“I think I might be going crazy.”
This is a show that oftentimes favors style as a form of substance, that seems to insist on recycling similar images and ideas and character beats in order to convey the themes it wants to convey. For the most part, it’s been a compelling journey, but slight missteps like “Solace for Tired Feet” take us on a plunge into a well-developed show without the narrative cohesion that makes wonderful episodes like “Guest” resonate. However, as always, there are interesting ideas to pick apart.
Essentially, this is an episode about disorientation, not only through director Mimi Leder’s stylistic touches, but also through the increasing distrust both Kevin and Tom have for the world around them. There are parallels–most noticeably, the fact that both injure their left hand and the fact that both storylines incorporate mailboxes in some way–drawn between the two, and each is searching for truth in a society that seems to grow more and more unstable with every passing day. For one, you have the Guilty Remnant and Matt Jamison trading blows without ever really landing a solid punch: the latter puts up “Save Them” posters, and the former responds with “Don’t”. There are two different followings here clashing everyday, but no progress is being made; instead, it’s just threatening to tip over what semblance of order they have in the town.
Kevin Garvey, being a cop, has a desire for order. However, he recognizes the downward spiral he’s on, the fact that certain behaviors are echoed in Kevin Garvey Sr.’s demeanor, the fact that he’s been taking large amounts of prescription pills, the fact that he and Nora have been on five dates, but are still dancing around a relationship a bit. He’s been trying to keep it together and has done a fine job, considering the circumstances, but he’s afraid that one day, he’s going to be the one staring off at and conversing with someone who doesn’t exist. The increasing frequency of his dreams is the catalyst for his action in the episode, his attempt to come face to face with his father and to look at an older version of himself losing himself.
Garvey Sr. pushes a National Geographic magazine across the table to his son, telling him to take it and fulfill his purpose. Yet, what purpose does it really have? It’s another thing that someone’s holding onto because it’s his or her way to, for example, possibly remember the past, and it’s analogous to the way Wayne’s followers believe in a “bridge”; the other woman Tommy encounters, after all, holds onto the notion that she’s special and that she’s the only bearer of Wayne’s baby. In this post-Departure society, everyone has something, and that something is simultaneously the most important thing in the world and the least. For Jill, the magazine is her connection to her grandfather, the person who saved her from the all-encompassing, air-restricting nature of the inside of the refrigerator, something she willingly entered but desperately wanted to leave.
In the end, she seems to be in a stabler place than much of the rest of society, and we see that with her father as well. It’s not clear skies from here on out, but he’s ditched the pills and has finally had sex with Nora. He’s quite possibly going crazy, he believes, but at least he’s now a member of the club. At least when he seems to hesitate as he’s having sex, there’s someone there to strip away that hesitation. At least when he wakes up, he and Nora can try to move on.
–So, in one of those dream sequences, we see Garvey moving toward the mailbox with the dog inside, immediately followed by an image of GR members dead and under a sheet. That, to me, furthers the idea of the dogs as symbols for the GR; right now, perhaps all you can do is spray them with a hose. Just like with the dog in Garvey’s yard, shooting them will probably worsen the situation, but of course, if you don’t shoot them, they’ll always remain there, barking and growling and always at the back of your mind. Also, they’ll bite you if you aren’t careful.
-I’m not sure what the May 1972 National Geographic issue contains, nor what importance it has. Something about Yellowstone’s 100th birthday. Again, right now, it seems to be more about the characters’ reactions to the issue rather than what it may hold.
–I’m surprised it took an HBO show this long to show us an explicit sex scene. Anyway, I’m sure both sexes appreciate Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon sans clothes.
-Laurie’s “SO?” in response to Meg telling her about Garvey and Nora is met with a clearly surprised expression from Meg. That’s a nice touch there about the recent nature of her inclusion into the GR and about the way history and familial connections still linger with her as she’s trying to assimilate.
-Tom’s storyline is easily the weakest aspect of the show right now. I just can’t get invested in it. Anyway, Christine gives birth to her child.
–Speaking of sex, HBO has been teasing Aimee and Garvey for a while now. The “you don’t remember last night?” line from the promo turned out to be nothing at all. Oh, promo department, you.
-Three episodes left. I hope the show sticks the landing. No news on renewal yet.
Photo credit: HBO, The Leftovers