[For “I Live Here Now”or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
I Live Here Now Kevin comes clean about his connection to Evie’s disappearance; Miracle faces an unexpected threat.

In the final episode of season two, The Leftovers delivers a wild ride and satisfying ending that wraps up the narrative while still holding us in suspense for next season. The episode title, “I Live Here Now” is uttered by our hero, Kevin Garvey, in one of the last scenes. He’s talking about Miracle, of course, and we all feel like we know what it’s like to live there now. Difference is, we’re not quite as into it as Kevin. Now that he’s come back from the dead and rid himself of Patti, the guy can’t wait to get back home. This final episode encapsulates his trip and answers the remaining questions.

The finale begins at the moment when the Garveys leave the Murphy birthday barbecue and Evie gets in the car with her two friends right before they “disappear”. But this time we see what happens with the girls in the car as they shift abruptly from smiles and party music to tears and silence. Not just any silence… Guilty Remnant silence. Evie writes in and holds up a notebook with the word “Don’t” on it for the girls in the front seat. They park the car at the waterfall and leave it staged to look like a Departure event. Then the trio watch as Kevin throws himself into the water with the cinder block rope-tied to his foot. The girls turn away to leave the scene and an earthquake shifts the scene to the moment at the end of the last episode. Michael discovers Kevin, alive again in the woods after Virgil killed him. Kevin asks how long he was dead and Michael says eight hours. He asks if Patti is still with him and Kevin says “no.”

Then Kevin tells Michael how he saw Evie that night at the waterfall and says he needs to talk to his father. At the mention of John Murphy we see him at his dining table with the unopened gift from Evie in front of him. Annoyed, impatient Erika opens it for him and inside there’s a dead cricket. John says Evie found his cricket, smiling. Then Erika says no she didn’t because after Evie left that night the cricket was chirping like mad. John says, “Then why did she put this one in the box?” Erika says, “Because you wouldn’t let it go,” so, he replies, “Fuck you”. At that moment Miracle Rangers come to the door and tell him Kevin’s handprint matches the one found on the missing girls’ car. John trots over and pounds on the Garvey front door. He meets Laurie for the first time. Then Kevin comes home and John says they need to go for a ride and have a talk. The resonant Leftovers dread then flutters up into customary position now. Some shit’s about to go down and it’s not just John and Erika’s marriage.

We shift then to Nora who’s caring for baby Lily and Mary. They listen to a radio talk show and then there’s an earthquake. Suddenly Mary wakes up and starts talking. Nora takes her to Matt, still at the campground, who’s thrilled to see her and that she’s back. He says he can’t go back with her yet but that Mary has to go back to town. Then he tells her she can’t stay with him out here because she’s pregnant and it’s her turn to be thrilled. We see Tom and Meg at the campground now too. Meg asks if he’s scared for his family and Tom says there is no family. She says where’d you hear that. He says he thought that was the point and Meg says, No not the point at all. In fact, “Family is everything.” Then she tries to drive across the bridge until a Ranger stops her. He says no visitors because it’s October 14th – Departure Day. Meg tells him she’s got a van packed with plastic explosives and then drives over the bridge and stops in the middle. She gets out of the van as Rangers point guns at her and say she has to get down on the ground. So, Meg lies down on the bridge and they cuff her. Now the three missing girls from Miracle get out of the van, dressed as Guilty Remnants all in white. Meg’s big event is underway.

Next we see John and Kevin at the dog kennel, the holding space where they put his dog on that first day in Miracle. Kevin tells john he just remembered this morning seeing Evie staging her departure at the waterfall. At first John doesn’t want to believe any of it but Kevin tells him everything – dying, Virgil, and even Virgil’s confession about messing with John as a kid. John gets nervous and pissed and won’t believe. He says, “Evie loves her mother, brother and me. So why would she do this to us?” Kevin says maybe she didn’t love you. Then John shoots him right in the chest without hesitation and leaves. But then when John gets outside everybody in the campground/bridge area is reacting to what’s happening with Meg, the trio of girls, and the plastic explosives. So, John runs over there to see what’s up. He sees Evie and the other two missing girls dressed as Guilty Remnants. They just smoke and stand in front of the van. Then Evie holds up a sign that says, “One Hour.”

John cant get Evie’s attention. So, he goes to the church and tells Erika who goes straight to bridge and races through the guards to confront Evie who won’t acknowledge her. Evie refuses to even make eye contact with Erika. Then lots of the people in the campground strip down to their underwear and change into all white clothes. The scoreboard that sits high above the campground counts down the hour Evie announced on her sign with big scoreboard numbers. But at the end of the hour the van turns out to be empty, so it’s not a bombing after all. Then all the dressed-in-white Guilty Remnant campgrounders climb the stairs to break through the gate, overcome the Ranger Guards, and cross the bridge to join Evie and the other two girls. Erika says to Evie, “I don’t know why you’re doing this. I don’t understand,” to which Evie then writes on her notebook, “You understand,” and she walks away and across the bridge to Miracle with the crowd of Guilty Remnants. Erika stands transfixed on the bridge, brokenhearted.

Matt tells Mary they have to go back into town now. It’s their chance to get back in together. She agrees and they head toward the bridge. A woman who keeps harassing Nora that Lily is not her baby then snatches Lily from Nora and runs away, only to abandon the baby on the bridge where Lily’s nearly trampled before Nora can save her. Tom appears at Nora’s side to help her save baby Lily and brings her to safety, ironically inside the ominous but impotent van that’s still parked in the middle of the bridge. Meanwhile all the campground people who aren’t dressed in white are following the group of Guilty Remnants running across the bridge and into Miracle – finally going the one place in the world they really want to be.

Then Kevin wakes up in a hotel bathtub room again PISSED. “I’m not fucking doing this again,” but still he goes to the wardrobe and selects the cop uniform. The phone rings and they say they need him in the lobby because a cop was attacked. In the lobby Kevin sees the guy from the bridge who tied the noose around his neck. He tells the guy he needs to know how to get back and the guy says all he has to do is sing. Kevin says he won’t because it’s stupid. The guy retorts, “You pushed a little girl into a well but you’re not willing to sing,” so Kevin gets up on stage and spins the wheel to pick a song. He gets Simon and Garfunkel, Homeward Bound and the lyrics arouse all sorts of images and memories that make him cry as he sings. When his song ends Kevin closes his eyes and then wakes up in a pool of blood on the dog kennel floor. The dog he’d left on his first day at Miracle stares at him. So, he takes the dog and exits the kennel. It’s night now and there’s nobody at the campground anymore. When he calls to the dog it doesn’t come to him and instead takes off across the bridge – a parallel to Evie in the previous scene. Then Kevin goes inside the Miracle visitor center and it’s full of Guilty Remnants. He sees Meg and they ask each other what they’re doing here. He says, “I Live Here Now,” and then Meg starts singing the Miracle song that Evie sang early on in the season’s first episode. Evie harmonizes with her. It’s creepy. Kevin leaves, grabs a billy club on the way and heads into town where it’s bedlam – fires burn, people are boozin, and the formerly idyllic town square now feels like a pseudo riot, looter land.

Kevin crosses looter land and heads straight into the Jarden Medical Clinic where nobody’s working but he seems to know what he needs. He attempts self treatment when John comes in looking for Erika and sees him dying. “I killed you,” says John. “Nope,” says Kevin. Then John asks to see and Kevin shows him how the bullet went right through him. “You should’ve bled out,” John says, stating the obvious. Then he helps Kevin clean it. They both say they don’t understand what’s happening and laugh that giddy how-fucked-up-can-this-get? brand giggle. Then John helps Kevin get home. Outside their houses John asks, “What if there’s nobody home?” and Kevin says, “Then come over to my house,” so they’re officially friends again. Forgiveness reigns. Before he can even get to the front steps another earthquake fells Kevin to the ground but he endures, pulling himself up off the ground yet again. When he finally gets inside. There’s Jill, Laurie, Matt, Mary, Tom, Nora, and Lily all waiting for him. “You’re home,” Nora says. Kevin is happy to be home.

The words Meg said to Tom in the campground sum up the finale episode and even all of season two – Family is everything. That’s where all the meaning and emotion arises in this season of The Leftovers. People lost family in the Departure. Evie and Michael lost their father for most of their childhood while he was in prison. Matt lost Mary for years to catatonia. Kevin lost Laurie and Tom to the Guilty Remnant cult. He lost his father to mental illness. It’s all about family in The Leftovers and the losses keep coming – even in the finale. Just like in life, people die, dogs run away, and teenagers rebel. But in the end when Kevin comes home and finds his loved ones waiting he’s happy. After a long day of fighting, dying, and coming back to life a second time, that’s what it’s all about. Just like the Simon and Garfunkel song says.

–Katherine Recap

[For “Ten Thirteen”or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Ten Thirteen Meg suffers a personal loss and heads out on a pilgrimage to Miracle; Tom seeks to reunite with Meg.

We’ve only seen Meg once before in Season Two but it was notably the most memorable scene thus far, which, considering that she only spoke six words in it, speaks volumes about the impact of her character. In that previous episode, Meg mounted tied-up Tom in the back of a van and then nearly set his gasoline-soaked bod ablaze before uttering those six words. In this episode Meg’s a cokehead and she’s always on the move. Seemingly unable to sit still, Meg takes many journeys in “Ten Thirteen” and throughout keeps sharing her mantra about how she’s about to change everything. It’s clear by the end of the episode that all these small journeys add up to one big power trip for coked-up Meg. The coke is only a symbol, of course. And because this is The Leftovers, it resonates through even the music that plays but resounds loudest in Meg’s ginormous ego, the classic cokehead signpost. Of course she’s going to solve all the problems of the world – along with every other coked-up fiend out there.

