The opening scene takes us back to …Mapleton? Under the soundtrack of a very stress-inducing drum solo, we see a montage of Laurie washing a car, sitting at a coffee shop, typing away furiously on a laptop, preparing a room for what we later see is some kind of departure-related support group (meeting in the same office building as other departure-related services), emptying several packs of nicorette gum into a big glass bowl (which she also chews, and I must admit it’s a nice change from the constant chain-smoking). Tom is now clad in white, apparently a Guilty Remnant himself; Laurie is dressed in regular clothes, as is everyone else at the meeting. Tom brings in Suzan, who is obviously upset about something, and Laurie welcomes her to the safe place, for once not via notebad scrawls, but by actually speaking to her.
Cut to: the title sequence. Three episodes into season 2, I still can’t seem to get used to the uplifting vibe of the country tune. Seems like the entire purpose of the opening titles is to stress its contrast to the gloomy atmosphere of every other scene.
Back at the office space now transformed into a makeshift bedroom for Suzan, Laurie tells her to make herself at home for the next few nights and hands her a phone which can’t text (what year is this, again?), so she’s going to have to talk, as well as some non-white clothes. Are we supposed to understand that this is the new Laurie, and that instead of going out of her way to remind everyone in Mapleton of the departed, she’s now taken it upon herself to de-guiltify the other remnants? Then why is Tom still dressed in white and communicating via notepad?
Nevermind that, it seems that her purpose now is to help this Suzan person come back, as she has presumably done for the rest of the support group members we saw, and as she says she did herself. Next up, Laurie’s watching a video of Holy Wayne as Tom is asleep on her couch. We get the answer to our question: his job is to inflitrate the Guilty Remnant long enough to get them to trust him, then bring them over to the ‘hive’ so that Laurie can convert them. Also, they’re not in Mapleton any more, but
It seems that Laurie hasn’t just escaped the silence and chainsmoking, she’s also writing a book, presumably about the cult and her personal experience. She’s applying her knowledge and experience as a therapist to help with her patients ‘rehabilitation’, for lack of a better word, and seems to have her life back on track. How long has it been since the events of last season? What prompted this 180 degree turn? Hopefully we’ll find out by the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, she’s doing her therapist thing as a small group of Remnants barge in. Uh-oh, they don’t seem too happy. One of them starts writing on a pad, but Laurie rips it from his hands and throws the note away. Clearly upset, she tells them to leave. You’re not welcome here. You’re cowards, she tells them. Um, hypocrite much?
Tom walks back into a Remnants house in Hackensack, NJ (are we meant to understand there are more than one? Did they all relocate after the fire?), as a beautiful piano rendition of Where Is My Mind? is playing in the background. He’s blending in, observing everyone, trying to figure out which candidates are ready to go back, as Laurie is back at the coffeehouse, typing away. She takes Suzan back to her family and watches their reunion. The expression of her face is happy yet forlorn. If she’s had this great epiphany and helping others, why hasn’t she helped herself and mended bridges with her husband and daughter? Is Tom the only family she needs now? The look on her face clearly states otherwise.
At the support group, Suzan’s making progress and Tom brings in Howard into the fold. Back at the house, the timeline is established: Jill has texted Tom about meeting, and Laurie asks if it’s okay to drive him there and steal a glimpse of her daughter. Tom says she’s not ready yet, but ultimately agrees to the ride, as well as delivering a note to his sister. We’ve already seen what happened at the meeting, so it’s obviously before the Garveys left for Texas. It seems pretty clear by now that however long it’s been since Laurie’s transformation, the turning point were the events in last season’s finale. It’s also clear that her new way of channeling her OCD is by compulsively cleaning her car – we’ve already seen her wash it twice in this episode, and now she’s manically trying to remove a spot from her windshield.
(As revealing as this all is, I’m really missing the action back at the Garveys’ neck of the woods by now)
Laurie returns to her group to find out that they’ve been evicted because they’re late with the rent. Their stuff is there, minus her laptop, which holds the only copy of her book. Tom asks the obvious question: didn’t she email it to herself? Again, what year is this? Thumb drives, clouds, does none of that ring any bells with Laurie? Jeez.
She tries to convince the landlord to return her laptop by trying to appeal to his sentimental side but he doesn’t look willing to budge. So what does she do next? Naturally, she breaks into his home to get it back. The phone rings, a russian woman answers, but before she can catch her, Laurie races up the stairs, yanks her laptop and runs. (side note: Does everyone smoke in that town?). As she drives off with a huge grin on her face, it’s pretty obvious that however much progres she’s made, she’s not exactly all there.
Yep, not there at all. A few seconds later, the grin is wiped off her face when she spots two members of the guilty remnant in the middle of the street. Pumping the gas a couple of times and killing the music, she throws the car into drive and speeds towards them. Boom, two down, and off she goes as if nothing happened. And this is the first WTF moment of the episode.
