The Leftovers: ‘Lens’ Review

The Leftovers 'Cause and Effect'

“Terrible things happen in this world and the only comfort we get is that we didn’t cause them.” -Nora

The Leftovers just keeps hitting all the right notes. I don’t even know how it’s possible for a series to continue to grow in quality but this season has been unbelievable to say the least. And Lens was yet another episode that did a lot of things right. The Walking Dead should take notes because when it comes to Sunday nights, I’m officially more excited for The Leftovers than anything else out there.

The mystery of the departure has been a journey even if we’re just watching it all play out on our television screens. What I really liked about this episode was that it made us really stop and think as to what could actually have been the cause of this “event”. In other words, we are trying to sort through all of the bullshit to get to the bottom of this. The people of Jarden truly believe that their town is special because of the 9,261 people that remained after 2% of the world’s population vanished into thin air but what actually caused this to happen? It certainly wasn’t because of Jerry and his goat or Cecilia and her wedding dress. Nor do I think that Azrael has been using Nora’s body as a conduit to do evil things. In fact, I think it’s impossible for us to know what really happened for certain but it’s definitely been fun watching other people come up with their own theories. In fact, maybe a lot of these happenings are just coincidence after all.

That said, my favorite theory involves the idea of wishing people away and that theory just got a whole lot more popular after Erika’s story regarding the buried bird in the box. Could it really be possible that people were wished out of existence? If so, why can’t this happen in real life? I have a “wish list” of people I wouldn’t mind wishing away. Regardless of the cause, however, it’s the effect this mystery has had and the emotional response from our characters that has been the driving force of this epic series and Lens was yet another powerful episode that took us one step closer to bringing everything to a climax.

So what are you waiting for? Make a wish and enjoy the review, fellow departed.

Out Of Focus

I love it when we are treated to a random, mysterious intro and that was exactly how Lens got things started. We follow a random, new character around with Jim James’ State of the Art playing in the background and it was once again done to perfection. I swear this show knows how to get your interest and that is exactly what they did with this opening scene.

So who is this guy and why is he coming to Miracle, Texas? Well, don’t worry because we got answers almost immediately. This random scientist, going by the name Dr. Cuarto, is looking for Nora but first he stops by the neighbors to confirm that Evie Murphy lives next door.

Who You Gonna Call?

The reason for this becomes evident when our random friend starts asking Nora questions about when she moved into town and whether she came into contact with Evie. Once Nora realizes what is going on, she’s a little pissed about it:

"Get the fuck off my porch."

Carrie Coon is fucking awesome as Nora and I’m glad she was more of the focus in this episode but what I don’t understand is why she decided to throw a rock through her neighbor’s front window:

Nora throws rock through window

I guess she must still be pissed at John for refusing to help her brother Matt.

Once again, the entire opening scene was beautifully mysterious. Does all of this mean that Nora herself had something to do with the departure? It’s possible because later we find out about a theory called ‘lensing’, whereby a person can be responsible for someone disappearing. The idea is that someone gives off ultraviolet rays or whatnot which causes the people around them to ‘lift’ or depart. Is Nora one of these people? I’m not sold. In fact, I highly doubt that individual people could be responsible for making others suddenly depart. Of course, there was a lot more to this insane theory but more on that a little bit later.

We also caught up with Dr. Goodheart who you might remember from the premiere episode where he was fishing in the same lake that the girl’s disappeared from. He apparently had a stash of the same water from the pond before it all disappeared and decided to become a spokesperson for Nestle and sell it for a ridiculously excessive amount.

Nestle Waters

I don’t know what is worse…this guy selling water for $500/millilitre or the fact that people were actually buying it! Obviously this led to John beating the shit out of Dr. Goodheart for trying to scam people (just like what happened to Isaac). Erika suggests that the doctor let John slide this time otherwise he will likely end up right back in the hospital. There has to be something more to this Goodheart guy though. He was definitely around the girls prior to their disappearance and now he’s selling water from the same watering hole. We also found out that John took his palm print as well so he could check if it matched up with the print left on the car.

And remember Virgil, the old black man who told Nora he was sorry for her loss? Well, he returned and we found out that he’s the one who has been delivering those mystery pies to the Murphy house. It was fairly evident that he has some relation to Erika and, if I had to guess, I believe he is actually her father especially given the fact that he asked Erika if she wanted to take a bird with her. So what is the old man’s story and why is he always speaking in riddles? Man, just another question to add to our list of mysteries…either that, or he’s just been smoking wayyyy to much of the good stuff.

Pot Pie

Later, Erika confronts her son Michael about visiting Virgil and she basically tells him to stop because John will throw one of his trademark temper tantrums if he ever finds out. So why does John hate this Virgil character so much? I can only assume it has something to do with his belief in miracles but I’m definitely curious as to what his relationship is with the Murphy’s.