To kick off her second visit to Season Two we’re introduced to Meg as she snorts coke in a restaurant bathroom out to lunch with her mother on October 13th, the day before the Departure. But when she returns to the table from the bathroom her mother is laid out on the floor as waiters attempt to resuscitate her. Dead.

Then we see Meg with her fiancé on the way to Miracle as tourists two years after her mother’s death… and the Departure. Jarden had only been “Miracle” for a few months at that point, a newfound tourist attraction. Thus we get to see many of the mysteries of Miracle from a tourist perspective, the cracks in the road, manhole covers, Cecilia in her wedding dress, etc. all from the vantage point of a golf cart with talkative know-it-all headphones. Turns out Meg wants to visit the town prophet – the same guy John Murphy visited in Episode One. She wants to know what her mother was about to tell her before she left to go to the bathroom at that fateful lunch. Prophet tells her that no matter what he says she’s gonna be disappointed and then he tells her the anyway because she insists. Meg then lies to her fiancé and says the Prophet wasn’t the real deal. But not only was he real, he was right. Meg she cries later, thinking about it and clearly disappointed. While she cries Evie Murphy walks up to offer her a baby carrot because, “You can’t cry while you eat one. It’s impossible.” They sit side by side on the bench and Meg tells her the same knock knock joke that Evie told her father in Episode One. Before goodbye, Evie tells her she’s sorry Meg didn’t find whatever she was looking for in Miracle, “nobody ever does.”

The scene then shifts to Meg and her Guilty Remnant group stopping a school bus in the street. They drag out the driver and Meg enters the bus to pull the pin out of a grenade and place it on the floor then leaves a hoard of screaming children inside the locked bus. Meg’s next stop is an empty mansion where she sits before a trio of pissy Remnants. They aren’t happy about the school bus incident because of the kids. She says it’s no biggie because the grenade never went off. Meg tells them the Guilty Remnants need to step it up because people are forgetting about the Departure. They retort that they’re hearing rumors she’s planning her own action – a forbidden move. Meg lies and says she won’t. Then they tell her about Tom and say he’s taking away membership. They tell her to take care of him. She shows up at one of Tom’s gatherings and sits down to listen right as he offers healing hugs. Meg watches as he takes away the crowds pain one by one with hugs then approaches and hugs him along with the others. But Meg whispers in his ear that she can “do this for real.” Those Remnants always know when someone’s full of BS – gotta give them that.

Afterward Tom’s shaken and Laurie’s pissed at him for not showing up to their next event where she had to give everyone their money back for the absence of Tom’s healing hugs. He yells at her that they’re stealing people’s money. She says it’s working, people are getting better but Tom replies that it’s not working on him. They fight dirty. He leaves and goes to sleep on a playground with a bottle of whiskey for comfort. The next morning Tom goes to a Guilty Remnant workspace and screams, “Where the fuck is Meg?” After which he gets kicked in the stomach a few times before Meg appears. Tom says he wants her to “do it for real” and take his pain away. She says he’s just looking for a family and he says if he was looking for that he’d go to Miracle, Texas to see his Dad and sister. This delights Meg who then says she just happens to be headed there and in the next scene they drive there together. The Melle Mel 1983 song White Lines, which opens and closes the episode also plays as they drive to Miracle. It’s a true funk classic about cocaine. Originally the song was written about the glories of coke but then certain lyrics were added (including “don’t do it”) so that it blended with the mainstream just-say-no stance of the day. It’s Meg’s theme song. All about the wild ride of ruling over others with her inflated ego and such certainty that she doesn’t even need cocaine to get that rush anymore. Cult Leader/Cokehead – careers with virtually interchangeable benefits packages.

In the car on the way to Miracle Tom says he knows why she poured gasoline on him and said the six words but “why did she fuck him?” Meg pulls the car over without answering him. They stop off for a drink at a honky tonk. At the bar they talk about how they both lost their fathers when they were babies and drink while Tom looks increasingly uncomfortable and Meg stays at ease. He asks her what’s happening and then she kisses him. They dance and it’s clear that Tom’s getting hopeful she might take some of his pain away soon, even if it’s just via a journey to bonertown. But then Meg says she fucked him to get him pregnant and abruptly ends Tom’s his hope for bone privileges. They’re back out on the road soon after.

She drives into a Guilty Remnant cul de sac where some of her followers tell Meg there’s a “situation.” Apparently an interloper saw something but it’s just a biker dude who got off on the wrong path and doesn’t even know what he saw. Meg orders them to stone him anyway. We know from her earlier conversation with the pissy trio that the Guilty Remnants stone people regularly as a form of punishment so this is really happening. They take the interloper outside and stone him off camera. Tom doesn’t help, though Meg suggested it would make him feel useful. Later in the barn he hears yet again that Meg is going to “change everything”, from one of the Remnants – a broken record of a phrase when it comes to Meg. Then we see Meg drive out to the campgrounds outside of Miracle. She walks near the bridge and while Meg’s gazing at it Matt Jameson recognizes her. He’s surprised she’s talking and thus congratulates her on leaving The Guilty Remnant. Meg acts like that’s the case. She says Matt and her came to Miracle for the same reason, to be safe. “People in Miracle aren’t suffering,” she says, “So, they don’t need the Guilty Remnant.” Matt knows she’s lying now and says so. He knows it’s the anniversary of her mother’s death, October 13th. Ironically then, Matt apologizes to Meg for being her living reminder. This is often the declared Guilty Remnant goal – to serve as living reminders for the Departure. Meg gives him a creepy cult smile then and asks him what he’s waiting for… Miracle is right there and he’s not doing anything to get inside. What’s he waiting for? Then she tells Matt she knows. He’s waiting for her. Ominous in its simplicity and her certainty. Matt looks terrified.

The episode ends with a big reveal back at the Guilty Remnant cul de sac/farm. Tom explores in the dark night with just the crickets and snores to keep him company. He breaks open a locked van and inside finds Evie, dressed as a Guilty Remnant, surrounded by other Remnants, and writing on a notepad. Tom asks who she is and Evie writes, “It doesn’t matter,” then shuts the van door in his face. So, with the conclusion of “Ten Thirteen” we know Meg’s deal and Evie’s location. In fact, the other two girls can be seen nearby when Evie opens the van door. Mystery solved on the missing teens …only to be replaced forthwith the mystery of Meg’s plan. We know it involves the bridge into Miracle and it’s likely happening the very next day. We know that the Remnants believe it will Change Everything. The writers have done an incredible job building tension toward this event without giving us so much as a hint for what’s about to happen. Cliffhanger accomplished.

–Katherine Recap

[For “International Assassin”or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
International Assassin Questions and answers emerge in the wake of Kevin’s desperate decision to vanquish Patti.

“International Assassin” takes place in that unconscious state between wakefulness and dreaming where we don’t really know what’s real. But it turns out in this case not to matter if it’s real or not. What matters is that for Kevin’s sake it’s all real and changes everything for him and for Patti. The storyline changes now as a result of Kevin’s unconscious mind in this episode. He works out his unconscious challenges and greatly impacts The Leftovers so that the story shifts gears. Thus, this episode reveals that perhaps the work we do while dreaming can sometimes be our most productive – a shrink’s wet dream.

The Leftover’s writers are kind to us tonight. Not only do they give us answers but they don’t make us wait even a moment and start episode seven right off with Kevin awakening from death as he rises out of a bathtub. He’s not in the trailer anymore, though. This is a hotel room. A sign on the wardrobe says, “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” There’s a suit inside, a cop uniform, a white Guilty Remnant outfit, and some sort of preacher’s purple robe. Kevin puts the suit on. A delivery guy comes to the door with lilies and gets his name wrong, insisting he’s Mr. Harvey. When Kevin turns his back to get a tip, the guy starts beating him and Kevin punches right back. It’s a vicious fight scene and the guy ends up dead. Kevin bandages his deeply wounded palm and goes to the front desk to ask who sent the flowers. He’s told to ask the concierge and Uh Oh, Virgil is the concierge and writes him a secret note “parking garage 5 min.” On the way there Kevin sees a little girl try to drown herself in the hotel pool and saves her. The girl’s father comes out and screams at her that she doesn’t know how to swim and tells Kevin to mind his effing business. Then in the parking garage Kevin joins Virgil in a car. Virgil’s concerned to see that he’s wet and tells him not to drink the water here. He explains that the hotel and his particular situation are the result of Kevin choosing the clothes of an “International Assassin” out of the wardrobe. We were granted a hint to this effect earlier when he goes to tip the delivery guy and mutters, “All I have is euros.”

Virgil explains the circumstances. Patti will be there in a few hours. She’s a Presidential candidate. He’s now Kevin Harvey an “International Assassin” who made a large contribution to her campaign in order to guarantee a meeting with Patti. There’ll be a gun waiting for him in the bathroom just like in The Godfather. Kevin has to retrieve it and kill her without hesitation or this mission won’t work. Kevin asks how Virgil is here if you have to die first. Virgil replies that he’s atoning. Back upstairs in the hotel Guilty Remnants who refer to Patti as “Senator Levin” question Kevin with a lie detector before he can meet with her. They spray windex in his eyes to get him to admit his name’s Kevin Garvey and not Harvey. They shock him so he’ll admit that he smokes to remember the world ended and not just from nicotine addiction. Then they tell him to go freshen up for the meeting with her. He’s thoroughly vetted.

