And the plot sickens.
On Sunday’s episode of HBO’s mind-bending new drama The Leftovers – about a town reeling from a rapture-like occurrence that claimed millions all over the world, including many of their citizens – the hunt is on for dogs, trees, people and seemingly everything in between.
The show’s second episode opens mid-manhunt, as police officers raid the ranch of mysterious soothsayer Wayne (Paterson Joseph). He’s a reported pedophile who keeps company with a host of young girls, but is better known for healing the grief-stricken with his magical hugs.
When authorities show up, Tom Garvey (Chris Zylka), the troubled son of Chief Garvey (Justin Theroux) who is Wayne’s errand boy and faithful follower, kills one of the officers and escapes with Wayne and a “special Asian girl” who stays at the ranch. Later it’s revealed that Wayne’s hugs can’t work on Tom. His pain is too deep.
Back in Mapleton, Chief Garvey isn’t quite himself. After dreaming he was naked standing across from the local dog killer, the man who’s convinced him that all the town’s dogs are deadly and deserve to die, he decides to seek help. A psychotherapist insinuates that the man Garvey keeps running into isn’t real, making matters even weirder.
Speaking of weird, Garvey’s estranged wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman), who left him and their kids to join the mute town cult Guilty Remnant, is busy trying to brainwash new member Meg (Liv Tyler). Instructed to chop down a tree, Meg, who hasn’t given over to silence yet, says she’s frustrated after a week of cult life and doesn’t understand what it’s all about. Join the club, Meg.
After Laurie is scolded by cult leader Patti for not being tough enough on the new recruit, she makes Meg give up a special personal belonging. The two bond when Meg asks Laurie how she’s able to forget everything that’s happened, and Laurie writes down, “I remember.” Later, the cult members think Meg has left to return to her real life, but she’s obediently gone out to finish tree-chopping on her own.
Meanwhile, Meg’s poor fiancé has reported her missing. Chief Garvey visits the Remnant’s home to ask if Meg is there of her own free well. He reports back to her fiancé that she hasn’t fully been indoctrinated yet, and unlike his own wife, there’s still time to get her back.
Garvey’s daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) and her friends skip school to snoop behind Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), who’s a local legend for having lost all of her family members in the event. Durst, whom they bump into at a café, is carrying a gun as she goes about town issuing “departure benefits” (compensation to families who lost loved ones). When Jill returns home, she finds her dad talking to a man at the door: his dog-killer friend. It’s a relief to the chief, signifying the visitor wasn’t a figment of his imagination.
When Garvey goes to visit his father, the former chief who went crazy himself after the disappearances, we learn that Garvey Sr. and Mayor Warburton (Amanda Warren) used to date. Just as the mayor had requested of him earlier, Garvey’s father now asks him to publicly apologize for shooting the town’s dogs. Articulate and seemingly clear-headed, Garvey’s father doesn’t fit the bill of a man who’s gone insane – that is, until he starts up a conversation with his imaginary friend.
Like father, like son? We’ll find out soon enough.