Wow! What an amazing episode to follow last week's excellent entry into the sophomore season for a show that received a fair amount of criticism for its overly depressing tone. The Leftovers has increased in quality each week since its premiere. One concern looms in the air in that each episode so far has focused mainly on a few characters whereas last season the majority of the episodes touched on the lives of every character from Kevin to Jill to Meg to Patti and to many others. Once all these characters converge on the screen in the same episode, something truly beautiful surely will occur in order to definitively claim this year's top spot for television shows.
Anyways, this episode followed the stories of Laurie and Tommy in the aftermath of last season's finale. The mother son combo has built a small but seemingly effective operation in which they attempt to lure fragile spirits away from the hands of the Guilty Remnant. Laurie has put her past career as a therapist into practice yet again to help reintroduce damaged people into the world that they abandoned for the Guilty Remnant. Basically, the operation involves Tommy infiltrating each Guilty Remnant chapter in order to find any individual who exhibits signs of pain such as sobbing while cleaning dishes in Susan's case or unwillingly giving up a watch as in Howard's case. On the other hand, his mother rehabilitates these individuals with a loving approach in which she provides cots, toilet paper, and clothing for each person as soon as he or she enters the therapy session room. Laurie stays with each person to provide some comfort and guidance while she furiously types on her laptop to complete her book on the evils of the Guilty Remnant's practices. This entire process, by the way, affects only one person, if Tommy and Laurie are lucky, as viewers later discover is not always the case. However, much sacrifice between Tommy and Laurie has touched the several people they have managed to help.
Before breaking down Tommy and Laurie, a few minor storylines provided many thought-provoking, interesting, and truly devastating outcomes. First, Meg returned to the show as an apparently high ranking member of the Guilty Remnant. She commanded the members who kidnapped Tommy with such ease and strength that she clearly wields some type of leadership role in the Guilty Remnant's operations. Her relatively brief appearance provided two truly shocking moments. First, she essentially raped Tommy who was handcuffed inside the truck and was powerless to whatever plans Meg had in mind. Tommy seemed to enjoy Meg's actions eventually, but this scene is quite shocking considering that members of the Guilty Remnant deny themselves of all worldly pleasures. After this chain of events, the male members doused Tommy in gasoline before Meg frighteningly stared at Tommy with an imminent threat of setting him afire. (Side Note: Great acting from Liv Tyler to give such a stoic performance in such crucial scenes for both her and Chris Zylka's characters.) After her decision not to burn him, she remarks, "Tell your mom Meg says hello." This thinly veiled threat truly affects Tommy later in the episode when he breaks down in front of his mother over the torture he endured as an undercover member of this sadistic cult.
Now, the truly devastating story in this entire episode is Susan's redemption and destruction. Susan abandoned her family for the Guilty Remnant for a few months, but Tommy managed to spot her sadness and bring her to his mother. She readjusted herself in order to enter the real world yet again, as her reunion with her husband and son provided such a poignant moment for the show that definitely evoked happiness in viewers everywhere. (Honestly, I personally cried a little at such a touching scene with an amazing score. Props to Max Richter, the man in charge of the score.) Therefore, one can understand any viewer's sadness at the heartbreaking twist in which Susan crashes into a truck; consequently, her actions claimed the lives of her, her husband, and her young son. As Tommy mentions, "She [Susan] was fucked up." Unfortunately, she faced numerous problems in her life while she also lived an extended period of time in loneliness in her stay with the Guilty Remnant. This powerful moment stings viewers, but it also helps them realize that life spirals out of control at times where some people, unfortunately, feel that the only viable option is death. This outcome should never be a solution because anyone can find an outlet to speak about their feelings, yet the sad reality is that some individuals do not find these services or that friend or that loved one in time. The Leftovers punched its viewers with a painful dose of reality and exhibited how such a tragic conclusion damages many other people.
Shifting to Tommy, whom this review has already mentioned several times, he reveals his "powers" that he received from Holy Wayne. Towards the end of the episode, he pleads to his mom that they need to offer something to the people they save because those people have huge gaps of emptiness within themselves after the habits and influences of the Guilty Remnant vanish. Therefore, his solution is to provide that comforting hug to individuals just as Holy Wayne provided millions of people. Tommy wants these people to believe in something. His gift provides a sense of hope and unburdens the stress in each person's life. Although his gift may seem manipulative or dishonest, his reasons for his lie merit a legitimate excuse because of the positive impact he will have on people's lives, especially if his arc follows a similar trajectory as Wayne's story arc last season.
Finally, Laurie provided an outstanding episode that undeniably has viewers cheering for her endeavors this season. She is such a wonderful person and, excuse the language, a badass. She steals back her laptop from the landlord of the office building for her book. And, merely minutes later, she runs over two Guilty Remnant members with her car to the sound of loud music blasting away as she escapes the scene. Laurie represents courage and freedom because she battles for what she thinks is right. Her encounter with the publisher for her book exhibits these qualities as she strangles the publisher for his unwarranted criticism of her book, an action which may have been warranted because he clearly did not read the book very carefully. He called Laurie a whack job and lunatic during her tenure as a brainwashed member of the silent cult. Laurie's actions may seem extreme, but she defends herself and fights for Jill and all the other individuals throughout the world under the trance of the Guilty Remnant. Finally, her breakdown with Tommy demonstrates the tremendous burden crushing her shoulders with her book, patients, son, financial problems, and much more. Laurie definitely deserves some type of award. (Here's an idea. How about voters award Amy Brenneman an Emmy for her magnificent performance in this episode? Truly, an Emmy worthy effort in this episode alone from Amy.)
Some final notes include the beautiful music from Max Richter that appropriately prepared the mood for each scene without the use of any actual songs such as the first two episodes of this season. The writing was top notch as is expected with The Leftovers. One great quote from the episode is "I love my book." This response is so genuine and moving because Laurie is an amazing woman who speaks her mind as seen when she scratched and clawed to protect the spirit of her book. The Leftovers is developing into this year's best show with yet another tremendous installment in an already hauntingly beautiful series.
Thanks for reading. Apologies for the late review, but I will try my best to be more punctual next week. Look forward to a Fargo review by Thursday for an even better episode than the premiere. Come back for more content. Follow me on Twitter @mlozano2 and have a great day.