Kevin goes to his hotel room and flushes out his eyes with water. His Dad starts talking to him through the TV then and says he sent the flowers and that the card doesn’t say “Get Well” as it appears to. The message actually says “Get her to the well.” Kevin’s got to take Patti to the well. Then the TV turns black and there’s a knock on the door. Senator Levin is ready to see him now. He gets patted down and they say he can ask her anything just not about gun control, abortion, North Korea, or her ex husband, Neil. Kevin asks to use the restroom but the security guard is in there right now, so, Kevin’s not armed quite yet.

Patti comes in apologizing for all the security but it’s because someone wants to assassinate her. She explains that people would rather put a bullet in her head than admit her truth. Patti asks what he thinks her truth is and Kevin says she, “wants to destroy families.” Patti agrees that this is exactly her message. Then she tells a story about how on her campaign trail a man handed her his baby and thus abandoned it. That baby will grow up having difficulty connecting with people. It won’t be able to accept and give love. But the baby will be just fine and this is a best thing for it. Attachment and love are extinct now because of October 14th, Patti explains. So, now that baby actually has an advantage because it’s strong. It’s ahead of the game and ready for this new world. Thus we now understand the simple philosophy behind the Guilty Remnant.

She asks Kevin what brought him to her campaign and he says his wife left him for the Guilty Remnant. Patti says that must have been painful and he says no more painful than when Neil left her. She then jokingly tells the security guy to kill Kevin. But it’s a joke. Patti says they all need to lighten up. Shaken, Kevin excuses himself to the bathroom and gets the gun. He shoots the security guard and prepper. Then Patti says she’s not really Patti Levin but a decoy that they found on Facebook, paid, and gave plastic surgery. Her story isn’t wholly unbelievable when she has a completely different voice and mannerisms suddenly… but Kevin shoots her anyway. He was told not to hesitate.

After he shoots decoy Patti he goes back to Virgil the concierge but he’s not Virgil anymore. Kevin asks if he drank the water and he did, “…but I was so thirsty,” so, now Virgil’s gone and Kevin’s on his own. Back in the hall outside his hotel room, the dickhead dad of the drowning girl is locked out with a bottle of whiskey and Kevin’s also locked out of his own room. The guy offers him a drink and they make small talk until Kevin realizes this is Neil, Patti’s ex husband. He breaks Neil’s neck immediately, really taking ownership of his new role “International Assassin.” Now Kevin knows Patti is the little girl he saved and that she’s inside that locked hotel room. He knocks on the door and she opens it then goes with him willingly. They ask the concierge where there’s a well nearby. The concierge sends them to Jarden, Texas with a pamphlet of info about the well. That’s right, it’s a famous historical landmark well and it’s in Miracle, Texas. So, they’re off and on their way to the well. In the car child Patti reads the well pamphlet to Kevin. Historically people have thrown in the well whatever they wanted to unburden themselves from.

On the bridge into Miracle a man drags Kevin out of his car and across the bridge by a long rope and noose. He gives Kevin the choice – cross the bridge or jump and hang himself. Why would he want to die? Kevin asks. “Because you don’t want to kill a child,” the guy replies. Kevin says she’s not a child also this isn’t real and the guy says she is and it’s very real. He’ll be changed by it. Kevin is resolute, though and throws the noose over the side of the bridge then carries child Patti over the bridge to the well without hesitation. She climbs up the side of the stone well and sits on the side of it to ask Kevin if he wants to drop or push her in, “Pushing’s probably easier,” then she asks what’s wrong and he says it’s hard because he feels sorry for her. She asks, “Would it help if I say I deserve it?” Then Patti lists all the cruel things Neil said about her and Kevin begs her to stop. She starts to say, “Would it help if…” again but then he just pushes her in. Afterward Kevin throws up beside the well. Then Patti’s in there – the real Patti, not the kid anymore, and she calls for him to help her. Kevin climbs in, falling a long way down so they’re sitting at the bottom of the well together.

Patti then tells him a story of how during her marriage to Neil she went on Jeopardy with a plan to win $50K. With the winnings she could leave him and start over. That was her plan. Then even though afraid, she’d won on three nights of Jeopardy and brought home a total of $65,300 therefore surpassing her goal of “enough money to leave Neil.” So, she could’ve started over… but she didn’t. She was weak. Patti tells Kevin she’s scared. He comforts her but then (crying all the while) drowns her face down in the water at the bottom of the well. After Patti’s really truly dead there’s a rumble. The well’s stone walls come tumbling down on him and then we shift to Kevin crawling out of the dirt in the woods with no sign of the well anywhere. Kevin’s at a campsite and there’s Michael, surprised to see him alive. Fin.

The scenes between Patti and Kevin arouse intense feelings of remembrance for all those people and things in life we’ve had to let go. Yes, we feel sorry. Yes, there are real reasons for the things we find intolerable about them. But still… they gotta go. Patti was a perfect Guilty Remnant, unable to love or connect because of horrific treatment by Neil (and one presumes her parents as well) and thus she’s holding Kevin down with all of her pain. Patti’s got to go. That’s the thing about pain, people pass it on. It seems Patti tells Kevin the Jeopardy story to give him the strength to take her out. She couldn’t let go, Patti’s saying and he’s going to end up like her if he doesn’t unburden himself of her. Even she knows the right thing for him to do. Thank goodness he does it. Even if the episode “International Assassin” took place entirely inside Kevin’s head it still moves the story forward because it expels Patti from the narrative. The only thing keeping her in The Leftovers was Kevin. Thus we can all sigh with relief now thanks to our “International Assassin” because it’s satisfying to see that toxic bitch, Patti Levin finally shuffle off this mortal coil and go.

–Katherine Recap

[For “A Most Powerful Adversary”or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
A Most Powerful Adversary Nora gives Kevin and Jill some news; Laurie makes a rash decision; Kevin explores his options.

“A Most Powerful Adversary” wins the award for the most misleading TV summary ever. None of those three tiny phrases give us any indication of the shitstorm to come. But it’s a comin’… in spades. This episode is all about Kevin and the delusions that reign within his brain. It opens as he awakens in his usual handcuffed-to-the-bed state to find that Nora is gone. She packed a suitcase, took the baby and Mary, then vamoosed. He shouldn’t have told Nora about the voices, Patti reminds him. Isn’t it just like an imaginary friend to say “I told you so,”? Then Jill enters and asks where everybody is and what’s going on. Kevin asks her to get the bolt cutters so he can unhandcuff himself. Jill leaves and then brings back an envelope from Nora. She asks what he did. Kevin won’t say so she reads the letter. All it says is, “Mary and the baby are with me. Don’t call.” Pissed off Jill then leaves abruptly to the hollow tones of Kevin’s, “I’m gonna fix this,” the screen door slams and Patti tells him it’s gonna be a hard day.

Jill goes to the church and tells Michael everything about her dad and grandfather, their voices and sleepwalking, etc. Michael says he talks to someone who’s not there too… Then she asks if God is the one telling him they can fool around but not fuck. He says it’s just that he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t know if he loves her. Then Pissed off Jill is on the move again, storming out of the church.

Kevin goes to the hardware store to see if they can help him cut the leftover wristbit of the handcuffs but then he screws it up by yelling at Patti to “shut the fuck up!” She doesn’t stop her incessant yammering, though, no matter what he says. Michael comes up beside the truck where Kevin’s “talking to Patti” and gets in the front seat. Michael tells Kevin he knows about Patti and says his grandfather, Virgil can help Kevin get rid of her. Michael then directs him to the same spot in the woods where Erika went in the last episode, Virgil’s trailer with the bird-breeding cage nearby.

Virgil comes out to the truck and says for Kevin to come inside, but just him; Patti and Michael aren’t invited. Once inside Kevin finds out he was in this trailer with Virgil the night of the earthquake when the girls went missing during is blackout. Virgil tells Kevin he has to die to face Patti on her turf and defeat her. Kevin says he doesn’t understand and Virgil says, “You understood last time,” thus explaining why Kevin jumped off the cliff that night. Patti’s turf is the land of the dead. Virgil tells him what they have in common is “a most powerful adversary,” and says he vanquished his when John shot him. Virgil’s adversary had “made him do terrible things” (to little boys?) so he’d fought him in death and won, after which Virgil was reborn.

He says he can temporarily kill Kevin. Then Pissed-off-Kevin storms out. Virgil shouts after him, “Come back when you’re ready,” but at that point Kevin’s already screaming his way through the woods for Patti. He confronts her and says she lied to him. She didn’t mention how he’d gone to Virgil’s trailer that night when he blacked out. Patti says so what and then slaps him when he says Virgil knows how to get rid of her. She’s not scared to battle him, Patti says, “Let’s go,” she pronounces, like a drunk at a bar egging on for a beatdown.

Kevin keeps calling Nora but when his phone finally rings it’s not Nora calling but Laurie who’s waiting for him at Miracle’s entrance gate. Kevin talks to her through a chain link fence. It’s been so long since he’s seen her that he’s surprised to see she’s even talking. Laurie says she needs to talk to Tommy. Kevin says Tommy isn’t there and why would she think he was there? She says because Tommy’s in touch with Jill. Kevin asks if Tommy’s OK and she says he’s fine. But Laurie senses that Kevin’s not OK and leaves, ignoring his screams for her not to go. She pisses him off even more than he already was – a possibility that was impossible only moments before.

Kevin then goes to the fire house and asks John for help cutting off the leftover handcuff bit on his wrist. While there he gives his handprint. The fire fighters are taking them as part of the investigation into the missing girls. There was a mysterious handprint on the car – Kevin’s. It turns out the firehouse bolt cutters are missing and they can’t help him with his handcuff but he’s already given his handprint at that point, thus royally fucking himself. Back in his truck Patti points out that he went in there to get free and instead got caught. The only time she ever felt free was when she killed herself, she continues. That’s what free is – dead.

