“Oh, what to do, Kevin? What to fuckin’ do?”
So, The Leftovers gets renewed for a second season a few days ago, and in my head I’m sincerely saying, “Sweet, we now get to watch the drama build up between Kevin and Patti until it reaches insurmountable heights next year, though we’ll have to sit through mystery after mystery being stretched out until they crumble beneath their own weight.” Then came “Cairo,” which completely deflated both of my expectations. Deflated, like a plastic bag stuck over a person’s face.
Patti Takes One for the Team
Kevin has definitely gone bananas, as evidenced by his fugue state adventures in and around his family’s cabin in Cairo, New York. Not only is this the place where he’s been spending most, if not all, of his “lost nights,” it's also the location of all of his missing white shirts. (Remember when he drunkenly stole all those clothes? Oh, that Kevin.) There’s also a bucket and a bunch of boots out there, causing one to wonder the extent of what Kevin has been getting up to out there.
He wakes up inside of his truck, and the ever-present Dog-Killer Dean takes him inside the cabin, where Patti is tied to a chair. Dean does a bunch of interesting things in this branch of the storyline. He clues Kevin in on Patti’s rather violent kidnapping, saying that Kevin wanted to end that problem once and for all. The mystery behind Kevin's new dog is revealed, as Kevin bet Dean one dollar that he could civilize one of the wild canines. (That clearly didn’t happen, though we’ll probably never find out since Jill cut it free.) Dean also tries to kill Patti once Kevin is obviously having second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about the situation.
Just after Kevin rips a hole in the plastic that Dean put over Patti’s head, Dean tells Kevin he wanted to help him before somewhat randomly blurting out “Shut the fuck up! I tried,” before walking out the door. Now, one way to look at this line is to assume that Dean the “Guardian Angel” is also hearing the voices that Kevin’s father is hearing, and that they advised him to kill Patti. Another way to look at it is he was sarcastically responding to Patti’s gasps. But then it’s also still entirely possible that Dean is some kind of a friendly to the Guilty Remnant, and that he’s got a more nefarious place surrounding Kevin’s insanity. What if Dean made up everything and he and Patti cooked this plan up from the start, with her fully intending to die that day? After all, she confesses to Gladys’ murder being a set-up and Dean does always have tobacco in his mouth – although tonight featured his rare bulge-less lip for a scene.
In any case, the very vocal Patti ends up telling Kevin the day-to-day motivations behind the Remnant, and it’s a lot of what we’ve heard before. Complete emotional stripping. Total devotion to becoming Living Reminders of the Departure. Yadda yadda yadda. Kevin doesn’t want to hear any of it, and Patti’s implied threat of Laurie’s life in the future made it seem like he would actually heed her Yeats recital and kill her, yet she is the one who ends her own life, plunging a shard of glass into her throat. She smiled as she died, telling Kevin that he understands. But does he? Do we?
Memorial Day Plans
Much like an ornament maker’s best time of year is Christmas, a cult that demands people remember the single worst event in the history of the world will of course flock to Memorial Day to make their damaging statements heard. “Cairo” never comes out and says exactly what the Remnant’s plans are, but it appears obvious through the repeated clues that they’re going to completely fuck with Mapleton’s still grieving population.
Patti spent the opening scene referring to a massive binder marked “M.D.” and setting out clothes of all styles and sizes on the floor of their church. Later, a huge order of what I’m assuming is Loved Ones prosthetic dolls arrives at the Remnant’s headquarters, so it seems like they’re going to dress up all of Mapleton’s Departed and put them somewhere where their family members will have full visual access. And now that Patti is gone – though no one at the Remnant appears to know that yet – Laurie is taking responsibility for the group’s actions, just as she was groomed to.
Aimee and Jill Go Up a Hill
Even though she didn’t lose any of her family members to the Departure, Jill is probably the mopiest person in Mapleton, constantly trying to drag down everyone else’s day. I’m perfectly fine with Margaret Qualley’s tear-glistened pouts, but Jill is by far my least favorite character here. (Or maybe it’s the twins, I’m not sure.) Jill is obsessed with the fact that Nora carries a gun for some reason, and then becomes obsessed with the fact that Nora isn’t carrying a gun anymore for some reason. For if Nora no longer carries around personal protection, then maybe that means she’s been able to find true happiness in a post-Departure world. Or something. Maybe if Jill talked to her Holy Wayne-following brother, she'd realize happiness exists for only $1000 without a family discount.
So Jill and the twins break into Nora’s house, where she finds the gun hidden inside a Trouble game box beneath Nora’s dead son’s still-made bed, but not before messing with the intended stillness of this memory cocoon. It appears Jill is just as confused as everyone else, because her next move is to leave the house and head off for the Remnant’s headquarters, where an emotionally teetering Laurie needs her most. I guess she set the dog free so she could really just...be alone or whatever.
Well, before she did that, she kind of ended her friendship/roommateship with Aimee, who gets severely offended when Jill asks if Aimee and Kevin fucked. It’s been one of my favorite forehead-wrinkling mysteries in this show, and it’s still not clear if anything actually happened or not. With an increasing amount of stoner sarcasm and assumed betrayal, Aimee says that she did fuck him on a pile of guns. If she and Kevin didn’t have some kind of a weird thing happening, she probably wouldn’t have gotten so touchy so quickly, and also might not have referenced Jill’s recent gun fascination in her description. Maybe what they did was “make love,” and she was just mad at the thought of them doing anything more primal. Blech.
What the hell is up with Aimee anyway? Is anybody in her family dead? Given the way she was asking Nora about her government questions, it doesn’t appear she’s gone through anything like that herself. Or maybe she was one of the people who freaked out. Hopefully we’ll find out more about her during her house-to-house jaunting next week, but I won't be upset if we don't.
Other Mapleton Events
The only reason I like Liv Tyler’s Meg more than Jill is because she’s inside the Remnant, where interesting shit often happens, but she at least made her presence felt in “Cairo.” Much of it came in the form of swearing and beating the shit out of the flyer-flinging Matt, who exploited her mother’s death in one of his notorious adverts. (Did anyone notice how the flyers just kept raining down throughout the scene, regardless of if it made sense or not?) She eventually apologizes to him, giving him hope for the future, but she’s clearly not on his side. I’m not even sure whose side she’s on, really, as she seemed to get a rise out of turning Laurie into an emotional wreck, drawing a physical reaction out of her. (A slap to the face and mouth-muzzling.) What’s going on here?
Nora is still a bright and chipper person, calmly deflecting Jill’s negativity and even offering her street-dwelling Remnant followers some Rice Krispies treats. Even though we’ve already been in her house, it was still pretty depressing to see the things that remained and the things that were gone, like certain pictures on the wall. But her life is about to get a lot more complicated if she sticks by Kevin’s side.
What can possibly happen to Kevin next week? Will he finally read the National Geographic that had Cairo on the cover, perhaps stumbling upon a key to a lock to a hint of a ghost of a clue as to what is happening to him? Beyond his mental problems, what about the consequences of Patti’s kidnapping-turned-suicide? Is Dean really gone? Are Kevin’s fingers going to swell up to the size of watermelons after fighting that tree? Too many questions for only two more Leftovers episodes!