Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman) tries to lead others off ramp when she’s still on the turnpike. She tries to wipe the residue off her current life through the drumming in her head. The drumming of improvised jazz layered over the opening scene is Laurie, presently in a state of ordered chaos coping with what’s leftover. In the third tableaux opening of this season, nobody has moved on. The departed never left.
Laurie has scrambled together a makeshift refuge for Guilty Remnants turncoats in a commercial space. But it’s not easy assimilating back into normal society, relatively speaking, so Laurie has tasked herself as a messiah, an inside voice to the now wayward remnantless. And she’s discovered a newly cropped Guilty Remnant satellite as Tom (Chris Zylka) sleeps in front of Holly Wayne videos. Tom’s backstory from last season is still elusive at this point in why he has reconnected with his family, at least with Laurie and Jill (Margaret Qualley). But the plan is to infiltrate the new Guilty Remnants house and rescue doubting apostles. Tom finds Susan, a needed project for Laurie to vicariously live through. And in the spirit of self-healing, Laurie is cranking out a novel of her transformative drive-through in and out of the Guilty Remnants. But a scumbag landlord reminds her rent is past due and that it’s illegal to use a commercial space for residential purposes. But he doesn’t literally say that but instead says it in typical New York landlord shitbag fashion in raising the rent, which initiates the breaking-down of Laurie’s managed aggression. And Susan notices it through Laurie’s psychological coaching, which stops Laurie in her tracks. But Laurie needs Susan as an emotional proxy for her own reintegration with her family as she assists Susan’s with hers. She begs Tom to drive him to his meeting with Jill (episode 1) so she can see her, their relationship still ruptured from Jill being left in one of the Guilty Remnants burning houses in last season’s finale.
But when she and the members are evicted from the commercial space, Laurie’s primal concern is her missing laptop, which has the only copy of her novel, her confessional, and hopeful ATM. But her car is left with blood, literally and figuratively, as she runs over the two Guilty Remnants in the street. But the prospective publisher doesn’t fix the car’s dents. Despite the publisher’s callousness in reviewing the manuscript like a floor plan, Laurie’s book wasn’t an honest introspection and confessional but an emotionally vapid account revealing that Laurie hasn’t truly surfaced.
And Tom is lead on a red herring inside the sect when he’s kidnapped and almost torched, but we further see how Meg Abbott has evolved as a personification of the movement, let alone complicating his and Laurie’s agenda. As Laurie cries in Tom’s arms she ponders why they aren’t attracting more converts. Susan was worse off when she left the cult and ultimately killed herself and family because as Tom answers Laurie’s question, there’s no alternative conviction for them to adopt. From a broad vantage, The Leftovers raises a question if religion is really just a coping mechanism. At what point does it evolve from an ideology to a necessary addiction? It feels good while you’re doing it, but an addiction is incidental, which can be replaced by another one. Leaning on this further, the Guilty Remnants can be perceived as an epidemic, monopolizing Mapleton’s religious and ideological terrain because there isn’t anything else to turn to—after all, nihilism is a belief system, and religion, at least in the traditional Abrahamic sense, has failed to provide a haven in this context.
Laurie opens up to her reason for joining the Guilty Remnants as Tom shares a vital secret and turning point: he can heal people with a hug granted to him by Holy Wayne before Wayne died. If the gift is real, could Wayne have been absorbing the pain from others? If the gift can be spread, where did it come from? What’s the price of healing? With Wayne’s death, possessing the gift seems more like a silent execution. Or the pain is never neutralized but just transferred and Wayne didn’t want it anymore and knew the cost of consigning it to somebody else. Someone has to pay, and this episode is a short parable for the grander perspective of The Leftovers: that pain never really leaves it just gets recycled and nothing ever really departs.