In the next scene Kevin goes home to find Jill waiting. She tells him to get it together and fix this. It’s the second time he’s screwing up his family… her family too. Kevin then goes to Laurie’s hotel and tells her all about Patti. They smoke together. His secret smoking was a source of contention in their marriage so – comedic irony. Then Laurie, who’s a shrink, tells Kevin that Patti wants to stay away from her because she can prove Patti doesn’t exist by testing her with things only Laurie and Patti would know. She tells Kevin what he’s seeing isn’t real, using her shrink chops big time. He’s having a psychotic break, just like his father.

Laurie gives him the story of what she and Tommy did. She explains that after trauma people’s delusions relieve them of emotional pain by making the world seem understandable again when their reality is unbearable because it hurts so much. Laurie tells Kevin he needs medication. He asks if she changed her last name and she says no. Her last name is still Garvey and he could bring her into Miracle, passing as his wife. Kevin wants her to come home with him, “You said I need help. So, help,” he says. So, Laurie goes home with him. He gives her the guest bed where Mary was sleeping.

Then Nora calls but won’t tell him where she is. He tells her there’s a way he can get better but he needs to know she’ll believe him when he says Patti’s gone. Nora says she’ll believe him. He asks if she’ll come back and Nora says she’d like that. Then Jill walks in and sees Laurie so, yet again it’s time for Pissed-off-Jill. She screams for her dad to tell her what’s going on but Kevin just peeled out of the driveway in his pickup. He goes straight to the trailer in the woods where Michael is “just leaving,” and says God be with you to Kevin on the way out. Once inside Virgil gives him poison to stop his heart and explains that he’ll shoot his heart with epinephrine after a few minutes to revive him. Kevin asks if he’s done this before and he gives the example of the guy up on the pillar in the town square as a “success story,” Uh Oh.

Kevin is about to drink the poison when he stops and asks Patti if she wants him to do this or not. She says she does. Kevin then tells her how Laurie said he’s psychotic like his dad. His father told him he vanquished his own voices by finally doing what they told him. Thus, Kevin drinks the poison right as Patti screams, “Kevin stop!” then he’s dead on the floor with scary white death drooling out the corner of his mouth. Virgil fills the needle with epinephrine but drops it on the floor. Instead of picking it up to inject the needle into Kevin, Virgil picks up a gun and eats it, shooting himself without hesitation. Michael enters right then and shakes his head at his dead grandfather’s body then pulls Kevin across the linoleum. It’s unclear where Michael’s taking him but it’s definitely farther away from the epinephrine, not closer. Virgil’s suicide is unexpected for a number of reasons, timing for one, but also because it was he who told Kevin, “Life is precious,” earlier in the episode when Kevin told him he didn’t really want to die.

It’s fascinating how The Leftovers probes into the power of belief especially as a salve within the agony of trauma. Kevin will do anything at all, even die, in order to avoid the possibility that he could have a mental weakness. He’d also rather believe his father’s delusions than face the fact that his father was actually sick. It’s a veritable shitstorm of magical thinking that kills Kevin in this episode. He simply can’t hear Laurie, even though he goes to her for help and seemingly wants more when he brings her home. During his phonecall with Nora we don’t know if he’s going to get rid of Patti via medication, as Laurie suggests, or via Virgil’s death route. We only know he thinks he’ll succeed at extricating Patti. This keeps us clutching to the hope that Kevin will take the sane route. Thus, we’re engaged in our own brand of magical thinking throughout the episode too. Kevin’s dead as of the end of “A Most Powerful Adversary” but still we cling to the hope that somehow he’s going to be OK. The Leftovers does that to us. It wraps us in beautiful, hopeful delusions… before ripping them out from underneath.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “Lens” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Lens Nora is irritated by unexpected visitors; Kevin’s predicament becomes impossible to ignore.

It’s interesting that the HBO summary doesn’t even mention Erika (Regina King’s character) for the episode “Lens” because her character’s light shines brightest in this one. Nora also plays a brilliant role here and they’re each a lens through which we see the incidents and emotions playing out in this particular storyline. But it’s really Erika we get to know as her heart beats through us here. Part of this comes from the fact that she answers a bunch of our questions clearly and quickly in “Lens” and the other part is that we experience her heartbreak, delusions and pain firsthand. Even when it’s about Nora, somehow it’s still all about Erika too. “Lens” is an episode about focusing our sights on the source, like a magnifying glass with sunlight streaming through.

There’s a set of scientists who have a theory that certain people among us are lenses. This means their mere presence in your life could cause you to depart. Because Nora lost her entire family and then three teens seem to have departed the very day she moved in next door to one of them, these scientists think Nora’s a lens. In the first scene of “Lens” one of these scientists, Dr. Joaquin Cuatro knocks on Nora’s door and alienates her with his probing questions and lack of tact. So, she’s not really in the mood later when Cuatro’s colleague calls to apologize for his abrupt manner

A guy from the DSD (Department of Sudden Departures) comes to Nora’s yard and she tells him she’s on leave from the DSD herself. As they talk neighbor Erika quickly leaves to get in her car and ignores the DSD guy’s cries to get her attention. Erika wears a hearing aid, so it’s unclear if she’s ignoring him on purpose. Then she drives to the forest and digs up a shoebox just like the one she dug up in a previous episode with the bird that flew away when she opened the box. This time there’s a dead bird inside. Erika removes the dead bird and places it near a pile of other dead birds nearby. Afterward in town the moms of the other two missing teen girls approach her and say she’s got to cooperate with the DSD. Erika says no she doesn’t.

Later Nora joins the DSD guy at Smittys and finds out info about the current departure investigations – the three teenage girls. He tells her the DSD thinks maybe the teen trio did actually depart. She finds out they’ve even changed the questionnaire now to focus it better. Then Nora asks if the DSD thinks one person can be responsible for another’s departure. He says yes and tells her about “lensing.” The DSD guy describes it as being like when a kid holds a magnifying glass to an ant and burns it with sunlight. There was an article about it in Scientific America last month, he tells her. She goes straight home and reads the article.

Then Erika treats a clinic patient beaten up for selling water. She realizes it was her husband, John that pounded the guy and says he should let it go. “Let him slide, just this once.” He asks why and Erika says so she won’t see him back there again that night, fixing him up because he got beat up again. When she gets home Erika sees Baby Lily in her carseat on the hood of the Garvey truck outside. She brings Lily to Nora who says Kevin was supposed to be watching Lily. They tell stories about each losing their children for brief periods and Erika finds out Nora lost two children before.

Back at the Murphy’s John asks Erika if she blames him for people throwing rocks through their window. She says he needs to hit people because he needs to hit people, like the man he beat up this morning. John claims it’s because the guy was “selling lies” …but maybe he’s just angry. Erika seems to think so. But she hugs him when he says he’s trying. There’s a lot of forgiving wife syndrome going around this morning in Miracle – Nora was also uber quick to forgive Kevin for his negligence with Baby Lily.

Then Dr Cuatro’s colleague calls Nora again and this time she asks if they think she’s a lens. The doctor says yes. Nora asks why and she says the research is divisive but they think it has to do with the demon Azrael choosing her to do his dirty work. Nora hangs up before the woman finishes explaining – either laughing or crying, it’s unclear which. Next she takes Mary to visit Matt at the campground and says she’ll pick him up on their way to Mary’s OB appointment the following week. He asks why Nora looks dressed up and she explains that they’re going to a fundraiser for the missing teens straight from there.

Erika changes her hearing aid batteries but hasn’t put them back in her ears yet when she sees a boy dropping off a pie at her front door. She races after him, fast and focused, arms pumping and heart pounding across streets and around corners. Erika narrowly avoids an oncoming car right before finally catches him. She asks him why he ran but can’t hear because the hearing aids are back home so Erika tells the boy to repeat and speak slow. Then she brings the pie out to the old man Michael visits for prayers. He’s in a field with raising sparrows. Turns out he’s related to Erika and left the pies on their porch. Now she knows Michael visits him to pray. Erika’s mad and doesn’t want his damn pie or for him anywhere near her family. He asks if she wants to take a bird with her when she goes and she denies any interest.

Then Jill goes to the fundraiser with Michael Murphy and Nora meets Kevin there. Nora donates $500 to the cause and then gazes longingly at the DSD guy’s briefcase – tucked next to his chair in front of her. The two women who approached Erika in town run a slideshow with pictures of their girls growing up together. As the slides flow Nora peeks inside the DSD guy’s briefcase and takes out the questionnaire file, slips it into her handbag and leaves. The guy who slaughters goats enters and lays down his plastic. Erika tries to stop him and then we have a round of Erika Explains It All for a bunch of Miracle mysteries. She pronounces that because he killed a goat on the October 14th Departure date many townsfolk think maybe he saved them. So, now he gets a pass to kill goats whenever he wants. Then Erika focuses on the wedding dress lady and says she’d tried on the dress on Departure day and thus now she wears it every day just in case that detail was what saved them all. Miracle’s a town with subscriptions to numerous superstitions in the hope of staying safe and sound. Yet here they are with three missing girls and no wedding dress or goat can change that.

