WHOA. There’s only one episode of The Leftovers to go after “Ten Thirteen,” and man oh man did things just take an unexpected turn. After last week’s Kevin-in-purgatory detour, we’re back in Miracle—where real miracles may or may not happen, but epic manipulation most certainly does.
Liv Tyler is just great as the sinister, slippery, steely-eyed Meg—and we get a peek into how Meg got that way when the episode opens on October 13, 2012, the day before the departure. Meg is still in bougie bride-to-be mode; to make it through lunch with her mother, she needs a break to powder her nose (this week’s song of choice: “White Lines”). But when she’s back from the bathroom, her mother is dead on the restaurant floor—was it the walnuts? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that her mother was going to tell her something and never got a chance ... and she died October 13, leaving behind a body that Meg could mourn (and, we later learn, cremate and shoot into space) and a very brief window of sympathy before everybody realized they had much bigger problems to worry about, like the apparent end of the world.
Her mother’s offhand observation that Meg is “relentless—when you have a cause, there’s no stopping you” carries through the episode, as we move seamlessly forward in time, a technique The Leftovers has deftly deployed throughout this season. “Wade in the Water” (another choice song selection this week) plays as Meg and her fiance (aw, remember him?) take the bus into the newly-minted Miracle National Park, which has only been up and running for a few months. The Garveys haven’t moved there yet, but the Murphys, of course, have been there all along, and Meg encounters Evie Murphy after an odd visit with Isaac, the fake-but-maybe-not psychic. They briefly bond over baby carrots and knock-knock jokes, and Evie tells her, “I’m sorry you didn’t find whatever you were looking for here. No one ever does.”
On the way out of town, Meg’s tour bus turns into a school bus full of children, and present-day Meg climbs aboard with an eerie smile on her face before lobbing a grenade down the aisle. It’s just a scare tactic (nobody got hurt, we soon learn), but the Guilty Remnant leadership is unpleased with her increasingly erratic behavior. For her part, Meg—who’s clearly splintered from them, since doesn’t always wear white, and speaks aloud—is tired of standing around. She wants ACTION, she wants people to REMEMBER, and she’s been secretly running her own sub-cult on the side, with a home base set up just outside of guess which supposedly blessed Texas town.
After Tommy and Laurie have their falling out, which we learned about a few weeks back but actually see happen here, he chases after Meg; he’s disgusted by his hug-guru scam, but more importantly, he desperately wants to feel like a part of something. But Meg’s rural compound is a troubling place. Not only do they stone trespassers to death, there’s something in the barn that’s going to be deployed on the October 14 anniversary—which happens to be just hours away.
After the grenade incident, and Meg’s known propensity for violence, it’s heavily implied that her group is planning to blow up the bridge into Jarden. She even pays a visit to the refugee camp at its base, where she runs into an old frenemy from Mapleton: Matt Jamison, who can sense that she’s up to something unpleasant, though he’s not sure what and she sure ain’t telling.
We get a hint when she’s driving a very confused Tommy to her country outpost (with quick stop at the Honky Tonk of Mindfucks on the way: “I wanted to get you pregnant, Tommy,” she says when he asks her about the weird rape that was their first encounter) and her cell phone goes off; her ring of choice is crickets. Crickets, like the noisy insect that so bedeviled John Murphy on the season’s first episode.
But it’s not old-fashioned violence Meg is planning. It’s something even more cruel and cunning, and it has everything to do with what’s in the barn. After he’s asked to participate in the stoning execution, Tommy can’t help himself from breaking in and seeing what secret is worth killing to protect.
So, what’s concealed out there? It’s not explosives or guns. It’s Evie and her two friends. Dressed in white. And it seems, they are there by choice, not as prisoners.
When Tommy asks who they are, Evie grabs a pen: “IT DOESN’T MATTER.”
Excuse me, miss, but yes it does! We barely got to know Evie before she vanished, and now we realize we know even less about her than we thought. How will the reveal happen, and what does Meg hope to accomplish with her scheme? What role will Kevin Garvey, the season’s go-to main character, play in all of this? Next week will either reveal all, or—far more likely—reveal just enough to keep us guessing even after the season’s over.