Well, then. After a slowly burning season, The Leftovers exploded, throwing Mapleton into complete chaos while reshuffling its disparate characters. But where will all these changes really leave the Garvey family?
We start off where we left off two weeks ago, with Patti dead by her own hand in Cairo and Jill inside the Guilty Remnant compound. But the first big dramatic moment of the episode belongs to Tommy. Tommy and Christine have finally accepted that Holy Wayne is not going to help them out. They're just meandering across America with Christine and Wayne's baby.
Most of The Leftovers focuses on Mapleton, but it's through Tommy that we get some hints at how the rest of the country has changed. Tommy has a small, but rather interesting moment with a man from a church bus, who asks Tommy if he needs help. Tommy seems incredulous that anyone would accept this man's offer of help, but the man tells him that accepting help is not all that unusual.
But Tommy has always resisted help. He refused Wayne's burden-lifting hug. He cut himself off from his family. He has spent too much time aimlessly wandering around waiting for some sign from Wayne, or maybe from God. But now that Christine has run out on him, leaving behind her daughter, he very much needs help.
Meanwhile, Laurie and Jill are having an argument over handwritten notes in the Guilty Remnant compound. Jill refuses to leave until her mother speaks to her, and Laurie is afraid for her daughter's life. The Guilty Remnant are about to pull their most disturbed stunt yet. They haven't just obtained life-sized burial dolls of all of Mapleton's Departed; they are dressing them up and leaving them around town in the places they were when they Departed. It's certainly a powerful, terrible way to ensure that people remember the Departure, and it's also paints a target on the back of every Guilty Remnant.
But Kevin doesn't know any of that yet. He's still reeling from Patti's death and calls Matt up to Cairo to help him deal with her body. True to form, Matt suggests a burial and a Bible reading.
On the way back to Mapleton, Kevin has a dream, one where that seems to offer him a choice of realities. In one, he is in the mental hospital with his father, committed by Matt. In another, he is out of the hospital, but stuck with the memory of Patti bubbling at the surface of his brain. When he wakes, however, Matt has brought him not to the hospital, but to a diner.
Despite everything that has happened over the course of the season, Matt still seems to think that he can somehow convert the Guilty Remnant, but his interrogation of Kevin over burgers does prove interesting. Last episode, there was a bit of a "Be careful what you wish for" moment with Nora, where she was being driven mad by her family just before they Departed. Kevin, we learn, was thinking about separating from his family, and in the wake of the Departure, he is physically or emotionally separated from each of his family members. He didn't want them to disappear, but he considered removing them from his life.
Because Matt has the world's weirdest luck, he ends up choosing a diner where Holy Wayne is dying in the bathroom. Wayne wants to grant one last miracle before he dies, and asks Kevin, who has discovered him bleeding out, to make a silent wish. I assume that the wish is for his family to come back together.
It's interesting that the federal agents who questions Kevin later asks if Wayne made physical contact. I wonder if they have some kind of a pamphlet or deprogramming procedure for people Wayne has hugged.
By the time Kevin and Matt return to Mapleton, the place is a madhouse. Most people are predictably pissed by the Guilty Remnant's creepy dolls, and they're beating and shooting the cult members—and burning down their houses. Forget law and order——Kevin just wants to make sure that Laurie is safe. And Laurie, for her part, breaks her vow of silence for the first time, and it's not for Guilty Remnant business; it's to reveal that Jill is inside the burning house. Laurie and Kevin both break out of their roles to protect their family.
Not everyone has the same reaction to the appearance of the dolls, however. Nora, after her initial wailing and keening, has a meditative moment with her family's dolls before deciding it's time to move on from Mapleton. She calls Wayne's changing of her emotional outlook a "shortcut," an interior shift without initiating any actual changes in her life. But as the Garveys return to one another—son to mother and daughter (and dog) to father—Nora finds the change she may be looking for. Tommy has left Christine's baby on the porch and Nora is delighted to hold a child in her arms again.
So perhaps Nora can find meaning in caring for Christine's child. And perhaps the Garveys will become a family unit again. It's a strangely hopeful ending to a season short on happy endings, but it's not without its clouds of doubt. After all, the Garveys were happy to see one another in the wake of the Departure and still managed to drift apart. What could hold them together now?