The Leftovers: “Lens” Season 2 Episode 6 Review

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Having clearly mastered the “individual perspective” episode, The Leftovers once again flawlessly changed its tune with a “dual perspective” entry focusing on Nora and Erika. Spending most of the episode apart, they eventually come together for one of the season’s best scenes yet.

But right from the start of the episode, they’re linked, when a man arrives in town and does some random science-y stuff in front of both their houses. When talking to Nora, he essentially puts her family’s departure on her shoulders. She gets upset and kicks him off your porch. Erika asks from her own porch if Nora is okay. She lies and goes back inside. Later, Nora throws a rock through the Muphys window, unbeknownst to them.

This failed connection between them sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Since the premiere, the Garveys and the Murphys have failed to display any true honesty toward each other. In “Lens,” that tricky dynamic is attacked head on.

The middle chunk of the episode sees Nora and Erika going through relatively typical days of their lives. Nora is even interacting with someone from her old job. But she keeps getting calls from the employer of the man who visited her porch in the opening. In both instances, she’s told of a theory that people that have been exposed to high levels of ultraviolet rays caused people around them to depart. Nora is confronted with the idea that her family being gone is her fault and she’s trying desperately to find ways to relinquish that thought.

Erika, meanwhile, is running from grief, the exact opposite of what Nora thinks she’s doing. She seems to be distracting herself either by throwing her anger at her father or bottling it inside. This being Regina King’s first real chance to shine all season, she brings Erika so much pent-up anger, but also discipline. Erika is finally just as strong as the rest of the cast. There’s more subtle proof of this throughout the episode, but the scene that really put her on the map was at the fundraiser where she tells the whole town off about their ridiculous beliefs.

That’s when Nora comes in, seeing Erika possibly blaming herself as something she can relate to. On any other show, Nora confronting Erika with this blame would have provided solace for at least one of them. Nope, not on The Leftovers! Nora asks Erika all the insane questions she used to ask her clients in Mapleton to comfort them. But Erika sees right through it and turns the situation around on Nora. Finally, Nora realizes she isn’t okay. The band-aids she keeps putting on things just isn’t cutting it anymore. Just like Erika, she’s running away from her grief.

The episode could have ended right there, but no, The Leftovers isn’t done with us yet this week. Kevin confesses to seeing Patti the second a crying Nora comes home. He continues to tear down the safety nets Nora built up. Handcuffing your boyfriend to the bed so he doesn’t sleepwalk around town isn’t normal. As if Nora needed another second of hardship this episode, a rock comes soaring through the window, with Erika scowling through the hole in the glass. Tension between the neighbors is at an all-time high.

Somehow, there’s only four episodes left for the season. “Lens” did a great job pushing the story forward without sacrificing the unique storytelling methods the show has been delivering all season. As season two’s arc begins to reveal itself, the show continues to be at its best. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • No episode featuring maternal figures trying to redeem themselves would be complete without Laurie. She sneaks in there to present us with another mystery. She calls Nora and asks if Tommy is in town. Last we saw him, Tommy was gearing up to be the next Holy Wayne. In the time we’ve since spent in Jarden, he’s gone. The second this scene was over, I was begging the show to give us another Laurie-centric episode next week, but it looks to focus on Kevin losing his mind. Laurie was in the preview though…
  • Matt is already in a very different place than where we left him last week. By refusing to give up his post when someone offered to take it from him, he’s earned the respect of the “locals.” I’m glad this wasn’t shown in “No Room at the Inn,” as it would have taken away from the overall power of the episode. But this is a reward the show still somehow earned.
  • You’ve got to laugh at this show’s weird brand of humor. Nora is told she’s inhabited by Azrael, the Angel of Death.
  • This episode feels like it had a significant time jump from the rest of the season, which is smart considering much of the first half of the season took place on top of itself.
  • Honestly, did anyone expect this season to be this good? Looking at all the television I’m going to be watching for the rest of 2015, and I can’t say there’s a single thing I’m more excited for than this show’s season finale. Just to see how this all comes together and what the writers want it to mean.

By Matt Dougherty

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