Halfway through the season now, and we get another Matt-centric episode! We begin by stealing a glimpse into father Matt’s daily routine: waking up, grooming his invalid wife, going to church, going to the store, feeding her through a tube, kissing her goodnight, desperately hoping that his webcam will catch some sort of brain function other than blinking while they sleep.
It’s a bleak life, and the same old ritual, day in and day out, with the Bellamy Brothers’ upbeat Let Your Love Flow playing in the background seems even more miserable by contrast.
But it’s not just a ritual developed out of habit; it’s the same exact routine he followed the day Mary woke up and talked to him, right down to the banana smoothie. When he finally speaks to her, it’s out of frustration: it’s unfair that she would only come back for three hours, be her old self, and then disappear back into her catatonic state again. Why that day and not now?
Roll the credits.
As Matt and Mary wait to cross the bridge out of town for her doctor appointment, we see a minor incident: we have ‘runners’, i.e. people who are desperate to enter Miracle/Jarden, chased by the police, who will smash them into cars and tazer them to keep them from getting into town unauthorized. It’s unnerving, but definitely not the oddest thing we’ve seen on this show by a longshot.
Mary’s visit to the doctor is not for a regular checkup: Matt wants to do a new scan and to compare the results with her previous one. Anything to explain what caused the sudden glimmer in Mary’s condition and made it fade away again.
As he’s waiting for the MRI to finish, he pays a visit to the men’s room and the phone rings. I”ve always found the ‘hallelujah’ ringtone amusing – tonight less so, as he drops his phone in the urinal. Poor Matt, he just can’t seem to catch a break.
As he’s leaving the hospital, the nurse asks him back inside to discuss Mary’s results. A surprise awaits him: they want him to sign a liability waiver for administering the contrast dye to Mary because he hadn’t disclosed her condition; not her vegetative state, her pregnancy. It’s no surprise that they had sex when Mary was awake – but it’s a big surprise that she actually got pregnant, as they couldn’t have children before. Jarden’s miracle just keeps on giving, doesn’t it? The hospital’s concerns about the great probability of miscarriage – or about Mary’s consent to having sex in that state – are inconsequential to Matt: he’s so happy he could burst, and he’ll sign anything!
Good Samaritan that he is, he stops to lend a hand to a guy and a kid stalled by the side of the road on his way back to town. It was obvious this would be a setup from a mile away, and true enough, the guy clocks him on the head with a wrench and smashes his hand to get his wristband off. The things people will do to get into that shitty town.
And then, miracle of miracles, Mary speaks again! Or is it just Matt’s addled brain hallucinating? Either way, it gets the job done and gets him moving, but the excitement only lasts until he pops the hood and realizes that guy stole more than their wristbands. I’m no mechanic, but the battery seems to be missing. So off he goes into town on foot, pushing Mary along.
Luckily the kind-hearted park ranger (?) lets them through to the visitor center to have their wristbands replaced. It looks like that’s the only stroke of luck poor Matt’s going to have in this episode. A very impatient… groomsman? is in line right behind Matt and he just can’t wait to go to the wedding. Naturally, the altercation results in blows, and Matt ends with zip-tie handcuffs.
Kevin and John come to Matt’s rescue in the end, and he gets first aid for his busted hand at the infirmary. John’s getting nosy, and then kind of of a dick: he knows about the pregnancy, and guesses the whole story. Except he doesn’t believe in miracles. It never happened. She never woke up. John’s wife never got her hearing back, so why would Mary’s case be any different? People in town are going to talk when Mary starts to show, so Matt will have to tell the truth: that he’s a a pervert who took advantage of an invalid because he felt sad and confused.
And if Matt can’t keep his mouth shut, then John is an even bigger dick than I thought. Matt agrees to go along with John’s story and asks him what happened to him to make him so angry at this place. John’s response is to walk out the door and refuse to help Matt with the wristbands.
Now Matt is forced to find a place to stay at the park, which isn’t exactly the happiest place on earth. It’s more like the world’s worst circus, complete with a topless girl in spike heels walking across the backs of willing men, a guy relaxing next to his RV with an inflatable date, and a naked guy locked in a pillory with the word “repent” on it is having food and garbage thrown at him. If you want to free the man, you have to take his place. Fist fights are breaking out and a large man in a loincloth and cowboy boots tells Matt where to find the guy he’s looking for: swedish dude with a manbun who was talking to Matt when he was waiting to get out of town. Elmer.
Matt finds Manbun, but – surprise – he’s a bit of a dick. Matt’s faith doesn’t waver: He’ll show us a way, he tells Mary. And just then he spots a cross in the distance. The lady who erected the cross also seems to be in the art-selling business. He tries to appeal to her christian spirit and asks for a loan to pay Manbun. After a short interview/interrogation, she seems willing to help. She asks which book of the Bible is his favorite, he says Job. Known for his patience and his wife who only spoke once, the parallels are unmistakable (a little more subtlety would have been welcome, in my opinion).
And then, more weirdness: the lady comes out of the trailer with a big bearded redhead and wants something in return for the $500 Matt asked for. She wants him to hit the man with a paddle, as hard as he can, and say ‘Brian’ when he does it.
As he prepares to do it, a crowd gathers to cheer him on. Wtf is wrong with these people? After a few failed attempts, Matt puts his left hand to good use and actually breaks the paddle in half on redhead’s back. Yikes.
He did his job, he gets the cash and rushes back to Manbun. The sneak-in plan is pretty basic: he opens a gate to a sewer tunnel, hands Matt a pair of bolt cutters and a lantern and sends him on his way. That’s a pretty good business he’s got set up there, I have to admit. A thousand bucks for some tools isn’t a bad deal at all.
The trip into Jarden quickly turns eerie, with rain pelting down and Matt ranting… and then screaming, as the tunnel floods and turns into a very dangerous waterslide, spitting them both back out into the park.
As he tries to shield them from the rain, he hears someone calling his name: Nora. Not only did she and Kevin come to his rescue, she made an anonymous tip about the missing girls to smuggle them in safely in her trunk. I’ve said it before: Nora is one smart cookie!
In the trunk, Matt reminisces about a train ride in Frankfurt and recites Yates to his wife, but they get stopped short by an accident in the road. Damn goats, Nora says (is that why that crazy guy keeps slaughtering goats in the diner?). A car is overturned and no one is surprised when Matt approaches and realizes the dead body is the guy who stole his wristband. I know you don’t believe in it, Matt, but karma is a bitch.
But of course, we don’t get to enjoy the irony for long. As Matt reclaims his wristband, he spots the kid hiding in the bushes, and he offers the second stolen wristband to him. Matt doesn’t take it; instead, he asks Nora to look after his wife while he’s a away. I shouldn’t have to hide, he says. John and his buddy spot him walking down the street with the boy, and Matt tells him the truth as he knows it: Mary woke up the first night they got to Jarden, the first time in over three years, and he will not say otherwise. He doesn’t need the wristband, but the boy needs help.
And back to the
circus park he goes. Regina Spektor’s Laughing With is the perfect soundtrack, as the Garvey family takes care of his wife and he frees the poor guy in the pillory, taking his place. Didn’t see that one coming, but it makes perfect sense. Well, as much as anything does in this bizarre little town, anyway.