Nora Durst lost her husband and kids in the departure, not to mention her mind

August 04, 2014 02:00 AM
Credit: HBO

All is loss, but not lost.

On Sunday night’s episode of HBO’s drama The Leftovers, bereft town member Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) shows just how far grief can go.

Denial Meets Delusion
Nora lost her entire family – husband and two kids – when the departure happened a few years ago. But as the episode opens, it’s clear it feels like just yesterday. Every room in her house looks the same as before her family disappeared. She continues to purchase her kids’ cereals and treats that just sit and go stale until she replaces them.

But the true depth of her depression shows when she calls a prostitute over to her home one night. When the woman asks what they’ll be doing, Nora says, “I want you to shoot me.” It takes $3,000 worth of convincing, but once Nora straps on a bulletproof vest – she has no intention to actually die – Angel pulls the trigger and puts her out of her misery, momentarily.

Nora’s job doesn’t help. As an employee of the Department of Sudden Departure, she meets with other people who’ve lost loved ones to determine the amount of benefits they should receive. She’s scheduled to speak on a panel at an upcoming departure convention in Manhattan, but not before handling some personal business.

What’s in a Name?
She meets with a judge to finalize her divorce from not-so-dearly departed husband Doug, who she recently learned was cheating on her before he disappeared. On her way out of court she bumps into Chief Garvey (Justin Theroux), on his way in for his own divorce from estranged wife Laurie. Having flirted with him before, Nora invites Garvey on an impromptu trip to Miami. He can’t because of his daughter, an excuse Nora scoffs at, before apologizing and leaving.

Once at the conference Nora finds out someone stole her badge at registration and is pretending to be her. Forced to wear a guest badge and denied the perks of being a triple legacy (triple-pitied) participant, she falls in with a crowd that’s just there to party. Hanging with them one night she finds herself drunk, high and making out with a replica cadaver.

The next morning she learns that her impersonator caused a scene in the hotel bar and security asks her to leave. After washing up in a public restroom and getting a copy shop to create fake credentials, she sneaks back into the hotel to attend her panel. Face-to-face with the fake Nora Durst, she learns the woman’s just a protester there to complain about the government’s handling of the departure.

Ready to Feel Better
Once she’s reclaimed her name, Nora retires to the hotel bar for a much-needed drink. There she meets a renowned author, whose claim to fame is losing four family members. When he shares a story with Nora about how his 8-year-old daughter helped him find happiness, she loses it. In her mind, there’s no such thing as happiness after loss like hers.

When she leaves the hotel, a man stops her and asks if she ever wants to feel better. Following the stranger, she’s led to a nearby apartment building and introduced to none other than mysterious healer Wayne, who’s resurfaced after being forced from his compound a few episodes ago. After promising she’ll never forget, only feel better, he envelopes Nora in one of his magical pain-relieving hugs.

Back home in Mapleton, she’s a changed woman. No more watching random kids play in the park or buying groceries for children who no longer exist. And when Garvey shows up to ask her on a date, she accepts. It seems life after loss isn’t futile after all.

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