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