That night Nora goes to Erika’s front door and hands her the questionnaire from the DSD guy’s briefcase and explains it will help her be prepared to answer them. Nora says Erika’s scared that if she answers the questions she and Miracle will find out that maybe Evie didn’t depart. Erika says so come in and ask me the questions, then. So, Nora sits with her and goes through them. One of the questions is the last words Evie said to her. Erika doesn’t remember the answer to this but answers all the rest of the questions completely. One of the other questions is about withdrawing a large sum of money from the bank and why. Erika admits she withdrew a large sum recently because she planned on leaving John. Then she talks about her grandma who told her Miracle was so special you can bury a bird in the woods for three days and it will fly away when you open the box on the third day. Her grandma told her if the bird’s alive you can make a wish and it will come true. Erika says she knew it was all pretend as a kid but because of the Departure happening she no longer knew what was pretend anymore. She told Nora she buried a sick sparrow for three days and wished her kids would be OK if she left John. Erika knew Michael would be fine because of his faith but that Evie would be heartbroken. So, she’d really been wishing Evie would be OK without her. The bird flew out, a medical impossibility. Thus Erika got her wish. Then the next night her daughter was missing. So, Erika believes she is the LENS that lost her Evie.

Nora feels the weight of Erika’s heartbreak about this because she also felt responsible for losing her children and thought it was her fault but, she explains to Erika, she’s evolved past the guilt now. “Terrible things happen in the world and the only comfort we get is that we didn’t cause them,” she says. “I’m sorry but this had nothing to do with you.” Then Erika asks if her children departed or died and Nora says they departed. Erika asks what their last words were to Nora but she doesn’t answer and just leaves in tears.

When she gets home Kevin says they need to talk. She asks if it can wait until tomorrow and he says no. He asks if she notices that he’s been losing his mind. Then he tells her about how he’s seeing the Ghost of Patti. Just as he finishes explaining it a rock crashes through their front window. Nora turns to look and Erika stands there long enough to catch Nora’s eye and stare right back, completely unabashed about being seen.

Mysterious and shocking sidebars:

After she’s dressed up nice for the fundraiser, Erika confronts Michael about visiting the old man and tells him not to anymore. She says do you know what your father would do if he found out? And Michael says, “Shoot him again?” Oh snap. It appears that maybe John went to prison for shooting Erika’s father – or something like that.

In a tiny scene Laurie, Kevin’s ex wife (Amy Brenneman) calls Nora on her cell and asks if Tom is there with them in Texas. Nora says no, she’s never even met Tom. Laurie replies that if Tom ever does come there to tell him she’s worried about him and she’s sorry. Nora promises to do so… Uh oh. Sweet Tom who was the self-proclaimed healer and redeemer last time we saw him is missing now.

Regina King, who plays Erika, was the guest on Thursday night’s Late Night Show to talk about The Leftovers and during the interview she described the show as a sort of “Misery Porn” for people. This is particularly true of the last two episodes in season two. What began as a glorious feast of hope and only a side salad of dread has now officially spiraled into a sadness festival of a season. Thing is now even the most sad-averse of us are hooked on it completely. With its two mothers, the indomitable Erika and vulnerable Nora as our lensesof insight and heart wrenching emotion we can’t let go of The Leftovers anymore than they can let go of their departed children.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “No Room at the Inn” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
No Room at the Inn Reverend Matt Jamison takes his wife outside Miracle to seek answers about her condition.

The Reverend Matt has constructed his very own version of Groundhog Day which we get to see play out for the first fifteen minutes of episode 5 – locked in the spectre of his persistent frustration. He’s replaying everything precisely as it happened on the day his wife Mary woke out of her coma. Matt hopes that a variable; the song playing on the radio, the burrito he microwaved for lunch, etc. will bring that day back and she’ll wake up again. Then he drives her out of Miracle for biannual medical tests to check on her condition. While there Matt finds out she’s pregnant – essentially a miracle because they’d tried and couldn’t have children before her comatose state. The administrator who tells Matt about her condition doesn’t believe him when he says she got pregnant the one night she came out of her vegetative state.

He mentions “consent” to remind Matt that she couldn’t have given consent for the sex anymore than she can give consent for medical tests. The administrator also explains that she’s got a 90% chance of miscarrying. But Matt’s too busy being happy about the pregnancy to care. He’s blissful and believes this must have been the reason for her awakening that night – it was the one time she could get pregnant. This is a man who lives with “meant to be” and “everything happens for a reason” faith to the max. A man of God, that Matt.

On the way back to Miracle he stops to help a broken down car at the roadside but it’s a conman who takes their wristbands and knocks Matt out in the process. He wakes out of unconsciousness as Mary “tells him” their baby boy won’t survive unless he gets them back into Miracle pronto. So, Matt pulls the wheelchair out of the back and wheels her toward town, abandoning the car. When he finally reaches Miracle a guard directs Matt to the Visitor Center where he attacks a man who pesters him in line. The guards then put Matt in a holding area where he’s kept until Kevin and his new neighbor buddy John Murphy come to collect him. John asks how Mary is doing, given that Matt had taken her out for tests.

Matt says there was no change in her condition but then John confronts him about her pregnancy – he’s got the test results in his hand, apparently they “fell out of” Mary’s bag. Then John relays Matt’s story of how Mary awakened and they “made love” and that’s what got her pregnant – right? John says Matt tells this story because the miracle within the town of Miracle is the only tale to explain her pregnancy where Matt isn’t a rapist – given her condition. It’s the only story he can tell. Except there are no miracles in Miracle, John insists. He says Matt’s going to have to change his story and say he was just very sad, lonely and confused and that he’s sorry. John makes Matt agree to this and even has him say, “She never woke up.” As John’s about to take the docile Matt out and get him new wristbands Matt asks him why he’s so angry at this place. It goes beyond his daughter being missing. What happened to him? John doesn’t answer and instead says he can’t get Matt those wristbands after all. John leaves in a huff. Kevin’s like WTF, Matt? So, then Matt asks Kevin how much money he has. He’s going to need it to get back into Miracle, Matt explains and takes $500 from the flummoxed Kevin before leaving him to return to the campground.

Matt wheels Mary into camp and promises her he’s going to get her back in. Then he locates a guy who says he can help him get into Miracle for $1000. On a mission to get the rest of the money, Matt walks around the campground. He sees a naked man in a pillory like they used to have in town squares during the 1800s. A woman asks if he wants to free the prisoner and he says yes. She tells him the only way to free the man is to take his place. Then Matt sees a big wooden cross. He tells the owner of the cross, Sandy, his sad story and begs for her help. Matt tells her he needs $500 and she tests him to determine if he really is a “man of God.” Matt easily passes her test so then Sandy brings a guy out of her trailer and tells Matt he’s got to hit this guy with a wooden oar and say, “Brian,” then he’ll get his money. He’s got to hit him as hard as he can, like he means it. Matt hits but not that hard and she says he’s holding back. A mob collects and everyone, even the guy he’s hitting, yells that Matt’s got to hit harder and say, “Brian,” so he finally whacks the guy with all his might and screams “BRIAN!” The oar breaks. Matt gets the money and the guy with the way back to Miracle brings him to a large tunnel made of a corrugated metal pipe.

It starts raining and Matt wheels Mary through the tunnel until the wheelchair gets stuck and he can’t dislodge it. Then Matt screams and they both fly back to camp on a giant gush of water. Now Mary has no wheelchair and Matt’s back at the campground carrying his comatose wife – both of them soaking wet. Suddenly we hear Nora calling for him. She’s there with Kevin to save them. He climbs into the trunk of Nora’s car with Mary so they won’t be seen and can drive safely across the bridge to Miracle. In the reddish glow of the inner trunk Matt quotes Yeats to Mary as if we needed further evidence that he’s the best and most perfect husband on the planet. Then the trunk opens and Nora says there was an accident. They all try to help but the driver was killed and it turns out to be the conman that stole Matt’s wristband. The conman’s son hides nearby in a patch of bushes and, when he’s discovered, hands Matt back his wristband. Mary’s got the one from the dead conman on her wrist now. But then Matt shifts gears completely. He asks Nora if she’ll look out for Mary awhile. Matt says, “I shouldn’t have to hide.” Nora, who already has a baby and teenager, isn’t thrilled about taking on a vegetative sister-in-law.

John Murphy then stops his truck driving home in the dark night because Matt stands blocking the middle of the street. Matt, holding the conman son’s hand, tells John he’s not going to lie about what happened with Mary and he doesn’t want John’s wristband. He holds up the one the little boy gave him to John he’s already got a wristband. Matt says he’ll be back when Mary wakes up again, an inevitability. Then he passes the boy on to John and says, “This boy needs help. His father is dead.” Matt turns then and walks back to the camp. Once there, he says he wants to free the man from the pillory. The woman who handles these matters asks him why and he says, “It’s my turn,” so she puts him in there and the last shot of the episode shows Matt in the pillory.

The True Believer, Matt and His Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. is all about the stories we tell ourselves in order to find meaning in a world gone mad. On this front, Matt is the ultimate storyteller. He’s also a hardcore martyr, willing to do anything to prove his particular story is true. It’s clear he is 100% certain Mary woke up that night and it’s clear how much he loves her. This is a man with unrelenting integrity. But the episode never shows Mary actually waking up that night so it’s possible she didn’t. The question then becomes, does it matter? “No Room at the Inn” builds a frame around this idea. Everyone in it has a powerful story they’re playing out with hope of somehow “saving themselves.” At the camp there’s Sandy’s Brian with the oar breaking across his back and on the roadside there’s the conman with his son. Does it matter that these characters actually don’t accomplish anything? What about Matt? Is he better off in the pillory than taking care of Mary at this point? He certainly believes so. Fact is, these characters all believe in the power of their particular story and that experience is everything to them. In the world of The Leftovers the actual facts of the matter often take a backseat and, to his chagrin, there’s not a whole lot John Murphy can do about that.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “Orange Sticker” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Orange Sticker The Murphys are left reeling after Evie’s disappearance; Kevin returns home with no memory.