The Archangel of Death

Erika Murphy was clearly the main focus of this episode and Regina King has been superb so far in the role. The Murphy’s get a visit from George, an employee of the DSD (Department of Sudden Departure), but they refuse to talk to him. Nora and George end up getting acquainted since Nora also used to work for the DSD before moving to Jarden. I guess the whole reason George is trying to visit the Murphy’s is because of their daughter’s disappearance. More and more people are starting to think this may have been a second departure but I’m still not sold on this theory. Personally, I think Evie and her friends are still alive and well and there will be a perfectly logical explanation for their disappearance in the end but its been pretty fun watching the rest of the world speculate on their whereabouts.

Nora keeps getting phone calls from the same organization that Dr. Cuarto works for regarding the measurements he took earlier when he dropped in for a visit. It appears they think Nora is a “lens”, that she may be causing some of these departures herself. She did arrive in Miracle the same night that Evie and her friends disappeared into thin air so is this just a coincidence or does Nora have something to do with it?

The lady on the phone believes she is, in fact, a lens but she also believes that the demon Azrael has chosen Nora as its Earthbound instrument and is responsible for the chaos that surrounds her and many others. Wait, WHAT!? Hold the fucking phone here because this show just went super religious on us. I highly doubt that the archangel of death is responsible for the departures by working its magic through Nora. Personally, I think this entire idea was presented to us to throw us off the real scent but as we know, this series has no plans of explaining the departure at all so your guess is as good as mine.

Nora also goes to visit her brother Matt and he’s doing a lot better this week. He’s out of the stocks after not allowing anyone to take his place and he has gained a bit of a following which shouldn’t surprise us considering he’s a reverend.

Out of Stock

Nora lets him know that she’s going to a fundraiser after her visit and Matt suggests that the Murphy’s might see bringing Mary as a hostile gesture considering they don’t believe in miracles. But the big moment for me was when Nora received a random phone call from Laurie Garvey, finally tying our stories together if only very briefly.

Hold the Phone

The last time we saw Tom and Laurie, Tom was busy handing out hugs at Laurie’s Guilty Remnant Anonymous meetings but it appears that Tom has vanished. Laurie thinks he may have travelled to Texas to be with the rest of his family but he’s clearly not there. Laurie asks Nora to tell him she’s sorry if she sees him but the bigger question here is what in the fuck happened to Tom? If I had to guess, I would say that the Guilty Remnant is involved in this particular disappearance given the fact that Tom was already kidnapped by Meg and has the ability to heal people’s pain through hugs. At long last, our stories are starting to come together and I’m super curious to see how Tom, Laurie and Meg’s stories will intertwine with the Garvey’s and Murphy’s in Miracle. I mean, they have to…right?

During the fundraiser, Nora decides that she needs to see what kind of questions they are asking on the new survey the DSD has been issuing to determine if any secondary departures have occurred so she goes into stealth mode and is able to snatch a copy out of George’s bag. All of this happened as Rihanna’s Stay was playing and it was a pretty damn perfect song selection. I’m just blown away by the soundtrack for season two.

The scene at the fundraiser was very moving and sad and really makes us think about everyone that has come and gone out of our lives . I guess the lesson here is to treasure the moments you spend with every single person you come across because it might be the last time you ever get to see them again. Heartbreaking stuff that gave me the feels. Of course, everything gets interrupted when Jerry the Goat Murderer shows up to sacrifice a goat in the middle of the fundraiser. Apparently the town thinks Jerry is special because he killed a goat prior to the departure and so he must have saved the town because of his sacrifice.

We also find out why that random woman is always wearing a wedding dress. As it turns out, she was trying on her wedding dress when the departure occurred and now she puts it on every day. And Erika is right pissed off at all of them.

"The wedding is over bitch."

This was easily one of the best scenes of the episode. Regina King completely stole the show with her performance here and you couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed for her and everything she has been through. On the one hand, she has to deal with an entire town of people who truly believe they live in a special place that kept them safe from the departure. On the other hand, her daughter has disappeared and it seems more and more likely that Evie may have departed. As Erika says, “all of this shit we’re walking around here doing, it doesn’t work because my daughter is gone.” Hold on while I go wipe the tears pouring out of my eyes because I can’t help but feel for this woman.

And hell, that wasn’t even the most intense scene because Nora still has to pay Erika a visit with that survey she “borrowed” from poor George.

Bird’s Eye View

Nora’s visit gave us an answer to one of our mysteries, that being the significance of the bird buried in the box. Earlier, we saw Erika going back into the forest to dig up another box only this time it doesn’t look like any of the more recent birds survived.

