The Guilty Remnant

A featurette on the enigmatic Guilty Remnant cult from the TV series The Leftovers, set three years after an inexplicable event known as the Sudden Departure caused 2% of the world’s population to vanish into thin air.

I think one key to understanding the series, and the GR in particular, is to sympathize with the characters (and their world) as they attempt to cope in the aftermath of a vast and completely inexplicable trauma. If it had been a war or a natural disaster or something, there would be massive, society-changing grief but no-one’s fundamental sense of how reality works would have been shaken. Terrible events happen, we get that.

But the Sudden Departure violates all known laws of nature. No-one knows where the 2% went, nor why, nor how. They literally just vanished into thin air. All the Leftovers are suffering from a mass existential crisis, trying to come to grips with a new world – a new universe, maybe, who knows? – in which such an event is possible. No-one knows what else might be possible. Maybe another Departure will happen tomorrow. Maybe a host of angels will appear in the sky, ushering in the Apocalypse. Any moment could be your last.

Under these circumstances, of course old religions are reconceived and new ones are born. Superstition and paranoia run rampant and no-one has any idea which ones might actually be correct. The Guilty Remnant don’t offer any answers but they damn sure want people to think about the new questions.

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