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The Leftovers “Don’t Be Ridiculous” 

The Leftovers “Don’t Be Ridiculous”
Photo Credit: Van Redin/HBO
Photo Credit: Van Redin/HBO

The Leftovers has never shied away from showing the absurdity of life. Life by definition is weird as hell. Things happen, sometimes silly weird things, like the baby jesus doll disappearing from the town nativity scene or an unfindable cricket taking up residence in your kitchen.

Or sometimes terrible things happen, like people you love vanishing out of thin air. And a lot of the time there isn’t really a reason for it. And if it weren’t so sad, it could be funny. How funny is it that when Kevin steps out on Laurie, the woman he’s having sex with disappears mid-coitus?

How funny is it that it’s possible that criminals on the run vanished, but the authorities don’t know, so they keep looking for them? Or that a nearly 40-something woman who doesn’t know who the Wu-Tang Clan is accidentally got a Wu-Tang tattoo on her forearm? It’s hilarious.

And fitting to the name. “Don’t Be Ridiculous” is unabashedly ridiculous. I never knew I’d see (and bewilderingly enjoy) an extended scene of Nora and Erika jumping on a trampoline in slow motion with Wu-Tang Clan in the background on this show. I never expected the theme song to be the one from my parents’ favorite sitcom from the early ’90s. If there was a worst first episode of The Leftovers to watch, this would be it. Not because it’s bad—it’s fantastic—but my god, it’s just so strange. But it was supposed to be.

Photo Credit: Van Redin/HBO

“Don’t Be Ridiculous” focuses heavily on Nora, arguably the most complex character on The Leftovers. She’s also the funniest. That’s the thing about Nora, she so perfectly embodies the idea that you have to laugh so you don’t cry. She makes jokes, she’s sarcastic and playful, she avoids getting bogged down with sentimentality. She claims she’s happy.

But she’s so terribly sad. And that sadness ends up manifesting in incredible callousness, like the way she dismissively treats the man in the tower’s widow when she learns of his departure. That callousness frequently morphs into retaliatory anger. And that anger was on full display when she proved there was no departure by publicly posting a photo of the man’s corpse. She’s so sad that even though she knows this gimmick that the guy who’s not Balki from Perfect Strangers is pitching, is just glorified suicide, incineration in order to transcend to a higher plane, she goes ahead and commits to take part in it.

It’s also great to see the additional layer of the loss of Lily on Nora’s psyche. She even turns to Erika, who’s dealing with Evie’s death, for support. The absolute best scene in season two of The Leftovers was the confrontation between Nora and Erika in “Lens” and how startling to see them being friendly, but three years has passed from that scene.

It’s funny, in last week’s episode, which mentioned Nora coping, or rather not coping, with the lack of Lily with no explanation of what happened, I didn’t really have a good theory of what happened. Others suggested that maybe Lily’s birth mother, Christine, came back for her. I shot this idea down so hard considering Christine seemed totally over the baby once she figured out there was no holy purpose for it. And I was wrong, so props to The Leftovers squeezing in a little twist whenever possible.

It threw me for a loop to see Christine caring for Lily, whose name isn’t Lily anymore, and a new baby. It doesn’t really matter though. It’s all on Nora. She’s the one who was so destroyed from the loss of her own biological children to sympathize enough with Christine to give up Lily without a fight. But it’s also important to remember that the baby was never meant for her.

She was ready to leave when she found Lily on the Garvey doorstep. The baby was never meant for Nora, which we know, and Tommy spells out very clearly in a scene where I imagine Nora was thinking, god, just give me a ticket instead. Lily was meant for Kevin. He’s the Father.

And it’s Kevin who suggests trying to have a baby to Nora, after she finds him suffocating with a plastic bag on his head. In what seems to be a very tense and serious moment, Nora bursts out laughing. She finds the concept of opening herself up to more pain via a new child utterly ridiculous. She says they are happy. Why should they change anything?

Naturally, a beat later she is agreeing to go to Australia to get incinerated. There is a possibility she really is just pushing the investigation forward, but her track record isn’t promising. Nora has no patience for liars. But in the case of shooting you with radiation, I don’t think the person in question ever gets to find out it’s a lie.

On the upside, Kevin and Nora are officially on their way to Australia, where groups of women on horseback are attempting to kill and revive every dude named Kevin in a 50 miles radius, bumbling along like the Three Stooges as they fail to revive this Kevin the Police Chief. But this means the story of Kevin, or rather “The Book of Kevin,” has crossed the globe. He’s the messiah to this group of people. And who knows how many more people think he’s their savior.

The final season of The Leftovers airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.

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