‘The Leftovers’ season 2, episode 2 review: Justin Theroux shines as HBO series picks up more steam

Leftovers -Is it fair to say that this is “The Leftovers” that we were expecting back when we first heard this series announced on HBO? We’d say so. Being free from the original source material (but still tied to it thanks to Tom Perrotta’s involvement), Damon Lindelof has been given so much more freedom to explore various elements of post-Departure life, whether it be mental health or promises of a Utopia free from the terrors of the outside world.

After Sunday night’s new episode, it is suddenly extremely clear to us that there is nowhere that Kevin Garvey can go where he will feel safe. Is Patti a hallucination of his mind? It seems wrong to refer to her in this way, given that this would be under-selling her importance as an influence on him. We do think that she is a manifestation of his mind, but one that does control him and force him to at times lash out. The brick that was tied to his foot at the close of the episode feels like a chilling reminder that he may eventually be at her mercy, and we have to hope that he is not the one who decided to suck Evie into the earth, which was revealed at the end of the season 2 premiere.

The focus on Kevin’s inner struggle helps to make it clear that in some ways, the Departures are almost secondary to how certain people are handling it. The MIT stuff, while not definitive proof as to what is going on, was a fascinating look at how researchers were grasping at straws. The sale of Nora’s house helped to convince her further to hand over a cool $3 million for a place in Jarden after their rental home burned down, their dog was quarantined, and the entire town felt almost like they were entering some sort of high-security chamber stuffed full of rules.

As a whole, this entire story did not necessarily teach us too much beyond Kevin and Nora’s adoption process, how they made it to Jarden, and then the subsequent struggles from there. This episode was nonetheless sensational, an exploration into the psyche, and how sometimes dealing with grief leads to inexplicable results. Also, an Emmy-worthy performance from Justin Theroux in this episode. Grade: A.

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