In this season’s penultimate episode of The Leftovers, we catch up with Meg. That might seem like a bit of a comedown after last week, but I promise, it’s good. Also, we get an answer to one of the season’s biggest mysteries. It’s time for “Ten Thirteen”!
We open with Meg doing cocaine in a public restroom. She needs a bump to get through lunch with her mother. She’s asking Meg about the wedding, so it’s clear this is a flashback. (She broke off the engagement early in Season One.) Mom sends her meal back because she ordered it without walnuts, and then they argue about who’s going to pay for the wedding, with Mom bringing up some boots that Meg was going to pay her back for seven months ago. Meg makes a big deal of writing a check, and Mom doesn’t want her to use today’s date because thirteen is bad luck. So she dates it for the next day, October 14. Oh, snap. This is the day before the Departure. And if you remember Meg’s backstory, you know what’s coming.
Mom has something she wants to tell Meg, but first Meg has to go to the bathroom for more cocaine. When she comes out, Mom is on the ground and somebody is performing CPR, to no avail.
Cut to Meg and onetime fiancée Darren on a bus with people who are singing hymns. They all have wristbands, so you know where they’re going. Yep – a ranger gets on the bus and welcomes them to Miracle. Hey, there’s Pillar guy! The audio tour explains that Jarden is the town and Miracle is the national park “that surrounds and protects that town from those who would corrupt its exceptional properties”. The tour takes them to that hole in the ground, caused by a gas explosion on the 14th. And then there’s the lady in the wedding dress.
Then Meg stops at Isaac’s house – Darren has been through this before. She keeps going to psychics to find out what her mother wanted to tell her. He’s got handprints on the walls, but he doesn’t have Meg make a print. Also, we establish that Meg’s mom died two years ago so this is a year before the pilot. Given the title, I’m assuming that this is the day before the anniversary of the Departure.
Anyway, the handprints are only for people who want to know their future. Meg brought one of Mom’s sweaters, as if Isaac were a spiritual bloodhound. He just makes her put some weird powder in her mouth and then spit it into his hand. Isaac warns her that when people know they’re about to speak their last words, they make them matter. But when it comes as a surprise, it’s usually just dumb stuff. What she was going to say wasn’t important or meaningful. Meg takes this to mean he’s a fraud, but then Isaac tells her about the walnuts.
When she comes outside, she tells Darren that Isaac couldn’t help. It’s pretty clear that he did, though – I think that he was telling the truth and that the thing she had to tell Meg was not important and the reveal disappointed her. Later, Meg sits quietly and cries. Evie finds her and offers her a baby carrot. It’s impossible to cry when you eat them. That’s adorable! She offers to tell Meg a joke, but can’t think of any. So Meg has this:
Broken Pencil who?
Never mind, it’s pointless.
And that is amazing. An actual joke on this show and the punchline is “It’s pointless”. Even the jokes are bleak in this world! I bet Werner Herzog would love this show. Anyway, Evie apologizes and says that nobody ever finds what they’re looking for here. Meg and Darren get on the bus and leave. Then we cut to a view from inside the bus, but it’s actually a different bus in a different place. It’s really clever. Anyway, this bus stops dead when a group of Guilty Remnant (including Meg) fill the street. A couple of goons pull the driver off the school bus. Meg walks in, pulls the pin on a grenade, rolls it to the back, and leaves The GR bar the door and leave. The kids scream and panic, but we stay on the shot of the bus long enough to make it clear that it wasn’t a real grenade.
Later, Meg arrives at what looks like a mansion. There’s a panel of three GR woman waiting like a parole board. One writes “BUS?” and Meg asks what about it. If they’re going to have a conversation, she demands that they speak. So the leader speaks up and says they had an agreement “after the incident with the dogs”, and I will never need backstory on that, thank you very much. They’re not supposed to target children, and Meg says nobody got hurt. But the GR is afraid the authorities would overreact. Meg’s not buying it because she’s a rebel. She actually wants the Guilty Remnant to step it up. The GR want to know if she’s been contacting the heads of other houses “again”. They’ve heard rumors that she’s planning her own action on October 14 and that she’s buying plastic explosives. Meg won’t admit to any of it and says they’ll definitely be present to protest a celebration on the anniversary. The leader also tells her about how Tom has been recruiting people from the GR and “hugging their pain away”.
And there’s Tom giving a speech in a room where you’d host an AA meeting. He notices Meg in the audience but plows through and offers hugs. Meg gets in line, and she doesn’t speak until the hug and she whispers “I can do this for real”. Hours later, Tom is still there. Laurie comes in and wonders why he skipped an event – he flaked on thirty people. They argue about whether they should have a permanent space for their “ministry”, and Tom doesn’t want to take money. Laurie says their donation is a commitment, and it doesn’t work if they don’t pay. That’s actually a good point and I think Laurie’s right. She’s not just trying to cash in. People take something more seriously if it costs them something. It turns into an argument and Tom storms off.
He spends the night on a playground and in the morning a car pulls up, a woman gets out, pulls a dog out of the backseat, and then drives off. He seems like a friendly dog – not one of those feral ones that watched a Departure. No explanation for this, but I hope that dog gets a good home!
Tom, drunk, shows up at one of the Guilty Remnant installations he infiltrated. The one where he got busted, actually. He demands to talk to Meg, and eventually some big guys start working him over until she gets there. She asks what he wants and he wants her to take his pain away. Meg tells him to hug himself and Tom begs to be a part of it. He mentions that his family moved to Jarden, and suddenly Meg is interested. Giddy, even.
