Crazy Whitefella Thinking
Written by Damon Lindelof & Tom Spezialy
Directed by Mimi Leder
On the day of the Sudden Departure, Kevin Garvey, Sr. looks out on the chaos erupting through Mapleton, New York.
Nearly seven years later, weeks before his son discovered the book about him, Kevin Sr. drives through the Australian outback. He listens to a tape featuring a young boy -- Kevin, Jr. -- “reporting” on the well-being of a family of ducks. Pausing the tape, Senior watches an indigenous tribe engaged in a song and dance ritual. That night, he strips down, paints himself in the same fashion as the tribesmen, and mimics their ritual by himself. Two officers arrive.
At the station, the officers look over Kevin Sr.’s map and realize he is following a “songline.” They refuse to return his recorder because he has “stolen” the recording of the tribe’s song. Garvey is willing to part with the tape, but insists they give back the one labeled “Niagara 81.” In his car, he crosses out the second-to-last spot on his mapped path.
Senior listens to his son’s recording about the attempted assassination of President Reagan. He stops in a post office to ask for the address of a tribe "clever man," Christopher Sunday, and is referred to Sharon -- the local liaison to the indigenous community. Picking up his own mail, Garvey opens a package from Matt Jamison. He grabs a red pen and begins to make notes on the latest pages of the book about Kevin. Frustrated, Senior calls Matt to ask why he isn’t in the story and tosses the book into the trash.
Senior comes face to face with a poster of himself, “Wanted for Questioning,” in Sharon’s office. He distracts her while she looks for Sunday’s address, but ends up grabbing the information and making a run for it.
At Christopher Sunday’s house, Senior explains how the voices in his head led him to Australia. He describes taking a hallucinogenic drug, looking into a hotel television’s room, and seeing a chicken: The only creature left in a town that completely departed. The chicken guided him towards a cassette in his backpack with a childhood recording of Kevin Jr. and himself on their way to Niagara Falls. Young Kevin demanded his father sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to stop the rain. Senior tells Sunday he believes a great flood will come on the seventh anniversary of the Departure, and he has to sing to make it stop. He’s been working his way along the songline of the Australian outback tribes, learning each part piece by piece -- and Christopher Sunday is the only man alive who knows the last one. Sunday makes a deal with him: Fix his leaking roof and he can have the song.
Sharon arrives while Senior is on the roof, causing him to slip and fall on Sunday. In the ambulance rushing the elderly clever man to the hospital, Senior insults the EMT and is abandoned on the road with only his bag and a set of crutches for his injured leg.
In the middle of the outback, Senior sees a man get out of a car and pour gasoline over himself. The man holds a lighter, repeating, “They didn’t take me.” He asks Senior if he would kill a baby if it would cure cancer. Senior says no. “That is exactly what I said,” the man tells him, before setting himself ablaze. The fire causes the car to explode.
Senior searches the destroyed car, desperate to find water, and shouts to the heavens. The sky opens up with rain. Senior is relieved until he realizes the water has damaged his tape player. The following morning he tries killing a snake for food, but is bitten in the process. Dizzy and limping, Senior discovers a cross and sits beneath it. He begins to fade into unconsciousness, when someone on horseback approaches.
Senior wakes in a bed and gets up to explore his unfamiliar surroundings. He calls Matt and finds out it’s been three weeks since they last spoke. He asks Matt to find out what happened to Christopher Sunday, but Matt refuses when he finds out Senior threw away his copy of the Kevin book. Senior finds a group of people outside the house building a large boat, and learns Sunday has died.
Looking for food, Senior comes across a photo album and studies its pages. A happy, growing family looks back at him from the photographs. He falls asleep on the couch, waking several hours later to the scene of the women accidentally drowning a police officer. They shoot Senior with a tranquilizer.
The next morning, Grace explains they’ve accidentally killed a man, and she plans to turn herself in. She tells Senior, when the Sudden Departure occurred, she was in town, and unable to make it home until the next night. Discovering nothing at home but her husband and children’s Bibles, she assumed they had all departed, and took comfort in her family being with God. Two years later she received a call: The remains of five children had been found on the property. She realized they had not vanished, but died while looking for help. Senior stumbled upon the cross marking where they died.
Grace holds up a piece of paper she found in Senior’s pocket. With writing like scripture, it describes a police chief named Kevin who died and entered the land of the dead, communicating with those who had passed. She explains the mistake made with the local police chief. Senior leans in and tells her she’s not crazy, she just got the wrong Kevin.