The Leftovers: “Guest” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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I had hoped when the third episode of the series honed in on a single character that it was not a special occasion. Guest, while not nearly as strong as the Matt centric Two Boats and a Helicopter, was still a riveting example of the type of storytelling this show is capable of.

The second episode to focus on a single character went to Nora Durst, the woman who’s job it is to visit the titular leftovers and ask them an endless survey about their departed. The opening scene has her hiring a hooker to shoot her in the chest while she’s wearing a bulletproof vest. While this intense start didn’t totally connect to the rest of the hour, aside from showing us that Nora isn’t quite as stable as we’ve been led to believe, the episode only got better from there.

She’s next seen flirting with Kevin before heading off to a conference related to her work. With her traveling to Manhattan for the event, it may have been nice to see more of how a city like New York is reacting to the events of October 14. We mostly just got a bunch of protesters.

But the conference itself had a lot to chew on. When Nora arrives, her name badge is missing, forcing her to have the designation of “Guest”. She naturally gets angry and tries to find her badge’s captor. In a fun twist, this leads to her partying with some other attendees of the conference. Drunk Nora as sexy, adding a whole new layer to the woman hiring hookers to shoot her.

The next morning, she gets kicked out of the hotel because her impostor made a mess. Now Nora’s on a mission to find this person, storming back into the hotel and forcing management to come with her to the panel she is supposed to speak on. The episode did a great job making the discovery that Nora was right feel like a triumphant one.

Then we got Nora’s spectacular flip-out at the bar at the author of the book “What’s Next.” From here, even she realizes how broken she is. But that all seems to change when she meets Wayne. After a brief hug, Nora’s troubles seem to magically fade away. She returns to Long Island to get asked about by Kevin and have the confidence to say “yes”. Just what is this influence Wayne has?

Guest didn’t quite do the character study for Nora as well as Two Boats and a Helicopter did for Matt, but it was still an incredibly engaging episode of television. The more focused The Leftovers is, the more powerful it is. With four episodes left, here’s to hoping we get one more of these ultra-focused character episodes. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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