Crazy Whitefella Thinking




Air dateApril 30, 2017

Running time58 mins

Production code

Written byDamon Lindelof & Tom Spezialy

Directed byMimi Leder

Images (0)

"Crazy Whitefella Thinking" is the third episode of Season 3, and overall the 23rd produced hour of The Leftovers. It originally aired on April 30, 2017.


With the clock ticking towards the anniversary of the Departure and emboldened by a vision that is either divine prophecy or utter insanity, Kevin Garvey, Sr. (Scott Glenn) wanders the Australian Outback in an effort to save the world from apocalypse.

Analysis Edit

Recurring Themes Edit

  • Animals: Kevin Sr. claims the bush snake is his totem. He later in desperation tries to kill a bush snake for food, and it bites him. It is revealed that animals besides humans vanished in the Departure, and Kevin Sr. says his destiny was partly dictated by Tony the chicken, the sole Departure survivor of a very small village in the outback. Grace Playford rides a horse. Kevin Sr. awakens in Grace’s house to Grace’s dog Caleb watching him.
  • Memories: The episode opens with Kevin Sr.’s experience of the Departure. Kevin again recalls this moment when recounting to Christopher Sunday how the voices began.
  • The Bible: Kevin Sr. and Matt discuss the Binding of Isaac from Genesis Chapter 22. (Although Matt says that Isaac was 36 when Abraham nearly sacrificed him as if this were widely accepted fact, there are in fact numerous theories placing Isaac’s age anywhere from 2 to 37. Isaac is most frequently portrayed as a boy or very young man in visual depictions. The theory that Isaac was 37 comes from an ancient Jewish Rabbinical tradition which assumes, without textual support, that Isaac’s mother Sarah died when she learned what Abraham intended to do. The calculation is based on the fact that Sarah gives birth to Isaac at age 90 and dies at age 127.[1]) Grace has a page from the Book of Isaiah in the photo album (containing text from the middle of verse 40:14 through verse 41:19). Kevin Sr.’s belief that a flood is coming, as well as the indigenous group in Grace's backyard building a boat, echo the Genesis flood narrative (as well as other earlier flood myths), a recurring theme in the season. One photo in the photo album depicts Grace’s husband Sam reading a “Noah’s Ark” picture book to two of the girls, again referencing the Genesis narrative.
  • National Geographic: Kevin Sr. hides the money Matt gave him in the magazine, at the page with the map of Cairo. Christopher Sunday appears to have several issues of National Geographic on his coffee table.

Cultural References Edit

  • Damon Lindelof has called the 1977 Peter Weir film The Last Wave “a big inspiration for and potentially an actual prequel of season three of The Leftovers,” noting that David Gulpilil plays characters named Chris in both works (implying that his Sydney-dwelling Aboriginal character in The Last Wave, Chris Lee, might have matured into Christopher Sunday).[2] Notably, Weir’s film is in part about increasingly aberrant weather in Australia, and a man named David Burton who has apocalyptic visions of a flood that will end the world. (Note that, while the show’s David Burton was almost certainly named in tribute to the Weir film, they are clearly not the same character.)
  • Lindelof and Scott Glenn have also mentioned Bruce Chatwin’s 1987 book The Songlines as a major influence on this episode. 
  • Songlines in Aboriginal culture trace the paths of the “creator-beings” who gave shape to the formless land, and also serve as geographical descriptors of key landmarks and holy sites, permitting the singer to navigate the land. They are also heavily encoded with knowledge of local flora and fauna, passing key survival information down across the generations. Kevin Sr. seems to be only interested in the rituals that are performed at holy sites along the Songline.
  • According to Kevin Sr.’s map, the tribe whose song he steals at the beginning of the episode is the Bandjigali. Kevin Sr. recognizes Sharon’s snake art as Papunya. Kevin Sr. claims to be an initiated Yanmedjaran.
  • In the second excerpt from the “Niagara ‘81” tape heard in the episode, Kevin Sr. and Jr. discuss Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s character from the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver, as well as John Hinckley Jr.’s real life attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan on 3/30/1981. Hinckley was partially inspired by Bickle’s assassination attempt against presidential hopeful Senator Palantine in Scorsese’s film. (Note the similarity between Travis Bickle’s plot in the film and the portion of “International Assassin” when Kevin Jr. likewise attempts to assassinate Senator Patti Levin while she is running for President. It seems that the film’s story continued to have a psychological impact on Kevin Jr. into adulthood.)
  • Kevin Sr. alludes to the Stolen Generations, a period in Australian history from roughly 1905 to 1967, when various Australian federal and state agencies enacted broad legislation permitting the government to remove “half-caste” (mixed-race) children from their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, in order to attempt to integrate them into “white society.” The purported rationales included the hypothesis that Aboriginal peoples were dying out due to the reduction in their population after contact with whites, and the imperialist argument that the living circumstances in the indigenous culture were tantamount to “neglect” from which the children needed to be saved. As Sharon says in the episode, the Australian government did issue a formal apology for this treatment in 2008.
  • Kevin Sr. was planning to see an opera by Giuseppe Verdi at the Sydney Opera house. He does not specify which one, but music from Verdi’s La traviata plays on the soundtrack at this point.
  • The scene of the man self-immolating is an homage to a very similar scene in Nicolas Roeg's 1971 film Walkabout, even using the same type of car. Lindelof wanted to even use the same song as the film, Rod Stewart's "Gasoline Alley," but the rights were too expensive.[3]
  • Grace references the Australian department store chain Big W, and the cereal brand Weet-Bix.

