In The Leftovers recap, John and Erica continue to look for answers in their daughter’s disappearance while Nora deals with her own fears about the Sudden Departure…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Nora Durst has already endured just about as much pain and suffering as any one person should even with 140 million people disappearing off the Earth without a trace.
Now in the latest episode she’s beginning to question herself — again — whether or not she was the cause of her family being ‘lifted’ from Earth to wherever they ended up. Nora lived with the guilt that three seconds before her family blinked out of existence, she was screaming at her daughter for spilling juice on a ringing phone that was calling to offer her the job she had been dreaming about.
“Goddamit, I said two hands!”
Now she’s dealing with odd ball “scientists” showing up at her front door asking to test her mysteriously as if she’s carrying some kind of plague that’s causing the people around her to disappear. The guy essentially told her that she was a jinx — her family disappeared and now a day after she moved in, her next door neighbor’s daughter went out one night and never came back.
Nora slams the door shut but after hearing his weird theory, the thought popped back into her head once again — what if I’m the reason they disappeared?
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of The Leftovers titled ‘Lens’…
The knock at the door with the kooky scientist was enough to piss Nora off to the point where she casually walked to her neighbor’s house and chucked a rock through the window. That wasn’t the only visitor she had that day after another man wearing a shirt and tie was rebuffed at the Murphy residence only to run into Nora instead.
This guy wasn’t trying to test her but his name was George Brevity and he was there for the national Department of Sudden Departure to talk to Erica about Evie’s disappearance and whether or not she just ran off or if she was actually ‘lifted’ from this planet the same way 140 million others were three years ago.
Nora swaps some stories with him after explaining that she worked in the Northeast office before taking a leave to move to Texas. She finds out from George that a lot has changed in the last few months including a new questionnaire that’s supposed to really weed out any liars who are trying to claim a departure when it’s really something else. She does mention the concept that a person could be a plague (of sorts) and cause those around her to disappear.
George is really familiar with this idea — it’s called ‘lensing’ — similar to the way little boys take a magnifying glass to burn ants except in this case the spotlight falls close to the ‘chosen’ person and all those around them get sizzled. He offers to forward an email about the phenomenon to Nora while the two end up sharing lunch later in the day as she tries to get as much information out of him as possible.
She looks through an article from Scientific America that theorizes that certain people are ‘tagged’ and during this departure, people around them have been lifted. Nora already has doubts but the fact that it’s being studied is really starting to worry her. After her phone had been ringing with calls all morning from the same people who tried to ‘test’ Nora earlier, she finally answers and asks what it is they want exactly.
Well, you see this is an investigation into the very thing Nora is dreading right now that she’s the cause of people disappearing. Of course the woman on the other end of the phone ruins it all when she tells Nora that they believe she’s been invaded by a demon named Azrael and it’s her fault the departure happened. Nora hangs up out of hilarity this time instead of rage.
Suffering Breeds Compassion
Later that night, Nora and Kevin are attending a fundraiser to help pay investigators to continue their search for Evie Murphy and her two friends. Before that, however, Nora takes her sister-in-law Mary to Tent City to visit Matt.
It seems he’s already been released from the stockade, but not because someone took his place. He actually refused to allow anyone to take his place and that was the real answer the people were looking for so now he hangs his clothes on the stockade while preaching to a new flock of believers.
Matt is excited to go to Mary’s first appointment for the doctor to check the status of their baby, but he has bigger concerns right now.
Namely this fundraiser and Nora’s decision to bring Mary along with her. Matt knows that part of this benefit is to help John and Erica Murphy — the same guy who allowed him to rot outside the walls of Jarden after Matt had his bracelet stolen. Matt knows that John detests any nothing that his hometown is somehow a place built on Miracles and that’s why he’ll never believe that Mary woke up and had sex with her husband after being comatose for three years.
So why is Nora taking Mary if she knows it will upset the Murphys? Unless upsetting the Murphys is the real key to this whole night out anyways.
