In the season 2 premiere of The Leftovers, Mapleton, New York, seemed far, far away. There were new characters in a new town, and the Garveys didn’t even appear until the last chapter, dropping out of the sky to move into a new house in the seemingly blessed town of Miracle, Texas. How did the Garveys get so fortunate to buy this house in a locked-down town where desperate tourists are looking for answers to the Sudden Departure? How much time has passed, and has Kevin’s reconstituted family brought him some peace?
“A Matter of Geography” turned back the clock two-plus months, right back to the moment when Nora discovered Holy Wayne’s baby on the Garveys’ porch, and Kevin and Jill and their new pooch came back to a place that almost felt like a home. “We’re keeping her, right?” says Jill, as she and Nora coo over the baby. In a series of quick exchanged looks, Nora and Kevin essentially decide to make a go of it as a couple, and though they later maintain that they’re not married, their quick succession of questions and confessions are practically wedding vows:
“We don’t really know each other.”
“Okay, what do I need to know?”
“I’ve been walking in my sleep … and I grabbed Patti Levin … she killed herself, so I called your brother, Matt, and we buried her and nobody else knows… and I smoke.”
“I hire prostitutes to shoot me.”
“It’s okay,” says Jill, after Nora apologizes to her about lying about her gun.
“It’s okay,” repeats Nora to Kevin, and it almost feels like an “I do.”
You can feel a huge weight lifted off of Kevin’s chest, like he’s breathing for the first time. Maybe this is the answer for him. Maybe Nora and Jill and this new baby are all he needs to silence the voices in his head. But we know that’s not the case. We know that because series co-creator Damon Lindelof told us so: “The idea that he was cured of all of his ills in the moment that he came home and saw Nora holding this baby, I think, is naïve. The show must go on, and the idea of Kevin reaching some degree of complete and utter psychological safety probably wouldn’t be very interesting to watch.”
At the laundromat, Kevin blares rap music out of his earbuds while the baby, named Lily, cries. But he’s not trying to drown out her screams; he’s trying to mute the other voices that haunt him. We suspect this as soon as Kevin gets spooked by the sight of freshly-starched white shirts — like the ones that were the subject of one of his season 1 meltdowns. There are still spiders creeping around in this guy’s head, which is probably why he screwed up the time for the important meeting to officially adopt Lily. Racing out of the parking lot to get there, he gets distracted by something in the nearby woods. I kept looking for a deer in the foliage, but whatever Kevin sees blended in beyond my recognition.
The adoption administrator looks and sounds like a hardass, but this meeting is basically a formality. Kevin gives all the wrong answers, but the guy stamps their forms and even asks if they’d like another baby — a 1-month old white baby. Not in lieu of Lily, he explains, but in addition to. Hey, it is National Adoption Month after all! One baby is enough for them, they say, and presto, they’re a family. Feels like it was meant to be!
Kevin celebrates the good news like all excited new fathers — by going to the Guilty Remnant’s cul-de-sac and staring at the burned-down houses while the Pixies drone, “Where is my mind?” He can’t get those horrible events out of his head, so he does the next best thing to confessing his deeds to Nora and Jill. He buys a shovel and digs up Patti’s body. A, this proves to himself that she really is dead, and B, this allows him to tell the state trooper who subsequently pulls him over, “There’s a body in the back of my truck.”
The thing is, the cops don’t care that Kevin has Patti Levin’s decomposed body in his truck. Truth be told, they’re glad she’s dead and don’t care whether Kevin killed her or she slashed her own throat, as he claims. Potato, po-tah-to, the eye-patched detective tells Kevin, sending him on his way. But even disinterring Patti fails to do the trick, because when he gets back in to the truck, she’s waiting for him: “What the f— was that?” she says to him, with comical mild annoyance.
Jill has a covert breakfast meeting with her brother, Tom, who’s sworn her to secrecy about his whereabouts and his involvement with Baby Lily. Last we saw him, he had reunited with his mother, Laurie, and he brings Jill a letter from her. She tears it up, but otherwise, Jill’s in good spirits about her new “big happy family.” Tom is skeptical, because after all, “Nobody’s okay” anymore. He leaves abruptly, and Jill watches him get in a car that their mother is driving. That has to sting, and it is tough to fathom why Laurie would deny her daughter some mom-time, especially since she knows how desperate Jill was for it during season 1. Maybe Laurie just wanted to get a brief glimpse of her daughter from a distance, but if she weren’t going to get out of the car, it’s kind of cruel to let herself get spotted.
NEXT: No boiled bunny yet, but Patti will not be ignored, Kevin! [pagebreak]
Good news for Nora. She picked the right time to put her house on the market. You might think the Guilty Remnant’s recent headlines would’ve tarnished the market in the eyes of prospective buyers, but she’s getting bids more than $2 million higher than the $600,000 she’s asking for. What gives? Turns our some MIT scientists — and apparently other rival bidders — want her house in order to study the Departure. Since her family disappeared in a specific location in her kitchen, they want to study why. “Our guess is that it’s a matter of geography,” says the scientist. “People want to protect themselves against a recurrence.”
