The Leftovers Season 1 Episode 8 “Cairo”: My Unsolicited Review

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The Leftovers is a show full of incredibly talented actors, amazing stage direction and wonderful cinematography, yet with a storyline that is seemingly impossible to make heads or tails of. It simultaneously baffles and impresses me how a show is able to be increasingly mysterious without ever really providing any newly concrete mystery. Seriously, the show recycles the same mystifying plots every episode, yet it keeps appearing like a fresh mystery every episode… and I’m reminded every time that I have no idea what I’m supposed to be following. The most succinct recap of this episode would be: Kevin is losing his mind further, the Guilty Remnant are becoming even more hardcore creepy, and Jill has completely transformed into such an insufferable bitch that she’s even alienated her best friend. Still, though, let’s probe a tad further, because a few questions were answered this week… however incompletely it may have been.

The episode started off okay enough (minus Patti’s bizarre arrangement of outfits in an empty church, but I suspect that will be explored further in next week’s episode). Nora was over at the Garvey’s for dinner, officially meeting Jill for the first time and, thanks to Amy, we got one of our first answers. Though we already knew that Nora conducted interviews with the families of those that were Departed so that they could receive benefit cheques, we never really knew why. It turns out that the reason (or at least the public story, if we’re holding on to our conspiracy theory) is so that the Government can establish circumstances and factors that everyone who disappeared had in common. That actually makes a lot of sense, and I’m surprised it hadn’t occurred to me sooner. Anyway, the dinner was progressing smoothly, despite some expected awkwardness, when Jill found it impossible to contain her bitchiness any longer, and she called out Nora for owning a gun, refusing to accept that Nora was now okay despite having lost her entire family in the Departure. Nora handled it wonderfully, though, and I’m liking her more and more with every episode.

When the dinner was over, and Nora had left, Kevin went to sleep, and we all knew that something weird was gonna go down between the time he closed his eyes and when he reopened them. I didn’t expect it to be that extreme though. When he reawoke, he found himself in his car in the woods in Cairo, New York, with loner dog-murderer, Dean, with no recollection of how and when they’d gotten there. As if that weren’t weird enough, it turned out that they had both, after a drunken night at a bar – which Kevin also had no memory of – attacked and kidnapped The Guilty Remnant Cult leader, Patti, and left her bound to a chair inside an abandoned cabin.

Although Kevin can’t remember anything that went down, Dean recalls the entire night’s events with vivid clarity, and appears unremorseful for anything that they’d done. Abandoning her vow of silence – which we’ve by now already realised is only utilised when it’s convenient to her – she promises Kevin that she will report them both to the authorities and destroy his life if he lets her go.

The majority of the episode is Kevin trying to figure out how to handle this unexpected and out-of-control situation, and in a totally eerie turn, he finds all the white shirts that he’d been missing pinned to several trees in this very location. Again, we’d already figured that the shirts that he’d received from the dry cleaners weren’t his… but I hadn’t expected him to find the real ones out there in the middle of nowhere. As he returns to Patti, Dean informs him that he’s taken care of the issue, and upon entering the cabin, Kevin sees Patti with a plastic bag tied around her head, clearly on the verge of asphyxiation. He and Dean get into a violent fight as he tries to save Patti, and Dean tries to prevent this. Dean was always a weirdo nutjob character, but I’d though that his biggest crime had been that he was trying to protect people from wild, vicious dogs. Well, it turns out that he has far many more screws than that loose, and he is quite possibly sociopathic.

