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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.
“What did I say I wanted?” he asks Dean, about this other version of himself that apparently got drunk at a bar and decided to “take care” of Patti.
“You said it was time to end it,” Dean tells him.
“I don’t want to hurt her,” Kevin says in horror.
“Oh yes, you do,” replies Dean. “After what she took from your town? There has to be consequences.”
Here is what I thought of when I saw all this: the “memorial service” Patti lays is mixed up with the dinner Kevin lays, and in that, I can’t help but think of it as an inversion of the Christian practice of Eucharist or communion, in which the celebrant usually reads from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
The GR feel themselves judged already (they have named themselves the “guilty remnant,” after all), and they are quite sure that those around them are not judging themselves rightly and hence, they have to do the judging for them. (Nothing more judgemental than staring at people and smoking silently.)
But the Apostle Paul receives something from the Lord and then turns around and delivers it to the church. And what he received was that they might eat and drink in order to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. The GR, by contrast, smokes to proclaim their faith—they literally have that on a poster in their house—but their faith is not that someone is coming and all shall be made right, but rather that nothing shall ever be right again. They aren’t looking for salvation: they want to make sure everyone knows that there isn’t any salvation coming, and you can’t even save yourself.
They are, in effect, the anti-resurrectionists: not just that Christ was not resurrected, but that nothing else will be: that there is no future resurrection of all creation, but only a slow descent into fire and ash.
“We strip away the colorful diversions that keep us from remembering,” Patti tells Kevin. “We strip away attachment, fear, love, and hatred, and anger, until we are erased. Until we are a blank slate. We are living reminders of what you try so desperately to forget. And we are ready and we are waiting, because it's not gonna be long now.”
She quotes W.B. Yeats to him, then. It’s the second stanza of this poem, “He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace,” and the first stanza seems awfully apocalyptic:
Hear the Shadowy Horses, their long manes a-shake,
Their hoofs heavy with tumult, their eyes glimmering white;
The North unfolds above them clinging, creeping night,
The East her hidden joy before the morning break,
The West weeps in pale dew and sighs passing away,
The South is pouring down roses of crimson fire:
O vanity of Sleep, Hope, Dream, endless Desire,
The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay:
Beloved, let your eyes half close, and your heart beat
Over my heart, and your hair fall over my breast,
Drowning love’s lonely hour in deep twilight of rest,
And hiding their tossing manes and their tumultuous feet.
And then she does something very like what Wayne did to Nora, but in a much scarier way: “Kevin,” she says. “Kevin. Kevin Garvey. You dont have to hide from me.” (Doesn’t he?)
But then the leader slits her own throat and ends her own life, not to save the celebrant, but to condemn him.
So where does this leave Kevin? Is he a prophet? An instrument in the hands of the GR? Or something else? Patti is sure her selfish sacrifice—of herself—is enough to make him understand. Whether or not her blood, left literally on his hands, will push him into a new role, is still to be seen.