Trivia Edit

  • This episode is the final appearance of Mary (although chronologically, her scenes in "The Book of Kevin" take place later than this episode).
  • Scott Glenn has called the script for this episode possibly the best script he has ever been given, and “one of the greatest gifts of [his] life.” He has also said it was one of three times in his career that a script “played” him, and he felt that all he had to do as an actor was stay out of the way, the other two instances being the film Urban Cowboy and the play Killer Joe (the latter was coincidentally written by Carrie Coon’s husband Tracy Letts). Before receiving the script, Glenn asked Lindelof how he could prepare, and Lindelof told him to read Bruce Chatwin’s 1987 book The Songlines, research the indigenous peoples of Australia, and buy a didgeridoo and learn to play it. Glenn has also credited Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot the Dog!, a book on operant conditioning which he happened to be reading at the time, as being very influential on his discovery of new ways to prepare himself for scenes. Upon arriving in Australia, Glenn trained with indigenous people, learning their songs and dances.[4][5]
  • The opening flashback scene, doubling for Mapleton, was shot at Fitzroy Town Hall in Melbourne.[6]
  • Before shooting the scene where Kevin Sr. performs the indigenous dance, the entire set, including the crew, had to go through a cleansing ceremony with chanting and smoke. Scott Glenn says that when director Mimi Leder asked him what she could do to help him film the scene where he would be mostly naked and dancing, he jokingly requested a bottle of Don Julio ‘42, which Leder duly obtained.[4][5]
  • The pages of Matt’s book Kevin Sr. looks through synopsize the events of “Cairo” and “The Prodigal Son Returns,” from Kevin awakening in Cairo and finding “Patricia” in the cabin, through his meeting with Holy Wayne in the restroom stall.
  • Kevin Sr. claims to be from the Episcopal counsel when Mary answers the phone, but Matt is Baptist.
  • Damon Lindelof has said that, since 2% of the world’s population disappeared in the Departure, he is comfortable with 2% of the world of the show being supernatural (and has said he knows what that 2% is in his own interpretation, while acknowledging that Tom Perrotta and other writers might feel differently). Despite that approach, the show has generally also striven to always leave open a real-world interpretation of each seemingly supernatural event, letting each audience member decide what if any events are supernatural/magical/religious outside of the Departure itself. This episode seems to contain the one instance of an impossible to contradict supernatural event: Kevin Sr. inadvertently reveals that Kevin Jr.’s vision of Sr. in “International Assassin” reflected very specific details that Jr. had no way of knowing about (the name of the drug, the hotel room in Perth, the burning mattress and war paint). Lindelof has stated that he believes Kevin Sr. had accessed the dreamtime in that moment, with Kevin Jr. either also being in the dreamtime, or merely receiving “transmissions” from it. However, Lindelof seems to treat the dreamtime as something neither supernatural nor psychological, noting that the Aboriginals consider it a “tangible place.”[2]
  • This is the first time it has been revealed that animals besides humans also departed (something which the book never specifies). This is also the first time it is stated that departed persons took objects they were holding with them (Grace claims that a box of Weet-Bix vanished with the register girl), which is again a detail not present in the book.
  • Kevin Sr.’s left arm tattoo says, “173rd DFA.” This refers to Kevin Sr.’s service in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the Airborne slogan, “Death from Above.”[7]
  • The producers had hoped to build Grace's ranch at Hanging Rock, the location most famous for the disappearance of several girls in the novel Picnic at Hanging Rock and Peter Weir's 1975 film adaptation, which was a major influence on season 2 of The Leftovers. The cost ended up being prohibitive, and the house was instead built in You Yangs Regional Park. The house was completely removed after production ended, per the park's rules.[3]

