The Leftovers: “A Matter of Geography” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

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“It’s okay.”

I can’t think of a moment of The Leftovers defines the show more than Jill Garvey telling her brother that she and her new makeshift family are okay as a single, distressing tear rolls down her cheek. This is a show based on lies. Grief forces us to lie to ourselves to move on. The Leftovers has always been at odds with that.

After a premiere that felt like a prologue to the second season, “A Matter of Geography” filled in the blanks with how the Garveys arrived in Jarden. Opening in Mapleton, there’s a sense of familiarity the premiere was right to deprive us of. But coming back to it now puts at least one foot on the ground for viewers, as much of a foot as The Leftovers will likely ever be willing to give.

We pick up right where the season one finale left off. Nora holds the infant, now named Lily, and Kevin and Jill show up at their front porch. Instead of leaving, Nora tries to make a family with them. She now has a replacement for everyone she lost. Kevin tells her about burying Patti in the woods and Nora tells her about hiring prostitutes to shoot her. These confessions are not received with the gravitas the confessor expected, instead slapping band-aids onto much larger wounds. It’s most obvious with Kevin, who digs up Patti’s body, throws her in the trunk, and then allows himself to get caught by the police. I’m not sure if he’s dealing with some remaining guilt or trying to escape the thinly strung family he rushed together. Either way, The Leftovers gets to deal with a plot point from last year in a way that feels genuine without it overstaying its welcome.

From there, after some sound advice from Kevin’s now free father, the family moves to Jarden. In “Axis Mundi,” we got a look at the town/national park from the inside. The show wanted us to take everything as true to the world the show has built. But now we’re on the outside looking in. It’s an interesting narrative choice to have us know more about the town than the Garveys do. When they find out that their rental burned down, we know there’s probably a lot more to it than that. But Nora, who has a chance to have her cake and eat it too in Jarden, desperately buys the only house that’s been on the market in months. Kevin, agitated by Patti haunting him in a similar manner to Dean from last season, throws a fit in their new home, which is essentially falling apart. Kevin sees through the lies they’ve been telling themselves, allowing him to continue to be the audience’s vehicle.

The episode ends with Kevin waking up tied to a cinder block in the pond that disappeared at the end of the premiere. Did the Patti part of his psyche try to commit suicide? No answers are offered because none are needed at the moment. This scene isn’t about why the water and the teenage girls disappeared, it’s about the fact that our vehicle is still as unreliable as they come.

“A Matter of Geography” snuck a lot into this hour. The parallel storytelling to “Axis Mundi” worked incredibly well, all while tying up loose ends from season one. In many ways, this was the true season premiere. It was also just as confident as last week’s. Despite the change in setting, The Leftovers still gets to be itself, perhaps even more so than it did in Mapleton. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes: 

  • A lot of interesting music choices this week, particularly “Where is My Mind?” Mr. Robot also used this song recently as essentially a tribute to Fight Club, a movie it shares more than a few common threads with. But The Leftovers used it a lot more literally, paying homage to something it shares some qualities with, but is very different from.
  • Jill has transformed into the voice of reason in the family. That’s some powerful growth.
  • Researchers tell Nora she may have disappeared had she been sitting at the kitchen table with her family. They believe the disappearances were “a matter of geography” and that there’s no reason it wouldn’t happen again. I like that Nora runs away from these answers, just as the show has.
  • Some more meta material came when Patti harassed Kevin with the question of whether the Murphys are part of his story or he’s part of their’s. Ann Dowd is going to get a whole lot of scenery-chewing this season.

By Matt Dougherty

One Response to The Leftovers: “A Matter of Geography” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

  1. RosanaZugey says:

    Great review. I also thought Jill’s “I’m ok…we’re ok,” conversation was a series defining one, but not necessarily for the reasons you did. I didn’t think she was lying. I thought she was being sincere and felt as if that conversation showcased the overall struggle of the show: is it possible to BE “ok” after so many cataclysmic events. Are they allowed to be ok? CAN they be ok? Those are serious questions to ask, and watching the answers unfold every week is truly a masterpiece of art.

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