Kevin finds out his dreams are becoming reality as he finds out the true nature of The Guilty Remnant while Jill’s journey leads her to some harsh truths and a reunion of sorts…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Just when I think I’m starting to figure something out on ‘The Leftovers’, an episode like this week’s titled ‘Cairo’ comes along and tosses me back in mix of confusion with a bag over my head just struggling for air. While there were a few revelations and hints towards what may be coming next, the questions far out weighed the answers although it was another compelling hour of television.
It takes a special kind of storyteller to pile on half truths and cryptic messages week after week and instead of getting frustrated and tuning out, I’m researching National Geographic back issues and anxiously awaiting the next clue like this is a puzzle I’m destined to figure out. The series was immediately compared to ‘Lost’ because ‘The Leftovers’ co-creater Damon Lindelof is the same man responsible for Jack, Kate and the island. While it probably wasn’t his intention to create another broad spectrum sci-fi drama with a core group of characters all damaged in some way, shape or form while all battling against a force of nature all together invisible, he’s done it again and I’m a happier TV watcher for it. That said, I rarely figured out anything on ‘Lost’ before it was revealed so your guess is as good as mine on some of the random Easter eggs that have been laid out on this show.
Add to that the fact that there was so much distraught and despair when this series started, I felt like this was going to end up as a television equivalent of ‘The Road’ — the saddest and most depressing book I’ve ever read by Cormac McCarthy. To this day, it’s the only book I’ve ever had to put down while reading because of the sheer sorrow it rained down upon my heart. ‘The Leftovers’ has lifted the veil of depression ever so slightly these last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a black rain cloud just miles away from unleashing a hellish storm on this quiet little town in backwoods New York.
The brewing trouble this season has mostly revolved around the white-clad group known as The Guilty Remnant. The cult of fanatics sworn to a vow of silence, chain smoking and all around creepiness has thus far this season interrupted a memorial service, stalked townspeople by standing in pairs outside of their houses for days on end, broken in and stolen family photos from those who lost loved ones during the sudden departure three years earlier, and continued to envelop more and more souls into their ranks.
The leader of the group Patti always seems to have a method to her madness. When Chief Garvey was so concerned that the Guilty Remnant would show up at a local town dance to cause a ruckus, she put her troops in place to get arrested just as a distraction while the rest of the tighty whities were out breaking into homes and stealing the family photos. She bought a church out from under Reverend Matt Jamison, the same person who has been preaching for years that the members of the Guilty Remnant need saving and that the sudden departure wasn’t some sign from God, but instead just a random event of happenstance.
This week Patti’s mission is unclear at the beginning, but her vision is 20/20 by the end of the episode. She’s preparing her group for a big Memorial day ‘celebration’ by lining up clothes from all of the departed inside the church they bought and proceeded to paint a ghostly white. All of the research her group has done has led to the folders we’ve been seeing week after week and they’ve all ended up as evidence to what the Guilty Remnant are about to unfold. She hands over an envelope of cash to Laurie and asks if she is ready, but that message appears to mean a few different things by the time this hour comes to a close.
Laurie has her hands full with her ‘student’ Meg, who starts out the episode attacking Matt after he starts spreading fliers around all over town that say ‘Come home Megan’. It appears Matt dug up information on Meg’s former life before she joined the Guilty Remnant. Her sadness was brought upon by the death of her mother — one day before the sudden departure — and the massive event never allowed her proper time to grieve or heal from the loss of her parent. Meg is screaming mad and painting the man of God with expletives before Laurie pulls her away and explains a very simple, very easy truth she needs to understand — violence is beneath them. So she makes Meg go over to Reverend Matt’s house where she apologizes, this time via a notepad and pen before they lock eyes with Nora who also happens to be there tending to her sister-in-law.
Nora spent the previous night at Kevin’s house having dinner with him, Jill and her friend Aimee. While it started out as a cordial enough evening, Jill eventually drops the bombshell that she knows Nora carries around a gun (from the second episode I believe where she and her friends stalk Nora around town for a day). Nora insists that she’s left all that behind (while failing to mention it’s because she hugged a guy named Holy Wayne who charged her $1000 for the privilege) and she even lets Jill rifle through her purse to verify there are no firearms present. Despite the best possible outcome at dinner, Nora can’t help but throw her time with Jill right back in Laurie’s face when she’s gifted with the opportunity to see her the next day. Nora reminds Laurie that she should write a note to her daughter some time and the wayward mother only responds with a turn of the cheek and a walk out the door.