Next thing we know, it really is as if nothing happened. Back at Suzan’s place, Laurie is giving her husband advice about his wife’s sleeping habits. When he expresses concern about saying the wrong thing that will make her leave again, Laurie tells him it’s not him, it’s them. Kevin thought she left because of him too, but it was their fault. Way to shirk responsibility, Laurie. So far all we’ve seen is people showing up at the compound on their own accord and quite willingly donning on baggy white clothes and smoking 3 packs a day, so what the hell? Nevermind the absurdity of all this; the reunited family is grateful, and her book is finished and on its way to a publisher for consideration.
Back at the compound, Tom’s doing his Remnant thing again. Apparently there’s a production line for packaging cigarettes into ziploc bags – talk about organization! He approaches a young girl and tries to get her to leave with him but she blows the whistle, literally, and he finds himself tied up inside a truck. Oops.
The truck comes to a grinding halt, the door opens and Liv Tyler Meg approaches from outside, slowly removes his pants, slides down her underwear and sits on his lap for some slow, hot, brief sex. Next thing you know, he’s dragged outside, doused in gasoline (presumably) and Meg kneels menacingly over him, zipper in hand. Mercifully we are spared the semi-naked-man-burning-alive scene; instead, she lights a cigarette and gives him a message for Laurie: Meg says hello. Is Meg the cult leader now? What the hell was the sex all about, aside from giving us a nice look at their privates? Is humping her son some kind of bizarre revenge for Laurie’s hit and run, or is it just punishment for his attempt to lure that girl away from them? WTF moment #2 was pretty damn weird.
(Still missing the Garvey’s)
Laurie has no idea what’s happening as she shops a new outfit for her meeting with a publisher. When she gets back, Tom asks who Meg is. “You recruited her, just like you recruited me”, he yells at his mom. He’s doubting her program’s success; he’s the one back there with the rest of the Remnants, and what they’re saying makes sense.
At Suzan’s place, family life seems to be returning to normal. They make breakfast, they go out for dinner, but of course Suzan still isn’t used to her old life. She finds the note that Remnants guy had written back at the group meeting: Any day now. As the family is off on a trip, with Suzan at the wheel, it looks like she’s about to check out. She veers into the opposite side of the street, and the scene cuts right as she’s about to T-Bone a truck at the off ramp.
At her meeting with her publisher, it’s fairly obvious that they loved her book; even the receptionist somehow knows and tells her so. The publisher is all for moving forward and even cracks a little silence joke, but he needs the book to be more insightful. He needs more feeling, he needs the whole ‘myth’ explained. He’s baffled by the chainsmoking, just like we are. He basically recaps everything that’s happened so far with Kevin, Jill, the cult and the fire, and asks the one question we are all thinking: we know how and why this all went down, but how do you feel about it, Laurie?
Well, Laurie doesn’t feel all that great about it, apparently. It doesn’t help that she just found out about Suzan’s accident right before the meeting. She launches an attack and tries to strangle the publisher, and ends up in jail. When Tom bails her out, she doesn’t say ‘I jumped the publisher’. She opts for ‘They liked my book’ and bursts into tears. Well whoop-de-doo, Laurie! She may be better dressed, talking and not chainsmoking any more, but the woman’s off her rocker. The crying isn’t even about Suzan or her disastrous meeting. It’s about the two Remnants she ran over, and it was about time she showed some remorse about that.
Apparently Laurie isn’t the only one losing her shit. According to Tom, everyone else in the group is back at her place losing theirs. Why are we losing? Laurie asks. Because the Remnants, with all their insane brainwashing, as actually giving those people something. So now it’s down to Laurie to give them something too.
Of all the rules the Remnants imposed, the most important one was not talking about themselves, Laurie explains to her group, and begins to tell the story of how it all began with Patti. Finally, some insight to that part of the story! The first few weeks after the departure, Laurie was numb, afraid, confused and alone. She saw her former patient Patti, and she was dressed in white. And then, with a massive cop out, she fast forwards to the part of the story where she almost got Jill killed in the fire. Gee, thanks Laurie.
But, she continues, there’s another part of the story, the one involving Tom. We already saw her watching Holy Wayne’s video in the beginning of the episode. Is she now going to be offering hugs to take people’s pain away? Tom tells his story about Wayne, Christine, the baby. He explains how the baby ended up at Kevin’s porch: when Christine abandoned her and Tom found her in that rest stop bathroom, Wayne showed up and told him what to do, and then predicted his own death. Wayne also passed his healing power along to Tom. How very convenient, eh? I call bullshit. Who wants a hug?
(not a bad episode, but as batshit crazy as Laurie may be, I still care more about the rest of the Garveys)