Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 8: Cairo

Someone let the art school student out of his cage and he’s let loose on the opening scene – a musical montage of Kevin preparing a dinner and, elsewhere, Patti doing one of the typically very random Guilty Remnant things – laying out a huge number of outfits on the floor (I’m assuming each ensemble represents one of the Departed).

After which, Patti hands Laurie a huge wadge of cash and a note that says “Ready?” Laurie nods.

Kevin was setting the table for a dinner with Jill, Aimee and Nora (who still has the GR stalking her, we also see the GR don’t just follow people but actually track their movements – and Kevin still has his enraged barking dog). You can cut the awkwardness with a knife which gets more awkward when Aimee asks about her job and Jill asks about her gun, many many questions which just get worse and more invasive and generally reminds us all that Jill is not a pleasant person. Kevin objects but Nora is much more ready – and hands her purse to Jill and tells her to search it. Obviously there’s no gun. After the unnecessary bag searching over the entrees they go back to dinner.

When Nora leaves she seems quite blasé about the whole thing and further advises Kevin not to go back in and argue with Jill because that’s what she’s looking for. Kevin starts to protest that Jill started it and Nora makes an arch comment on the maturity of that statement. They say goodnight with a kiss and Nora being all positive.

Kevin goes to bed and and is woken up in his truck in the middle of the woods by dean the dog-shooter who takes him to a cabin – inside which is Patti, unconscious and tied to a chair.

Meanwhile, Megan loses her temper and starts screaming and attacking Matt who is handing out fliers with her name on it telling her to “go home.” Definitely a breach of GR protocols of silent emotionlessness. Laurie drags her home while Megan rages about Matt writing about her mother and how they should stop him. Laurie tries to signal her to be quiet and to sit down. Megan does but insists on seeing what Patti says

While waiting, Megan watches television and continues to talk to Laurie’s visible fury. She sends the messages “no violent” and “it’s weak”. When Megan protests (in writing) that she isn’t weak, Laurie takes her to see Rev. Matt and his church (Nora is there). We learn that Megan’s mother died 1 day before the Departure and Matt accuses the GR of “hijacking” her grief. Megan writes an apology which Matt accepts even while Nora is openly scornful. Matt declares he isn’t giving up on Megan. Nora hasn’t finished though – she suggests if Laurie’s going door to door handing out apologies she should visit Jill. Bullseye Nora.

Unfortunately this means we need to join Jill, Aimee and the twins and we get a little more depth on Jill’s objection to Nora: she doesn’t believe Nora is “ok” after losing her whole family and that she’s just hiding her not-ok-ness. Jill and Aimee get more hostile – and Jill asks if Aimee had sex with her dad because… random? Aimee responds with “yes” but covered in a lot of sarcasm. After swearing at each other Aimee storms off, tearfully.

Jill and the wonder twins decide to break into Nora’s home to find the gun. The twins find Nora’s bullet proof vest and Jill finds Nora’s child’s eerily preserved room – and a gun hidden in a child’s game. She cries

When Jill goes home she finds Aimee has packed to leave (crashing at another person’s life – she does live with the Garvey’s). She thanks Jill for letting her stay and hopes Jill feels better, though Jill just says she’s fine – Jill is calm, Aimee tearful. Jill doesn’t stop Aimee leaving. The dog Kevin took in starts barking and Jill goes out and cuts the rope holding it and it runs off. The music playing sadly tells me this is supposed to be deep and meaningful

Back to Laurie and Megan with Megan assuming Laurie is super upset by Nora’s bullseye and asks how Laurie is – speaking again much to Laurie’s irritation. Megan keeps talking until Laurie grabs her and puts her hand over her mouth. She then takes a delivery – a truck load of packages (which look to me like those fake bodies of the Departed that can be made) with the money that Patti gave her. The GR members take them into the church next to the clothing Patti already laid out.

Patti is still being held kidnapped and a shocked Kevin remembers some of the night before (or we get a flashback?) of him hitting Patti and knocking her unconscious. Kevin freaks out and asks Dean what happened because he can’t remember. Dean isn’t thrilled since Kevin was the instigator and isn’t a big fan of Kevin claiming sleep walking. They ran across Patti after leaving a bar and Kevin decided to violently attack and abduct her and take her to Cairo, New York – Dean went along with it because apparently in his world this is what you do with friends. This isn’t the first memory lapse and we learn the whole reason Kevin has a dog is because he bet Dean he could civilise it.

More memory explorations are curtailed because Patti wakes up. Kevin tries to reassure Patti and say he was wrong (but he also blames her for “pushing him”). He tells her that they’re even and he’ll let her go and they can forget everything (uh-huh). She spits on him and says “I don’t forget”. Yes, she actually speaks. She throws his vicious misogynist words from the night before back at him and tells him her intent to report him to the authorities. She describes how she will ruin his life, how he can’t undo it and how this will happen if he doesn’t “finish what he’s started.” Also, she wants a cigarette.

