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The Leftovers Recap: The Good Life Before Loss

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Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Talk about a defining moment.

On last night’s episode of HBO’s The Leftovers, we got to see what life was like in Mapleton before Oct. 14 – that life-changing day when millions disappeared. Turns out things weren’t all that bad, but they were headed there fast.

Kevin (not yet Chief) Garvey
He wasn’t in charge yet, but Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) had a lot more going for him. That included a gorgeous home with his lovely psychiatrist wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) and their happy-go-lucky tween daughter Jill (she actually used to sing and skip around!).

Even stepson Tom (Chris Zylka) comes around. After the undergrad has an altercation with his estranged birth father, Kevin comes to the rescue. Tom’s in town to see the family and celebrate Chief Garvey Sr.’s (Scott Glenn) surprise birthday bash.

Scott Glenn (left) and Justin Theroux in The Leftovers

When it comes to work, Kevin is hot on the trail of a rogue deer that’s terrorizing the town. While Chief Garvey and the other officers want to shoot it down, Kevin wants to save it. It’s a clear metaphor for how trapped he feels, despite everything that he has.

A successful psych, Laurie sits with patients like Patti Levin (Ann Dowd), her future Guilty Remnant sage. But Patti’s not as crazy as she seems. “I have a feeling something terrible is going to happen,” she foretells to Laurie during her session.

It’s a feeling the doctor says stems from spousal abuse, but Patti’s not buying it. Instead she diagnoses the doc. “You’ve got something bad inside you,” she tells Laurie. And it may be true. An earlier call from her doctor left Laurie looking weary.

Nora Durst
Before she was Kevin’s girlfriend, Nora (Carrie Coon) was a stay-at-home mom ready to get back to work. Husband Doug is sweet, but distant, and their two young kids are a cute handful.

After a successful interview with Mapleton mayoral candidate Lucy Warburton (Amanda Warren), Nora’s hoping she can tie up the apron for a while. She promises Lucy if she gets the job, she’ll have no problem putting motherhood on the backburner.

That Day
Despite a successful party for Garvey Sr. the night before, there’s trouble in the air. Kevin’s nearly struck by an exploding manhole during his morning run. It’s an accident Laurie’s not that interested in considering – he smells like cigarette smoke (he’d told her he’d quit). They argue until Garvey gets a call about the deer.

Meanwhile Laurie heads into the doctor’s office, where we learn the “something bad” inside her is actually a fetus, one Kevin doesn’t know about. Staring at the ultrasound image, Laurie’s moved to tears.

And though neither of her parents can make it to her science fair, Jill (Margaret Qualley) has all the support she needs. Brother Tom attends and jokes around with her all day, even participating in making a human light circuit with her classmates.

Chris Zylka and Margaret Qualley in The Leftovers
Paul Schiraldi/HBO

When Kevin can’t contain the deer, it breaks free onto the street where it’s hit by a car. The shaken driver happens to be a pretty woman in town for a conference, and Kevin happens to be vulnerable. The two head to her hotel and infidelity ensues.

But in an instant, Kevin’s naked mistress is gone, the light goes out on Jill and Tom’s human circuit, Nora Durst’s kids suddenly stop whining and that promising little image on Laurie’s doctor’s monitor fades to black. It’s the day the world changed. And a penultimate episode that sets up for one intriguing finale.

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