“You think it’s going to happen again?” Nora says, clutching Lily in her arms.
“Why wouldn’t it…?” he answers.
At home, Kevin’s dad is out of the psychiatric institution, and he claims he didn’t escape this time. He seems relaxed and is excited about his future plans to move to Australia. He’s tired of dwelling on what’s missing in the post-Departure world and wants to start the world anew. You get the impression he’s not speaking in metaphors. During their dog-walk together, Kevin is once again distracted by something unseeable in the woods, the same something that gave him shudders near the parking lot. The Chief, though, seems completely lucid for once, but let’s not kid ourselves. Kevin marvels at his dad’s progress, how he’s not seeing or hearing things anymore that aren’t really there. “No, sir,” says Chief. “I just started doing what they told me.”
Batty as his father is, Kevin takes some inspiration from their conversation. Confessing his sins didn’t give him peace. Digging up Patti’s body didn’t help either. So why not pick up and start over, just like his dad. Let’s get out of here, he tells Nora and Jill, and he doesn’t mean the fancy restaurant where they’re eating that night.
Before you can cue up some “Rambling Man,” the Garveys are driving south, with all their possessions in a small trailer. They’re heading to Miracle, of course, where Nora’s brother, Matt, has settled and where the Garveys have plunked down $50,000 for a six-month rental. If that seems pricey, well, that reflects the demand for anything Miracle related that the Garveys discover when they approach the entrance to the national park. The periphery of the park is overwhelmed with pilgrims, creating a Woodstock like vibe where everyone wants backstage passes.
The Garveys’ admission should be smooth sailing, since they arranged their rental in advance. But guess who they rented from? Want to bet it was Isaac, Miracle’s leading palm reader? The rental burned down, leaving the Garveys SOL. Kevin is mentally at the end of his tether, especially when the park rangers insist his dog needs to be quarantined for 16 days. If that dog gets loose somehow, I suspect Kevin’s barely-leashed sanity might go with it again. “I’ll stay with him if you want,” Patti taunts him. “Maybe he’ll talk to me.”
A stranger approaches Kevin in the Visitors Center and says cryptically, “Come see me. I can help you… with your situation.” Does the mystery man own a dog shelter? Does he have a residence that’s empty? Is he associated with Isaac or John somehow? Or is he some mystic, like Holy Wayne, who senses Kevin’s unease?
But the fire isn’t deterring Nora from their plan. They decided on Miracle together, and they will goddamn get into Miracle. So she crashes a house auction in an adjacent wing of the Visitors Center and starts bidding on some unseen property. When the price rises to $1.6 million, she answers with $3 million — and the house is theirs. She’s thrilled. Kevin is dizzy.
And that’s where episode 2 dovetails with the premiere. The Garveys move in to their new home after a night in Father Matt’s tent. John Murphy holds his pie and watches while Jill rushes in to their dilapidated new house and Kevin is riddled with doubts about what they just signed on for. In a moment alone in the dank kitchen, Patti slams Kevin’s head against the stove while he’s trying to light a cigarette — giving him that nasty cut on the head. “You treat me like I don’t exist,” she lectures Kevin. “I do exist. I need you to talk to me.”
The birthday barbecue with the neighbors lasts longer than the 15 minute pop-in Nora promised, and though Nora is still on cloud-nine after blowing $3 million on this dump, Kevin is near the end of his rope. “Very interesting family, those Murphys. Hard to tell if they’re part of your story or if you’re part of theirs,” Patti says to Kevin, a line of dialogue that was likely lifted directly from writers room deliberations for the show. “I’m not going anywhere!”
A light bulb explodes and Kevin finally snaps. “This was not the plan!” he barks at Nora, blaming her for going all-in on Miracle. He apologizes of course, but Patti was right. She’s there when he closes his eyes that night. And when Kevin wakes up, he’s officially off the leash. He’s soaking wet, and a cinder block is tied to his leg. Gasping fish flop in puddles. It’s the empty lake where Evie and her friends like to swim, where Evie went missing. Was Kevin there when the event occurred? Had he tried to kill himself in his latest sleepwalking episode, or did someone else tie that anchor to his leg? And will John suspect his new neighbor, especially after Kevin planted a muddy hand-print on the car window? Will we ever see Evie again? Might she actually have something in common with Kevin — her episode at the party where she dropped the cake didn’t so much look like an epileptic fit, as her mother explained, but a black-out not unlike the kind that Kevin suffers from.
“Uh-oh,” says Patti, as Kevin hides in a ditch, and that pretty much says it all.