We see them driving to Texas at night. She gets a call and says she’ll have to see the bridge herself. That isn’t ominous at all! Tom asks why she had sex with him, and she doesn’t answer but instead seems enthused about a honky tonk and says they’re going to go dancing.
They each do a shot (Tom much more reluctantly) and Meg asks why he has blond hair. She knows Kevin’s his dad, so she knows both of his parents have dark hair. He explains that Kevin’s his stepfather. Meg talks about her stepfather who officially adopted her and then left a year later. Oh, also Meg’s mom was cremated and her ashes shot into space. Finally, Meg gets in close and says she had sex with him to get him pregnant. Yeah, that’s what she says. I’m not reading any more into it than Meg refusing to cooperate in any conversation ever.
They drive until morning, reaching a GR compound near Miracle. The guard informs her that there’s a situation. A guy got on their property, and they’re holding him prisoner. He looks like a well-meaning stoner who picked the wrong time to go off a bike trail. He insists that he didn’t see anything, and one of the GR suggests holding him until tomorrow, when it doesn’t matter anymore. Instead, Meg decrees that they stone him. Tom’s horrified, but doesn’t intervene. That night, the Remnant are all hanging around the compound, silently doing stuff. A woman informs Tom that Meg is going to change everything, and then Meg drives off by herself.
Meg reaches the camp outside Miracle where there’s a big scoreboard counting the minutes to October 14 (fifty when she arrives). She makes her way through the sea of people and somebody recognizes her – Matt! He seems happy to see her, and she assures him that she left the Guilty Remnant. They sit down for some tea and conversation. I assume that the part where they talk about what it was like to have supporting roles in Marvel movies got cut for time. He tells her about how Kevin and Nora are taking care of Mary because he lost his wristband.
She talks about how this is the best place to be because the Guilty Remnant wouldn’t work here – the people of Jarden aren’t suffering the way everybody else is. And that’s bad logic, because the residents know people who don’t live in town. They still lost people, just not the people they see every day. Matt seems a little suspicious of this kind of talk. He apologizes for putting Meg’s mother on a flyer and says he was just trying to get her to feel again. She says she forgot, but you know she hasn’t. She beat him up over it!
She asks why the people don’t just storm the fence and fight their way in, and asks what they’re waiting for. Then she answers her own question – they’re waiting for her. Matt is not buying this at all, by the way.
Back at the compound, Tom pokes around after everyone goes to sleep. Inside one of the buildings is a trailer. He pries the door open and finds… Evie and the other missing girls! They’re silent and clad in Guilty Remnant white. Tom asks who they are, and Evie holds up a sign that says “It doesn’t matter” before closing the door.
This season finale is going to be nuts!
–I apologize for not getting to the “International Assassin” analysis when I promised, but I was pressed for time. I promise I’ll get to it in a special post-mortem article after the season ends.
It’s weird how much of this episode is spent showing us things that we’ve heard about – Tom and Laurie falling out, the Jarden audio tour. But that’s not a bad thing. The narrators on this show tend to be wildly unreliable, so it’s good to see some things for ourselves.
We have confirmation that Isaac really does have some kind of psychic power. I don’t think that’s going to get him an apology from John or anything, though. And how was John letting him operate for two years before investigating? Do we know exactly when he was in prison? I feel like he was definitely in jail during the Departure, so maybe he hasn’t been back in town that long. Or maybe he wasn’t so militant until more recently. I really need that Murphy flashback episode.
This is the first time I’ve really been interested in Meg. She had a useful purpose in Season One, showing us how somebody fell in with the Guilty Remnant, but there wasn’t much to latch on to. I like that she’s really just GR in name only. The Remnant are awful and cause a lot of pain, but Meg is a straight-out terrorist. And I don’t think even Patti would have made herself bigger than the movement the way Meg did. Even just little things like her non-answer to Tom paint her as being across the board unstable. And given the ATFEC’s attitude toward the GR, the leadership is right to worry about her. Killing a Guilty Remnant barely seems to be a crime, and we’ve seen what the ATFEC can do when they decide to shut a cult down.
My guess is that Meg’s actual plan is to kill everybody in the park. She’s got plastic explosive, she wants to “inspect the bridge”. I’m thinking she’s going to rally everybody into crossing the bridge and then when blow it up. I don’t know how that involves Evie and the other girls, but they’re going to have to be front and center for it to make an impact. But Meg’s crazier than I am, so I’m probably way off. I just know something terrible is going to happen to those poor girls, and everybody’s going to know about it.
Brilliant reveal, right? They even foreshadowed it – remember the girls riding home from the river in complete silence? Or running through the forest in complete silence? I hope they don’t skim over the backstory of how Meg recruited them, because I’m really interested in details. I’m glad to find out it’s not a Secondary Departure – I want the Departure to be a one-time thing rather than a device to create mystery and tension whenever things get a little slow.
There’s so much ground to cover in one last episode, and I have no idea how they’re going to pull it off. I’m also really worried about renewal – the ratings are not good and there’s still so much story to tell. Luckily, HBO’s in a position where they can use a prestige series to fill the gaps while the big rating hits prepare a new season. That’s my hope, at least. I loved Season One, and this season has been so much better. Keep your fingers crossed, and meet me back here for the finale.