The season opener did not have an opening credits sequence so I was curious to see what it was going to be. Last year was a very happy go lucky tune called ‘Let The Mystery Be’ by Iris DeMent. Episode 2 began with another very happy tune. I couldn’t place it at first but it reminded me of an 80s sitcom theme song. I was right. It was the opening theme song to a sitcom called ‘Perfect Strangers’ which ran on ABC from 1986-1993. The main title was called ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now’ written and performed by David Pomeranz. Will this song play at the open of every Leftover’s episode left? Who knows? But it was certainly fitting for this particular episode.
Perfect Strangers was mentioned in season one when it was revealed that the four lead stars of the show had all departed. In season two, we found out that Mark Linn-Baker had not actually departed. He felt embarrassed and had skipped the country and was hiding in Mexico. Mark Linn-Baker shows up in this episode as ‘Mark Linn-Baker’ and he reaches out to Nora with a very interesting proposition.
This was a Nora-centric episode. Carrie Coons gives an Emmy worthy performance in this episode as we follow her on a very painful journey. She seems very happy and satisfied with her life in Miracle and with Kevin. She’s back at her old job investigating people’s claims that their loved ones ‘departed’.
She starts out investigating what happened to the ‘Tower Man’. He’s disappeared and his wife (played by Grace Butler) claims that he departed right before her eyes. Of course, Nora doesn’t buy it and when she confronts her brother, Matt, he confesses that the man had a heart attack and fell off his tower. He helped the wife bury her husband.
In episode one we saw that Nora had a cast on her left arm but it wasn’t explained. She goes to have it removed and we see she has a tattoo on her forearm. The doctor also confronts her about how she may have broken her arm. One of the staff says he say her slam her car door on it.
“Why in God’s name would I do that?” Nora responds indignantly but there’s a look in her eyes that betrays the truth.
“Your children, Erin and Jeremy. Would you like to see them again?”
Then she gets a call from Mark Linn Baker. He claims to know how she can see her kids again and tells her to meet him in a hotel in St. Louis if she wants to know how. She goes even though she distrusts the idea. When they meet he tells her that a group of scientists have found a way to recreate the radiation that was detected at the sites of departure. They’ve made a device that, with a blast of this radiation, can send you ‘through’ to where you loved ones went when they departed. Nora is skeptical.
“They’re not sending people to some magical place. They are incinerating them.” Nora tells Baker.
Baker insists that smart people have signed up to try it even knowing they may just be ‘incinerated’. Nora calls Baker suicidal and that he should seek help.
“Four series regulars. Three go, one stays. Do you know what the odds of that are?”
“One in a hundred twenty-eight thousand.” Nora immediately responds.
“What happened was arbitrary. It was purposeless. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. So no, Nora, I don’t want to kill myself. I want to take some fuckin’ control.” Baker tells her.
Nora knows exactly how he feels. She was also the one in four that was left behind. Baker gives her a phone and says she will receive a call that will tell her where the device will be as this is all being done without the support of the medical community. The device is now mobile.
She sits in her hotel room, smoking and looking at the video testimonials of 119 people that have done through with this ‘experience’. Of course, she’s curious; anyone would be, about a chance to possibly be reunited with her children.
Her children on her mind, she heads to Kentucky and parks near a children’s playground. We finally see what happened to Lily. She’s back with her real mom, Christina, who now also has a newborn. When Nora approaches Lily she finds that Lily doesn’t recognize her and it’s heartbreaking.
She ends up visiting Erika (Regina King) now separated from John but still in touch with the family. Nora admits that she did break her own arm so she could cover up the tattoo she got. It’s the logo for the Wu Tang Clan which she got to cover the names of her children.
“I think I’m going crazy. How are you not going crazy?” Nora asks Erika.
“Evie died and I got to bury her.” Erika says. Nora does not have that sense of finality with her children.
Plus she bought a trampoline.
We see the ladies jumping up and down on the trampoline to the Wu Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)” and enjoying a brief moment of joy and abandon.
Driving back into Miracle she gets pulled over by Tommy. Tommy of course has received a call from Christine about Nora’s little visit.
“I wish you had never left Lily for me” Nora tells Tommy.
“I didn’t leave Lily for you, Nora. I left her for my dad. I didn’t even know you existed.” Tom tells her.
Nora gets a photo blown up at the store and takes it to the tower where Tower Man’s wife has created an alter for her husband. She places the photo over the painting showing Tower Man ‘departing’. It’s an autopsy photo of Tower Man. Damn. That’s harsh.
“You are a heartless bitch!” Tower Man’s wife screams at her.
Nora comes home to find Kevin with the plastic bag wrapped around his head.
“I always tear it off. I only do it to……I don’t want to die.” Kevin stammers.
Of course, Nora understands. She did something similar in season one, hiring people to shoot her while she wore a bullet proof vest. I think this also relates to Mark Linn-Baker’s line about taking control. These people feel lost and need someway to be in control, to anchor themselves.
“Let’s have a baby. I want to have a baby with you” Kevin says to her very sweetly. But Nora burst out with hysterical laughter. Poor Kevin! It’s all he can do to keep from crying. It does seem ridiculous. She’s just walked in on him, seemingly trying to kill himself and she’s contemplating being ‘incinerated’ in the hope of seeing her children again.
The cell phone rings. It’s the call that Baker said she would get. The machine will be in Melbourne Australia. She needs to bring $20K in cash and be there by Tuesday. She readily agrees and tells Kevin she has to go to Australia. He asks to come along. She agrees.
“And he looked at them and raised his hand, but they did not wave in response, so he touched the stone to his chest and jumped into the water.”
The Book Of Kevin
Cut to a kangaroo getting hit by a police car. We must be in Australia now! The cop puts the animals out of its misery with a gunshot. The cop’s name is Kevin. He drives home to be met by four women on horseback. Could they be The Four Horseman (Horsewomen) of The Apocalypse?
They say they know who he is and want him to come with them. When he refuses one of the women shoots him with a tranquilizer. When he comes to he’s been strapped to a wooden plank.
“It’s alright. You’re amongst friends. We know who you are.”
They lower him into a pond where he drowns.
“What it it’s not him?” one of them asks.
They bring him up and try to speak to him. “You need to wake up now. We know who you are.”
Then a man on crutches comes out of the house.
“Hey! What are you ladies up to?” It’s Kevin’s father.
Holy crap! These women seem to have, somehow, gotten their hands on Matt’s new gospel. Is that possible. The quote seems biblical but sounds like when Kevin tried to drown himself last season and sees the three girls. Could this be happening at a different time? In the future?
SIDE of LEFTOVERS
All through the episode technology seems to be failing Nora. The GPS won’t work, the parking garage won’t take her ticket – she ends up getting out of the car and pushing the gate open. Is this foreshadowing of how the ‘radiation blasting device’ will function?
“Nora Cursed” rhymes with Durst. My God! How do you live with so much pain?
Mark Linn-Baker was excellent! Sure he was playing himself but not really. He was playing a version of himself if he existed in this alternate universe. He was very good. The scene in the hotel with Carrie Coons was creepy.