This week, HBO’s The Leftovers avoided any and all instances of people dying of stone bludgeonings, and no animals were shot in the face. As a matter of fact, this episode was downright peachy in terms of emotional turmoil. Still, they just HAD to trash a library in the middle of the episode, leaving a bunch of poor innocent books and magazines strewn all over the place. All because Kevin Garvey Sr. wanted to find a specific issue of National Geographic. He could have just looked through them and carefully put aside the ones he didn’t need; instead, he scattered them around like sprinkles on a library floor-flavored cupcake and then broke a computer. He truly is a madman.
“Solace for Tired Feet” is an episode that is all about the connections between fathers and sons. Not in a universal sense, but very specifically how all three of the Garvey boys’ are linked together, whether it’s mentally or physically. Kevin Sr. flew the institutional coop, taking a quick detour to save his granddaughter from suffocating inside of a junk refrigerator, and then hit up the library. He really, really wants Kevin to look inside of a National Geographic from 1972 that he tracked down and bought secondhand. (Although he doesn’t particularly want to include Kevin in it, whatever “it” is.)
But Kevin has had about enough of this shit, and refuses to read it. It’s no matter that Kevin Sr. rips the Nat Geo up and goes bonkers inside of a diner, for there’s another issue at Kevin's house! Jill ordered it for Kevin Sr., and even though Kevin is angry at first, he still looks inside of it and…We have no idea, because that’s when they skip off to some other stuff! It’s worth noting here that Kevin Sr. was responsible for burning down a library before being carted off to his rehabilitation, so whatever is in that magazine must be exceptionally interesting.
Kevin appears to be headed down the path to Voice-Hearing Crazyland that his father currently resides in, only experiencing his prophetic visions through dreams instead of waking audio hallucinations. (Assuming that Kevin Sr. isn’t sane as a fiddle, or whatever.) He sits down to guard his front door and passes out almost immediately, dreaming of a dog inside of a mailbox and Remnant bodies in the back of Dog Killer Dean’s pickup truck. When he wakes up: bark, bark bark, ouch, ouch, ouch. There’s a dog in his backyard, assumedly there to guard the peanut butter jar of money, and bitemarks on his hand. His bandaged hand, that is, as tended to the night before by Jill’s friend Aimee, who is the one who questions his memory about the experience. Is Kevin going crazy, or is Aimee just spiking his drinks with date rape drugs?
Speaking of mailboxes and injured hands, we once again get to touch base with Kevin’s son Tom, who is tending to a very pregnant Christine in Gary, Indiana. Tom finally gets a call from Wayne, who is dismissively aloof, demanding that Tom deliver money to a mailbox in town. The youngest Garvey male is good on bringing the money, but he follows the guy who picks it up, discovering him to be a cokehead who is similarly accompanying a pregnant Asian ladyfriend of Wayne’s. Upon hearing of Christine’s existence, new preggo woman Liane brandishes a weapon and puts a bullet through Tom’s hand. The episode ends with Christine having a 15-lb. baby girl with an umbilical cord big enough for Tarzan to swing from, but enough about this C-story that I could really care less about. (For the record, both Kevin and Tom smashed cell phones to bits tonight, furthering their violent psychic bond.)
In other Kevin news, he’s finally having sex again, at least once. He and Nora have gone out on a handful of dates, and while their first attempt at getting freaky is interrupted by Guilty Remnant members outside of her home, they do indeed bump uglies later in the episode. I’m not saying my crush on Carrie Coon grew in this episode just because she’s captured in all of her natural beauty, but yowzah. Plus, she totally hosed down the chain-smoking fools in front of her house like a boss.
Meg is one of those hosed-down Remnants on Nora’s street, and she later tattles to Laurie that Kevin is sleeping around, to which Laurie replies, “So?” In written form, of course. It wasn’t a startling moment, as we’ve all witnessed Laurie’s ascent of Mount Don’t Give a Fuck, but it’s still strange to me to watch dust settling so awkwardly on a relationship we never got to witness in the first place. Every part of me expects melodrama to come creeping in around every corner, but it’s always just rock-faced nihilism. Warm the heart, it does not, but it’s a nice creative diversion from almost any failed marriage that TV has given us before. And I just want Kevin to smile about stuff.
I do really enjoy the one-off character studies that The Leftovers has delivered for Matt and Nora, but I just really love Justin Theroux at the center of this off-kilter universe. Maybe it took seeing him laugh out loud and truly enjoy himself for a change, but I think Kevin may be one of my favorite characters on TV right now. He’s a truly fascinating blend of questionable impulses, mysterious insanity and dark sarcasm. If he’s happy, all these other mopes can go to hell, or wherever the Departed folks went. And if he’s mad, then he’s got a damned good reason to be.
All in all, this was another solid episode of The Leftovers that delivered moments of genuine mystery – such as “Why didn’t anyone call Kevin when Kevin Sr. broke out of the institution?” – and plainly funny lines, like the mayor divulging she’d split up with Kevin Sr. because he never shut the fuck up. Like an unflavored medicine, The Leftovers has taken quite a few tart doses to settle into a comfortable groove where I’m willing to witness whatever is placed before me. Now if somebody could just trash anything besides a library next week.