftovers will see their loved ones and remember what happened?

  • Elbio

    Wow, great insight. How could they even afford that though!

  • HVH

    I knew it! Now we have to wait till season 2.

  • Miss Kate

    My stomach just turned thinking about that.

  • willrob2

    Cairo is the title of next week's episode, directed by Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead). Expect some sword fighting zombie meth-heads.

  • kim

    I think Holy Wayne impregnated all those women in the hopes of having a son. He set up the same system of care for both women and told them the same "bridge" line about bringing forth the child. The pregnant woman who shot Tom was obviously upset because she thought she was the only one. Christine ended up having a daughter... Lindelof and his daddy issues... love it!

  • Kyle

    Was it me or did the dog tied up get extra-wild as soon as Kevin picked up the fed-ex'd copy his daughter bought. Some weird sound cut accompanied.

  • hec29

    I read every single comment it seems no one notice one very crazy looking thing the bear what would make it stand up like that like he is getting ready for a fight he is clearly looking at the vehicle in front of him but what is that imagine in the car he is looking at its very weird

  • 00Jack00

    There is definitely something going on with the animals in the story. The bear on the cover can't be ignored as a possible connection. I interpreted its stance differently: It has its back turned to the humans and it's upright, in a human-like posture. Couple that with the recurring wild animal theme in the story -- the deer getting into houses and the quote "They're not our dogs, anymore." Something is up with the natural world turning on humanity.

  • Elbio

    Interesting. I'm starting to think the unseen threat is somehow in some of these animals. Breaking into his kitchen in an attempt to invade the family. The buck following Kevin Jr. where he was then saved by the dogs killing it. The dogs are protectors, in my opinion, and the truly threatening people are trying to make them out to be evil. After all, one approached Kevin Jr. in E01 and that a-hole shot it. Never trust anyone who kills man's best friend!

  • UsedToBeGOP

    So it looks like every article in that National Geo issue was hinted at in this show except the Yellowstone birthday. No one mentions a birthday, does she/he?

  • UsedToBeGOP

    And the Japanese girl's baby is born under water in the bathtub.

  • Supervillain Corey

    None of this was in the book.

  • Elbio

    Thank God, or the book readers would be spoiling the show in the comments section. See: Game of Thrones

  • Mark William Paulos

    Yellowstone is a "super volcano."

  • Jorge Castro

    There's a connection between Kevin Garney Jr and his step-son Tommy. He got bit in the left hand supposedly by the dog, Tommy was shot in the left hand as well in the confrontation at the motel room. Kevin Garney Jr saw a mailbox in his dream and that a dog was in it and Tommy delivered the $ that Wayne told him to deliver and put it underneath the mailbox. I just don't understand why is there a connection. I imagine Kevin Garney Sr has a connection with Jill, since he suddenly appeared at the place where Jill was inside the refrigerator.

  • I was reading all this and thinking something like "god damn, why i can't see/connect/remember these things", and then boom, i remember the thrird connection between Kevin and Tommy in this episode, it's broken phones!

  • janetfaust

    I have the urge to get into analyzing the clues, but every time I find myself piecing things together I remember Lost and the crushing disappointment of that ending. So I just sigh and decide to enjoy The Leftovers as it comes, without spending a lot of time looking for some overarching meaning.

  • occono

    I'm pretty sure the magazine is designed to tease people.

  • janetfaust

    I tend to agree. While watching the Kevins interact in the diner, I kept having to remind myself that older Kevin is crazy, what he is saying doesn't have any real meaning. Just like the Mayor told Kevin, Jr. about Kevin, Sr., "he wouldn't stop talking" or something like that, and that is why she didn't want to be around him. She couldn't handle him continuing to say these insane things as if he were sane. I don't know, I just read comments about the book and how there is never an explanation of the FauxRapture, so I'm trying to keep my expectations in check for explanations and meanings. I still really enjoy the show and the interactions between characters.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I loooooooooove this stuff. Well done sir.

  • Matt Knoff

    Aren't the two pregnant girls japanese also?

  • This is a fascinating breakdown. Well done.

  • Guest

    Cairo is the name of the next episode...

  • Justin Case

    Hmm, there is a supervolcano beneath Yellowstone. Does Kevin Jr have to accept the whole issue? or just parts?

  • gunsandrockets

    On rewatch I was paying attention to the dream(?) that Kevin Jr. had and the seeming memory blank afterwards.

    1) Why the mailbox with the mad dog inside? Is that somehow connected to the mailbox dead-drop used later in the episode? Or is a mad-dog in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox symbolic of the cult-killing ATFEC?

    2)What about the pile of dead GR in the back of Dean's truck? Premonition of an attack on GR? GR mass suicide?

    3)Why does Kevin Jr. have no memory of that night?

    4)How did Kevin Jr. get bit on the hand? At first one might think that the vicious dog tied up in the back yard bit him, but those bite marks on his hand clearly represent human dentition. So who bit Kevin Jr.?

    5)Why does Aimee know so much about the nights events? Innocent? I'm beginning to wonder if Aimee might be much more than she appears to be.

