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