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The Leftovers recap: Orange Sticker

Trouble has Kevin’s fingerprints all over it.

Posted on

Van Redin/HBO

The Leftovers

TV Show
Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
run date:
Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston
Current Status:
In Season

“Wherever you go, there you are.” 

That’s what Damon Lindelof told EW in his season 2 preview. And that’s what Jill tells Nora after Kevin’s recent sleepwalking jaunt coincides with an earthquake and the disappearance of three girls, including new neighbor Evie. In “Orange Sticker,” which refers to the government sticker that confirms that Miracle’s homes did not lose a soul during the Departure, the Mapleton crew’s hopes for a fresh start in Texas are dashed by tragedy and some old demons. And no one seems more lost, more dumbfounded, than Kevin, who woke up in an empty lake bed with a cinder block tied to his ankle.

Nora’s emotions, on the other hand, are more anger than delirium. When the earthquake wakes her up in the middle of the night and she finds Kevin missing, her immediate fear is that he’s departed, just like her family was. The baby Lily, though, is calm, almost like she knows something, but Nora panics, especially after she sees a familiar-looking dog roaming through the neighborhood. Kevin is off the leash! “Did it happen again?” she asks the 911 operator. “Are the people gone?”

Kevin makes it home in one piece, but Nora curtails their embrace and silently takes Lily upstairs. “Looks like you have some explaining to do, sport,” says Patti, who is now officially Kevin’s nightmare version of Clarence Odbody from It’s a Wonderful Life. She won’t even leave him alone to take a shower.

He does explain, though, telling Nora and Jill what happened — everything except the part about Patti and the cinder block. He can’t find his cell phone either, and when he’s told Evie is missing, Kevin contemplates going to the cops — which is a stupid idea, Nora tells him. Nora is not playing around. Later that day, when the couple helps out police and the community search for the missing girls, Nora gives the Hardy Boy former cop some words of wisdom: “You should get down there [in the empty lake bed],” she says. “If someone else finds your phone, you could say you just lost it today.”

Nora is tough, and her brain might operate on a different level. (John would appreciate it.) Way back when, after the Departure, she worked for the government investigating Departure fraud claims, and she’s seen it all. She’s not cursed with naivety.

One of the cops gives Kevin a hard time near the crime scene. Still rattled, he can barely remember his new address, so he’s about to get tossed when John vouches for him as his new neighbor. Wow, how the officer changed tunes at the mere presence of the Miracle Fire Chief. But if John’s endorsement helps Kevin out of one problem, he’s got another, and no amount of neighborly influence can bail him out of it: His muddy palm print is clearly stamped on the car’s driver-side window from the night of the earthquake.

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Back at home, Jill asks Michael for some help with the kitchen faucet, which sprung a leak after the earthquake. He puts his Bible down long enough to help, and there’s some romantic chemistry between them. She wonders why he’s not out searching for Evie with everyone else, and rather than the expected answer of, “Well, someone has to be home if she calls or shows up,” he says, “My sister isn’t here anymore.” I wonder if her disappearance, whatever its cause, took something of him with her because they’re twins. Does he feel different — incomplete in some way — because of what she experienced?

At the end of the day’s search, Kevin still hasn’t found his phone. Oh well, he tells Nora, with a shrug. Nora makes it clear that he’s not coming home until he finds it, damn it. “Love you,” he says to her, though it’s more a request than a statement of fact. “I love you too, Kevin,” she answers formally as she drives away.

It’s dark and everyone’s left when Kevin descends back down into the lake bed. Patti comes along to lend a hand. “I know exactly where your phone is. I can tell you what happened to those girls, too. All you have to do is ask,” she says. Kevin is still refusing to engage with her, in the hopes that she’ll go away. But she’s never going to give him up, she taunts, in the immortal words of Rick Astley. And she does have answers for him. She helps him find the phone in a puddle of sludge. And she warns him not to get in the vehicle that’s approaching.

John is back, and he eyes Kevin suspiciously. Did the police already identify that muddy palm print? Does John know that Kevin was there the night before? He insists that Kevin hop in with him rather than wait for Nora. John pops open a beer while he races through Miracle and warns Kevin that he came to Texas for all the wrong reasons. “What you’re looking for is to feel safe,” he says. “[But you’re no] safer here than anywhere else. Of that, I am sure. There are no miracles in Miracle.”

When John drives past their street, Kevin’s worst fears rise. But he can rest easily — for now, at least. John isn’t interested in the muddy palm print’s forensics, because to him, its careful placement is a message. Days earlier, he burned down the house of an old friend, Isaac, who was running a palm-reading business out of his home. Now, John is sure that Isaac — who predicted misfortune for John — is behind Evie’s disappearance and his hand print is an intentional taunt. “Looks like you framed someone without even trying,” Patti tells Kevin.

Some of John’s firemen friends try to stop him, insisting that Isaac didn’t do anything wrong and questioning Kevin’s presence in the truck. This does seem like a fair question, since Kevin’s ride-along felt essential only as a tense storytelling ploy. Why would John bring along a neighbor he’s known for less than 24 hours on this type of dangerous assignment? And it’s not like he needs a wing man. In fact, he even has to throw Kevin off the scent when they arrive at Isaac’s new residence, a run-down motel.

NEXT: Kevin gets Rickrolled