Kevin tries to question Patti about the GR – who organises them, who leads them but Patti denies any leadership – and turns the lens on Dean who is a ghost in the system with no records or licenses at all. Dean terms himself a “guardian angel” which doesn’t impress Patti at all

Dean drags Kevin outside to demand Kevin step up – like he had the night before – and end it like he said he would. Kevin protests that he doesn’t want to hurt Patti and Dean pushes him, bringing up what the GR took from Kevin while he cries; he knows Kevin is too good to do what he needs so suggests he goes to sleep and let his alter-ego out.

Kevin decides to call Nora and leave a plaintive message on her answer machine. Then he finds a firepit of shoes, oddly enough – and all his missing white shirts nailed to trees in a circle. Kevin has something of a breakdown in the middle of them.

He returns to the cabin and tells Dean they’re leaving – relying on it just being their words against Patti’s, but Dean has already “resolved” issues and put a plastic bag on Patti’s head. Kevin and Dean fight as Kevin tries to get the bag off Patti’s head; Dean tries to pin him and convince him to let Patti die – but Kevin manages to tear the bag. Dean leaves

That leaves Patti and Kevin alone and Patti continuing to tell Kevin how screwed he is. She goes on with her semi-recruitment pitch and explains the GR – while everyone else tries to move on from the Departure, the GR obsesses over it to the exclusion of all else; removing everything else about them except the Departure (quite why this is useful or anything escapes me). She adds that Laurie joined them not because of Kevin (as he thinks) but because the GR offered her a purpose – which is all anyone wants now, a reason to live. (I’m not sure what reason the GR is supposed to present here). She even upholds Gladys who, because of her brutal murder, will now be never forgotten.

Kevin asks Patti if she arranged Glady’s murder – and Patti says “she was ok with it.” And that Laurie will be ok with it for herself as well – which she assures Kevin is coming soon. Kevin finally realises that Patti actually wants him to murder her. She begins a long and pretty cryptic tirade about waking up and understanding and not hiding with lots of tears

Kevin cuts her free – he may lose his job but he refuses to love his mind listening to her. He turns to leave after telling her that, no, he doesn’t understand her. So she grabs a shard of glass and stabs herself in the neck. Her last words are “you understand.”

Back at the GR, they’ve finally noticed Patti is missing; Laurie decides to go ahead with whatever they were planning and makes a point of pulling out Nora’s file. Which is when Jill shows up asking to stay with the GR

The GR are clearly unpleasant people – in fact, I am still bemused they are allowed to continue to stalk people the way they are especially given the hostility towards them.

But I think I’m coming to be equally annoyed with Matt – simply because I don’t think the GR’s actions are presented as good or justified – but the way Matt talks about the GR is blatant patronising contempt for people of a different religion. He’s not even condemning their actions or their attitudes towards others or condemnation of others – he is patronisingly speaking on the choices the GR make in their own lives (like calling Megan’s grief “hijacked” like he knows her grief and how she should deal with her grief better than him). I do think the GR is a cult and it’s clear they do target vulnerable people – but Matt (and his signs) does exactly the same thing.

Contrast that with Nora whose condemnation is based entirely on the people Nora hurt, who hosed the GR down because they were stalking her.

Kevin, Dean and Patti? I just have absolutely no idea what is happening here. Kevin is being shown as unstable and even “dangerously insane” after so many tropes, he blames the GR for a lot without confronting that Laurie has apparently made a choice and I have no clue who or even what Dean is (his claim of being an angel may actually be true for all I know) and given how calm and vocal Patti is I’m still not sure whether Patti knew this was going to happen or even openly orchestrated it. Especially after the revelation of Gladys which has pretty much destroyed the good work the show did with depicting a hate crime.

I just aren’t following the whole GR storyline – I can understand obsessing over the Departure, I can even understand seeking  Purpose. But I don’t see the GR actually providing either – the closest it gets to being understandable to me is the complete disconnect from their own feelings to silence pain and doubt; but even then I’m not sure what their random trolling of everyone else is supposed to achieve or even how it achieves the recruitment it does; let alone their self-martyrdom.

I think Jill and Nora are somewhat interesting but that the symbolism is being stretched a little too far (hence they reason they have the completely lampshade it). Jill is hostile to Nora being ok, even while hoping she is ok – because if Nora, after all that happened to her, is ok then anyone can become ok. Nora’s healing is supposed to be a symbol of hope for Jill – which she’s not sure if she can trust. I can kind of see it – but it feels stretched, it feels like we needed the twins to openly explain this because otherwise it just doesn’t show itself well.