There’s creepy, there’s really creepy – and then there’s last night’s episode of The Leftovers.
HBO s conundrum of a drama took a wild, nasty turn on Sunday, leaving one controversial character dead and proving Chief Garvey (Justin Theroux) is closer to insanity than he (or we) want to believe. And, thankfully, there’s a glimpse into what the crazy cult is all about.
The episode opens alternating between Chief Garvey and cult leader Patti (Ann Dowd) busy with their respective tasks. He’s preparing a chicken dinner at home. She’s meticulously assembling clothing on the floor of the church that her group recently acquired. When she’s finished, dozens of ensembles cover the floor as if the people wearing them evaporated, leaving only their garments behind.
It’s date night for Garvey, who’s prepared a meal for new girlfriend Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), his daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) and her friend Aimee (Emily Meade). Jill isn’t the most welcoming, asking Nora why she keeps a gun in her purse – a fact Jill learned after an incident at a local shop. Unfazed, Nora lets Jill search her bag to prove she’s no longer strapped.
After kissing Nora goodbye, Garvey calls it a night … or so he thinks. He comes to inside his car that’s parked in the forest. His mysterious dog-killing partner, Dean (Michael Gaston), taps the window. Bewildered, Garvey follows him to a cabin, where he finds Patti taped to a chair, beaten and out cold.
Dean can’t believe Garvey can’t remember the night, but he takes him through it anyway. The two met at the bar, drank a little and, while driving home, saw Patti walking. Garvey reportedly leapt from the car and dished out a vicious beating. Then the two piled her in and drove far away. The chief struggles to believe his ears – and his actions.
When she awakens, Garvey tries to right his wrong. He offers to let her go, but Patti says no dice, spitting in his face for emphasis. Doing away with her code of silence, she tells him to finish what he started or she’ll make sure he loses his badge and his daughter in the process.
It’s getting violent in Mapleton, too. Father Matt (Christopher Eccleston) gets a beating from Meg (Liv Tyler) after trying to appeal to her senses with details about her deceased mother. Meg loses her will for silence, but Laurie reprimands her. They go to Father Matt s house and apologize.
There, they meet his sister, Nora Durst. Nora tells Laurie if apologies are in order, she might as well start with her own troubled daughter.
Jill and a few friends decide to sneak into Nora s house to find the gun Jill knows is there. Part of her can’t believe Nora’s positive outlook despite losing her whole family, but another part of her desperately wants to. That’s why when she does find a gun under the bed in Nora’s kids’ room, she breaks down into tears.
In Patti’s absence, the Guilty Remnant prepare to move forward with their latest stunt. At the church, Laurie, who has assumed leadership, gives the stack of cash Patti gave her to two delivery men.
The guys drop off loads of packages, shaped like cadavers, that the cult members dutifully carry into the church and place near the clothing. When they get back to the house, Laurie’s surprised with a new convert – her daughter Jill asks if she can stay.
Back in the boonies, Dean’s aching to put an end to Patti. When Garvey steps away to get a hold of himself, Dean tries to suffocate Patti with a plastic bag.
She’s almost out when the chief returns, scuffling with Dean before saving their captor. Dean’s done with Garvey’s backtracking and leaves.
Finally alone with Patti, Garvey grills her for answers to burning questions we’ve all been wondering. She reveals the cult’s entire purpose: to remember the disappearances.
“We strip ourselves of everything that distracts us from it,” she tells Garvey. “We are living reminders of what you try so desperately to forget.” She also cops to organizing the stoning of member Gladys … and says that Laurie’s time is coming.
Alas, Patti fails at her attempt to make Garvey snap and/or convert. Instead, he frees her, saying he’d rather tell people what he did than try to understand her crazy ways.
But Patti’s not having it. In the gory final scene, she grabs a loose shard of glass and shoves it into her neck, dying as Garvey makes a futile attempt to stem the bleeding.
It’s yet another thing he doesn’t understand.