During the first season of The Leftovers, Laurie Garvey’s story amongst the Guilty Remnant was probably the most captivating of the lot. Tommy Garvey’s story of protecting the pregnant Christine was probably the worst.
And yet in the latest episode, titled ‘Off Ramp’, we see mother and son team up in a truly captivating episode.
The Leftovers continues to go from strength to strength, and I cannot praise it enough.
Two weeks later and we still haven’t seen the continuation of Evie’s disappearance, but with material as brilliant as what’s been delivered last week and this week, I would quite happily have the fallout of her disappearance dealt with years down the line. Not much is happening in terms of plot, but the character development is substantial, but that is a given when Damon Lindelof is behind the helm.
Say what you will about Lost, but you simply cannot fault its characters. That is a common trait amongst The Leftovers and Lost – everybody feels rounded and real.
Of the 12 starring characters, only four appear this week, and Jill appears solely via archive material, and yet ‘Off Ramp’ is just as holding as the previous two weeks.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a followup of the Guilty Remnant – for some reason I had just assumed that since the show was moving to Texas the Guilty Remnant would be forgotten about. But the mysterious cult is still as baffling as ever.
Laurie is comfortably free from their shackles, but the same cannot be said for everyone, so she utilises Tommy’s anonymity to infiltrate the cult and help free some of its members. And this goes swimmingly for the most part.
Everybody appears happy, Tommy is revelling in helping, and it looks as though there is a chance at rehabilitation.
But this is The Leftovers, after all, so it all dive-bombs. Tommy is discovered, and he is captured and bafflingly raped by a returning Meg, before being doused in petrol and released.
It’s a bold move for The Leftovers to have Tommy raped. Male rape is rarely dealt with on television, so I sincerely hope that there is a resolution to this.
I hope the show explores the aftermath for Tommy, because if it does so it’ll help quell the growing fascination with rape in HBO’s other shows – just look at Game of Thrones and True Blood, to name but a few.
Meg tells Tommy to tell Laurie that she says ‘hi’, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine she’ll return later in the series. I’m anticipating the catfight from hell and whatever empathy I had for Meg has now evaporated, so I know who I’ll be rooting for.
Onto Laurie, now. She’s writing a tell-all book about her experiences within the Guilty Remnant, and she is comfortably leading a (relatively) normal life.
She has somehow managed to overcome everything the cult imposed upon her, something which others don’t have the luxury of doing. Take Susan. She appears to be getting back on track, but later drifts into oncoming traffic and kills herself, her husband and her son.
It’s bold and visceral, but it packs a punch, and it helps to show the mystique of the Guilty Remnant. They clearly have some hold over their members – I want to know what this hold is.
The close of ‘Off Ramp’ was heartbreaking. Following Susan’s death, Laurie meets with a publisher who wants to sell her book, but she grows irate when the publisher over-sensationalises what Laurie experienced with the Guilty Remnant. It’s almost as if he is goading her over nearly killing her daughter, so it’s not surprising that Laurie flips and attacks him.
I think all hope of publishing that book has gone now, unfortunately.
But it’s Chris Zylka, as Tommy, who is the star of this episode. ‘Off Ramp’ closes on a poignant note as Tommy reveals his experiences with Holy Wayne, who apparently bestowed his ‘gift’ of removing someone’s pain to Tommy before his death last season. Zylka is stunning here, and it’ll be interesting to see where this plot goes in the rest of the season.
Now that we’ve reconnected with all of the main characters, next week should explore them all simultaneously, but as this is The Leftovers, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if another curveball was thrown in the mix.