Book to Show Edit

  • In the book, Kevin (Kevin Jr. on the show)’s mother is deceased, but her fate is never directly elaborated upon. The book merely says that both of Kevin’s parents are “gone,” and that he inherited the family business about 16 years before the start of the book, presumably placing both his parents’ deaths before that.
  • Matt is the only character from the book to appear in this episode (besides the audio recordings of young Kevin). This is the episode with the smallest number of characters from the book.

Music Edit

  • "Personal Jesus" by Richard Cheese (main title)
  • Unknown indigenous tribal dance chant (sung by indigenous group; also sung by Scott Glenn as Kevin Sr.; the group version repeats over the end credits)
  • "King Bundawaal" by Slim Dusty (plays in the police station when Kevin Sr. is in custody)
  • Sanctus, D. 872, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by the Choir of Trinity College & Cambridge (Kevin Sr. reads Matt's book; Kevin Sr. tells Christopher Sunday he needs his song) (this piece was previously used in "Orange Sticker," "No Room at the Inn," and "I Live Here Now" as a recurring motif for Matt's faith that Mary would wake up; and in "The Book of Kevin" in two scenes symbolizing Matt's faith in Kevin Jr.)
  • "Blue Bonnet Blues" by Shirley Thoms (plays at the Cultural Center)
  • La traviata, Act III: Prelude, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Ondrej Lenárd & Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Kevin Sr. says he was going to see Verdi; continues as he tells his story)
  • "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" performed by Scott Glenn as Kevin Sr. (on the tape that Tony pecked)
  • "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit (plays over Kevin Sr. walking the wilderness on crutches)
  • "Rocking" by Australian Children's Choir (Kevin Sr. finds Grace's cross)
  • Lucia di Lammermoor Act I, Scene 2 ("Regnava nel silenzio"), composed by Gaetano Donizetti, performed by Elizabeth Hainen (Kevin Sr. looks at the photo album, wakes up to find Grace and friends have murdered Chief Kevin) (this same recording played over the ending sequence of "Don't Be Ridiculous" of Grace and friends capturing Chief Kevin, leading up to the same moment it does in this episode)

Goofs Edit

  • The contents of the page Kevin Sr. rips out of Matt’s book are seen in closeup both when he rips the page out to wrap his money, and when Grace later places it on her table. There is a goof in that the contents of the page come from different parts of the narrative in the two different scenes, as well as the fact that in both instances, the page relates events from “Cairo” and “The Prodigal Son Returns,” not to Kevin jumping into the spring in Jarden or passing into the land of the dead as Grace describes.
  • Grace says she was in town at the Big W when the Departure occurred on 10/15. This seems inconsistent with the 2:23pm NY time seen in “The Garveys at Their Best,” which would place the time in Silverton and Broken Hill, Australia (where this material was shot, and which seems to roughly correspond to the fictional location of Kurripa and the surrounding areas) at around 3:53am. The Big W is a department store chain which keeps regular business hours, and would not be open in the early morning.

References Edit

  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. 5.0 5.1
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