The Leftovers: “Don’t Be Ridiculous” Season 3 Episode 2 Review

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I don’t think there’s a character on TV right now I love more than Nora Durst. The revelations about her and her psyche in “Don’t Be Ridiculous” more than re-affirm that. Season three’s tone throughout the premiere and the beginning of this episode has leaned hard on levity, one of the most delightful surprises, but as Nora’s quest for the truth turned personal, The Leftovers once again showed just how powerful it can be. But it’s not just Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s doing, as Carrie Coon is really the one to take control here.

Ironically, Nora has been fighting for control the entire time we’ve known her. By working for the Department of Sudden Departure (DSD), she gets to help control the story of what happened on October 14th. The opening scene of this episode shows us how she’s continuing that fight. We see the man who’s been sitting atop the pillar in the center of Miracle collapse and fall off. Next, Nora is interviewing his wife, who claims he departed. Responsible for the cover up is Matt, who wants to give this man a legacy worthy of his actions. Nora obviously has no intention of letting it slide. The sudden departure can’t happen again, according to her. But all this is put on pause when Nora gets a call from Mark Linn-Baker, former star of Perfect Strangers, the theme song of which hilariously played over the opening credits, saying that she has a chance to see her children again if she flies to St. Louis to meet him.

What Carrie Coon so effortlessly communicates here isn’t just anger in disbelief, but the ever so slim possibility that what she’s being told is possible. As she watches testimonies from people who have tried the device Mark Linn-Baker speaks of, she knows she could essentially be watching suicide notes. But these people have something, or at least believe they do, in these moments that Nora so desperately seeks: control. Through this meditation, Nora solves the mystery of what happened to Lilly for us. She’s back with her biological mother, Christine, and Lilly doesn’t even remember the woman who acted as her mother while she was an infant. Nora’s lost another child, her second chance at motherhood torn from her.

In a scene of beautiful tenderness, she confides in Erika (sparking the essential return of Regina King) about her bad days. We learn she slammed a car door on her arm to get a cast to cover up a tattoo she got. First, she had the names of her departed family members tattooed on her arm, but quickly realized she would have to constantly explain her personal tragedy to anyone who saw. So she had the artist cover it up with what she thought was a phoenix, but was actually the symbol of the Wu Tang Clan. The Leftovers‘ ability to find comedy through tragedy is unmatched. To feel some brief ecstatic joy, Nora and Erika jump on Erika’s trampoline, shot in slow motion with, you guessed it, the Wu Tang Clan playing in the background.

Afterward, when Nora arrives home to Kevin suffocating himself with a bag, she’s not filled with rage or sadness. She sees that the man she loves, or at least has convinced herself she loves, is struggling just as much as she is. If anything, this scene is the closest Kevin and Nora have come to feeling “meant to be.” For the first time in a long time, she sees him as he is, so she shows him her tattoo, omitting her own journey with it. In a moment of blissful connection, understanding that Nora is going through things he couldn’t imagine, and appreciating her tender care in his bizarre ritual to feel alive, he asks to have a child with Nora. But Nora, in a moment of startling maturity, laughs it off saying “let’s not fuck this up.” She’s right, these are adults who slam car doors on their arms and suffocate themselves; they should not be having children. After losing Lilly, Nora knows that her time as a mother is over, a fact it’s taken the entire series for her to realize. There was no coming back from the sudden departure, emotionally speaking, and Nora lost too much that she has so little left to give.

But her arc isn’t over. She gets a call to go to Australia, where this device could supposedly let her see her children again. Is she going to take down the conspiracy or give it a whirl? Six episodes doesn’t seem like enough to get us there, with every other character still to play a part. But I’ll say again, I have my full faith in Damon Lindelof to deliver.

The extended stinger left the Nora centric storyline behind to show a gang of women on horses in Australia who are trying to find a man named Kevin who can’t die. Their failure, killing a police chief, mirrored the opening scene of the season with the pilgrims. How many failures have they gone through? And once again, can Kevin Garvey die? His father shows up just before the cut to black, and we’re left to wonder until next week. But these are mysteries The Leftovers intends to answer it seems. Either way, for it’s weirdness, for it’s pitch-perfect comedic timing, for it’s rich dive into its best character, and for the gift that is Carrie Coon, The Leftovers once again achieved the level of masterpiece this week. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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