Later, Nora receives one more phone call and just as she’s launching into a threatening tirade to the unknown crackpot on the other end, she’s instead greeted by Laurie Garvey.
It seems Laurie found her number on the internet and was calling to find out if her son Tom had made his way to Texas to visit his dad. Nora says she’s still never met Tom so of course he’s not there. Apparently sometime after Tom made his famous ‘I’m the next Holy Wayne’ speech to the former members of the Guilty Remnant, he did a disappearing act himself while fading away from any town near by. Did Tom end up back with the Guilty Remnant? Did he seek out Meg after their encounter? Or is he really Holy Wayne-ing his way across the country hugging until he can’t hug no more?
A Woman’s Work
Erica is trying to cope with the loss of her daughter while Evie’s friends’ mothers are trying to convince her that this was just another departure and she should embrace it now rather than hold out hope that they are ever coming back.
In her Urgent Care facility, she’s forced to sew up merchants who were selling river water — the same water that now disappeared after Evie and her friends did the same thing — and ran into a scary man named John Murphy, who beat the living shit out of him for trying to sell a miracle to the people visiting Miracle. There are no miracles in Miracle, remember? (the man she’s treating is the same one who was gathering samples when Evie and her friends were swimming in the debut). The man says that the guy who kicked his ass also took a palm print from him — which is John’s own search for the man who left the palm print on the car door where Evie was last seen before vanishing.
Erica sews him up and suggests that he never tell anyone else about this lest it will happen again and again until the hole is sow big, there’s no stitches big enough to stop the bleeding.
Later that day after digging up another dead bird from a shoebox (more on that later), Erica returns home where she finds a young man leaving a pie on her friend door — just like the one that arrived for John’s birthday on the day Evie disappeared. Erica gave chase and found out that the boy was employed to drop the pie off at the house — his employer was Virgil, the elderly man who Michael prays with and who helped pay for Nora’s cigarettes and booze a couple weeks back.
He’s related to Erica — likely her father — but he’s not allowed around his family after he committed some kind of unspeakable act. It was so bad in fact that John shot him over it. But Virgil just wants the chance to be around them again but Erica wants none of it. Before she leaves, Virgil offers her another bird because he knows exactly what she’s doing with them.
Doing the Same
At the benefit that night, Nora and Kevin arrive and give a handsome donation before finding some seats. Jill attends the fundraiser on Michael Murphy’s arm after he found out that his mother knew that he went to pray with Virgil. Meanwhile, everyone inside is singing and trying to sound as supportive as possible, but it’s an uncomfortable time no matter how you cut it.
But in the middle of Erica’s speech, the goat wrangler we met from the debut walks in and lays down a sheet of plastic — the same as last time — and prepares to butcher the animal in front of everybody. Before his blade can do anything, Erica stops him cold and says this is all bullshit.
The town of Miracle has no miracles — 9,261 people were there before and the day after the Sudden Departure until now. Three girls disappeared and it wasn’t because they were kidnapped or opted to run away from home. They were taken. So Miracle is no different than any place else across the world.
Erica admonishes people from town for doing stupid things that they believe stopped the Sudden Departure from taking aim at their town. The woman who mows her lawn in her wedding dress — it’s because she was trying on a wedding dress on the day the departure happened. And as for Jerry, the crazy goat guy, he was sitting in a jail cell for killing a goat. Now he kills one every day because if he keeps this up, everyone in Jarden will stay safe.
But Erica’s had enough.
No one in Jarden was saved because of the breakfast they ate that day anymore than they were saved because this lunatic killed a goat. People were taken then and another three have been taken now. Erica’s seen all she can stomach and she grabs the live goat and walks out of the hall in disgust.
While this madness is going down, Nora discreetly (to everyone but Kevin) lifts the new questionnaire from George, who is attending the event in hopes of once again cornering Erica for an interview. Nora wants to look at this fool proof test and maybe even help her neighbor with a prep course on what to say and what not to say…
It’s All Your Fault
Nora shows up at her neighbor’s house feining that she cares about Erica’s well being, but really she’s just gauging her before offering to administer the test from the Department of Sudden Departure. Nora wants answers just as much as Erica does but for much different reasons.
