Recap: The Leftovers 2.3: "Off Ramp"

Oct 19, 2015 by Sarah Moffatt

Holy magical hugs, Batman!

This week’s episode of The Leftovers took a quick left turn, am I right?

When we last saw Tommy and Laurie, they had met up in Mapleton after the riots last season. Now, Laurie has left the Guilty Remnant, is speaking, wearing non-white clothes, and chomping nicotine gum like nobody’s business. At this point, we can assume she left the GR because of the fire that almost killed Jill in the season 1 finale. Because of said fire, she has done a total 180 on the GR: she hates them.

Laurie has recruited Tommy to help her get people out who want out, which, apparently, is no easy feat. Tommy goes undercover as a lost soul looking to join the GR to find those who seem like they aren’t 100% in, like a woman who cries all the time or a man wearing a watch under his clothes, and get them out. He brings them to a building where Laurie has set up cots for them to sleep and works with them to readjust to life away from the GR. This is like the blind leading the blind; Laurie is just as screwed up as the people she’s trying to help.

As hard as they try, they fail to get some people to adjust. They acknowledge the void these people are looking to fill, which is why they joined the GR in the first place. They were offered something – perhaps comfort or purpose – and leaving that zone empties that hole. After a woman they “saved” kills herself, her husband, and her son, Laurie and Tommy decide they need to offer these people something, too: magic hugs.

Yep, Tommy picks up where Holy Wayne left off. He explains to the group of the “saved” (my words, not theirs) – which is run much like an addiction group – how Holy Wayne passed on his gift to Tommy. This is a particularly powerful moment for Tommy. Before he tells his semi-true, semi-fake tale about Holy Wayne, Laurie tells her true story about joining the GR and how she got out. While she’s speaking, the camera pans over the group’s faces. There’s emotion, recognition, and a couple of tears, but when Tommy speaks of a promise to take their pain away and he tells his tall tale, the people in the group are sobbing. It’s like you can see that hole in them being filled up. Finally, Tom stands up and asks, “Who wants a hug?”

Not only is the emotion on the group’s faces very telling in this scene, but if you watch Tommy, you sort of see him transform into this crazy person. I mean, this moment could be misconstrued as over-acted, but no way: it’s a vulnerable moment of a guy dipping his toe in the deep end before cannon-balling into the crazy pool.

Laurie has a big moment in this episode, too: When she meets with a book publisher about her tell-all GR book, it’s basically a judgement day. The publisher is quite bluntly dissecting the GR – like calling them “whack-jobs” and comparing them to religions, calling her brainwashed – before repeating all that happened on the day of riots, saying YOU did this and YOU did that, making her snap like Susan did, only less traumatic. Maybe she’s sort of into the idea of the magic hugs?

When Tommy bails Laurie out of jail, Tommy tells her Susan wasn’t their fault but Laurie responds, “They won’t jump out of the way. I don’t want to hurt them, but they won’t jump out of the way.” Is she talking about the GR or her family? Who is she really worried about hurting?

I think it’s safe to say we are going to see a brand new Laurie from here on out. I got that vibe once rapid, sort of chaotic jazz music played anytime she did something “out of character,” which is a huge play on the silence she lived in for over a year as a passive, mute zombie.

Also, Meg’s back.

We last saw her asking Laurie for the go-ahead last season to set up the dummies of the departed. This season, we see her after Tommy is caught trying to tell a GR he has a safe place for them to go, but the GR blows a whistle and Tommy is shoved into a truck. With his hands tied above his head, he arrives in the location where Meg is. She proceeds to rape him, douse him in gasoline, and threaten to set him on fire. “Tell your mom, ‘Meg says hello.’” is the only thing she says during this scene. It’s clear she’s asserting her dominance over him and by extension Laurie, so I’m guessing Meg is the new leader of the GR.

Obviously, this isn’t the last we see of Meg vs. Laurie, and I personally cannot wait to see it unfold.

Catch the new episode of The Leftovers at 9pm ET Monday on HBO or catch up with episodes on-demand.

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