Dead Bird

So what is the significance of the bird in the box? Well, Erika explains this during Nora’s questioning session. It was revealed that Erika was going to leave John prior to Evie’s disappearance. It was also revealed that Erika’s grandmother had lived in Jarden her whole life and that it was a special place. Erika’s grandmother believed that burying a bird in a box in the woods for three days would make wishes come true. But Erika didn’t buy this story, she thought it was all pretend. Her entire perspective changed on October 14th, the day of the departure, when 2% of the world’s population vanished into thin air with the exception of a little place called Miracle. That shit was real.

Erika explains her story about how she found a sparrow but rather than nursing it back to health, she decided to bury the bird alive in the woods. Erika is also a doctor so she knows that a bird cannot survive three days buried in a box. More interestingly, however, was the fact that she wished her kids would be okay if she left. And you will remember that last season, this was also something that was consistent with the departures. People seemed to be “wished” away, including Nora’s family.

Survey Says...

The night after releasing the bird from the box, Erika’s daughter disappeared and I’m starting to think that these wishes have something to do with the people who have disappeared. That said, how could this one wish come true when there are probably thousands of people wishing the same types of things. Could Nora be the key here?

Nora seems to think otherwise. She thinks this whole story is pathetic because she had blamed herself for thinking the same thing, that she was responsible for her family’s departure. She explains to Erika that she moved passed this way of thinking and evolved. Terrible things happen in this world and the only comfort we get is that we didn’t cause them and, therefore, Nora isn’t buying Erika’s story. But did they depart or did they die? This was easily one of the DEEPEST conversations this show has ever had and watching Erika and Nora both dealing with their losses was as intense as it gets.

Also interesting was the fact that one of the questions on the survey asks about neurological conditions that might cause seizures and Evie did have an episode the night she disappeared. I’m assuming there were clues hidden in these questions but I’m not sure if I have any clue what the connections to the departure are.

And finally at the end, Kevin comes clean about his mental problems and lets Nora know that he keeps having visions of Patti. Kevin reveals that this started happening after the baby arrived on their doorstep. He explains to Nora that Patti says he should have never told Nora about her and that he just made a big mistake. And as soon as he says this, Erika throws a rock through the Garvey’s window to get back at Nora:

Tit For Tat

That is the face of a woman I do not want to fuck with. So what does this all mean? How could it possibly be a mistake for Kevin to tell Nora about his imaginary friend? And it looks like we may be headed toward a conflict between the Garvey’s and the Murphy’s but who will come out on top? A lot of questions but I simply loved that ending with a rock being thrown through the window much like how the episode began.

And of course, can’t forget about more great music during the closing credits. This time they decided to play I Am A Rock by Simon & Garfunkel and I really can’t say enough good things about the soundtrack, including Max Richter’s stunning instrumentals. Enjoy the jam!

The Verdict

Episode Score: MIKEY LIKES IT (especially the mystery pot pie)
Mikey Likes It

Lens explored the departure in much more detail and boy, my head is spinning trying to figure out this mystery. The one thing this series does so well is make us think about what is real and what is not and determining what might have caused the disappearance of 2% of the world’s population is literally making my brain explode. There are so many questions that I would like answered but I really don’t think this is going to be the case and I have made my peace with that.

At least we can finally put to rest the mystery of the bird in the buried box…well kind of. I guess we have to ask ourselves if Erika’s wish really did come true or not. If it did, in fact, come true than the entire departure likely has something to do with people wishing others away in various contexts. For Erika, she simply wanted her daughter to be okay without her and maybe that is why Evie disappeared. It does not, however, explain why her friends disappeared with her and I still believe that this was not a secondary departure.

Carrie Coon and Regina King were most definitely the stars of this episode. Once again, I was thoroughly impressed with the talent of these two strong females and Erika Murphy’s character has been a welcome addition to an already amazing cast of characters. With only four episodes left in this amazing second season of The Leftovers, the questions are piling up. If anyone has any answers, please let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments.

-Did Erika actually wish her daughter away by performing the bird in the buried box ritual?
-What did Kevin mean when he said that telling Nora about Patti was a big mistake?
-Is there any significance to the number 9,261 (the population of Jarden)?
-Who is David Burton, the Australian who said he can’t die, and what is his significance?
-Did Evie and her friends really depart? Or did something else happen to them?
-Will Mary come out of her vegetative state?
-What happened to Tom and can he really take away people’s pain?

I’m sure there are a lot more questions but these are the ones that I really would like to get answers to. And be sure to check out the promo for next week’s all-new episode titled A Most Powerful Adversary. I’m thinking Patti is going to have a lot more to do with Evie’s disappearance then we first thought.