Episode four, “Orange Sticker” shifts perspective yet again on the earthquake, this time from Nora’s point of view. She wakes up and life’s a wreck. Kevin’s disappeared, a dog/wolf runs down the street portending the chaos from whence they came, and the neighbor’s kid is missing. It’s a lot to digest and Nora passes out on the hardwood floor. Once conscious she tries to turn on a TV but they have no cable yet. She opens the computer but they have no Internet yet. She places a call to 911 but they think Nora’s a nut. Then Kevin comes in the front door, sweaty, dirty, and hot as hell. She hugs him and gasps with relief but then turns her back to pick up baby Lily and return to bed. The ghost of Patty leans on the doorjamb to tell Kevin he’s got some explaining to do.

The next morning Kevin can’t find his cigarettes or phone and says they must be at the waterfall – he woke up there without memories from the earthquake. It’s all blank for Kevin between falling asleep and waking at the river in the exact spot where the teen girls went missing the night before. A park ranger knocks on his door and asks him bring his truck and winch to help at the crime scene. So, Kevin and Nora drive there to help with the rescue/ search effort. Nora tells him he should look for his phone and if he doesn’t find it just say he dropped it today while helping out. She can think on her feet, that Nora.

Meanwhile Jill’s home with baby Lily and the broken faucet prompts her to approach Michael Murphy, the source of obvious sexual tension she’d felt at the bbq birthday party the night before. He fixes her leaking sink and then Jill asks why he’s not helping look for his sister, Evie. Michael says Jill won’t understand his ease because of her lack of belief in God… but he knows Evie has departed. Instead of getting weirded out by Michael’s odd certainty about this and his shirt buttoned all the way to the tippity top, Jill seems turned on and gets all doe-eyed. She thanks him for “saving her” even though all he really did was fix a leaky faucet.

Then Nora shops at a Stop n’Shop type place for Wild Turkey and smokes for Kevin. While there she sees the old guy Michael visited and prayed with. His name’s Virgil and he tells Nora, sight unseen, that he’s sorry for her loss. She’s a little freaked by it and the shopkeeper tells Virgil he can’t come in there and do this shit – apparently it’s not his first time creeping out a stranger at the store. So, Virgil apologizes sincerely and leaves.

In the next scene Kevin keeps looking for his phone in the now dark night of the crime scene while Patty bugs him the whole time. She knows where the phone is, which is frightening whether she’s real or in his head. Then Kevin’s just leaving the scene when John Murphy drives up and offers him a ride home. On the dashboard is the unopened gift from Evie. Kevin asks about it and then John, who didn’t drink just the night before, downs a beer and drives right past their homes toward the edge of town where the campground is. Kevin says,”Thought you didn’t drink,” and John says his daughter’s missing now. Guess it’s understandable – loss changes things, especially drinking habits.

John tells Kevin he obviously bought that broken down house for three million because he wanted to feel safe but, “there are no miracles in Miracle.” Then John rushes out of the truck at the campground to throw some angry accusations at peeps and then speed off, tires squealing. He pulls the truck up to the prophet Isaac’s place, grabs a baseball bat and starts heading for a house, fury personified. Kevin senses something wicked this way comin’ and stops John. I used to be a cop. If I talk to him I’ll know what’s up, etc. Kevin convinces him that he can talk to Isaac and find out if Isaac has John’s daughter. Then Kevin knocks on a door saying “Security” but out of the corner of his eye sees John losing his shit and flailing that baseball bat at the nearby house. Unfortunately, THAT’s the house where Isaac is. Plus it turns out Isaac, no dummy, has a gun and shoots John in the gut. Blessing them with a poetic goodbye, Isaac then says “there’s nothing more dangerous than a man who don’t believe in nothing.” Kevin drives John to Erika, his doctor wife, for some gut fixing.

Back at the Garvey household Nora shares a beer with seventeen-year-old Jill and discuss Kevin’s “sleepwalking.” Jill gets all deep and says it’s probably stress and wherever you go there you are. Then she tells Nora how Michael thinks his sister, Evie departed. Nora says there’s no way that’s what happened. This was her job, after all, when she did those Departed insurance claim investigations. She tells Jill the story of a man who pretended to depart so he could run off on his wife. There was only one Sudden Departure, she explains. Nora’s confident on this point – certain. Then Kevin pulls up to the back alley behind the clinic where Erika works and passes off John to his wife. He watches while Erika calmly fixes his wound, pulls Evie’s unopened gift out of John’s clutch to set it aside, and asks no questions.

Nora then visits her brother, Preacher Matt, at his church and asks if this town is real. She confronts him on his promises about Miracle and says it’s all been the same shit since they got there, missing teenagers and natural disasters, etc. Matt responds that his wife, Mary, came out of her catatonia the first night they were in Miracle. They’d talked all night just like old times. The next morning when they woke up she was back to her catatonic state but it was enough evidence for Matt that Miracle is the real deal.

Meanwhile, Jill visits Michael on his porch at night to return his wrench. They take note of the Department of Sudden Departure Verified orange sticker on his house front. There’s one on her house too, she says, what does it mean? He says before the park rangers took over Miracle the government went to each house to “check if it was true,” a perfect parallel to Nora’s visit with Matt. Everybody just wants to know it’s really true – that they’re safe here in Miracle. Then Jill and Michael each admit they’re alone. They look into each other’s lonely, sad eyes and hug.

At the hospital Erika tells Kevin that Miracle may not be a miracle but her daughter Evie certainly was. Though she and Michael are twins Evie was born two months earlier, a preemie who weighed only a bit more than a pound at birth. So, even though John says there are no miracles in Miracle Erika believes it’s an exceptional town. Just like Evie is an exceptional girl. Kevin leaves and Patty gives him a lecture series on his way home – all bitching and accusations, about why he tried to kill himself. Turns out that’s what he was doing during the earthquake. Patty says Kevin tied the cinder block to his ankle and jumped off the waterfall. She says he didn’t hesitate. He wanted to die. If it wasn’t for the providence of the earthquake, he’d be gone. People who love their families don’t do that. Kevin looks at her and says he doesn’t want to kill himself and she replies that he’s entitled to his opinion. Then she explains that the girls vanished. Poof. Just like that.

Once home Nora reassures Kevin that she trusts he had nothing to do with the disappearance of the girls but can’t wake up alone like that again. So, she takes out a pair of handcuffs from his cop days and they handcuff themselves together for a good night’s sleep. Symbolism, baby. Then we see Jill wake up and roll out of bed to look outside and across the yard where Michael is scraping the orange sticker off the front of his house.

The things that make us feel safe can be as simple as knowing where our phone is or having an “Orange Sticker” of verification from a government office. Safety can also be as complex and deeply resonant as having our lover beside us when we wake up or knowing where our children are. Details in the episode touch on these vulnerabilities and their opposite – the certainty of feeling safe. Nora runs into a stranger who seems to know all about her lost family, giving her a sense that she wears a neon sign to broadcast her deepest, raw wounds to the world – not exactly a safe feeling. Michael’s belief that his sister departed gives him certainty and peace while everyone around him loses their mind with worry. He feels safe in his faith and that’s why he doesn’t care if people think he’s crazy. Speaking of crazy, there’s Kevin and the ultimate feeling of being unsafe – is he losing his mind? Did he try to kill himself? What the hell is up with Patty? And now he’s gotta sleep handcuffed to his lady. Thus, “Orange Sticker” explores many facets of safety: from the biggies like trust, faith, certainty, sanity, and hope to the minis like where’s-my-effing-phone and if-I-don’t-open-the-gift-I-can’t-be-disappointed. One thing is for certain, this episode opens up numerous new questions but still, it’s artistry and emotion are a gift that doesn’t disappoint.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “Off Ramp” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Off Ramp Laurie and Tom’s work to rescue lost souls takes a toll on them; Tom infiltrates the cult.

The episode opens hyped up at a car wash with a beating drum solo right out of the movie Whiplash as Laurie (Amy Brenneman) cleans a car, finally returning to The Leftovers. Then she types angrily on a laptop in a cafe, purchases infinite packs of nicorette, pours them into a jar, and vacuums a big empty conference room. Offset scenes show Tom all in white at the Guilty Remnant eyeing new recruits, especially one named Susan whom he takes to the big empty room where Laurie and some others await in a circle of chairs. After their therapeutic group Laurie gives Susan a cellphone and tells her she’s the only number programmed in it and the phone doesn’t text so, Susan will “have to talk.” Laurie promises she can help Susan come back and says that she did it herself. Then back at their hotel room Laurie watches a youtube video of Holy Wayne when he was a prophet – alive, and preaching to the people. In the video Holy Wayne asks, “Who wants a hug?” and holds out his arms to the crowd. Meanwhile Tom’s getting drunk on the couch. He asks Laurie if she ever misses the quiet of the cult and she says “no,” without hesitation.

Susan wakes up and starts talking. She asks Laurie what she’s writing and Laurie tells her a book about the Guilty Remnants. Viktor, the guy renting Laurie the office space and conference room, busts her for overuse citing that he knows people are sleeping and pooping there at night. Not only is she late paying him but he’s gotta charge her $200 more for using it nights. She finagles more time at the same price, promising payment soon. Then at a Laurie’s next group therapy session two Guilty Remnants barge in and give Susan the hairy eyeball before Laurie puffs out her chest at them and tells them to go mama bear-style. Susan is definitely shaken by it.

Tom goes back to Remnant HQ where a lady holds up a note to tell him your pain doesn’t matter. Then he’s peeling potatoes and sees that same lady confiscate a watch of another member – his next rescue, Howard. Meanwhile Laurie takes Susan to see her husband and son at their home. Susan crosses the yard and her son rushes to her arms. She’s a person again and starts wearing colors in the very next scene. Susan then talks in a group session about not believing her son wants her back home again even though he asked her to come home. She says he must be angry. Laurie says maybe he just wants you home. Susan says he has to be angry, “Like you,” to which Laurie retorts that she’s not angry. But we all know that’s a lie… and we’ll be even more convinced later. Then Tom breaks in with a new member from the Guilty Remnant, Howard.

