The Leftovers S3 E2 Review: Don’t Be Ridiculous
We are now in the second episode of the final season of The Leftovers, which continues to prove why it’s currently the best show on television. Don’t Be Ridiculous is a Nora-centric episode and a damn great one at that. With only two episodes, this season of The Leftovers has already become the most confident. Right out of the floodgates, we are treated to the opening title sequence having the Perfect Strangers theme in the background. The show starred Mark Linn-Baker, who plays a pivotal role in tonight’s episode as himself (showing some serious dramatic acting chops to boot).
The character-centric episodes of The Leftovers have always been some of the strongest episodes in the series, Don’t Be Ridiculous is another episode added to that list. Nora (Carrie Coon) has been a bit rough around the edges in the three years following the season 2 finale. Back at her job of investigating sudden departures, Nora appears to be fully in control, something we quiet never saw from the character. Naturally, that doesn’t last very long. After getting her cast off and being confronted by her doctor, (who says an orderly saw Nora purposely slam her arm in the car door), she receives a call from none other that Mark Linn-Baker. He claims that he knows a way for Nora to see her children again, and do to so she must go to St. Louis in 24 hours to meet with him.
Carrie Coon may be the best she’s ever been, giving a multi-layered performance that deserves recognition. Nora has always been someone attempting to cover her pain, understandably not letting many passed her guard. Coon has always played Nora in a not straight-faced way, but in Don’t Be Ridiculous I saw an entirely different level of pain in her eyes. Not the look of loss or heartbreak, but the look of defeat. Nora isn’t in touch with reality or human relationships like she once was, she can’t even use touchscreens for God sake!
Yes, I understand that running metaphor throughout the episode could be a bit “on the nose” for some, but I found it sorta brilliant. With the reintroduction of the possibility of seeing her children again, this just adds to Nora’s frustration which results in a few minor meltdowns. The slight nuances and mannerisms in Coon’s performance enhance the narrative and character development that’s already in place.
The eventual meetup between herself and Mark Linn-Baker is a wonderfully realized scene. Baker explains to Nora that the supposed cause for the departure has something to do with a type of gas that doesn’t leave any trace of evidence behind. In return, a group of individuals has built a machine that can allegedly have you “go through” to the place where all the departures are. Naturally, Nora thinks this is a pile of horse poo poo, until one critical moment.
The washed-up sitcom star tells Nora that three out of the four series regulars departed on October 14th, besides him. Like Nora, who lost her two children and husband, the odds of this happening is 1 and 128,000, thus igniting the spark in her head to possibly go through with this event.
Nora also runs into Lily, (which isn’t her name anymore) at the local park. We find out that Lily is back with her biological mother, Christine. We also see Erika Murphy, who is living in Texas, dealing with the loss of her daughter and divorce in her way. A beautifully executed scene involving a trampoline happens, as the two find happiness and freedom suspended in mid-air.
Upon returning to Jarden earlier than expected, Nora walks in on Kevin attempting to kill himself, which she seems abnormally okay with. Kevin says he always pulls the bag off of his face, but I don’t buy it for a second. In the end Don’t Be Ridiculous is one of the finest hours of television in recent memory. The end is near, and the apocalyptic wheels are always spinning in the background while never being front and center so that these character-centric episodes that are equally (if not more) engaging to stand out above the rest.
The Leftovers airs Sunday nights on HBO