Who Is The Leftovers Trying Hardest To Kill In Episode 2?
If your name is Kevin, you have a 50/50 shot at making it.
Coming out of the first season of The Leftovers, you might have assumed that everyone was having a terrible week every single week. All weeks were bad weeks! Mercifully, that's no longer the case -- though it's also reasonable to assume that somebody's having a rough time at any given moment while somebody else takes an angst breather. Who's who this week? From "literally dead" to "unexpectedly revived, career-wise":
Australian Kevin, Chief of Police
Who, you say? You know: Kevin, the Chief of Police! Only not Kevin Garvey, the Chief of Police in Jarden, Texas; this is another Kevin, the Chief of Police in an unnamed town in Australia, where we appear to be spending the rest of the series. This Kevin is an asshole, but he also probably didn't expect to find himself accosted in his driveway by a troupe of middle-aged ladies on horseback, shot with a tranquilizer, kidnapped, and waterboarded to death.
It's unclear when this scene takes place, but it IS clear that, sometime in the future, Matt's Book of Kevin has made it all the way from Jarden to the other side of the world -- according to the "scripture" one of them quotes, the women are looking for a police chief named Kevin who can't die. Unfortunately for all (but especially this guy), they have the wrong Kevin.
However, the women aren't totally on the wrong path. Bursting out of the house to see what the women are up to, just as they realized They've Made A Huge Mistake? Kevin Garvey Sr.! TWIST!
Poor Nora. So often on this emotionally chaotic show, she comes as an enormous relief, proof of the possibility of healing. She's capable, she's steely, she's funny, she's down-to-earth, she's largely accepting of things about Kevin and others that might not go over well with people of less character and life experience. But this week, she's the one melting down, and we see the extent to which her own grief still haunts her and shapes her behavior.
To be fair, Nora's having a rough week: she responds to a random phone call and travels to St. Louis just to make really sure the '80s sitcom actor Mark Linn-Baker cannot reunite her with her departed kids. Then she stops by Kentucky to (benevolently) stalk Lily, who's been returned to Christine sometime during the previous three years; Lily doesn't recognize her. When she gets back to Jarden, she walks in on Kevin with a plastic bag duct-taped over his head -- but he always tears it off, he sheepishly explains, and hey, maybe they should have a baby! Also, they're going to Australia -- he thinks for work, but actually so Nora can pay $20,000 to take Linn-Baker up on maybe seeing her kids or maybe dying of radiation poisoning. To make things worse, no machine seems to recognize her as human, which is frustrating and may or may not be an ongoing plot point. She does, however, get to blow off some steam with an old pal on a trampoline. More on that later.
Much of this is of Nora's own making: things would almost certainly be easier for her, at least in the short term, if she'd blocked Larry Appleton's number and stayed at home, making jokes about dating Jesus. That is, of course, not the way things work on television, and not the way things work on this show in particular, and sometimes not the way things work with people and their feelings (though, of course, not everybody has the resources to follow up on thin, irrational possibilities like this). Is any of this a good idea? Practically, it doesn't seem like it; emotionally, it might be the kind of lead that becomes the one that got away, or it might, as Nora says, incinerate you. On this show, I feel like there's a 75% chance it's the latter.
I mean, maybe things aren't that bad for Pillar Man. When you've settled for living on a pillar because the police won't let your wife publicly crucify you, a heart attack and a long fall might be just another day.
Matt's just a drive-by in this episode, as he buries Pillar Man and marvels to Nora about Pillar Man's wife's loyalty -- she set up a tent at the base of the pillar and took care of him for five years without any thanks. He clearly wishes someone had given him some thanks for his metaphorical pillar-side tent, leaving out the part about where he tried to imprison Mary and Noah in Jarden city limits. We also learn that Matt and Nora's parents died in a fire when Nora was five, and that Matt said it didn't hurt because they were already in heaven -- a position Matt still believes and Nora still doesn't.
Also, A+ use of '90s comedienne Brett Butler, reprising her role as Pillar Man's hard-bitten and freakishly loyal wife.
American Kevin, Chief of Police
Things are currently pretty good, all things considered, for this particular Kevin.
He cleans up Pillar Man's personal effects, flirts very adorably with Nora on the job, decides they should have a baby, and only panics a little about the suspicion that he might be immortal and that his brother-not-in-law might be writing a book about it. (In whatever the opposite of retrospect is, maybe he should nip this in the bud now, to make things better for the other Kevin -- but he doesn't.) Nora laughs hysterically when Kevin brings up the baby thing, but that's not really about him. So far, so good, sort of?
After traveling to St. Louis and coming back without meaningful contact with any of the kids she's lost, Nora takes solace in the company of someone we haven't seen yet this season: Erika, who seems to be living on her own somewhere in town and moving on with her life after Evie's death and the final dissolution of the Murphy family. Erika appears to be doing fine, and she's a sight for Nora's sore eyes, as Regina King always is for all of us. She sets Nora right, telling her she's not crazy and pulling the story of the broken arm out of her -- Nora slammed her arm in the car door to cover up a Wu-Tang Clan tattoo she got to cover up tattoos of her departed children's names, after she realized she didn't want people asking her about them all the time. Erika sympathizes -- after all, she got to bury Evie, which isn't the case for Nora and her kids -- and takes her out for a jump on the trampoline she just bought. Against the afternoon sky, they look like they're flying.
In any case, this is how we know Erika's doing all right: she's a forty-six-year-old woman making a romper look perfectly respectable. It's nice to know that kind of healing is possible for us all.
Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay, & David Pomeranz
These people are probably not having a very stressful week, unless it's due to all the royalties once again winging their way now that the Perfect Strangers theme song has been repurposed in the darkest, and most hilarious, and most satisfying way possible. If this is some kind of sick one-off joke and "Nothing's Gonna Stand In My Way" isn't the theme for the entire season, I may as well just disappear, myself, in protest.