Kevin Sr. (Scott Glenn) and Patti (Ann Dowd) return, in a sense, from a departure—Kevin Sr. from the psych ward, and Patti, though retrospectively, from the dead. Does this suggest that the departed will someday return? Did they even really leave to begin with? As Season 2 begins to explore the reason of the departure, we know at this point that Jarden isn’t a miracle after all. Perhaps this alludes to the thought that miracles don’t really exist, at least in the way we conceive of their divination. I’m enjoying the game The Leftovers is playing, and maybe I’m onto something.
The pie left on the porch preceded by the orphaned baby Nora (Carrie Coon) finds in the same context outwardly seems like a total destruction of logic, but it’s not. At least we know the discovery created a necessary chain of revelatory events priming Nora and the Garvey’s to initiate their own departure out of Mapleton. Kevin (Justin Theroux) shares entombing Patti in the ground as Nora opens up to hiring prostitutes to shoot her. Since coping dysfunction is the normal behavior in the biblically-charged world of The Leftovers, confessionals are the most valuable currency, as Kevin and Nora seemed to have atoned for and neutralized their sins.
But Kevin’s tick with the washing machine—like John’s (Kevin Carroll) with the cricket—is hiding a deeper revelation. It’s not really a guilty conscience that’s biting at Kevin because that would be a too general and an out of place explanation for this show. Yes, Kevin is messed up from burying Patti and he wants to get caught to unburden his conscience—but it’s not because of burying her. The interrogator wraps up his admittance in a bureaucratic blanket—his resignation as the police sheriff because of the cult’s actions. Nobody really liked The Guilty Remnants, but that’s not the point. Kevin is appalled by the action, and this is what sticks with him. Nora and the Garvey’s want to get out but they can’t, even in Shangri-La Jarden.
Jarden is supposed to be a place that didn’t get touched that makes sense. But arguably, it’s a mini-parable of any politically, socioeconomically influenced intercountry border crossing, treated as such with campers and pet quarantines as Kevin’s dog is taken. Nora and Kevin lose their deposit on the rental house, and Nora’s spiritual desperation isn’t compensated by her three million dollar bid on a house that’s falling apart. And a parallel can be drawn to the MIT students’ 2 million offer on Nora’s old house, a rare variable that might contribute to their theory of geography being a relative explanation for the disappearance. Adding to it, the students hypothesize that another departure could take place unnerving Nora. But the value of the new house in Jarden obviously isn’t worth 3M dollars. Yes, the population’s desperation raises the market value, but that’s not it. The new house is overvalued, so does this suggest that the theory of geography is also overvalued?
After the mental institution releases Garvey Sr., he shares with Kevin that Garvey Sr. started to heal after hearing the voices and following their instruction, leading Garvey Sr. to say “I could sit around and cry about how the world f**king ended, or I could start it up again,” and that’s what Kevin thinks he’s doing by moving everyone to Jarden. But Patti won’t let him go. The moving experience, the battered house, and Patti’s presence are all part of an endless string of absurdity and meaninglessness that Kevin can’t handle culminating in his explosion over the light bulb randomly bursting. Kevin wakes in the vanished river with this existential albatross—the cinder block—tied to his ankle naturally with Patti on his shoulder. The Guilty Remnants nihilistic ideology has indeed invaded Kevin made that much more starker in a place that’s supposed to be a refuge. There’s a dread awaiting the Garvey’s and the fallout will be an interesting experiment in hope because there’s nothing more despairing than discovering the loss of it is geographically promiscuous.