That night Laurie asks if she can drive Tom to see Jill and can she write a letter to her? Tom says Jill’s not ready but she does it anyway. Then Tom’s coming out of the diner and getting in the car with Laurie. He tells her Jill’s happy then lies and said she took Laurie’s letter too. When they get back to the conference room and office space Viktor has thrown all their group’s stuff onto the sidewalk. Presumably Laurie never paid that late money she owes him for renting the space. They are without a space. But worse than that, Viktor took her laptop and (dummy that she is) Laurie didn’t even email her book to herself. The only copy is on the laptop. She confronts Viktor and he claims not to have it. She says, “Keep it, just give me the one file with my book on it,” to which the non-dummy Viktor replies, “Then I’d be admitting I have the laptop.”

Next we see Laurie skulker-extraordinaire slipping into Viktor’s house late at night, climbing the stairs while his wife chitchats in Russian on the kitchen phone, and then running back down the stairs as a child shrieks after her. She’s got the laptop. Driving away from crime scene number one Laurie runs down two Guilty Remnants in the street with her car, possibly killing them. Then she’s at the carwash cleaning off whatever remnants of Remnants might remain from crime scene number two. The next day Laurie confers with Susan and her husband, comforting him that Susan’s going to stay with him and that it’s not his fault she left, it’s the cult’s. Her certainty in this scene parallels the certainty Nora and Kevin had in their adoption interview. No breaking up on the horizon. No way.

Speaking of the cult, Guilty Remnants take Tom to a shed where they hang him by his wrists and then Meg enters in a white nightie (Liv Tyler) to immediately take off his pants. She removes her white lace undies and straddles him seductively then has her way on his lap for a bit. He’s loving the feeling and it’s going great until two buff Guilty Remnants come in and ruin the lapdance party. They douse Tom in gas, drag him outside, and throw him in the gravel. Meg then threatens to light Tom up with her zippo but instead just lights a smoke. She says, “Tell your mom Meg says ‘hello’.” Talk about the ultimate buzzkill.

Next Laurie buys a handbag she can’t afford and returns home to a crazed Tom who’s freaking out about Meg – telling her she’s forgotten how effed up it is in the Guilty Remnants. They make sense! They know something! She tells him he doesn’t have to go back to the cult to get rescues anymore, that what they’re doing is working, that her book will be published, and it will all be over soon. Nobody’s convinced by her words – not even Laurie.

Then we find Susan at a boring dinner with her boring husband. Susan sleepwalks through her boring day. She fondles a note from the Guilty Remnant with longing then nearly drives the car with her husband and child into oncoming traffic, she’s in such a daze. Meanwhile Laurie’s at the publisher when she gets a phone call. Sounds like Susan got into a car accident BIG TIME. But then the receptionist tells her “They love your book,” and it’s exciting but the phone call makes Laurie want to leave until the publisher comes out to greet her and starts wheeling and dealing right away. Throughout the meeting her phone keeps ringing and she puts it on silent. They tell her Laurie needs to explain the cult’s smoking and reveal their the rulebook, the story behind the Guilty Remnants. “We know what the Guilty Remnant does but what do they believe?” Laurie says they believe the world ended. They seem unsatisfied with this answer.

The publisher relates the story of the fire, bringing us back there with visual remembrance but then says that from her telling of the story he doesn’t know how she feels about it. Laurie loses her shit and attacks the publisher, flying across the room reaching for his throat like a vampire in flight. Remember how Susan said Laurie was angry before and she denied it? Looks like Susan might have had a point. In the next scene Tom bails a contrite Laurie out of jail. Another publishing deal bites the dust.

Tom and Laurie discuss how Susan’s car wreck represents a failure to their process of trying to heal the ex Guilty Remnants. Why isn’t it working? They decide they need to replace the cult with something, give these people something to hold onto and believe in. Then we’re back in a group session and Laurie tells the story of the fire and how Jill will probably never speak to her again. She has Tom tell his story of Holy Wayne. Tom explains how Wayne healed people with hugs, took their pain away, and taught Tom not to be afraid anymore. He implies that he’s been holding back the same ability – that Holy Wayne passed it on to him- and he can restrain the power no longer. Tom’s a giver. He stands up, asks who wants a hug, and opens his arms to the group.

Mysterious Incident List:

What’s up with Meg? Blue balls and then threatening to light a guy on fire are pretty harsh for someone she’s never met before. Looks like Laurie’s not the only pissed person in town.

When Laurie’s convincing Tom her book will be published soon she says it will all be over soon. This implies that Laurie thinks her book will end the Guilty Remnant. What’s in the book? The publisher made it sound like it had gaps.

Can Tom pull off the Holy act? Seems like he was just so damn sick of being a fake Guilty Remnant he’d do whatever he had to not to have to go back there.

This was the best episode yet for season two and had surprisingly few mysteries, especially given that it was focused on the Guilty Remnant – one of the most enigmatic of phenomenon in the show. The scene with Meg was astonishing and powerful. She’s a force and probably the new leader of the Guilty Remnant given her strength and confidence. Her cruelty and coldness really brought Patty to mind – a ghost in every episode it seems – even the ones where she’s never appears onscreen.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “A Matter of Geography” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
A Matter of Geography Nora makes an impulsive choice; Kevin becomes entangled in the Murphy family’s problems.

Leftover? More like a do-over. This second episode of The Leftovers season two is all about starting over in a new place and even begins with a storytelling reset. Episode two opens back in Mapleton as Nora finds baby Lily on the Garvey porch. Then we shift to the Garvey living room where Nora and Jill are feeding Lily. Kevin enters to say he called the FBI and the baby’s not reported missing or abducted. He asks Nora if she’s staying. She says her luggage is in the car. He says they don’t really know each other. She replies, “What do I need to know?” Then Kevin tells her all his weird secret underpinnings, the sleepwalking, his medications, and the whole Patti’s-death-and-burying-her-body-thing… along with the deepest secret of all – he smokes. Nora tells Kevin she hires prostitutes to shoot her and then apologizes to Jill for her lie about the gun in her handbag. So, with these contentious-but-unexplored details abruptly out on the table they all decide that, “It’s OK.”

Flash forward two months later and Kevin’s at the laundromat (the washing machine at home is busted) where he finds out he’s late for a meeting with social services about adopting baby Lily. So, he rushes to meet Nora at the appointment. The two are harmoniously in concert with sincere and honest answers including that, though unmarried, they aren’t going to separate. The government worker behind the desk stamps their papers and congratulates them. Lily is theirs.

Then Kevin tries to fix the dryer in his basement in between flashbacks of Patti’s death scene and the horrifying aftermath of burying her bloody body with Preacher Matt. Suddenly, Kevin can’t take it anymore. He drives out to the woods, digs up Patti’s body, speeds in order to instigate getting pulled over, and then tells the cop about her body in the back. When asked about the body at the police station Kevin explains that Patti killed herself. The investigating detective says, “Good riddance, Patricia, we hardly fuckin’ knew ya,” then asks him if he wants to blow his life up. Kevin says no. So, she tells him to go home. Unfortunately, the ghost of Patti is waiting in the truck to ask Kevin what the hell his deal is. Apparently digging her up was more than just a physical event. She’s stuck in Kevin’s head now. Then his Dad is waiting at his house, now released from the institution and, apparently, headed off to Australia. They have a walk and talk outside and his father tells him the way he got released was to finally started doing what the voices told him.

Jill meets her brother, Tommy, in a diner. She tells him their Dad adopted Lily with Nora. Jill knows Tommy was the one who left Lily on their porch and reiterates that she’ll keep her promise not to tell their Dad about it. Tommy also says, “You can’t tell him I’m OK because nobody’s OK,” but Jill says she’s OK and Dad is and Nora and Lily are. Subtext: Why can’t he be part of this whole being OK thing? He’s just sorry, Tommy says then gives her a note from her Mom that Jill rips in half without reading. He leaves and Jill sees him get into a car their mother drives away.

In the next scene Nora gets a call that there’s a 2.7 million offer on her house, four times her asking price. Her buyers are MIT scientists studying locations of multiple departures, like her kitchen table. This is to give people peace of mind that they can possibly prevent a repeat departure. It seems to be “A Matter of Geography” the scientists explain to Nora. Then at the dinner celebrating Lily’s adoption Kevin proposes they move to the town of Miracle. In the next scene they drive into Miracle, passing through a gypsy camp trailer park just outside the border before encountering all the red tape entrances to town. Unfortunately, the Garvey dog has to live in kennel quarantine outside town for sixty days and Kevin’s bummed about that. The ghost of Patti offers to stay with the dog but that’s no consolation.

Entering Miracle feels like a high security airport with metal detectors and a visitor’s center resembling a museum of marvels. As Kevin seeks the proper line in the chaotic visitor center the (possibly grandfatherly) guy Michael Murphy visited in episode one approaches Kevin and offers to help “with his situation.” He explains that he can always be found in the Christmas lights trailer in town. Just then Kevin hears Nora yelling. It turns out their rental house burned down and the emotional screws are tightening. Perhaps the honeymoon phase for this family is now on a descent. Also worth noting here: apparently Nora and Kevin were the incoming renters at the Prophet Isaac’s house, burned down by John Murphy – their eventual next door neighbor.

