In Netflix’s disaster movie ‘Leave the World Behind,’ the Sandfords and Scotts deal with a “national emergency” that destroys the United States. What starts as a blackout soon grows to become a nationwide disaster. The two families are forced to witness explosions and anarchy while they try to ensure their survival. Throughout the apocalyptic thriller, they attempt to understand what’s really going on in their country. Ultimately, G. H. Scott comes up with a theory that best explains the destruction the United States faces and endures. As far as he is concerned, the country is dealing with the aftermath of an inside job orchestrated for its collapse! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Step 1: Isolation
The national emergency begins with normalcy coming to a halt in the United States. Communication and transportation, two significant elements that are essential for any nation to sustain, get cut off. Without GPS signals and other navigational tools, ships and airplanes get out of control, which explains why the Sandfords encounter an oil tanker ending up at a public beach instead of a port and G. H. Scott witnesses the crashing of an airplane. Without adequate communication and navigational systems in place, the transportation sector of the country comes to a standstill, trapping people where they are without adequate information concerning what’s really going on.
Through cyberattacks, the individuals behind the calamity ensure that the population of the country does not have access to information. Whenever a disaster affects a community or country, people rush to make sense of the same with the help of television broadcasting, the internet, newspapers, and other mediums. These sources of information give the residents of a country an idea about what they are dealing with to avoid confusion and panic. When the cyberattacks kill these sources, fear may have enveloped the American population, which is reflected through the psychological states of the Sandfords and Scotts.
The lack of information concerning the national emergency scares Americans concerning what’s going to happen to them. Without any answers, they start to worry about their survival, forcing nearly every one of them to prioritize themselves and their families. That’s the reason why Danny cuts his ties with G. H. despite having a friendly relationship with him before the disaster.
Step 2: Synchronised Chaos
When the vulnerability of the nation gets exposed, the individuals behind the disaster start to take advantage of the same to deepen the powerlessness of the country. The second stage mostly involves covert operations and misinformation. The attacks seemingly include the regular issue of the shrill noise that unsettles the Sandfords and Scotts. The piercing noise creates the belief that the people are under a severe attack, making them weak and unstable. In addition to limiting physical activity or movement, the noise psychologically hurts the individuals enduring the same and makes them mere victims.
Parallelly, there is also an injection of misinformation. As mentioned above, information is integral for a social being to seek relief and hope in the wake of a disaster. After shutting down the sources of information, the attackers start to spread misinformation to aggravate the panic and chaos in the country. The small posters Clay finds, written in Arabic, are part of this plan. The posters convince Clay that Iranians are behind the attacks just because they are written in Arabic, a Middle Eastern language. The attackers, however, had spread similar posters in other parts of the country in Korean or Chinese language, making several others speculate that Korea, China, or even a group of countries are behind the disaster.
When varying speculations spread concerning the attackers, the country not only gets further away from the truth but also witnesses people turning against one another for no reason. The impending doom that looms over one’s head convinces the citizens to fight each other as the gun-wielding Danny’s example shows.
Step 3: Coup d’état
“Coup d’état” can be described as an illegal overthrow of an existing authority by an organization to replace the same. G. H. believes that the attackers are trying to overthrow the United States government to capture the country. The attackers can be a section of the country’s own military force, a terrorist organization, or an enemy nation that uses “insiders” such as superior government officials like G. H.’s client. The film ends with a Civil War breaking out in the nation as people turn against each other. From the Thornes’ systems, we know that the White House is down just like the rest of the country. The attackers most likely will try to assume the authority of the sovereign state and convey their rise to power to the surviving citizens.
When the citizens of a country fight among themselves, a coup d’état is a simple process to implement. Without an opposition force, the attackers will be able to capture the country and execute law and order among the already vulnerable population, who will be forced to serve the new regime due to the lack of essentials and options.