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Answers to 10 Burning Questions We Have About The Guilty Remnant from 'The Leftovers'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | July 21, 2014 | Comments ()


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1. Why do the Guilty Remnant wear white?

To set them apart.

2. Why do they travel in same-sex pairs?

To remind themselves that God is watching.

3. Why do they smoke?

To proclaim their faith in God. They are so convinced that they’re going to die soon anyway that they smoke because they do not believe that cigarettes will kill them before they are raptured.

4. Are they Christian?

Not exactly. But they do believe in God. In fact, they believe they are Living Reminders of God’s Awesome Power.

5. What are they guilty of?

Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? It appears that they are guilty of not fully proclaiming their belief in God. They’ve been left behind to remind people of the awesome power of God, and God apparently used that awesome power to disappear 2 percent of the world’s population. The Guilty Remnant apparently believe that, once they proclaim their faith in God, they will be raptured next. They also believe that wearing white, vowing not to speak, and smoking themselves to quick deaths is how to proclaim their faith in God. This seems like a silly, arbitrary way to go about proclaiming one’s faith in a Higher Power, and I have no idea where they obtained their instruction manual. I suspect, however, that many cult-like organizations sprung up in the wake of The Departed in order to take advantage of those vulnerable.

And the truth is, why shouldn’t they feel vulnerable? If 2 percent of the world’s population up and disappeared, I’d want answers, too, and I might well be vulnerable to the arguments of others. The GR philosophy makes just as much or more sense than moving on like nothing happened or wearing targets on your forehead to identify yourself for the next Rapture.

6. Does the GR’s beliefs conflict with Reverend Matt Jamison’s beliefs?

It seems to, doesn’t it? Reverend Jamison, who is Christian, seems to believe that the rapture was random, and that the people that were chosen were not special. In fact, many of them were evil. Reverend Jamison rejects the Guilty Remnant, although it is unclear exactly how he squares his beliefs with the disappearance of all those people.

7. Does the Guilty Remnant exist beyond Mapleton?

Yes. It seems to be a national “grassroots organization,” i.e., “cult.”

8. Why are The Guilty Remnant being assholes?

That’s a really good question. “We won’t let them forget” is one of their callings. Part of not letting others forget is to stand around in white uniforms and smoke in creepy places, like in front of people’s houses, or probably outside their windows while they’re having sex. There, they hope to recruit those who are vulnerable, or who feel burdened by the lack of answers. They probably don’t think they’re being assholes, or if they know they’re being assholes, they probably think they are doing it for the greater good.

9. Are they good people, or bad people?

That’s another good question. I suppose they think they are good people, and they think they are doing God’s work, or at least, work for God. They understand that they were not worthy of God’s love during the first rapture, and they only want to ensure that they are worthy for the second one. However, the means with which they seek to accomplish worthiness seems specious, no?

10. What are Laurie’s real feelings toward the GR and her family?

That’s hard to say, isn’t it, since Laurie doesn’t speak? There are some interesting clues, however. She is fully committed to The Guilty Remnant, but she also has some problems giving up things from the Old World, like feelings for her family, which she still occasionally spies on. She also seems to be using her vow of silence to shield her from divorcing her husband, Kevin, and there’s a part of her that can’t quite let go of her daughter, either, even though she wants others in the GR — like Meg — to believe that she can.

What I guess I don’t understand is this: If Laurie — and every other member of GR — truly believed that this spiritual vow, this commitment to God, was necessary in order to move on to the next life (or depart), wouldn’t they be doing everything in their power to convince their loves ones of that? Wouldn’t Laurie be trying to recruit Kevin and Jill and Tom?

Or is familial love really not part of this new world? Is this new world order a selfish one, in which The Guilty Remnant looks only out for itself? And if so, why recruit at all?

Ultimately, I believe that The Guilty Remnant is well intentioned, although I am beginning to suspect that Patti’s motivations are malicious and designed to give her more power within the organization. She is evil. The organization itself engages in activities that also might be seen as evil under the Old World Order, but the GR no longer lives under that world of illusion.

The GR are convinced they will be taken soon. They’re also attempting to recruit others, so that they can be taken soon, as well. What they do not appear to be doing, however, is recruiting — and trying to save — the ones they should love the most, like their families.

I might also argue that Laurie — who suggested in her letter to Kevin asking for a divorce that she was broken before the Rapture — may even be using the GR as an excuse to run away from her own life, hide from her real-life problems, and avoid the hard work of repairing herself and her family. Smoking and silence seems easier than dealing with life.

These are the reasons that most people end up in cults, actually.







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • lifepanels

    "7. Does the Guilty Remnant exist beyond Mapleton?
    Yes. It seems to be a national “grassroots organization,” i.e., “cult.”

    This one confuses me. I thought it would have had to have been world wide and universal. Or beyond. Perhaps I'm not thinking in Twilight Zone terms, but should be? I mean, is this about a controlled 'Christian only' event, like what happened to the Kool-aid loving Rev. Jim Jones and his flock? Or is this about a universal God?

