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Ann Dowd, Justin Theroux, and Michael Gaston in 'The Leftovers'

Note: As with all TV recaps, there are spoilers below for those who did not watch the episode. If you’re only looking for a content advisory, I’ll tell you: this HBO show, were it a movie, would be rated R for language, violence, sexual content, and thematic material, but it changes from week to week. The first commentary carried a Caveat Spectator, so you can check that out. This episode does contain some scenes of physical violence that could be triggering for some viewers.

The curtain rises, this time on cross-cut shots of Patti laying out dozens of garments in the church the Guilty Remnant purchased from Matt Jamison and Kevin laying a fancy table for dinner at home with his family, such as it is: Nora, Jill, and Aimee. Both lay the implements with care and precision. Both have their guests in mind. Both even use the same flower in their preparations.

Beneath, a choir sings: “I’ve been ‘buked and I’ve been scorned . . . there is trouble all over this world.”

There is more preparation going on, too: soon Laurie is in the office at the Guilty Remnant’s house, where Patti hands a fat stack of cash in envelopes. Ready? she ask. Laurie nods, just before another man walks into the office to show Patti something else in a notebook.

For the last seven episodes, we (and Kevin) have had the sharp sense of impending doom. “Time’s up,” people keep saying. The clock has been ticking since the departures, and now it’s time.

Time for what, is the question. For Wayne, it might be the birth of his child(ren), one of who is to be the “bridge.” (And something else, certainly; Wayne, you’ll recall from the last episode, appears to be in a bad way.) Kevin fears the time may be up on his sanity, and in this episode, the clock runs out on Jill and Aimee’s happy coexistence.

The Guilty Remnant has their own plan that they’ve put in place, too, and now it’s time to start enacting it. As this episode confirms, it was the GR that killed Gladys: their way of ensuring that those who were (forgive me) “left behind” will never move on, never forget.

And with the throat-slitting death of Patti (which Kevin seems to have been “chosen” to witness, intentionally or not); the apparently impending demise of Laurie; and the delivery of dozens of corpses (or life-sized dolls, potentially, though the wad of cash makes that less likely). We can only assume these bodies will be dressed in the clothing Patti laid out and used in some gruesome way on Memorial Day (the hints are all there), something big, ugly, and terrifying is about to happen, something that will rock the town yet again.

Jill seems to sense this—her discovery that Nora hasn’t gotten rid of her gun acting as a sign that nobody will ever really be okay again—and finally gives up, surrendering, at least for a while, to the Guilty Remnant. If she sticks around, she’ll become privy to whatever secret knowledge they have, and she’ll be dressed in white. Whether or not she sticks around remains to be seen.

Which leaves Kevin, who has been enacting some other gross ritual in some fugue state that may or may not be drug-induced. He tries so hard to suppress his anger, his need for violence, that it’s coming out in other ways: he’s “disappearing” from himself. It’s as if pieces of his life are being erased and now he’s turning the eraser on himself to avoid understanding and accepting whatever it is the universe seems hellbent on making him accept.

Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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