‘The Leftovers’ recap, Episode 8: ‘Cairo’


Ann Dowd, Justin Theroux, Michael Gaston in “The Leftovers.” (Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

Well, if we thought police chief Kevin Garvey had major psychological damage already, that’s nothing compared to the trauma he’s forced to witness in this episode. After all, there’s nothing like watching a person slit their own throat with a piece of broken glass to really send someone over the edge.

Let’s back up: We all know that Kevin has been suffering from a weird issue all season, as he’ll forget large blocks of time and have no recollection of bringing clothes to the cleaners or tying up a rabid dog in his backyard. He could be dreaming, he could be sleepwalking, it could all be one giant hallucination and nothing’s real. It’s a Damon Lindelof show, you just never know.

Anyway, that happens again this week, with much more dire consequences. One minute, Kevin’s falling asleep to the sounds of the crazy dog barking in his yard; and the next, Dean (the mysterious creepy guy who goes around shooting dogs) is shaking him awake in his truck in the middle of the woods.

Why is Kevin in his car in the woods? Excellent question. “She’s still out,” Dean tells Kevin, leading him out of the car to an abandoned cabin. Kevin is pretty confused about where he is and why Dean is there, and things don’t get any clearer when he sees the “she” Dean is referring to: Patti, the obnoxious leader of the Guilty Remnant cult, tied up bleeding in a chair.

So…what happened? Kevin panics and demands Dean tells him what’s going on. Dean is confused now too, because hello, this whole thing was Kevin’s idea. Apparently last night, Kevin showed up at a bar, had a few drinks with Dean and insisted on driving him home. Then, as the two were on the road, they passed Patti, and Kevin decided he had enough with the G.R. So he jumped out, slammed Patti’s head against the car and directed Dean to this spot in the woods to tie her up in a cabin.

While Dean’s hurt that Kevin has no memory of their bonding experience, Kevin is horrified that this actually happened. But did it happen that way? He does recognize the woods as a place he went when he was younger. Either way, no time to reflect — he kidnapped a person and tied her to a chair, and by the thump that just occurred, she has knocked herself on the floor.

Kevin runs in and sits Patti upright and tries to reason with her. After all, he can’t do much else. Shaking, he tells Patti that things got out of control last night — she provoked him and he snapped. Shouldn’t they just call things even? Not so much. Patti responds by spitting in his face. Then, even thought the G.R. is silent…she speaks!

“Gosh, you’re so friendly now,” Patti says nastily. “Tell me, am I still a fat heartless [four letter word]?”

She then laughs in his face and tells him as soon as he unties her, she’s going straight to the cops about this abduction. Plus, she’ll make sure he loses his job and custody of his daughter. In other words, Patti smirks, his life is basically over — and she dares him to finish what she started.

At a loss, Kevin decides to try to reason with her, which is always a dangerous proposition with a crazy person. He starts asking her questions about the G.R. as a distraction of sorts (about who gives the orders in the cult) but Patti sees right through his stall tactics. “You brought me here and strapped me up so you could ask me about my organization?” Patti smirks.

That’s when she turns to Dean: “And who might you be, sir?” she asks, bringing up the fact that he, the “dog killer” has no driver’s license, records or anything. So he’s probably a ghost. “I prefer to think of myself as a guardian angel,” Dean snaps. He then drags Kevin outside of the cabin as Patti calls out after them, “I think you’re about to get some excellent advice.”

Outside, Dean is angry, saying that he signed up for this “adventure” thinking Kevin had a plan. Kevin, now suffering from some sort of amnesia, is clearly not a leader. “When we did this last night, what did I say I wanted?” Kevin asks, clearly what you want hear after you’ve helped someone in a kidnapping. “You said it was time to end it,” Dean replies.

Dean tries to convince Kevin it’s best to kill her — after all, she leads the evil G.R., which really wrecked Kevin’s town and family. Kevin balks that he doesn’t want to add “murder” to his of activities, but Dean is insistent.

Kevin runs off into the woods to ponder this and what should he come across but a bunch his white collared shirts, all stapled to trees. Well this is weird — remember when he terrorized the poor dry cleaner owner for “losing” his shirts? Turns out, Kevin’s been driving out to these random woods (or something) and tying his shirt to trees. Hey, it’s a good a guess as any. As Kevin proceeds to lose his mind, punching a tree and sobbing, he suddenly remembers he left psycho Dean with horrible Patti.

Sure enough, when he gets back, Dean has tied a plastic bag around Patti’s head and she’s slowly dying while tied to the chair. Dean wrestles Kevin to the ground and tries to stop him from helping. “Don’t fight it chief,” Dean advises. “Just let her go. It’s what you want.”

Kevin can’t tolerate it, though; he punches Dean in the face, runs over to Patti and tears the bag apart, saving her life. That’s enough for Dean, and now that killing is out of the equation, he’s out of there. “You’re on your own, chief,” he says, bleeding as he leaves the cabin.

That’s when Kevin and Patti have the showdown to end all showdowns. “You’re wondering if I have a sense of debt to you for saving my life — maybe I’ll change my mind about decimating yours,” Patti says.

“But you won’t,” Kevin guesses.

“I won’t,” Patti confirms. It’s true — Kevin can’t let her go, but he won’t let her die. What’s he going to do?

