You have to be careful with a show like The Leftovers. You can’t hunt for answers like you can with, say, Westworld or Better Call Saul, where screencaps and a sharp memory can tip you off to the future, or provide an explanation to some confusing event you just saw. Sometimes things on The Leftovers just happen, because sometimes things just happen in life, and The Leftovers, at its heart, is a show about life and the human condition more than it is some sort of puzzle to be solved. Banging your head against a wall about the Whys and What Ifs and various hypotheticals opened up by events on the show won’t get you very far, at all. It’s best to, shall we say, let the mystery be.
I know that. I do. And yet, here I am, almost a week after the terrific second episode of season three premiered, banging my head against a wall. I must know. I can’t help it.
I must know if the Wu-Tang Clan survived the Departure intact.
This isn’t me being a crazy person. Not completely, at least. The show dragged me into it. For those of you who don’t watch and don’t mind spoilers, here’s a quick rundown: A character on the show, Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), lost all three members of her family in the Departure that took two percent of the world’s population. This statistical anomaly left her understandably pretty messed up. So much so that getting the names of her missing children tattooed on her arm upset her to the point that she had it covered up with the first thing she saw: the Wu-Tang logo. She showed it to a friend, they laughed and cried, then they jumped on a trampoline. It was great.
But here’s the thing: By introducing this tattoo, the show has now confirmed that the Wu-Tang Clan exists in the Leftovers universe. I mean, it’s not that we had any reason to assume otherwise. The show has referenced real world pop culture a number of times. In the very first episode, we found out that celebrities like Shaq and Jennifer Lopez departed. Gary Busey, too, which we were reminded of again this season because some bros built him a monument. Hell, a huge chunk of this very episode was about the majority of the Perfect Strangers cast vanishing. The Wu-Tang Clan has probably always existed on The Leftovers. But now it’s officially a thing, verified by a permanent mark on Nora’s arm, and now I officially need to know if they are okay.
(Another important development from all this that I do not want to gloss over: Nora Durst has a Wu-Tang tattoo on her forearm now. This means that every time we see her from this point on, she will have that tattoo. Short sleeve shirt? Visible. Long sleeve shirt or sweater? Still there, under the fabric. Love scene? Flailing about in a display of passion. It’s kind of wonderful, to be honest, and it makes me very sad that the show is ending after this season. It would have been fun to see her in season seven, like, stacking wood or something, Wu-Tang tattoo all hanging out, people nearby staring at it like “Does… does that lady have a Wu-Tang tattoo?” A real conversation starter, I imagine.)
I just have so many questions about it all. Did the Wu-Tang Clan survive the Departure intact? If not, who was taken? Was more than one of them taken? It’s not probable, mathematically, since there are nine members of the group living in the real world (counting Cappadonna, which, sure) and only one out of 50 people vanished on the show. Stranger things have happened, though. Again, the entire cast of Perfect Strangers was taken, save Mark Linn-Baker. The odds of two members of Wu-Tang vanishing are higher than that, at least. Good Lord. I was still trying to wrap my head around a world where one member departed and now I’ve convinced myself two did. And what if it was three?
But more importantly, in this dumb hypothetical I just created against my own sound advice, how are the other members handling it? Let’s say one member vanished. Let’s say… let’s say it was Raekwon. How is the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan coping with the fact that Raekwon disappeared into thin air one day? I sincerely hope that one of the last few episodes addresses this. A full hour with the Wu-Tang Clan, like how other characters have gotten single perspective episodes. What if Ghostface became so upset that he joined the Guilty Remnant?
It’s a fair question.