    In the recap before the start of the episode Kevin Sr. says to Kevin Jr. something like that 'help' was going to arrive soon. I've always assumed it was mysterious dog killer Dean. But what if it is really Aimee?

    Aimee has seemed awfully helpful, and even a calming influence on Kevin's family. She even appears as a helper in some of Kevin's freaky dreams. She always seems to be around at critical points, like telling Kevin Jr. to feed the dog so that Kevin finds the jar of money which leads him to Kevin Sr.

    And has anyone ever seen Aimee's parents? What is Aimee's last name? Apparently just like Dean, Aimee doesn't even have a last name listed yet, according to IMDB. Very mysterious.

  • Rusty Elbows
    Aimee has seemed awfully helpful, and even a calming influence on Kevin's family.

    Great theories!

    I don't know about Aimee though.

    Kevin's father said they're 'sending' someone to help him. That would imply that this would be someone that wasn't already there and Aimee has been friends with his daughter for a while now correct? She'd have had to have already been sent a while before he was told that message.

    NORA however is a new and romantic element to his life. She could possibly be the person his father was talking about but I don't know. I guess we'll see. Maybe the person hasn't even shown up yet.

  • gunsandrockets

    "... Kevin's father said they're 'sending' someone to help him. That would imply that this would be someone that wasn't already there and Aimee has been friends with his daughter for a while now correct?"

    Good question. I don't know. I'll have to carefully check the actual sequence of events to see. At least I'm fairly sure Aimee didn't move in until after the 'help' message.

  • Elbio

    I know you're ahead of me by now, but I like your Aimee theories. Regardless if she is the "help" or not, she's more than just a horny teen. She really is a stabilizing force for the family, whether she's part of the whole "thing" or not. GREAT analysis, man! You really are all over this show.

  • Kyle

    is "sending" someone similar to Holy Wayne's baby making? Christine was crushed when she had a daughter and the other 'one' went cray even hearing about another possible Wayne babe.

  • 0_Andrew_0

    Damn you are all over this show. Respect. I remember seeing an oval shaped bite mark on his hand...but did not distinguish it as human. I am not suspicious of Aimee as you are. She's horny for the sheriff, and she likes living there. That seems like extent of her motivation. If the dog was incessantly barking and needed to be fed I wouldn't construe that as her leading him to the money. Damn maybe you are not all over this show. :P I feel like the biggest point has been overlooked by reviewer and commenters alike. The sheriff told a funny joke in the car before having sex with that woman. The first real moment of levity in the entire series!

  • gunsandrockets

    What high praise! That was a nice pay off. Thank you. I'm happy to share.

  • faerie

    I was doing some research on the May 1972 issue when I came across another National Geographic Young Explorer book issued on May 1972 called "Dogs working for people". I couldn't help but think of the irony between the book and tonight's episode.

  • Elbio

    Nice! I wager this will be one of the most important references

  • Guest

    Very good analysis although I don't believe that Wayne is the one talking to Kevin Sr since he says "they" which at this point I think refers to the departed that's why there's a connection with Christine because the baby she's carrying is the bridge and Kevin Jr also has some ability to communicate with them that's why they won't let him off that easy of course this is all speculation and it probably turn out to be completely wrong.

  • Elbio

    I'm sure you breathed during that, but I think what Tecuya means to say is that you should learn to use punctuation. "Let's eat grandma!" vs "Let's eat, grandma!" -Punctuation saves lives

  • Tecuya

    Jesus, take a breath.

  • Aggregate Data
  • Paper

    Interesting insights. Kevin's father told him that he had to "accept" the message. Here is a sample of what I found from doing a google search of Cairo 1972:

    "Article 1: Unity will be established between the two states of the Yemen Arab Republic and the Popular Democratic Republic of Yemen in which the international personality of both of them will be merged in one international personality and the existence of a unified Yemeni state.

    Article 2: The new state shall have:

    one flag and one emblem;

    one capital;

    one leadership;

    single legislative, executive and judiciary authorities."

  • Tim Bart

    There is a small town in New York with the name Minoa.. Coincidence?

  • disqus_XKbdJIw8yC

    Also, what's the deal with the shadow painted on the wall behind the Garvey's son just before he smashes Wayne's cell phone. Seems too perfectly placed to be a coincidence. Some reference to Hiroshima? It's seems to be pointing to a standpipe. Water reference? -JWE

  • Rusty Elbows

    Take a look at the outline of the bear, and the outline of the shadow. It's the Black bear's silhouette from the cover.

  • Jim Wells

    Christine said something about the spiders under the water

  • pajiba

    Holy shit, you bloody brilliant bastard. You're absolutely right. Noted and modified. Thanks!

  • Pope Sixtus VI

    Couldn't Jill's fridge-time also be an example of the water spider?

  • ini5o

    Probably not as important, but a woman says "Cairo" over Garvey Jr.'s walkie at the start of his dream.

  • Pope Sixtus VI

    The next episode is also called "Cairo"

  • If they find all the missing people in a Japanese village, then Lindelof is getting lynched.

  • JenVegas

    Maybe they all got eaten by the thing that might be the devil from Dean Koontz' Phantoms.

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