First things first: apparently IMDb has updated the Murphys’ daughter’s name: it’s Evangeline, not Yvette, therefore Evie would be the correct spelling of her name, as it’s written on the posters at the fundraiser. Apologies.
Okay, on to last night’s Lens:
Although decidedly Nora-centric, we finally get an episode where almost every major character appears! The timeline continues to move forward, and we pick up where we left off: with father Matt still ostracized, along with all the weirdos in the outskirts of Jarden while the Garveys (well, Nora) are taking care of his wife Mary, John still beating people up (whom his wife Erika then patches up), Michael getting closer to Jill, and life generally being a touch more weird than anywhere else in the world as we know it. We also get a surprise appearance from Laurie, via cell phone, inquiring about Tom’s whereabouts, but not even asking after her ex husband and daughter. Finally, we get to see crazy old guy and crazy goat guy, and thankfully no torture device such as last week’s pillory.
Meanwhile, it seems like every week a previously ‘normal’ character reveals their crazy side. A few episodes ago it was John and his violent outbursts towards anyone trying to exploit Jarden’s fame as a miracle town; now it’s Erika’s turn to show us her bird-burying, rock-throwing side – although admittedly, Nora literally cast the first stone.
But let’s take it from the top: a wacky researcher type visits Jarden, looking for a connection between Evie’s disappearance and whatever it is that makes people around Nora vanish. Naturally, he’s not exactly well-received. I’m stumped as to why she felt that throwing a rock through her neighbors’ window was a good idea – did she think Erika sent the wackjob to her porch to look for answers? But Erika didn’t even know about the departures in Nora’s family. Was it revenge for John banishing Matt to the camp outside town? She seemed perfectly alright with it later. Either way, Nora isn’t being very neighborly, but then again, as much as I love her, she’s always had a screw lose.
As if the investigator wasn’t enough, the annoying phonecalls keep coming. Although she hung up on the british lady at first, she decided to give her a chance to speak her piece after an encounter with a fellow DSD (Department of Sudden Departure), who revealed that new scientific evidence suggests certain people can act as ‘lenses’ and cause the disappearance of people around them.
[This is not the first time someone has suggested a similar explanation to Nora – remember the scientists who thought it was her house’s energy that was the source of whatever force resulted in the departure of her family. It was jarring enough to make her move all the way to the up-until-then safe town of Jarden, Texas, and the idea that she might be implicated in these (so far unheard of) disappearances in Jarden, aka Miracle, is unnerving, to say the least.]
When Nora decides to actually does hear the lady out, it’s not what she (or we) expected at all: these crazy freaks think a demon inhabited Nora and caused all the mayhem? As hilarious as such a twist would have been, I’m glad Nora hung up on the wackjob.
Throughout the episode, Nora seems perfectly cool and collected, holding no grudge against the Murphys for banishing her brother – in fact, she’s intent on showing solidarity to the family by attending the fundraiser held at the Visitor’s Center in order to help fund the search efforts for the missing girls. She doesn’t even snap at Kevin, who seems to have trouble juggling household chores and Patti’s constant yammering and forgets poor baby Lily on the hood of his car.
Erika, on the other hand, seems to definitely come undone as the episode progresses. It doesn’t help that, on top of her missing daughter, her husband and his buddies keep attacking random people, even if these people are scam artists trying to cash in on Jarden’s miraculous reputation. She refuses to answer the DSD questionnaire that the other mothers have, and I would have proclaimed her the most sensible person on the show after the scene she caused at the fundraiser, had it not been for all the bird-burying nonsense.
At least we got an anwer to out burning goat-sacrifice question: the goat guy had killed a goat on 10/14, and no one in town departed. Hence, a goat sacrifice is required to uphold the town’s status. How’s that for logic? Is everyone in this town as superstitious and weird as the goat guy? Apparently so, because they all seem to be fine with that, just like they don’t think it’s weird that some crazy lady wears her wedding dress every day just because she happened to have been shopping for one on 10/14.
We also confirmed what we suspected about the old guy Michael prays with: he’s family, so obviously a grandfather, although not on good terms with the rest of the family, especially since John apparently shot him. That question answered, a less important one remains: what’s with the pies? I mean, I get why he leaves them on his estranged family’s doorstep, but am I to believe that this crazy dude hanging out in the woods actually has the know-how, equipment and wherewithal to bake them?
Anyway. At the fundraiser, Nora manages to get her hands on the DSD questionnaire, and takes it to Erika. She convinces Erika to let her ask the questions, as it’s nothing to fear – it will prove that her daughter’s disappearance was not a departure. It’s painfully obvious that she needs these answers more than Erika does: if Evie didn’t just vanish, then Jarden is still safe, and her proximity to Evie (not to mention the timing) had nothing to do with it.
As she asks the questions, though, effortlessly falling back to her old detached voice, she gets a lot more than she expected: Erika tells her a story about her grandmother, which explains why she goes out to the woods and digs up boxes with dead birds inside, but does nothing to convince us she’s as sane as she appears: she was planning to leave her husband and was worried that her children would not be able to cope, especially Evie. So she decided to put her faith in the grandma’s old truck: bury a bird in a box, leave it for three days, then come back and make a wish before opening the box. If the bird is still alive, your wish will be granted.
Which is exactly what Erika did; she buried a dying bird (what is it with animal cruelty on this show?), wished that her daughter would be okay without her and when she returned three days later, the bird flew out of the box. This was scientifically impossible, and yet her grandma had been right. The next day, Evie was gone. I’m sorry, but this scores just as high on the crazy scale as the goat sacrifice and the wedding-dress lady.
When Nora points this out, Erika remains perfectly calm, and finds the perfect moment to hurt her back: what were Nora’s kids’ last words to their mother? Nora starts to cry and goes home, but instead of some much needed peace and quiet, she finds Kevin, visibly distraught, wanting to talk. He tells her he’s been seeing someone, and for a second there I thought he was going to make up some lie to explain his weird behavior, but no: he’s been seeing Patti; he’s talking to him right now, telling him he’s making a big mistake. Just then, Erika throws a rock at their window.
I know that this is supposed to be the kind of show that raises more questions than it answers with each episode, but I have to wonder whether all of these bizarre occurrences will be eventually explained. Judging from everything that’s gone unanswered since season 1, I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll never get a clear answer about the departure, but I hope this doesn’t turn out like Lost, with suspense building up for several seasons only to disappoint everyone in the end.