Laurie’s day only gets stranger when she goes to the church to receive a shipment of ‘Loved Ones’ — the creepy life like dolls used by families who lost someone during the sudden departure that allow them to have something to bury and give a proper funeral (thus the package of cash she got from Patti). It seems the Guilty Remnant are putting on a Memorial Day the town of Mapleton won’t ever forget, but the mere mention of it from Meg while trying to stick it to Nora gets her a slap on the face courtesy of Laurie. It seems this ‘Memorial Day’ is a big moment for the cult and Meg isn’t about to let anything out before it’s time to reveal this huge plan in the coming days.
While Meg is riled up and angry at the entire world spitting on her group, Jill is a person bound by obsession as we’ve seen through almost every episode this season. She was affected by the sudden departure because it meant she lost her mother in the process, and she’s not dealing with things very well over the last three years. Jill finally managed to push away the only friend she ever had by accusing Aimee of sleeping with her father. Aimee choked back the tears while making a ‘confession’, which was really just telling Jill what she wanted to hear. The flirtation with Mr. Garvey was certainly real and his knowing looks at her scantily clad outfits was undeniable, but it’s clear after this conversation that she never did anything more with her best friend’s dad than to bandage up his hand after a battle with a rabid dog one night.
Jill’s downward spiral also takes her to Nora’s house where she takes the wonder twins to go on a search for the grieving mother’s missing firearm. Jill knows that Nora still has the gun because despite her please that ‘she doesn’t need it anymore’, there’s no way she gave it up that easy. The gun really becomes a metaphor for Nora’s grief. She lost her husband and two children and that all somehow melted away thanks to a big hug from Holy Wayne, but just like she asked him back then ‘will I forget about them?’ and he answered never — this appears to be her holding onto a memory of the darkest times of her life over the last few years.
The search is a success because while perusing around one of Nora’s children’s bedrooms — still pristine and left untouched for three years — Jill finds a game called ‘Trouble’ and inside tucked away in the box is her gun. Jill feels some kind of relief proving that Nora couldn’t really let go no matter how much she protested at dinner the night before. When Nora returns home and her house seems as normal as ever, she ventures upstairs to see her child’s bedroom door left askew and inside is the game of ‘Trouble’ with a gun sitting on the bed. She has to know who her mystery visitor was that night and maybe the game was an omen for what’s coming next for her. She’s put on a face lately that says ‘I’ve moved on’ while quietly clinging to a remnant from her sad past. Is Nora really healed or is it all just a façade of happiness?
And then there’s the chief, who is reminded nightly by the words that his father spoke to him a week ago as a forewarning that regardless of how much he’s fighting against the forces pulling him into action, they aren’t letting go and he’s going to eventually either join the army of the willing or get locked away with the crazy few.
Kevin goes to sleep after his dinner with Nora gone wrong and wakes up in a truck in the middle of the woods. He finds a cabin and his old dog hunting pal Dean, who leads him inside to discover Patti — the leader of the Guilty Remnant — tied to a chair and unconscious. Kevin is mystified about how this came to be and has to believe in some way he’s dreaming again, but this is most definitely reality. He’s in Cairo, New York (a clue given from last week’s episode with everything leading to Cairo except in Egypt) and this was apparently a place where he used to go camping as a kid and sneak out late at night to have a smoke.
Dean proceeds to tell him how they met up the night before at a bar for a few drinks like two old buddies tend to do. He reveals that they have a bet going about the dog he brought home a few weeks ago and Kevin is on the side that he can ‘convert’ the pooch back to the good side of the force and Dean is obviously convinced otherwise. He also tells Kevin that it was him who saw Patti after a night of drinking before he grabbed her, smashed her face and tied her to the chair with duct tape.
Kevin’s warped reality is coming to life every time he closes his eyes. In many ways this was Kevin’s ‘Tyler Durden’ moment where he lost cabin pressure and he really needed to return his tray tables and seat backs to their upright and locked positions. Kevin has been leading a double life with one part of his brain locked away as the police chief, destined to do the right thing, while the other part of him is killing dogs, kidnapping members of the Guilty Remnant and holding full conversations with his daughter’s best friend in the middle of the night. The alternate Kevin is a leader according to Dean, but this day time version is a coward who is afraid to pull the trigger.