Erica breezes through the test until she gets to a few that draw her out. She admits that she took money out of the bank with the intention of leaving John, but Erica was concerned about how her children would get along without her around. Erica knew Michael was strong, but she felt like Evie would struggle with it all.
So Erica made a wish just like her grandmother told her. See, grandma was a deeply religious woman, who always touted Jarden as the perfect place. The Jarden of Eden according to her grandmother, a place that God protected at all times because it was special. She also believed that if took a perfectly healthy bird, put it inside a box and buried that box, three days later if the bird was still alive, you were granted one wish.
Clearly, Erica’s been trying this plan since we first met her but every time she opens the box, the bird is already dead.
But the first time she tried when Erica put in an ailing bird, barely able to flap its wings, and when she returned she made a wish just as the box opened up — and wouldn’t you know it, the creature flew off into the night.
What was Erica’s wish?
That her daughter Evie would be Ok without her. So Erica believes that her words ‘without her’ translated to her daughter instead of her and so she disappeared when in fact it was her mother that wanted out.
One of the final questions Nora asks is if she remember the last thing her daughter said to her before she disappeared. Erica doesn’t remember and she wonders if that somehow makes her a bad person. In reality, Nora was just quietly conducting this interview to hopefully prove that this whole thing was a sham and that she didn’t in fact make Evie blink out of existence.
Finally, Erica turns the tables when she asks about Nora’s family that disappeared. What was the last thing she said to her family before they all got raptured? Nora sheds a tear because she knows exactly what she said and what she was thinking that day. She was wishing her whole family would just go away while she was raging about her daughter spilling orange juice.
Erica sends Nora scattering for home after her neighbor saw right through her power of persuasion because that interview wasn’t about finding out if Evie was really ‘lifted’ — it was a set up to prove she wasn’t. Now Nora is questioning herself more than ever if this whole wishing her family away thing really did happen.
Back at home, Nora sits quietly until a rock comes crashing through the window. When she looks out there stands Erica with a steely grin that had no words but screamed fuck you.
One side note — Carrie Coon and Regina King both deserve awards for the powerful performances shared between these two ladies on tonight’s episode.
I See Dead People
Kevin’s day starts with him waking up to his wrist hand cuffed to the bed, just like he has been every night since he disappeared and woke up in a muddy riverbed with his ankle tied to a cinderblock.
He’s about to get some morning sex when he’s startled and the baby wakes up as a result of his loud jolt. He claims a cramp in his leg, but it was clear Kevin was seeing his old friend Patti about to crawl into bed with them.
Later that day, Kevin is heard talking to himself while removing wallpaper from upstairs, but we all know he wasn’t holding an internal conversation with outside voices. Nora hears him just after she finds out that baby Lily was outside, left in her car seat on top of Kevin’s truck. He forgot her there when he came back from the hardware store.
Kevin feigns that everything is fine and he just forgot, but clearly something if off and it’s only going more and more sideways each day.
Finally, after Nora returns home from Erica’s house he sits her down despite her very adamant objections — because she’s had a long, arduous day already — but Kevin needs to share this with her now not later.
He first tells her that no matter how much the handcuff idea is working, there’s clearly something wrong if he’s chaining himself to a bed at night to make sure he doesn’t escape. Kevin then tells Nora the truth of what’s been happening to him — he’s losing his mind because he sees Patti everywhere he goes and now they are talking to each other just like his father used to do.
Kevin tells Nora all about Patti, but his new secret friend tells him in no certain words that admitting all this was just a huge mistake and now he’s going to pay for it. Patti didn’t talk very much while she was alive, but now that she’s dead, she says an awful lot and very few words seem to be muddied with lies.
So Kevin should watch out because something wicked this way comes and it has his name on it.
“State of the Art (AEIOU)” by Jim James
“Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko) by Rihanna
Four more episodes to go this season so make sure to catch The Leftovers next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.