We're straddling the edge of sanity with "Don't Be Ridiculous," and the title taunts us.
As we see on The Leftovers Season 3 Episode 2, the last three years have brought the Garveys and nearly everyone else to their knees. If they were coping well before, what we see on the surface now could mean anything.
Years of processing the loss of 2% of the population affected everyone differently. Some people are harder, some softer, some hard on the outside with a soft coating, gooey on the inside with a hard shell; but most appear willing to believe just about anything.
Much of the hour focuses on Nora. She excels at her job because she can see through the lies of someone who didn't truly lose someone to a Sudden Departure.
Nobody, from what we've seen, has departed since that first October 14, but people continue using the event to cover up other offenses.
Even Pillar Man became a part of her investigation because what he wanted, what he needed by way of suffering on that pillar was to be chosen by God to go with the others.
Nora wouldn't have it. She doesn't have respect for people make it up and is offended to the point she'll offend them in her outrage to them using Sudden Departure as a way out.
Whether it's because Nora is a woman of science, has lost her faith in God or merely knows the horrors of not being chosen all too well, unless someone really goes in an instant, she's not going to glorify anyone else's loss by granting them the term Sudden Departure in association with their death.
That stewed up Pillar Man's wife, Sandy, quite a bit. She condemned Nora to hell when Nora posted an autopsy photo of her husband in front of the pillar to assure the masses he didn't "dim" or "pop" on his way out. He fell off the pillar while having a heart attack.
There's nothing romantic about that in the same way there was nothing romantic about leaving the room for a moment and finding your entire family was gone in the blink of an eye.
There's not a day that goes by that Nora doesn't think about her children.
She recently broke her arm on purpose to hide the fact she got tattoos on her arm of her children's names, that she immediately covered with a Wu Tang Clan symbol. She couldn't stand the fact people would ask her about the names and she'd have to launch into the story of the Sudden Departure.
People will pity Nora and her loss in the Sudden Departure the rest of her life, and others want to romanticize it? She won't have it.
As if that wasn't bad enough, we learned why she no longer has Lily in her life.
Christine wanted her daughter back.
Nora: Well, do you know what I wish? I wish you'd never left her for me.
Tom: I didn't leave Lily for you, Nora, I left her for my dad. I didn't even know you existed.
I hated the way Tom said that to her. In fact, that whole conversation seemed irrelevant, and if Nora was telling the truth, it was unkind of Christine to call wondering why Nora was there in the first place.
The bigger question was why did Christine ever leave her child, and what took her so long? What kind of woman would take a child she abandoned away from the woman who raised her in her absence who had lost two in the Sudden Departure, never looking back?
Yet, everything was telling Nora not to proceed. The world was against her. Electronics were trying to stop her. What was that all about? Simply kismet or something of a deeper nature? Could it have been a radiation similar to what took the 2% thwarting her decisions or some other spiritual presence?
The airport wanted her to be carrying an infant on her lap. She couldn't get the directions to Eminence, KY. She couldn't leave the airport. What did it all mean? If she's not hindered, does that mean she's making the correct decisions?
Nora also paid a visit to Erika, wondering why she was not falling apart. Two reasons: She had the opportunity to bury her daughter, and she bought a trampoline.
Knowing for certain what happened to your child would be very important to allowing closure in a situation like that. Never knowing what happened to your family would be a lifetime punishment nobody deserves.
What I think of the number of people walking this earth go are forced to live like that, my hearts go out to them. There aren't enough people or entities available to search for and give closure to the missing.
So you do what you can. There are some things in the world that you can do that you can't help but smile. Using a trampoline is one of them. Anything on which you sit or ride on which you look or feel like a free and breezy idiot.
We need more stuff like that in the world.
When you heard the opening credits, did you have any idea it meant Mark Linn-Baker would be involved in some way?
Nora [phone ringing]: Hello?
Man: Hi. Is this Nora Durst?
Nora: Yes. Who's this?
Man: Is this a secure line?
Nora: Who is this?
Man: It's Mark Linn-Baker.
Mark: Mark Linn-Baker. I'm calling on behalf of a third party and they've asked me to ask you. Would you like to see your children again?
Mark: Your children, Erin and Jeremy. Would you like to see them again?
Nora: Listen to me, you shit, your third party obviously doesn't know that I'm a fraud investigator for the DSD and I'm going to find out exactly what it is...
Mark: They know your kids' names, Nora, I'm pretty sure they know what you do. And they don't care. You don't have to trace me. I'm at the Crown Central in St. Louis. Just ask for Mark Linn-Baker.
Pulling him out of thin air and giving him a story of his television family going during the Sudden Departure gave even more credence to the plot. As Nora listened to what he had to say, envisioning their very similar situations, you could hear the wheels turning in her head.
Nora: I don't know if you are a victim of this or a part of it, but if this is real, if they've actually built this device, they're not [sighs] sending people to some magical place to be with their loved ones. They're incinerating them.
How long do you have to suffer from the unknown before someone offers you a lifeline that you'd grab onto even if it was one you had a hard time believing?
Because when Nora got home, things took another crazy turn. If she was worried about what Baker told her, her reaction to Kevin and what she saw in their bedroom told me she was ready for anything.
Kevin: I tear it off every time. I just do it to feel, um. I don't want to die.
Nora: It's OK.
Kevin: It is?
Nora: You don't need to explain, Kevin. Hey, look, I got a tattoo. A couple hundred more and I'll catch up with you.
Kevin: Let's have a baby.
Kevin: I want to have a baby. With you.
Nora: [laughs uncontrollably] Hey. Are you happy?
Nora: I'm happy, too. Let's not fuck that up, OK?
We know that neither of them are happy. That's a certainty. They are comfortable. She's used to the life they're leading and content in her pain, and he's content coming close to killing himself every day before he goes to work.
That's not happiness.
But they're going to Australia now, and Kevin thinks they're going for her job, but we can already see how worlds are going to collide.
Kevin the Chief of Police was pretty obviously confused with our Kevin the Chief of Police.
Just when we thought there was no way that could be true, because where's the connection, Kevin Garvey, Sr. popped out the back door.
Why he would be telling tales about his son to this woman is unclear, but she somehow got it into her head that his son can help her in some way.
Did you notice that the time difference in Australia means their event will be on October 15?
Kevin has all the pressure surrounding him now of being the next messiah, Nora is busting his balls over it every chance she gets they're going to take all of that pent up stress over to Australia where she's going to investigate the reality of joining her children through Low Amplification Danziger Radiation.
Carrie Coon was wonderful as Nora, trying to come to terms with all the different sides of a woman melting on the inside while hard as nails to the world. Keeping Nora's emotions in check with just a single tear here and breaking her up with laughter there rightly convinces us Coon is playing a woman on the edge.
You see, Nora isn't cursed. She's dealing with incomprehensible events better than most probably would have been able. The punches keep coming, and Nora keeps standing. But she might be ready for another step. To take a swing of her own, a swing back at the other side.
Under what circumstances would you consider being blasted with radiation that may or may not take you to another realm if it meant you could be reunited with your family?
When you're witnessing things like your significant other smothering himself – not to death, though, so don't worry – is a radiation blast to nowhere just the next step?
It's easy to put yourself in their shoes. The world changed so significantly that despite how much people tried to understand and move on, there was no getting around the Sudden Departure. You can either live with what happened or you can't.
Some will always work to find meaning in it and change their lives in accordance with it. Our little group falls into that category.
What do you think will happen before the end? Will there be an end on the 14th or will they be left to find meaning yet once more?
Hit me with your best shot!!
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.