The Leftovers recap: 'Gladys'

A stone-cold murder puts Mapleton on edge and everyone is a suspect.
Ep. 05 | Aired Jul 27, 2014

ON THE CASE: Rev. Matt and Chief Garvey search for clues in the town's most recent murder.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

"They weren't going to leave us alone, right? It was only a matter of time." —Meg

The Guilty Remnant cult's passive-aggressive campaign to educate the people of Mapleton to the error of their evil ways finally encountered some real blowback. Silently stalking townsfolk was one thing, but breaking into their houses in the middle of the night and stealing their family photographs may have invited some retribution. Gladys, the bespectacled GR member, was brutally stoned to death, and her murder presented the Garveys—Chief and Laurie—with independent spiritual tests. Each was tempted to abandon the path they've chosen, to relent and take an easier way out.

Gladys and other GR had been targeted before. She herself had been doused with red paint or red slushy by a driver-by, and other GRs had been injured by hooligans throwing rocks from a Jeep, the same gang that had nailed Rev. Matt in the skull. But this was an escalation: While her GR partner used a gas-station restroom, Gladys is kidnapped in the shadows, dragged through the woods, taped to a tree trunk, and violently, mercilessly stoned to death by multiple assailants. The camera captured every blow and blood literally pours from her wounds as she pleads, "Please don't." And then the final death blow smashes her face in. Cripes, HBO.

The crime was so unflinchingly savage—and yet, there's something suspiciously disturbing about the pre-attack meeting between Gladys and Patti. In silence, of course, it was just an exchange of serious stares, punctuated by a single compliant nod from Gladys. What did she agree to? Is it possible that Patti is sacrificing Gladys for the cause, to provoke a more direct confrontation? Should the GRs be suspects in the murder, in addition to Rev. Matt, who's reeling after they took his church? Patti acted shaken by the murder, appealing to Chief for help, but she's demonstrated an aptitude for deception and callousness that makes her capable of just about anything. "How do we even know these people didn't do this to themselves?" says crazy dog-killing Dean, who apparently is not a figment of Chief's imagination after all and is not so crazy about most things.

Chief is taking the murder seriously, though—if only because his wife might now be one of the next potential targets. He's essentially on his own. "Don't investigate too hard," says one indifferent citizen, and his own clumsy officers aren't exactly respecting the crime scene. The town council votes down his curfew proposal, and one of his police subordinates even jumps the gun and makes arrangements to hand the investigation off to a federal agency, ATFEC. Even the GR seem indifferent when he presents them with whistles to wear in case of another attack.

NEXT: Another missing body

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