Over in relative civilisation, and that’s really not saying much, Jill and Aimee hang out with the Frost twins, with Aimee recounting the events of dinner with amazing storytelling prowess. Jill once again argues that Nora is only pretending to be okay after having lost her family and when Aimee informs her that it’s possible for some people to be okay, I think we get another question answered. So far, we’ve been wondering why Aimee has been spending so much time at the Garvey’s, but this episode makes me suspect that she lost her parents in the Departure, and she can’t (or doesn’t want to be) alone. Aimee then says to Jill what we’ve all been thinking, which is that Kevin could probably be okay too if Jill would let him, and this prompts Jill to ask if Aimee has slept with him. Although clearly shocked and offended at the accusation, Aimee convincingly replies that she has slept with Kevin, but that he put an end to it because he felt it to be wrong. Jill and Aimee then exchange pleasantries of “fuck you” and Aimee storms off.

Since Jill never seems to fill her quota of being an irritating, meddlesome bitch (am I getting my point across that I severely dislike her?), she coerces the twins into breaking into Nora’s house with her, and after a bit of snooping, she finds Nora’s gun hidden under one of the kids’ old beds. She then leaves the gun displayed on the bed, and then leaves the house.

Over at the Guilty Remnant, Patti’s absence goes unnoticed for a while because Meg – in spite of all her arguments that she was ready to be part of the cult – has started losing her shit, attacking Rev Jamieson, and pretty much sending her vow of silence to hell. When Patti’s absence is finally questioned, we see Laurie sort of take up the position of de facto cult leader… and she evidently quite likes the feeling.

Back in the cabin of crazy, Patti informs Kevin that even though he saved her life, she still had every intention of destroying his. When he asks her what she wants from him, she launches into this insanity-filled speech about wanting him to admit that he understands what’s happening, and then explaining that the GR’s purpose is to completely detach themselves from worldly belongings and emotions to become constant reminders of the Departed. We then get a third question answered (quite the record, this episode). It turns out that, after all this time, the culprits behind Gladys’ vicious stoning were the very members of the GR. How crazy are these people going to get? Patti then goes on to say that it will soon be Laurie’s turn and that Laurie is willing to endure it. Being the good guy that he is, Kevin then releases her, stating that he no longer cares what she does to his career, because he won’t allow her to drive him insane. Before he could leave, however, she picks up a shard of glass and stabs herself in the neck, telling him before dying in his arms that he does understand. This trick is as crazy as her all-white outfits, but I will admit that I will miss her, because she was one of the most compelling characters of the show.

The season is drawing to an end, so here’s hoping that more questions will be answered. HBO just announced that the show has been renewed for a second season, so there’s quite the possibility that this confusion will be extended to a season 2. I sincerely hope that we get a good enough reason to stick around after this season, because I’m not so sure that I have it in me to go through all of this a second time.

3 thoughts on “The Leftovers Season 1 Episode 8 “Cairo”: My Unsolicited Review”

  1. So, true confessions. The only reason I’m watching this series, or have HBO period, is to watch True Blood. I always cancel my HBO once TB’s season is over. But as long as I’m paying for HBO, I figured I’d get my money’s worth and get wrapped up into this show.

    It’s been entertaining me, but I can’t say it’s enough to get me hooked. I don’t know that I’d re-enroll in HBO again in the future just to watch it.

    I mean, I like where Kevin and Nora are going, but that’s about it. All the other characters are underdeveloped and I can’t latch on to anyone only knowing *this* much about them and how they relate to the others in the show. We’re almost an entire season in at this point. We should know more than we do (IMHO).

    Not to mention, who accuses their friend of sleeping with their dad?! I mean – UGH!!

    Too much mystery, not enough of a story arch. I’m starting to get annoyed (and I really tried to hang with it). I’ll stick it out for the season, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be back…

    Like

    1. Ok, first off, if you only use HBO for True Blood, does that mean you’re telling me that you don’t watch Game of Thrones?! I hope that isn’t the case, but if it is… you’ve got to fix this immediately!

      But on a serious note, I can’t really hold it against you. I honestly think that the actors on this show are amazing, and they story line has the potential to be great. However, as it stands, I’ve got to admit that I’m not sure that it’s engaging enough to keep me tuned in for a second season. Something’s really gotta give by the finale, or else…

      Like

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