The answer: Have a really bizarre, philosophical, anger-fueled conversation as Patti tells him what she really wants out of all of this: “I want you to understand,” she says. She wants him — and everyone, really — to think, constantly, all day, everyday about the Sudden Departure on October 14. Because nothing else should matter. Patti reminds Kevin of the Guilty Remnant cult’s mission: To strip away everything that distracts from the Departure until they are blank slates, and living reminders of what the rest of the commoners are trying to forget.

“We are ready and we are waiting,” Patti says. “Because it’s not going to be so long now.”

What’s she even talking about? Kevin has no clue and doesn’t care. “Now I know why you don’t talk,” he says. “That is such an impressive line of [expletive].” He doesn’t buy it, and no one else should either.

Patti reminds him that his ex-wife, Laurie, saw things differently. Kevin says Laurie joined the G.R. because he failed her (and cheated on her). Patti scoffs at that — Kevin shouldn’t be so self-centered. Laurie joined the G.R. because she needed a purpose in life. It had nothing to do with Kevin.

Yeah, yeah — but what’s Patti getting at here? It all comes clear when Kevin brings up Gladys’s stoning, and asks if her death had a purpose. Patti seems weirdly pleased that he remembered. “That woman was brutally murdered, death by 100 stones,” Patti says, almost proudly. “And now she can’t be forgotten.”

Suddenly, everything clicks into place. “Did you murder her?” Kevin asks incredulously. Patti confirms: Yep. “She was okay with it,” Patti assures him. “And when Laurie’s time comes, she will be okay with it, too. It’s coming so soon.”

Kevin realizes that this was always Patti’s plan — she wants him to kill her so she can be a martyr just like her fellow cult members. She tries to goad him into killing her, over and over, until Kevin gets up and opens a toolbox, pulling out a giant knife. And then he cuts…the duct tape from her hands. He tells her that no matter what she says, he’ll never understand the G.R. “You’re going home,” he says sternly. “You’re not going to tell anybody what I did to you.” That’s right, Kevin Garvey has morals.

But it’s all for nothing, because as soon as she’s free, Gladys picks up a shard of glass from the ground — and graphically slits her own throat. Looks like she got the last word after all, and Kevin holds her, stunned, as she bleeds out in his arms.

While that was the most graphically disturbing scene of the episode, incredibly, it might not be the most psychologically disturbing. The G.R. is planning something big, and it’s nasty. While Patti’s indisposed, Laurie is de facto in charge. Earlier, Patti was seen carefully laying out hundreds of clothes on the floor of the church, and afterward, handed Laurie an envelope full of cash.

Before we can find out the horror of what the cash will be used for, Laurie has to deal with Meg, who completely loses it when Reverend Matt is passing out flyers with her name on it. We’re not entirely sure what the issue is, but it has to do with something about Meg’s mother, who died exactly one day before the Departure on October 13.

Meg beats up Matt and punches his face until Laurie pulls her off him. Furious, Laurie drags Meg into the G.R. house and writes on a notepad “NO VIOLENCE.” Meg forgets her vow of silence to rant about how people attack and spit on them, so they should stand up for themselves. So why not beat them up. Laurie writes: “IT’S WEAK.” Meg responds by writing a note back: “I AM NOT WAKE.” Laurie’s response: “PROVE IT.”

So, the duo heads to Reverend Matt’s house where Meg apologizes. Matt is thrilled to see her, not even that upset about his bloodied face. He just knows she has a lot of anger to work through, and is glad she showed up. But the whole thing is really an excuse for Laurie and Meg to run into Matt’s sister, Nora Durst — who, of course, is dating Laurie’s ex Kevin. Nora can’t resist telling Laurie that if she’s on an apology tour, she should really stop by her own house and tell her daughter she’s sorry as well.

That snarky remark really ticks off Meg, annoyed on behalf of Laurie. Later, she can’t stop ranting about how Nora is awful. “I wish I could see her face on Memorial Day,” Meg rants. That comment earns Meg a slap across the face and the closest Laurie ever comes to speaking as she says “SHHHH.”

Uh oh — what’s going to happen on Memorial Day? Something incredibly bad, as a truck suddenly shows up with a mysterious cargo, which Laurie takes in exchange for the stack of cash Patti gave her earlier. The delivery guy just shakes his head. “You people are sick [expletives],” he says.

Given that the packages are suspiciously body-shaped, we can only assume that they are the dummies that are created to look exactly like the people who disappeared. (Which some grieving family members use to bury so they can have proper funerals.) And given that the G.R. crew starts hauling in the bodies and laying them next to clothes on the ground — and that they stole plenty of family photos from all the houses of the Departed earlier in the season — we can only assume that they are going to do something horrible involving replicas of Departed loved ones. Could the G.R. really be that disgusting?

Probably, and we’ll have to wait until Memorial Day to find out.

Oh, and in Jill Garvey news: The world’s sulkiest teenager tries to ruin her dad’s relationship with Nora, grilling her about whether she has a gun in her purse (Nora says no) and then breaking into her house to find said gun. While Jill’s twin friends goof off with Nora’s bulletproof vest downstairs, Jill wanders Nora’s house, looking at pictures of her Departed husband and children. She eventually finds the gun under Nora’s son’s bed, and then just sits down and weeps.

As if that’s not enough, Jill tries to destroy her own relationship with her best friend Aimee, accusing her of sleeping with Kevin. Granted, Kevin and Aimee have always had a weird vibe, but Aimee is furious at the question and moves out of the Garvey house that day. Broken, and alone, Jill does what’s only natural: Lets the rabid dog free from her backyard, and then heads to the G.R. compound to find her mom.

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Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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Emily Yahr · August 17