The Leftovers: Season 3 Episode 2 review – Don’t be Ridiculous
This review contains spoilers.
The Leftovers is well known for its familiar point of view structure – not only focusing on Kevin, but also creating entire episodes from the perspectives of its side characters. This week saw a Nora-focus, which veteran fans will known often means plenty of rage, acting out in wild ways and then crying while alone.
For while many of the other characters have changed quite drastically, I would argue that Nora hasn’t changed all that much (not necessarily a bad thing). She’s still unwilling to allow something unjust to occur. This ranges from the little things like retrieving Lily’s toy spade from a bully to far more drastic interventions, like brutally revealing – with a morgue photo – that the man atop the tower didn’t depart.
She’s still a fragile mess and who can blame her for that – not only did she lose her family, but she allowed herself to love another child (Lily) and then lost her too. This week it was revealed that Lily is now living with her maternal mother Christine (a nice writing touch, to bring her back in), who legally filed for her child back. Much to Nora’s credit (how many people could honestly say that they would do this), she willingly gave the child back to her true mother.
The question of Erika’s leaving was also answered, only one week after the mystery was posed. Erika is also alive and well, living from Jarden and seemingly alone. Despite their distance, it was clear that Nora and Erika still maintain a friendship (similar to how Christine is still in touch with Tom) and that Nora respects Erika greatly, despite their disagreements last season.
This is best evidenced by Nora being unwilling to lie to Erika about the reason for her self-sustained injury, which was to cover up a Wu Tang Clan tattoo, which in turn was to cover up the names of her departed children. Erika and Nora jumping on the trampoline – set to Wu Tang Clan’s ‘Protect Ya Neck’ – was a great example of not only our characters’ ability to find humour in these desolate situations, but also of the writers’ decisions to inject some humour and bizarreness into the show.
The episode itself being titled ‘Don’t be Ridiculous’ feels like a direct nod to this and it was truly wonderful to see Nora joke and jibe about Kevin’s newfound Messiah-like status; “If we can’t have a sense of humour about you being the Messiah, we’re gonna have a problem.” Nora can have a great sense of humour when she wants to and Kevin took it on the chin perfectly too.
To circle back to Nora being unable to abide by injustice, this episode introduced a titanic injustice for her to now overcome, which is an organisation who charges people to incinerate them, under the lie of sending them to their loved ones. It’s a brutal con and one I hope that Nora abolishes, but you do have to wonder whether some of those people – like Kevin before now – might simply want to die anyway and whether in the back of their minds, as they step into the incinerator, then might disbelieve what they are being told, but be ok with it nonetheless.
Talking of Kevin’s suicidal tendencies, this week Nora walked in on his little suffocation game. To her, he said that he takes it off every time and that “I just do it to feel… I don’t wanna die.” Last week I guessed that Kevin might in fact be doing this in order to visit the other side and sharpen his skill at being able to return.
His answer here, however, doesn’t imply that; to me, it seems regressive instead – taking his character back to a place of being unhappy and seeking for ways out. This is not the Kevin we need this season – we need him to grow into the kind of man others think he is; an exceptional man who can return from the afterlife at will, who is worthy of being viewed as a deity (even if that isn’t true).
So I’m a bit unsure about how the writers handles Kevin’s answer here, but I also have massive confidence that they will evolve Kevin massively this season and that by the end of the show, he will be a truly magnificent character to behold. Think Jack at the end of LOST, but even more deific (think Jacob at the height of his adoration).
Then we finally got our introduction to Australia (prompted by Nora and Kevin deciding to visit there). This was a police chief named Kevin who was injured, kidnapped and drowned by a group of elderly women (who were quoting directly from the Book of Kevin), because they seem to think he is Kevin Garvey. At first I thought this probably isn’t a flashforward (Kevin Sr looks the same), but in order for these women to revere the Book of Kevin so deeply, they would have needed time to do so, which to me indicates that this probably is another flashforward (like last week’s closing scenes).
It seems a little baffling to me why these women are so willing – under Grace’s leadership – to assume that any man named Kevin is the Kevin. It seems silly to me and it no doubt comes from a madness within these women, who quickly realise they have the wrong man once he doesn’t return to life. Like last week’s flashback, I wasn’t fully enthralled by this week’s Australia segment, but it was great to see Kevin Sr walk into frame before the episode closed out on a beautifully apt old-timey song about “never having heard a man speak like this man before” (Jesus in the song; Kevin for us) – a song that goes back many years.
Image credits: HBO