    I enjoy reading all the different - and similar - perspectives of the show's viewers. Glad I found this site.

  • Maydays

    Do we know for a fact that it's their belief they will be raptured? I thought the smoking and reminders were about their belief that everyone is doomed. "Stop wasting your breath"

  • Kala

    While I appreciate articles (such as this one) that offer a bit of insight into the GR -- especially since their whole schtick confounded me when I read the novel -- it doesn't change the fact that I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.

    "The GR philosophy makes just as much or more sense than moving on like nothing happened or wearing targets on your forehead to identify yourself for the next Rapture."

    This is where I respectfully disagree with you. It's likely an issue of differing philosophies. While I would find this Rapture-like event just as baffling as everyone else, I am a firm believer in getting the hell on with life. I'm especially confused by those who weren't even directly affected by the whole affair. That's where my problem with Laurie comes into play. If you have no obligations on this Earth, than by all means, go join a weirdo cult and eat gruel and smoke your brains out. But when you have a children, sorry, you don't get to decide you're going to quit life. I know it happens in real life sometimes, and it absolutely sucks, but without any understandable (or at least mildly sympathetic) motivation on Laurie's part, I will continue to wish for her to be crushed by a gigantic cartoon anvil.

  • Naye

    I kind of disagree with the whole original post. I thought that they DIDNT believe in God, and they believed in fact that life has no meaning at all, and they want to bring people who are struggling with the lack of meaning behind the disappearances into their fold of meaningless. I think it has nothing to do with God AT all. Which is why they walked away from their families. Their families are free to keep living but they have essentially stopped. I think Dustin missed the mark. But then again I didnt read the books so maybe there is some mention of God in there? Because there is none in the show.

  • e jerry powell

    "it doesn't change the fact that I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns nuns."

    FTFY.

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  • lowercase_ryan

    The stealing (and what feels like the inevitable destruction of) the pictures from the town was a step too far. If the pictures aren't returned then every single one of them deserves to die.

  • Bert_McGurt

    That was some straight-up Grinchery right there.

  • e jerry powell
    Or is familial love really not part of this new world?

    THERE IS NO FAMILY.

  • mzbitca

    I read the book and honestly the show is so far off that it's barely the same story but if you don't want to know about the difference than consider the below SPOILERS.

    In the book they are way less antagonistic. Basically a place that started as a place for people who needed the world to have seriously cchanged after it. They are focused on not letting people forget, but mostly in really passive ways. There is some escalation in how they keep themselves in the news and people on edge but it's was pretty inwardly focused.

    I just am not sure I like how the show has amped up a lot of the responses to the disappearance. It's taken the subtleness out of the book. Maybe it's just me but outside of Matt's episode (which was mostly just focused on his individual struggle with what's happening) I feel like it's really really really plot driven and the book was really character driven.

  • Max

    It's ridiculous how far off from the book this show is.

    They are barely connected at this point.

  • The idea that this show is too driven by plot would make a lot of people laugh. Not saying I disagree with you, but one of the chief complaints I hear from random people is that nothing happens.

  • mzbitca

    Haha probably instead of plot I should have said conflict. Bunch if people bouncing off of each other but almost in a chaotic frenzy that doesn't allow for real understanding or empathy.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I think the Guilty Remnant have a small point in that they seem to demand that people acknowledge what's happened instead of going on like nothing's happened. Something happened. Something larger than any human has every experienced before and there can be no "return" to normal afterwards. Nothing will ever be "normal" again.

    That said, stealing the family photos was a massive dick move and I feel like it was designed specifically to instigate. Particularly taking photos of people who were "taken."

  • I'm not sure what the "survivors" are supposed to do three years after the event. At that point it seems reasonable that those remaining would have readjusted to some semblance of a normal life. It doesn't feel that society is avoiding the problem -- there are parades and statues and national news stories and congressional investigations. Rather, there's simply no good way to deal with, explain, or rationalize the situation, so you put your head down and do your best to move on with your life while preserving as much of the past as you can. We do this all the time with death, romances, personal and professional failures, etc.

    Has that worked? Well, for most of the main characters, no. But the GR isn't proposing an alternative. They just want to see the world burn.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    Why participate in the world in any meaningful way if any moment could be your last? And in a far more mysterious way than death ever was. At least with death there's a body.

    I don't think they're trying to answer any questions. I think they're saying that answers are pointless because what answer could make any of this better? And no one else seems to be doing any better either.

  • Like any deluded cult member, I think the GR believes they're good people blessed with a clarity and understanding the rest of the world lacks. To those outside their bubble and blind to their motives, they're just crazy assholes.

    The GR is an interesting and often clever antagonist (stealing the pictures was liquid nitrogen cold). I almost hope they don't become more sympathetic as we come to learn more about their motives and end goals.

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