Would things really decay this badly from this calamity? I have to stop asking myself that question, and just accept that they have. People are messed up because their loved ones (and sometimes their friends of loved ones twice removed) have vanished. There’s no reason they wouldn’t take to torturing each other like this. We do it already, just for different reasons, all over the world.
Also, there’s a mystery. We don’t know how much of what we’re seeing is real. We know that some of it is dream sequences — because Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) keeps waking up from nightmares that are exceptionally surreal, but his days are kind of surreal, too. As are everyone’s, increasingly. It’s like some big social experiment that everyone consented too, now spinning crazily out of hand. And no one has a clue how to stop it.
The painfully obtuse episode title means business. Because of his altercation at the Guilty Remnant guest house, Chief Garvey has to report to the least sympathetic, shiftiest little twerp of a therapist ever seen on TV. One who has a blow-up penguin on his couch. So that the kids can get out their aggression. Put simply, Chief Garvey is going to need a much bigger penguin.
Or maybe just a really annoying toaster, as during one of his loopy and ambiguous conversations with the Mayor (who is also his dad’s girlfriend, what? And is just trying to help cover for him, if she can) his bagel just … disappears. Heavy handed and obvious, too, but the determination with which he later methodically attacks the machine (are there problems power tools can’t solve? Don’t answer) is rewarded by two very burnt bagel pieces that got stuck. What seemed like a divine ironic message was just a freak accident. That’s how it’s going to go with this show, but I’m increasingly fine with it.
Take how the whole Holy Wayne thing was handled. His super-stealth hidden compound of cultiness is wiped out in one fell swoop this week, as the episode begins with a deliciously cynical discussion amongst some Federal types about how they’re going to handle Wayne’s growing popularity and threat to national security. They’re going to fu**ing go get him is how. Only when they do (and they needed to, because the dude is kidnapping young girls) he and several others escape. Including Kevin’s son Tom, with Wayne’s main squeeze Christine, and he has to kill a federal agent to do it. Even in this wacked-out world, that’s got to have consequences.
They escape to a gas station hideout, where one of the guards (hi Peter Berg cameo 2!) had already fled in order to die. And thus leads to our creepiest moment yet from Paterson Joseph, when Wayne kisses Berg’s corpse on the lips. Not to magically revive him or anything (though the implication is that his healing hugs do indeed provide emotional peace to the troubled), but because “he would never let me do that when he was alive.”
This show has some issues with sex, that much I can tell. It also has weird scenes like the one where the Chief calls in Liv Tyler’s ex-fiancée, to tell him she’s at Guilty Remnant and he should go get her. And this guy, who’s like tall and thin I guess but definitely not in Liv Tyler’s class, is all like “Who wants the betraying bitch?” Least believable moment yet, guys. You don’t just let Arwen sneak away.
The Chief is as confused as me, because we’ve already seen him begging Amy Brenneman to come home. But she’s busy psychologically torturing Liv, which is hard to watch. More stuff happens with the teens (who are clearly acting out) and Christopher Eccleston and his sister (next week is apparently their turn, and if anyone is going to be mad-as-hell-and-unwilling-to-take-it-anymore, it should be Eccleston), and Garvey’s dad (well-played by Scott Glenn with perfect curmudgeonly sauce) is still hearing voices when Kevin comes to see him. Kevin himself may or may not be imagining the guy with the big truck who keeps shooting dogs. That not even his own deputy believes is pretty telling, as is the way the unregistered new truck shows up in his driveway, riderless.
But, hey, when Laurie “tells” Meg (scribbling away madly in a rare act of bonding) that she’s married to the “hot cop” who came to check on her, it’s the most believable moment in the show thus far. And I think we’ve got more coming, because the future directors lineup includes Keith Gordon and Mimi Leder. The cool kids are starting to come around!