Thursday, May 25, 2017

Leftovers, Season 3, Episode 6: Certified

So, there’s a decent chance everyone just died on Leftovers. But before we get to this I need to consult some spiritual guidance on how to get through this show.

Ah, excellent advice

So this episode focuses on Laurie, how she was a psychotherapist before the Departure but trying to counsel people who have lost loved ones to the departure was so traumatic it nearly drove Laurie to suicide – and it did drive her to the Guilty Remnant.

And now she’s arrived in Australia and everyone seems to need her services as a counsellor. Her attention is split between two groups of people.

I don’t know if it’s my own thinking or the acting or directing or what but I get a distinct feeling that Laurie is adopting an “oh fuck this” attitude.

Split chronologically (which isn’t how the show did it because chronology is just so old fashioned these days, apparently) Laurie ends up with Nora and Matt trying to track down the scientists with this claimed cure. Laurie pretty much feels this is a suicide machine- but she doesn’t try to talk her out of it. She also refers to Matt, clarifying that he has cancer and isn’t seeking treatment, as also being suicidal. Again, she doesn’t seem to be trying to change their mind.

As they drive, Nora is pretty passive aggressive towards Laurie and her work as a therapist – I think this is because Nora is constantly waiting for Laurie to stop her; she’s pre-emptively defending herself, going on the attack. We have an altercation over Laurie’s lighter – a gift from Jill, her daughter and lots of poking at therapy and what she does with John. She explains excellently why she doesn’t provide therapy to people who are grieving the Departed but she does those grieving the dead (and why she won’t work on Nora). Those grieving the dead want closure – but those grieving the departed don’t. It may not even count as closure (after all, how many of the family of the Departed want hope rather then closure?)

Nora wants closure. Which is definitely ominous.

Nora has a moment of despair with a rather beautiful tragic story asking, basically, why someone who spoil everyone’s fun and hope. It’s really clear she’s talking about herself and her job debunking Departure frauds. Laurie is there to provide gentle reality: because if someone didn’t there’d be chaos.

We also have a nice aside with some reported religious explanation for our naked French sailor nuking an island – and Matt saying his beliefs are ridiculous. Nora duly expresses her opinion of that hypocrisy.

When they arrive at the scientists Nora goes to them after making a rather tearful goodbye – Laurie accepts her as a client so she can claim confidentiality should anyone ask about her. Matt also decides to stay

Whether they’re using the machine believing they will Depart or they’re committing suicide… I’m not sure and I don’t think even they care now.

Second time line, Laurie joins John, Kevin senior, Michael etc waiting for Kevin junior to return. They’ve asked Kevin to die again since they believe Kevin will keep popping back from the dead.

Kevin sr, who is the worst, wants him to die to go harass the ghosts of Aboriginal Australians until he can find more traditional beliefs and practices to steal so he can avert his apocalypse.

Much more tragically, poor Grace just wants someone to talk to her dead children.

Kevin Sr spends much of the time goading Laurie, trying to get her to object, to declare him insane. Reminding her that she was the one who committed him to a mental institution (nothing in his actions since then have shown this to be a bad decision). Laurie doesn’t rise to the bait while at the same time awesomely making it clear with every word and look that she has doesn’t buy into a thing this man says

John is more complex, he and Laurie clearly care for each other – but he hopes desperately that Kevin can reach Erika, his dead daughter. This is actually a really well acted scene in you can see the care between them, you can see that John KNOWS he is not being sensible and almost wants Laurie to tell him to stop, he wants her to confirm he’s being irrational because he can’t let go of hope enough to stop himself. But Laurie says they should see it through

So they do, through more of Kevin The Worst’s blatherings - attempting to call Laurie Doubting Thomas but she just runs with it and proudly declares herself to be Judas. Right before she drugs them all so she can speak to Kevin alone

And, again, she doesn’t try to stop him. She just wants to say goodbye (and she tells him that Nora is “gone”) – and give him the lighter that Jill gave her. Perhaps a reminder of what he still has and how Jill reaching out to her reached her during her Guilty Remnant days.

We also have a sharing of memories and secrets between them which is fun and powerful, underscoring their bond and again vaguely feels like Laurie I trying to throw him a lifeline. One of the secrets is a problem though – Laurie reveals she was pregnant (which we know and she never told Kevin) and that the baby Departed. They talk about how neither she nor Kevin wanted a baby – but this seems to link to the opening scene with Laurie almost committing suicide when counselling a woman who thought she couldn’t have kids, finally getting pregnant and then having that child Depart

I believe Tommy and Jill are adopted. That woman’s story parallels Laurie’s. The problem comes when Laurie and Kevin both clearly state they didn’t want another child. This means that the foetus Departing has a close parallel to abortion – it’s hard to escape that: a mutually unwanted pregnancy that ends (sure without conscious choice but still it’s close). And this foetus Departing leads to both Laurie’s suicide and then joining a cult. I’m pretty sure Crisis Pregnancy Centres (Fake anti-choice advice centres) have a pamphlet suggesting the very same thing.

She refuses to stay with Kevin. She goes scuba diving

Earlier Nora said Scuba diving would be the ultimate suicide for her. There are so many ways to easily engineer an accident, all your loved ones could easily believe it was an accident and they’d have greater peace of mind.

And Laurie goes scuba diving. Before diving she has a call from Jill and Tommy. A silly nonsense call – but one that still reminds us of her happy children. A lifeline like what she handed to Kevin

The episode ends with questions. So many questions. Who lived?

Did Nora and Matt use the Departure Machine?

Did Kevin let them kill him?

Did Laurie have a Scuba accident?

And what was Laurie doing? Was she trying to pull everyone back from the edge? Was she giving up? Has she stopped trying to stop everyone throwing themselves into the abys?

There was actually a lot more to this episode than there has been in the last few trainwrecks. Not saying much given how bad they were, but Laurie the therapist trying to navigate all these deeply hurting people while she herself is still fragile has a power to it.