Losing his religion
Losing his religion Ben King/HBO


“It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt Matt World” focuses on the episode’s namesake, Matt. Played by Christopher Eccleston, the preacher is alternately infuriating and charming, admirable in his commitment and conviction. He’s a kind, if delusional, person.

Matt gets wind that Kevin is in Australia and needs to bring Jesus 2.0 back to Miracle before the big day. Big problem: flights are all grounded.

An exquisitely shot and choreographed cold open tells us what caused the explosion that grounded all flights in Australia—it turns out it’s a beautiful soldier in a submarine, who performs a sort of naked ballet to set off the bomb in an elaborate suicide mission. The entire scene is set to “Je ne Peux Pas Rentrer Chez Moi” by Charles Aznavour. (Roughly, “I Can Not Return to My Home.” I think? I’m just learning French.) It’s gorgeous filmmaking, the kind of thing that delineates the show as art rather than merely good television.

Matt has convinced a man to fly them on a private plane to Melbourne (he’s military and they are an exception to the flights that are grounded rule) for 20G. Matt gets irate, though, when he sees that his nonbelieving sister Laurie is joining John and his son on the flight; after all, there weren’t bitches in the Disciples.

Turns out they can’t land in Melbourne, they have to fly to Tasmania, where they have to take an 11-hour ferry to the other side. The first ferry out is booked by some sort of sex party with an animal theme that Dan Savage would probably approve of (there’s an actual lion in a cage being taken on board). Matt doesn’t give a fuck about the sex, but is obsessed with tracking the flight and timing situation. I mean, if Baby Jesus doesn’t get back to Miracle in time, can there still be a miracle that will save the world? Will they all perish without Miracle’s healing powers?

“We’re not in control of this thing,” says the newly chill John.

The central character of the entire episode isn’t Matt, but a scruffy man in a red hat, a celebrity Down Under who looks a little bit like James Dean Morgan or Robert Downey Jr. (actually the actor Bill Camp) who has told everyone he is God, because he supposedly died and came back to life. Everywhere he goes, he gets whatever he wants, he seems above the law. Matt, hearing that the man is calling himself God accosts him. He pulls a Steve Martin and hands him a card that says, “YES, I AM GOD.”

Matt is not amused. Later, when he sees the man involved in a fight, he can’t believe his eyes when he sees the man throw another person overboard. At this point in the Leftovers, normal events seem insane, and the impossible ones seem rational. A wild sex cult built around a worshipping a lion only adds to the surrealism. And that’s the most normal thing happening during this episode.

At the end, Matt gets a chance to confront “God”—or maybe it is really Him? Matt knocks the man out and ties him to a wheelchair. During the inquisition, he has an exchange which makes you wonder … maybe the guy is God? It's the Leftovers. Matt is aggravated, outraged that the man claims to be God, but Red Hat God is so assured; he seems to know things. He seems to know that he won’t need to wrestle himself from his shackles because Matt will untie him. He says that Jesus wasn’t his son, that he was a twin, and that Jesus died in a cave, and everyone saw his twin. He takes credit for the Sudden Departure, “just because I could.”

“There has to be a reason,” implores Matt. “I sacrificed my family, for you!!

Matt is no longer speaking to a man who is pretending to be God, but a man he is allowing to stand in for God. And the real/fake God knows this and preys upon Matt: “You’ve never done anything for me. You did it for yourself,” he tells Matt.

Matt, who has been having nosebleeds all season, asks “Is that why you are killing me?” his ice blue eyes, wild and searching for Truth. God nods. He’d been sick as a boy, but prayer had saved him then. “I can save you again,” says the man. “Untie me.”

He does. Matt gets on his knees to do so and the man looks at him and the man opens his hands, palms up, like he’s going to bless Matt. Instead, he just snaps his finger. “Ta-da. You’re saved.”

And then, he walks off, a murderer, free to go. He was right. Matt would untie him.

Matt is saved—free from his obsession, and perhaps from his faith. He tells the captain that he has no pressing business when they arrive (they’ve found a man overboard after all and he needs to go to the police station).

The final scene, is quite literally, a killer. As god disembarks, he realizes that the police are there waiting for him, and he turns back around to run. A partygoer who heard Matt tell people about the murder he saw has decided to take justice in her own hands. She sets the lion free from the cage, and he pounces on the man as he runs away from the crowd, and is killed.

It's a stunning final scene that almost matches last week’s stunning final scene. There are just three more days till the end of the world.