As much as I love this show, I found this week’s episode incredibly frustrating to watch. Want to know why? Maybe I’ll just let you ponder on that for a couple of weeks and then give you an answer but then make you second-guess that answer by raising new questions for you to puzzle over.
That’s how they do it on The Leftovers. Don’t get me wrong, I love this show and all the questions it invites you to ask yourself, your friends, and the Internet. But I need just, like, one answer I can hold firm to and not have it be completely debunked in the following episode.
Ok, rant over. On to this episode, which did give us some answers. I think.
If you recall in the first episode of season 2, “Axis Mundi”, Erika went for a little jog into the forest, where she dug up a box buried under a tree. When she opened the box, a small bird flew out of it.
Well, this week found out in a flashback that Erika’s grandmother told her when she was young this place (Miracle) was chosen by God and when she wanted to make a wish, all she had to do was bury a living bird in a box and let it stay there for three days. After opening the box, if the bird is alive, your wish will come true. Erika had chalked all this up to a bunch of voodoo nonsense, as anyone would, but that was before the Departure.
This week we also learned Erika had been planning to leave John when Nora and the Garveys moved in next door – the same night John set fire to Isaac’s home, which seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Erika buried a bird and wished for Evie, specifically, to be fine without her (she told herself Michael had his faith, so she knew he’d be fine). So it’s curious that the day she dug up the bird, Evie and her friends vanished.
Last season hinted that people vanished because someone wished they weren’t around. Has Evie vanished because her mother wished that she be fine without her? Assuming that’s true, it doesn’t explain Evie’s friends departing, too. Kevin was having relations with a stranger at the moment of the departure, if you get my drift, so we know that those who departed and those who didn’t could be in the same location without the outcome changing. So why did Evie’s friends depart, too?
Again, we are given answers with more questions.
Another theory has been presented to us, though. When Nora was told by the researcher they believe she is possessed by the demon, Azazel, I found myself silently pleading, “Oh, no. Please, no. Please don’t fall off the tracks now!” But, I think I might drink the tea on this one.
I had to do some research on Azazel and what I found makes sense for this show. Not necessarily for it to be Nora, but it’s enough to make you wonder how it fits in.
Azazel literally translates to “for the complete removal” in Rabbinic Judaism. In the Bible, there are two goats who are meant to be sacrificed: one for the Lord and one for Azazel. The only goats we’ve seen in this entire series are the ones Larry sacrificed – once in the restaurant in episode one, and once at the fundraiser to find Evie and her friends. Turns out he also sacrificed a goat on the day of the Departure, and he thinks that’s why they were all saved. This Biblical story is also the origin of the “scapegoat”. Does this maybe mean Nora is going to be set up as a scapegoat for the departure to give the world rest?
We also learned that according to the researchers, Nora is a “lens,” or person who’s like a magnifying glass on those around them, which may cause them to fry, or in this case, depart. Of course, we need more answers before we can say this is a possible cause of the departure – there’s no way she was in contact with that many people.
This news causes Nora to act like Nora and project her disbelief and insecurities on those around her, leading to a particularly dynamic moment between Erika and Nora after Erika opens up to her about the birds and leaving John. Nora tells her there’s no way she’s responsible, which might seem like the comforting thing to say, but Erika does a 180 and erupts on Nora, causing her to leave in tears. I really, really hope next episode picks up at that moment and we just see the two of them in this weird arm wrestle while they are really dealing with their inner demons, so to speak.
Other important things: Virgil is related to Erika (her father, I think) and has done something unforgivable (What?!); the mysterious pies are coming from Virgil; we still aren’t sure what John does but it’s tearing his family apart; Laurie calls Nora looking for Tommy; and Kevin tells Nora about Patti.