Every week, The Leftovers gives us more to think about.
With The Leftovers Season 2 Episode 3, the Guilty Remnant finally makes sense, as much as anything in a world where 2% of the population mysteriously disappeared would make sense.
At the end of The Leftovers Season 1, it was unclear what journey Laurie and Tom would be making, or if they'd be on it together. The way it played out was rather brilliant.
From the outside looking in, the Guilty Remnant is a cult. They're a mess. They don't treat people well. But they give their followers something to fill the void in their lives. For the leftovers unable to assuage their guilt at being left behind, they need something to occupy their mind.
Laurie managed to part with the group, and with the help of Tom, has been aiding others in their escape, offering to them a safe place to start over. Seeing them work together made a lot of sense. They had been ripped apart but shared similar experiences after the Sudden Departure, both seeking to fill the void in different ways.
Laurie has realized all that she has lost, especially the connection to her daughter, Jill. I think in some ways she hopes the book she has written will bridge that gap. After the events of this hour, however, it seems unlikely a reunion will take place anytime soon.
For a good portion of the hour, I was worried Tom might go back to the Guilty Remnant. You could feel him being tugged in two directions, toward his mother and the GR. He kept listening to the GR and what they offered, wondering what he could find out in the real world to compare. He didn't feel as secure outside as he did when he was listening to their propaganda.
Of course, he had quite the lesson in what it means to run afoul of the GR. Is Meg now leading the charge? Since Liv Tyler is sticking around The Leftovers, there is really no other place for her to go but up!
At first, it seemed Tom's punishment was pretty awesome.
I got that all wrong. Tom was raped by Meg, which seemed punishment enough. Until the gasoline. Then, not so slick. Thanks for the full frontal, though. Wow. It was utterly humiliating, and Meg took one too many chances with the gas and her burning embers just to send a message.
It was amazing that Laurie was writing a book and that it sold so quickly. It was not amazing that the publisher wanted to turn it into a puff piece or that Susan was swallowed by the guilt and killed her entire family at the same time Laurie was in that book meeting.
Laurie: Why are we losing?
Tom: Because they're giving them something. I mean, we can strip it away, but once it's gone? We have nothing to put back in its place.
But, those circumstances did allow for Laurie to see things more clearly. After all, the Guilty Remnant wasn't the only group offering something for that deep hole people felt after the Sudden Departure. Holy Wayne also offered hope, by hugging away the pain. A mystical release of the guilt. Tom was Wayne's inside man.
When Tom finally made it clear to his mom that they weren't offering anything in return when they freed people from the Guilty Remnant, the two of them decided decided to capitalize on his knowledge of Holy Wayne. The Guilty Remnant has competition once more, with Tom at the helm, hugging the guilt and pain away from those who will follow.
It was never clear whether Wayne was the real thing or a sham. We're about to find out if the placebo effect works magic. Will falsely representing themselves make Laurie and Tom just as bad as the Guilty Remnant, or will it just give those they free the push they need to get an honest and clean start again? Hopefully, the latter. Let's not see the power go to their heads.
I wonder if and how this story will converge with the story in Miracle. While They're both enjoyable on their own, certainly, they feel as if they belong in two completely different series at this point. Is having the same family represented in two entirely different worlds enough, or would you want to see them meet up again and navigate within the same circle?
Having the plot points from either side sit and wait for an hour or two doesn't feel all that appealing to me from a storytelling standpoint, but dropping either doesn't sit well, either. How would you resolve that?
Is anybody out there? Are you watching what has become one of the best shows on television? Not a peep from the audience so far this season. It's no fun talking to myself. Let me know where you guys stand! Liking it? Want to keep the conversation flowing?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.