Dean is an interesting case study to Patti because while her team of Clorox warriors have been able to find the goods on everyone in town, this is one person they can’t find anything out about. No name, no social security number, no driver’s license — nothing. Dean says he’s a guardian angel and maybe in the grand scheme of this story that’s exactly what he’s been all along. He’s so helpful in fact that he tries to wash Kevin’s hands of the dirty work by tossing a plastic bag over Patti’s head so she can suffocate to death.
Kevin can’t help but to save her life and he ends up having a falling out with Dean over his inability to commit to the things he’s created. Kevin’s head is buzzing with these continuous revelations and things only get worse when he walks out into the woods surrounding the cabin and finds all of his white police shirts pinned to the trees in an eerie circle around a clearing. These are the same shirts Kevin once accused a dry cleaner for stealing and I was waiting for a bagel to fall from the sky but it never happened. Kevin’s dreams are become reality and his reality is becoming a dream as he slips away, further and further from his perceived sanity.
Back inside the cabin, Kevin finally has a long talk with Patti about the Guilty Remnant and their real purpose in town. She says that the group is there for one reason — to remind everyone that the sudden departure happened and it’s not something you can just move on from because time has passed. No, in fact Patti believes that the world should be constantly obsessed with the fact that 140 million people just up and disappeared one day without a trace, and the Guilty Remnant are there to remind them of that exact moment over and over and over again.
Patti’s biggest revelation is that her group was responsible for killing Gladys and she not only wanted it, she welcomed it. Her screams for help and begging for her life seemed to say otherwise at least in those final moments, but now it’s clear the mission of the Guilty Remnant is to join those faithful departed on the other side one by one. At the same time this is all happening, Patti has been threatening the chief all hour long that if he lets her go, she will scream to high heaven that she was abducted, beaten and it was all Kevin’s idea and plan of execution. She’s trying to goad him into taking action, but he refuses to do it. Patti explains why Laurie joined the Guilty Remnant and reveals that it had nothing to do with his infidelity. She says she gave Laurie purpose — not answers, not love — just a reason to exist but those reasons are running out in a hurry. Patti then reads him a piece of a poem by William Butler Yeats titled ‘He Bids His Beloved Be at Peace’.
He finally strips off the duct tape and lets her go while saying that he’s going to turn himself in to face the music, she opts for another exit all together. Patti grabs a shard of broken glass from the floor and jams it into her own neck. Kevin grabs her as she bleeds out in his arms as it appears she was ready to go and if he wasn’t going to take her there, she was going to get there by whatever means necessary. Now going back to the earlier moment with Laurie when Patti said ‘are you ready?’, I’m beginning to think it was her way of passing the torch of leadership. Patti also said when speaking to the chief about Gladys that one day it would be Laurie’s turn and she would welcome her fate the same way. It seems there’s a path of servitude at the Guilty Remnant and once their work is done, they are given passage to that great white room in the sky where they join the rest of the people taken in the sudden departure.
Back at cult central, Laurie pushes forward with the plans for ‘Memorial Day’ and when someone asks about Patti, she writes that everything goes ahead as scheduled. This once again strengthens that fact that Laurie knew Patti was going to sacrifice herself that day and she was now the one in charge. Before the night can come to an end, there’s a knock on the door and when Meg opens up, Jill walks in and sets eyes on her mother. She asks if she can stay there for a while as Laurie’s bottom jaw goes gaped while seeing her daughter emulate the exact person she’s now become.
Last week there was a National Geographic to explore but nothing so cryptic this week. There were a couple of moments to pay attention to, however, with this episode. First off, when Meg and Laurie pay Matt a visit it appears as if his wife moves slightly when they are leaving the room. Up until now she’s been completely catatonic so maybe there’s something to that.
Also notice that when Patti gives Laurie the big envelope of cash, there are two stacks of money wrapped up but when she hands it over to the movers who are delivering the ‘Loved Ones’, she only gives them one. What happened to the other stack of cash?
Jill cut the dog loose that her father brought home, but the animal seemed at peace whenever she approached and was willing to stay until she demanded he go. Why was it rabid and foaming at the mouth towards Kevin and his father, but quiet and reserved around Jill?
Finally, in Patti’s office Meg is watching a news report about a massive grave discovered that’s completely empty as tanks arrive. What is this all about and does it have a connection to the sudden departure? Maybe another time in history where millions of people just disappeared like the Minoans from that National Geographic issue but unlike now where everything is cataloged and connected, the event back then just saw millions of people disappear and a world full of mystified people who had no clue what just happened.
Here’s the full poem by Yeats as well for those curious:
I hear the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hoofs heavy with tumult, their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire:
O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love’s lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet.