Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 4: Orange Sticker

Earthquake! Yes it’s the same one as at the end of the first episode and now we join Noras who wants to know where Kevin is in the middle of the night since he’s busy wallowing in a mud hole even as her neighbours go looking for Evie. When Nora hears from Erika that Evie is “gone” she has a clear moment of utter panic, Especially when she sees a dog running loose trailing a lead behind it.

She goes back inside and faints.

When she wakes up she desperately, panickingly tries to get the internet working before finally dialling 911 and asking, almost incoherently, whether “it happened again.”

When Kevin arrives she just clings to him desperately. Then turns around, takes the baby and heads upstairs. Ghost!Patti tells Kevin he has some explaining to do. She also watches him as he showers off all the mud.

The next day, Nora is clearly not a happy person even as Kevin explains what happened to him after he went sleep walking. She also points out how dubious it would be for him to go to the cops to explain how he just happened to appear where Evie and her friends vanished. He’s called in along with many other people to help in the search and rescue. Nora goes as well to the now dry lake. It will also give them chance to find Kevin’s phone which he lost that night – he also notices he left a muddy hand print on Evie’s abandoned car

One of the Rangers nearly hassles Kevin for not being a local before John Murphy tells him he’s a neighbour. Again we see how strict Miracle is with outsiders. They all go searching while Nora stumbles across a prayer circle praying in the name of the spared of Miracle. Her brother, Matt, among them.

And the police find the palm print (it was pretty obvious). They’re also inundated by outsiders desperate to get the remaining drops of water. Erika doesn’t care, she says “it’s just water.”

At least, after a day of searching, Kevin and Nora haven’t found his phone but Kevin says they can claim he dropped it while searching. Nora who is definitely in a very bad mood, tells him to keep looking.

She goes to get ciggies and booze – and Virgil, an older man, pays for groceries (if booze and ciggies count as groceries) when she realises she doesn’t have her wallet. He also says “I’m sorry for your loss” which confuses Nora and gets him kicked out by the clerk – it seems he has a habit of this? Whatever this is (psychic prediction or random condolences?)

Kevin keeps looking while Ghost!Patti claims to have all the answers and pokes him for not telling Nora the whole story (he didn’t just wake in the lake, he woke with a breezeblock tied to his ankle). She also leads him in a game of ghostly hot and cold to find the phone. – which kind of means he acknowledged she exists. She then starts singing – before warning Kevin not to get in the car

What car? Well John Murphy arrives and offers Kevin a lift. Despite an initial reluctance he agrees. John takes him on a ride – and it’s not home. They drive past the camp where the outsiders camp for weeks before being allowed to visit Miracle. He also pokes what Kevin is looking for – to feel safe. John disagrees with that – because he’s sure there’s nothing special or safe about Miracle.

They’re stopped in traffic and by the crowds of screaming people and Kevin overhears John raging against Isaac (with his psychic finger painting) he thinks the palm print is a message from him. As Patti puts it “you framed someone without even trying”.

John gets ready to “Talk” to Isaac with a weapon. Kevin manages to talk him down and offer to speak to Isaac himself. Ghost!Patti is impressed. And then tells us a completely unnecessary story of her ex-husband, cheating and his fetishes.

Well he thinks he does right before John goes ballistic on an entirely different room – where Isaac really is. In the fight John is shot – Isaac is armed. Kevin pulls him off and takes Kevin away. Isaac has some parting words “there’s nothing more dangerous than a man who believes in nothing.”

John agrees to let the hallucinating Kevin drive, but won’t go to a hospital. He gets John to Erika, a doctor, who treat him. She seems quite calm, collected and professional about the whole thing.

Erika explains John’s warnings and house burnings – because after Miracle was real a lot of people made a lot of outlandish, ridiculous claims. She also tells about Evie and Michael are twins despite being born weeks apart. She talks about Evie, tearfully saying how special she is.

