This The Leftovers review contains spoilers.
The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 9
I have often praised The Leftovers for the use of its ensemble cast. The show usually excels at spending time away from its main plot to devote time to a tertiary character. A lot of these character-focused episodes are my favorite in the show’s run, and tonight’s installemt is no exception. Not only does the episode succeed at making Meg an important, frightening player in the season’s end game, but also it ties up all of the loose ends neatly, bringing everyone to Jarden and revealing the fate of Evie.
Before we get to all of that, I’ve got say, when I initially learned that we’d be spending the episode with Meg, I was severely disappointed. As I said, I love the character-driven episodes, but after last week, I was itching to check back in with Kevin. I suppose that’s the danger of jettisoning your major characters for an hour, though if I’m thinking about it, I would have been even more angry if this episode would have ran in place of last week’s, coming immediately after Kevin was left presumably dying on a trailer floor.
I was also upset because we’d be focusing on Meg. After we returned for season two in a new setting, and it looked like many of season one’s cast members were being dropped, I hoped that Liv Tyler’s Meg would be among them. She was easily the least interesting cast member from season one, and if I’m being entirely transparent, I have never enjoyed Tyler’s acting. Both of those things changed drastically for me tonight. Not only does Meg become a malevolent, unstable, yet scarily composed domestic terrorist, but Tyler plays her with such intensity and hurt, her body language and withholding smiles revealing worlds of self-hatred and anger, that she becomes eerily compelling. Her and Matt’s conversation outside of Miracle was just as unsettling as her throwing an inactive grenade onto a school bus. It rivals Nora and Erika’s one on one from earlier in the season as one of TV’s best moments this year.
Basically, Meg’s unhappiness stems from having her pain invalidated by the Sudden Departure. A cocaine-snorting mess to begin with, Meg has to see her mother die on October 13, which means that she’ll only have a day to grieve before the world experiences a loss that’s harder to comprehend than death. After searching for answers in Jarden and within the Guilty Remnant, Meg’s hurt and anger fail to dissipate and she seeks to inflict pain on others as a reminder that other pain exists. Her grand plan is to bomb the bridge into Miracle, but it’s a facet of that plan that’s the episodes biggest surprise.
Yep, Evie and the other girls had run off and joined the Guilty Remnant, after a chance meeting between Meg and Evie. It’s a shocking reveal that pretty much nobody saw coming and brilliantly brings the Guilty Remnant back in the fold as the main antagonists. How they play into the bombing scheme isn’t revealed, but something from last week is now striking me as ominous. When Kevin visited purgatory, or wherever he was last week, he stopped on the Jarden bridge, which appeared to be in flames, where a man was readying three nooses that were hanging on the other side. Call me crazy, but Evie and the girls might be planning to jump off the bridge after revealing to the town that they never departed.
Tommy makes up a large part of this episode as well, but besides from a moving dance in a bar, none of his scenes really make an impact, but his inclusion helps to explain Laurie’s arrival in Miracle. Also, we’re left with an interesting question, because Meg explains to Tommy that she was trying to make him pregnant, and uh yeah, that’s not completely confusing or anything. Likely, we’ll get answers next week, or perhaps not, because now with a bomb to stop, it looks like there’ll be a lot to wrap up next week.
Just like the inclusion of “White Lines” in this hour, The Leftovers has been brilliant all year, and I can’t wait to see how they end this spectacular run.