Much like last years standout ‘Guest’, the sixth episode of the second season of The Leftovers skims the focus to two key players – Nora and Erika – producing perhaps the greatest sequence the show has ever aired. ‘Lens’ may rival ‘Guest’ as the best episode to date.
All of this hinges upon the powerful performance of Carrie Coon. I’ve waxed lyrical since the inception of The Leftovers about how great an actress Coon is, and this is never more explicit than in the prolonged two-hander with Regina King towards the close of the episode.
Both actresses are explicable. The emotion of losing her family during the Sudden Departure and feeling guilt over her final actions is still prominent three years later, and Coon is able to portray this with conviction. When she cried, it broke my heart.
Likewise, King is just as great in this scene, in particular when she turns the tables on Nora and starts questioning her. I still think a second departure has occurred – otherwise, just how the hell was the lake drained? And what is the connection to the cave woman in the prologue to the second season?
As always, The Leftovers continues to baffle, but it does so in an addictive way. Much like season one, I don’t think I’ve smiled or laughed at all this season, but I am entirely captivated.
Unfortunately I’m still not too keen on Matt after last week, and I just can’t feel excited over he and Mary having a baby. Maybe if and when (it HAS to be when, surely) Mary regains consciousness and can affirm that their sexual encounter was consensual I’ll be able to get back on board with this story, but for now, I just can’t.
Two other scenes mark ‘Lens’ as a contender for the best episode yet. First, Kevin finally tells Nora that he thinks he is losing his mind, but this produced a pertinent question for me as a viewer. It may be cliché or factually incorrect, but isn’t it always said that people who are going crazy don’t know that they’re going crazy? And yet Kevin knows very well that he is becoming mentally unhinged, adding credence to my guess that Patti is actually somehow there. After all, the crazy guy on the tower could see her too. The press release for next week promises an epic showdown between Kevin and Patti. Hopefully it can rival their fateful encounter from last year.
And finally, the titular ‘lens’. Is Nora a lens? Is the lens theory correct? Did Nora herself cause the disappearance of her family, and then Evie, simply due to her connection to those that have gone and her close proximity? I’m sure I’ve read an interview with Damon Lindelof who said no answers about the Sudden Departure would be given, but we’ve certainly had plenty of hints and teasers this season.
Personally I don’t think this mystery is all that important – the focus of The Leftovers is upon how the characters deal with the grief and aftermath of losing their loved ones. But since it produces such stellar scenes from Carrie Coon, I’ll happily go wherever The Leftover takes us.