Ghost!Patti is impressed – saying the Murphies have love while Kevin and Nora just have “damage” control – poking the flaws in their relationship until Kevin finally breaks and shouts at her. She tells him he tried to kill himself – he tied the block to his ankle, he tried to drown himself. He sits down in shock while Ghost!Patti describes it

She also tells him that Evie and the girls Departed. Oh and the hermit on the tower can see Patti.

Back home Jill asks Michael to come over and fix her sink (not a euphemism. Her sink is broken). She asks why he isn’t looking for her sister and he says “my sister isn’t here any more.” This is apparently linked to his faith. He thinks his sister Departed

Nora comes home with booze which she shares with the 17 year old Jill and they take Kevin’s issues (which kill has some wise insight into). Nora also dismisses the idea that Evie is departed because she worked on so many fraudulent claims when working for the Departed benefits office and she found no “secondary” departures – (though not all were fraudulent, she tells of a man who faked his Departure to leave his wife). Despite her fears, she now insists that the Departure was a one time event – considering it the Arc that removed animals before the flood.

Nora goes to church and asks her brother if Miracle is real. Is it safe. Is it special as Matt claimed. Between Earthquakes and missing people Nora is not convinced. Matt tells Nora that Mary woke up – she woke and talked to him on the first night in Miracle (though she is still catatonic now). The people in the town are discouraging him from talking about it. Possibly because of John and his habit of burning houses down.

Jill returns some tools to Michael and we learn of “verified” stickers on every house which confirm there was a lack of departures – and Michael breaks down and cries about his missing sister. Jill holds him.

Kevin goes home to Nora, who assures him that she knows he didn’t hurt Evie and the girls. But she also cannot wake up alone again like that – and she pulls out his handcuffs and they cuff themselves together before sleeping

(And my terribad brain just pictures Kevin sleep walking and dragging Nora along behind him).

Michael removes the “verified no departure” sticker from his house.

Here more than anything else, we see why Nora needs Miracle. Nora needs a place where every moment she can’t see her loved ones she doesn’t worry whether they have disappeared as well.

I think this brings home something that the show HASN’T covered so far – fear. We’ve seen doubt and grief and lots of angst and fury and despair – but not fear. I think because the first season never really considered the idea that it could happen again. But that must be a primary fear. Ultimately when something terrible happens and you don’t have even the slightest clue why – and therefore don’t have the slightest clue how to stop it – then the fact it could recur must be a fear.

There are a lot of things that could kill us at any time – sudden illness, accident, etc –but we know the WHY behind them. We even, to some degree, know how to increase/reduce the risk of them (even if that’s a self-deception). It’s what makes the Departed more frightening than, say, a random heart attack or an unexpected axe murderer in the frozen food isle or being struck down by cancer bacon. The lack of cause and effect, of knowing what happened is so much more terrifying

I think it has been a real hole in the series so far and it needs to be explored. How do you live in a world where your loved ones – you – could just vanish, without a trace, when any moment you are not looking at them they could have disappeared and not even left a body behind? And how many people are like what Nora describes – someone goes away for perfectly mundane reasons but how do you know they haven’t Departed?

“Oh hey your sister’s vanished and you’re probably staying home in case she gets in touch and generally worried. Wanna fix my sink? I don’t know how to, y’know, call plumbers.” Really? No Jill. No.

Ghost!Patti is much more fun than living Patti was. And she pokes some interesting points in Nora and Kevin – even if she’s unduly harsh, are both of them in a healthy position for a relationship? From the first time they returned in this season they led with their pain, their problems, their wounds. It was front and central of their re-introduction. Hough I object to the idea of suicidal people not loving their families – that is grossly simplistic and ignores the power of pain, mental illness and despair.

Even though we haven’t seen a great deal about John, we can see more of his motivation for the house burning and “no miracles” insistence. We see how completely extreme people are to try and get into Miracle and the brutal measures the Rangers use to keep outsiders out. How hard it is for them even to leave Miracle – and Miracles and woo-woo are a direct cause of that. And how much worse must it have been when the Departure first happened?