But then Nora notices that there’s an auction for a house in Miracle happening right now in the visitor center. Nora has the money from selling her place and thus wins the house for three million dollars. They’re now completely broke and owners of a property they’ve never seen before. It’s a capital V for victory. What could go possibly wrong?

As a temporary stay for the night, they visit Nora’s brother, Preacher Matt. He’s living in the cottage/shed next to the church. So, he offers them a tent given that he barely has room for his wife and self. In the process of raising the tent Matt finds out Kevin told Nora about them burying Patti together. He raises an eyebrow and Kevin matter-of-factly says they “tell each other everything” but we know that’s not true and not just because nobody ever actually does that but also because Kevin hasn’t mentioned the ghost of Patti to Nora. He’s still haunted and using headphone hard rock to drive Patti out of his skull but she’s not going anywhere.

The next morning Nora and Kevin check out their new house. It has a southern gothic feel with to-the-roof columns, a long front porch, and lots of space inside. Also, though, it’s kind of a wreck with ancient and peeling wallpaper, zappy electricals, and the ghost of Patti causing a ruckus. She blasts Kevin with gas flames from the wonky stove so he hits his head. Then, while she’s got him vulnerable, Patti proclaims that she exists. Right at this moment John Murphy comes to the door and invites them to the party that night – just like in episode one. Except this time we see it from Kevin’s POV inside the house.

After the Murphy BBQ Nora and Kevin agree that they like their new neighbors. But once inside their new house Kevin gets all rage-against-this-new-life. He punches the wall and yells about how it was just supposed to be a trial thing until Nora went all fucking in. She leaves him to stew and Jill asks her dad to please not fuck this whole thing up. Jill says Nora likes it here because she feels safe. So, Kevin apologizes to Nora and she tells him if there’s something he needs to tell her she can handle it. He doesn’t tell her about Patti’s ghost in his head.

In the final scene of episode two Kevin wakes up next to the flopping fish on the waterfall rocks where the girls disappeared. He’s covered in mud and Axis -Mundi-grade confused with the headlights of the teenage girls’ car shining on his tight bod. Then Michael and John Murphy drive up and Kevin hides. He hears Michael say that the water’s gone and then John calling for Evie. Patti, hiding right beside Kevin, whispers, “Uh oh.”

Mysterious Incident List:

Kevin’s father moving to Australia is the second mention of the continent/country for The Leftovers season two. In episode one that letter the mysterious man living atop the tower sent through Michael was addressed to “Sydney Australia.” What’s up Down Under?

The dog quarantine reminds us that animals play an extraordinary role in this world. Remember how all the dogs went rabid in Mapleton? And birds seem to never die in Miracle. So what happens to dogs here?

What is Matt not telling Nora about Miracle?

Speaking of not telling stuff, that conversation Nora and Kevin had where they laid everything out on the table completely lacked probing. If someone told you they hired prostitutes to shoot them there does seem to be an inevitable next question… at the very least.

How did Kevin end up awakening at the waterfall right after the earthquake? It seems like another anomaly and thus could perhaps also be “A Matter of Geography.”

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “Axis Mundi” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Axis Mundi A Texas town in which no one departed becomes a magnet for tourists and people.

If you’re not familiar with the beautiful sadness and polarizing plotlines of The Leftovers season one, look no further than the title of season two, episode one, “Axis Mundi.” Watching the first season was to witness a world’s grieving process; each character mired in messy recovery from the “Sudden Departure,” a global, instantaneous, and unexplained disappearance of 140 million people – two percent of the earth’s population. Season one tangles us in this mystery – where the unanswerable questions live. It’s our own personal Axis Mundi, AKA the celestial pole or connecting place between what is known and unknown.

Speaking of place, season two of The Leftovers takes us to a new location from the start. By necessity, given that season one’s finale literally sent the main location up in flames one suburban house at a time. This fiery cleansing was just what the show needed. It’s a fresh start and there are plentiful new mysteries to boot. Chief Garvey (Justin Theroux) leaves charred Mapleton, New York for a little town called “Miracle” in what was formerly just Jarden, Texas. They call it Miracle because it’s the only place where not a single person departed. Thus, Jarden has become a sort of Mecca that appeals to seekers of all kinds, including Garvey. So, he packs up his freshly minted family and heads down south for a fresh lease on hope. The new intro song ends with the lyric, “Let the mystery be,” and damn it’s some good advice that the characters certainly seem to be taking in season two. Instead of looking for answers about the why and how of the “Sudden Departure” they’re moving forward figuratively and literally.

“Axis Mundi” begins by venturing back to prehistoric times with a heartbreaking and lovely story told without words. The action in many ways parallels the season one finale when Nora finds the abandoned baby and is then ready to commit to love even though she was about to give up everything only a moment before. This all takes place at a spot that transitions from prehistoric into a modern day waterfall and watering hole in the “Miracle” town of Jarden. There’s a shift to a sunny colorful day where teenage girls frolic in the same water where the prehistoric baby was lost and found. Dr. Brian Goodheart collects water into buckets nearby and waves a friendly farewell to the teen girls as they leave. A sign forbids water removal from the area but even though wearing a visitor bracelet, Dr. Goodheart seems oblivious. One of the teens, Evie, also fills her bottle without fear before leaving with her friends.

She returns home, a picaresque place with a seemingly perfect family – the Murphy’s, including Evie’s mother, Erika (Regina King) a doctor, her fireman father, John (Kevin Carroll) and preppy do-gooder bro, Michael (Jovan Adepo.) Michael works in town among the souvenir tables of Miracle handing out pamphlets to tourists. The buses stop there to drop off the fresh-faced hopefuls. This town is all about hope for a better life – a perfect next step for season two after a season one of suffering through grief. Unfortunately the next scene doesn’t quite deliver on that promise when Evie’s father goes to a town prophet. The “seer” reluctantly informs John that “something bad is about to happen to you.” John pretends he doesn’t believe it but the prophet was right about his upcoming birthday… The prophet is clearly a true believer, whether John is or not.

Next, before you can blink, three quick scenes flash onscreen. First, talented Evie sings a song about Jarden with a confident lilt in the gym at school. Then in snippet two, she runs full frontal buck ass naked (not even her glasses on) through some leaves. In the final scene of the brief trio Evie tells her father a knock knock joke. These short scenes are seemingly disconnected, sharing only Evie in her three very different worlds – school, the natural world, and family. After we’re left with John laughing at her joke, he’s at the firehouse. His fellow firefighters are surprised John’s calling for a “five” because he says that the prophet is Selling some lies and BS. We soon find out John means a five alarm fire. The firemen go to the prophet’s house, beat him up, and then torch his place hardcore. It burns to the ground, The Leftovers style.

Erika picks the bits of the prophet’s house out of his scarred and bloody face in her emergency room as he tells her about the warning he gave her husband. The next morning Erika goes for a run, digs up a white shoebox and finds a bird inside. It flies away. She seems to know what’s going on with this and it’s comforting to know somebody does. Then the Murphys go to church where Michael gives a gratitude pep talk, “We are spared!” Right after this the preacher from season one, Matt Jamison (a commanding Christopher Eccleston) fills in as guest preacher for the parish. He’s as enthusiastic as ever, though held back a bit by the outgoing Reverend. We find out soon after that John doesn’t share the rest of his family’s enthusiasm for church.

The next morning the Garveys move in next door to the Murphys and John drops by to meet Nora and baby Lily before inviting them to a backyard barbecue celebrating his birthday. At the BBQ Nora explains that their new preacher, Matt Jamison, is her brother and Jill is Kevin’s daughter. Later when everybody’s warmed up a bit John tells them he spent more than six years in prison for attempted murder, raising Chief Garvey’s handsome brow a bit. Michael and Jill exchange noticeable eyeball attraction upon meeting and later we find out Evie has epilepsy – so teen angst plotlines seem established. When the Garveys leave after a particularly neighborly good time BBQ, Evie hits the road with her friends.

But then at three in the morning they’re all awakened when an earthquake hits the Murphy house and soon they realize Evie never came home from her outing with friends. Phones start ringing and it turns out all her friends are missing as well. John and Michael drive to the waterfall from the first scene looking for Evie. Her phone’s in the car parked by rocks where fish now flop looking like tiny silver wings glimmering in the moonlight. The water is gone and girls are nowhere to be found. John’s shouting, “Evie! Evie! Evie!” and then the scene shifts to Erika crying at her dining room table. It seems that burning the prophet’s house down may not have changed the gravity of his prediction after all. Where’s the water? Where are the girls? This must be The Leftovers because we’ve got questions.

Other mysterious incidents:

Reminiscent of season one’s many wild animal trespassers, the Murphy’s eat lunch in a diner where Farmer Jerry enters with a goat. He throws down a sheet of plastic, slits the goat’s throat, and then with an offhand, “sorry folks” drags the dead animal away.

A woman waters her lawn in a wedding dress and veil.

Michael attends to a bearded old man who lives atop a tower with the word “miracle’ scratched in it with large block letters. He mails the man’s letter, though it lacks an address, and brings him three meals a day using a bucket and pulley system.

Evie gave her dad a gift before she left with her friends and said it was the best gift he’d ever get in his life. He hasn’t opened it yet.

Michael visits a different old man at night, knocking on his door and offering to pray with him. Potential for this man to be Michael’s grandfather because he’s old enough and looks a bit like him.

A cluster of cracks in the road is covered with plate glass, as if a museum piece.

Visitors to Miracle wear neon bracelets much like the kind for hospital patients and the Garveys have them even though they bought their house “so they won’t be bothered by park rangers,” just for a few weeks until they get acclimated.

John attempted to murder somebody and when Garvey asks him what happened he says, “Well, I didn’t try hard enough.”

–Katherine Recap