A Dash Hustler has been doing such a knock out job recapping The Leftovers we decided to post his notes. Enjoy.
Episode 2 – Don’t Be Ridiculous
Recap Major Points (This is not all chronological)
Perfect Strangers Homage – Theme song to the Leftovers, same intro as season 2 set to the theme song for this show – “Nothing Gonna Stop Me Now.”
1. Preacher, aka Pillar Man, falls from tower and dies (at precisely 4:20 am – shout out to weed culture and/or biblical verses – Found this on the Internet: Romans 4:20: “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.”).
2. Pillar Man’s wife Sandy has been camping out by him and taking care of his needs since the day the Guilty Remnant broke through to Jarden. He apparently ignored Sandy, but she was devoted to serving him. Sandy and Reverend Matt Jamison decided to bury Pillar Man and say he departed (slowly phased out) in front of their eyes.
• Nora doesn’t believe this of course being from the Department of Sudden Departures and has unabashed skepticism of anything departure-related. She questions Sandy and Matt. Nora is very abrupt and mean to Sandy. Nora finds out from Matt that they are lying and that they secretly buried him and concocted this story. Sandy and Matt wanted to give the preacher purpose.
• Later in the episode, Nora wants to paste a picture of Pillar Man’s exhumed body across Jarden Square. Before she is able to, Kevin stops her and reminds her of how level-headed she usually and suggests that maybe this isn’t the best thing to do.
3. The Psychology of Nora
• Nora receives a phone call from real-life actor Mark Lin-Baker about being able to speak to her kids again. After calling and asking (or demanding) her boss at the DSD if she can travel for work to visit Mark Lin-Baker to ascertain whether or not this is a scam. Nora implies that it is important to the work of the DSD, but it is obvious that she has some curiosity as well.
• Nora Flies to St. Louis to see Mark Lin-Baker.
Mark Linn-Baker – one of the four leading characters on Perfect Strangers that did not depart, although he faked his departure to start a new life before being discovered. (Read Special Notes below)
• Upon introduction, he tosses her phone in the toilet. Mark Lin-Baker tells Nora she can see her children again through a process of exposure to Low Amplitude Denzinger Radiation, a rare kind of neutron radiation that scientists have recorded in places where departures happened. Although very skeptical at first, she is clearly enamored with the possibility, even though her outward behavior with other people might suggest otherwise. MLB tells her that many smart, respected members of society have done this. He tries to pitch this to Nora as a way to get control back in both their lives. He tells Nora that she will receive a call in a few days to see if she is interested. Nora later looks at several of the testimonials from people about to embark on this process, many of which seem to be very bright. (Is this a scam for money or something else or is this real?)
• (Lily) Nora drives to Kentucky to see Lily, who as everything seemingly pointed to was living with her natural birth mother, Christine. Nora is distraught when she realizes that Lily doesn’t know who she is. Nora then sees Christine and becomes upset when faced with the reality that Christine is her real mother.
• Technology – 1) The Airport Kiosk – malfunction with kiosk that malfunctions when she says traveling by herself. The only option she can choose is, “Will You Be Travelling with an Infant on Your Lap,” which she picks reluctantly at the behest of the airline staff who tells her this is the result of a dead spot on the screen; 2) Rental car GPS; 3) Airport parking lot exit machine. She paid for her ticket and it doesn’t register at the exit. She gets out of the car in anger and manually moves the gate. All of this frustrates Nora and this adds to her feelings of helplessness.
• (Nora’s Children) Nora’s Cast and Wu-Tang tattoo. Nora visits Erica (Regina King) and tells her everything that’s happened, including that she covered up the tattooed names of her children with the WuTang tattoo. She punished herself later by slamming the car door on her arm (one of the medical staff witnessed her doing it to herself). She said to the doctor’s question, “Why in God’s Name Would I Do That?”
• (Erica and the Trampoline) – After Nora discloses her feelings to Erica, Erica asks Nora to jump on a Trampoline with her along to the song by Wu-Tang Protect Ya’ Neck. They are like little kids letting go to some jump therapy. (Nora sees Erica as someone she completely trusts because of losing children and from their very real and honest interaction involving the DSD questionnaire that Nora uses for work and Evie in Season 2.)
• Nora is pulled in her car by Tommy, who is concerned for her well-being, as he received a call from Christine detailing Nora’s visit. Nora immediately becomes defensive and says that she wanted to give Lily back to her birth mother because she felt good being able to do that for someone who had lost a child. Tommy then discloses that Lily wasn’t hers nor was she “meant” to have her. Tommy intended for his dad to take care of her because he did the same for him when he was 3 years-old (sweet moment for the Tommy/Kevin connection but bitter moment for Nora).
• Kevin and Nora – Nora returns home and catches Kevin trying to suffocate himself. He briefly explains why he is doing it. Nora then divulges the information about her Wu-Tang tattoo. Nora lets down her shield when she realizes that they are both hurting and not pretending. It’s as if Kevin’s pain almost dulls her pain just a little. Kevin says he wants to have a baby with her and she laughs hysterically in his face, as he becomes really sad. Nora says she doesn’t want to mess up what they have. She is clearly scared. This made me think of the title of the episode, “Don’t be Ridiculous.”
• SUMMARY – Nora feels like she is all alone and that everyone around her has a family, including Kevin. Although Kevin loves Nora, he can’t truly understand what she is going through even if they both experience significant pain from this Departure event.
4. Going to Australia – Nora tells Kevin she is going to Australia and Kevin wants to join her.
• Trip to Sydney, Nora gets a call and is supposed to bring $20,000 in cash to a hotel. She isn’t open with Kevin about the real reason why she wants to go to Australia. This could be because she doesn’t really know if she will go through with it or because she is hiding her true intentions.
5. Police Chief, Kevin the Messiah (Kevin Garvey, Sr.) – at the end of the episode, we go to Australia and focus on the daily routine of a police chief whose name is Kevin. When he returns home that night, he is abducted because some old ladies believe he is special (or the messiah). He doesn’t admit to being the messiah and then they knock him out and tie him to a see saw type of equipment and dunk him in the water until he drowns. They obviously believe that if they kill him, he will rise from the dead. He drowns and then they realize he is not the Kevin they spoke of. During the commotion, Kevin Garvey, Sr. emerges with a “are you looking for me” moment.
• Question is what would give the women this conviction that they could kill the police chief Kevin and then bring him back to life to prove that he is the messiah?
• Are Kevin, Sr. and Kevin both special this way or is one more of a messiah-like figure than the other?
Maybe Nora is so disheveled at the end of episode one because of the neutron radiation or she is in the other world as a result of undergoing the radiation process.
• Any special reason why the episode was so focused on Perfect Strangers? Is it just what we see or something more? (This situation was mentioned in season 2).
“For the unfamiliar, the series, which ran from 1986 to 1993, chronicled the adventures of a sheep herder named Balki (Bronson Pinchot) who immigrated to Chicago from a fictional island near Greece and became roommates with his high-strung cousin Larry (Mark Linn-Baker). In the world of The Leftovers, it was once believed that all four stars of the sitcom (Pinchot, Linn-Baker, plus Melanie Wilson and Rebeca Arthur) had vanished on Oct. 14. As it turned out, only three had departed; Linn-Baker had faked his disappearance and was later discovered hiding in Mexico. This is all essential — as are the names of the episode’s credited writers: Tha Lonely Donkey Kong & Specialist Contagious. According to HBO, those are pseudonyms for Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, derived from an online Wu-Tang Name Generator.”