The Leftovers: “Guest” Review
“NOTHING IS NEXT.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
Photo Credit: Collider.com
For the second time in this debut season, The Leftovers broke away and followed a solitary character for the entirety of an episode. Keeping it in the family, it was Nora who took the spotlight after her brother Matt had stolen the show back in the third episode. We’ve had a few glances into her troubled life over the last few episodes, but “Guest” fully drew back the curtain on a truly tortured soul.
I find myself hoping that the show continues having these single character episodes moving forward. Out of the first six episodes we’ve seen, the two episodes that focused on a single character have been the best, in my opinion. We’ve spent plenty of time with Kevin, Jill, and others over the course of the season so far, but I feel like we know a hell of a lot more about Matt and Nora from their respective episodes. In her previous appearances, Nora had seemed like a troubled individual whose life had been torn apart by the Departure, but it wasn’t until we witness her everyday life that we get the full extent of it. There’s been a lot of depressing stuff on this show, but watching Nora still doing her weekly shopping for the kids she lost three years ago, tossing out the spoiled food that they will never eat was heavy. Learning of her husband’s infidelity may have helped her get over losing him, but the hole her kids left in her life has rendered her unable to move forward with it.
That brings us to the gun. Damn that was unexpected! I had thought that she either carried the gun around with her because she feared being alone, or was possibly suicidal, but I never once thought that she actually paid people to shoot her with it! Someone putting on Kevlar body armor and paying a hooker to shoot them in the chest sounds ridiculous, but the fact that she’s doing it as some sort of punishment for even contemplating moving on brings another edge to it entirely. She and Kevin seem almost perfect for each other, as they are two fundamentally broken people.
Nora’s trip into the city for a conference was a real eye opener. Except for a handful of exceptions, our look into this world has mainly been Mapleton based. Seeing that things are even crazier in Manhattan highlights how big an effect the Departure has had on the world as a whole. There was a whole assortment of loonies outside of the hotel where the conference was based, all spouting their own crackpot theories and rhetoric. You had conspiracy nuts, people handing out fake grenades, and even a couple of Guilty Remnant members. Interesting to see how far their reach goes… Keeping the action based mainly in Mapleton is good for storytelling purposes, but I’ll also be thankful every time we get a bit of a larger scale view of things.
Just like Christopher Eccleston did in “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” Carrie Coon carried the episode and absolutely killed it as Nora. From those opening, tender and then insane moments, to her frenzied hunt for her imposter at the conference, Coon excelled at showing us this very fragile woman. She effortlessly slid between confused and determined, while also stepping it up into outright rage as she shouted down the author who dared to talk about how much he had lost. It was a terrific performance overall, so much so that I hope we see a lot more of her in the weeks to come.
The stand out moment came when Nora came face to face with the creepy hugmeister Wayne. What Wayne’s “gift” is, or whether he even has one, is one of this show’s mysteries, and after seeing him in action this week I’m still none the wiser. He seems to have taken Nora’s pain over losing her children away, but I still can’t be certain whether it was just him saying the words she needed to hear or some supernatural element. On the one hand he definitely read her like an open book, just like any two bit psychic could have. On the other we had his talk about seeing his own death approaching. I guess we’ll have to see whether he meets his maker anytime soon. One thing’s for certain though, Nora was certainly looking a lot better by the end of the episode and finally seemed to be moving on.
One last thing that I found fascinating was learning about all the various Departure related departments that have been set up, including Nora’s place of work. We now know that the survey Nora brings to family members of the Departed is part of some study to figure out any links between those who have disappeared. Even if we never get a definitive answer on what happened on that day three years ago, it’s good to see all of these people still trying to figure it out.
The Leftovers offered up another wonderful single-character focused episode this week as we got to know Nora Durst. From the heartbreaking despair of her everyday life to her frenzied trip to Manhattan, we got to know exactly how tough post-departure life has been for Nora. “Guest” also provided us with a larger scale look at how the Departure has affected the world, while also giving us a surprise encounter between Nora and Wayne that still leaves plenty of questions about how “holy” Wayne really is. All of this anchored by a great performance from Carrie Coon led to one of The Leftovers’ strongest episodes yet.
What’s the deal with “Holy” Wayne? Supernatural healer or a smooth confidence man? Be our Guest in the comments below.
*We do not comment on anything relating to previews for the next episode and beyond.
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