The Leftovers 1.06 Review: “Guest”

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Tonight was another character study on The Leftovers, this time focusing on Nora Durst.  As much as I enjoy these types of episodes, I wish the show would stick to one consistent pattern rather than shifting from one week of the Garvey family at the core to the next week being all about a different character.

Fortunately, Nora’s interesting enough that she was able to carry this episode well.  Her husband and two kids are Departed, and since then she’s been working for the Department of Sudden Departure.  Her grocery shopping habits are extremely telling about her state of mind.  She buys a gallon of milk, Pop Tarts and cereals which wouldn’t be out of the ordinary until we see her unpacking the groceries at home.  She throws out an untouched full gallon of milk and presumably expired cereals because a part of her may still be expecting her family to come back.

The hypothetical possibility of the Departed returning is brought up by a judge granting Nora a divorce from her cheating husband.  It’s odd to think that a judge could dissolve a marriage when one half of the partnership is gone but these are strange times after all.  The judge also asks Nora if she wishes to continue to go by her married name or if she would rather revert to her maiden name of Jamison.  At the time, Nora wants to remain as Nora Durst but I wonder if she’ll change her mind now that we’ve seen how Holy Wayne’s “healing” already shook her out of her old shopping habits.

Of course, her name was another issue altogether at her work conference in New York City.  Upon checking in, she discovers that someone signed in as her.  My first question is why weren’t they checking IDs when they were handing out the attendee badges?  That whole identity crisis of having to use a guest badge could’ve easily been avoided.

Perhaps because of her guest badge (but probably more likely her standoffish attitude) Nora catches the attention of Marcus.  He encourages Nora to blow off the depressing panels about death in exchange for a party in his suite.  It’s there that she finally learns of his extremely creepy business.  Remember those “dead” bodies strewn across the road in an accident that Tom and Christine saw?  They are the work of Marcus’ company.  With provided pictures and videos of Departed people, he’s able to recreate a lifelike “body” known as a Loved One.  He sees it as simply providing the supply for the millions of people who demand a chance to be able to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones.  I see it as incredibly creepy that he travels to conferences with a very realistic replica of himself.

Nora also meets the author of the “What’s Next” book that they handed out at the convention.  They get into an argument at the bar, and she chases him out calling him a fraud.  Another guy witnessed her reaction to Patrick Johanson and offers to prove to her that he is indeed a fraud.  For whatever reason she goes with him to this hidden apartment where she’s then asked to pay $1000 to see whatever is on the other side of a curtain there.  She’s so desperate that she logs into her Paypal account to authorize the payment.

Holy Wayne is there, hiding out and having his minions do the recruitment for whatever it is he does.  He apparently took Patrick Johanson’s pain away a year ago, hence his nonchalant attitude over the “ambiguous loss” of his Departed family.  It’s still unclear what power Wayne holds but like I said, his hug appears to have taken the pain from Nora when she returns home.  Wayne did say that he saw his own death and it’s coming soon, so hopefully we get answers before that happens.

Before Nora left for this conference, she was called into her boss’ office with a question from the higher-ups in Annapolis.  It’s apparently strange that all of the people she interviews for their Departure benefits answer “yes” to one question.  Her boss thinks that maybe she’s influencing everyone by sharing her personal story, but she swears that’s not the case.  It isn’t until the end of the episode that we finally see the question that asks if the person believes the Departed is in a better place.  Nora gets her first “no” answer then.  Not sure if that’s a big coincidence given it occurs after she was “healed” by Wayne or if she’s starting to question that herself.

A few other questions were raised in this episode.  For one, why in the world does Nora pay prostitutes to shoot her?  She wears a bulletproof vest obviously, but what does she get out of it?  She’s knocked unconscious onto the inflatable mattress behind her for a moment.  Is that her way of attempting to see her kids again, however briefly it may last?

Also, Kevin shows up at her door and asks her out to dinner.  They had run into each other outside of the divorce court earlier when Nora was shockingly rude and wanted him to ditch his daughter to run off to Miami with her for the weekend.  He warns her that he’s a “f—ing mess” and she just laughs that off and accepts the dinner date.  She’s a pretty big mess herself so they’re definitely a good match for each other.

What’d you think of this episode?  How much longer do you think it’ll be before we get any answers about Holy Wayne?

[Photo via HBO]

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