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The Leftovers “Cairo” Review (1×08)

18 Aug

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“Purpose.”

It’s becoming clearer and clearer how influential the Guilty Remnant is, how it’s able to pull in those–Meg, Jill–who have every reason to be pissed off at its members. We see that the GR doesn’t necessarily go out and bring these people in; rather, they find their own ways, their paths winding through meaningless and depression and loss before they converge at the same front door.

“Cairo” connects its three main storylines–Meg/Laurie, Kevin/Patti, Jill/Nora–under the umbrella of the GR. It sets Kevin and Patti and Laurie and Nora on one side or the other, but we also see how people like Meg and Jill navigate a world in which how they want to feel doesn’t mesh with how the world treats them. Meg, for example, begins by repeatedly hitting Matt Jamison and breaking her silence vow in order to curse him out, and her later justification is that “they’re everywhere”. Ironically, she’s angry at those not in the GR for doing exactly what the GR’s been doing this whole time; a nice touch here is when she complains that “they spit in our face!”, which is later followed up by Patti spitting in Garvey’s face.

Anyway, this is someone living a life that she simply cannot permanently live, and her constant speaking is representative of her struggle against the outside forces she feels are out to get her. I’ve written before about the pervasive theme of perception in the series, and it certainly applies to the way some people are so adamant that they’re right and that others are wrong; those feelings are exacerbated in this post-Departure society, and different ways of doing things create friction, even within ranks. Here we have Meg, her actions not meshing with the GR code of conduct, and on the other side, we have Jill, her feelings not meshing with those of her peers.

Interestingly enough, Jill’s plight is strikingly similar to the one we saw play out with Nora in “Guest”. She’s frustrated that those around her are able to say they’re okay, to say that they don’t feel the persistent pain she feels, and it angers her because being able to align herself with others is, in its own way, a sense of purpose. So, she searches Nora’s purse, lashes out at Aimee, and searches Nora’s house for the gun. Nora, a few weeks ago, was able to move on because of her encounter with Wayne allowing her to let go of her past, and here, she becomes the object under the microscope of the past. There’s an ambiguity inherent in the scene in which Jill finds the gun: is it more important that Nora still has it, or is it more important that it’s hidden away in a Trouble box? To Jill, it’s the former, and it drives her straight toward the GR.

This, of course, means that Kevin Garvey is losing his daughter to the very group he lost his wife to. Once again, the irony is in full force–part of Kevin wants to kill Patti in order to protect himself and his daughter, but little does he know that his daughter’s already long gone–and the parallels are evident: the overhead shot of Jill and the overhead shot of Kevin, Jill cutting the dog loose and Garvey cutting Patti loose, Garvey setting the table and Patti laying out the clothes. And, at the end of it all, Kevin Garvey’s left even more lost than before.

The conflict between Patti and Garvey–Dowd and Theroux give their best performances here–culminates in the final scene of the episode, one which is simultaneously silly and extremely compelling. Up to this point, the episode has essentially been screwing with Garvey’s mind even further, portraying an internal conflict that has him struggling between Dean and Patti…both of whom actually desire the same end result. Kevin believes he has the control when he doesn’t take Patti’s bluff–electing to cut her loose–but in the end, it’s Patti with the control. It’s Patti who gets to lay out her group’s master plan, going on about stripping away attachment and erasing and blank slates and living reminders and purposes. There are contradictions permeating every aspect of the GR’s mission statement, but when you’ve entered the kind of state of mind that, say, Jill’s entered, it’s hard to look away from the inviting presence of a group that is anything but.

The words of WB Yeats’s “Michael Robartes Bids His Beloved Be At Peace” end the episode, and they hint at an ugly fate for the world in which they all live. The Guilty Remnant’s message may make sense to you at one moment, but when you dig deeper, you realize that Patti’s reciting the words of the future even as she’s trying to perpetuate remembrance of the past. Simply put, the poem is about the apocalypse, and society’s at the brink.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Just like Meg’s hypocritical in this episode, so is Laurie when she uses violence to stop Meg from speaking.

-Here are some eloquent lines from the mouths of Twin A and Twin B:

“Bulletproof vest! Jackpot!”

“He’s ripped!”

“Wanna play ping pong?”

“Hit me, bitch. Do it, chickenshit.”

-Interesting that right as Laurie takes leadership of the GR, her daughter shows up.

-So, those are Loved Ones bodies that the GR orders, right? Evidently, they used the pictures they stole to order them, and they’re probably going to orchestrate some twisted scheme on Memorial Day involving those bodies. No violence? Alrighty then.

-Ann Dowd, you will be missed.

Photo credit: HBO, The Leftovers

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2 Responses to “The Leftovers “Cairo” Review (1×08)”

  1. ch August 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    What about Dean saying “shut up, I tried” as he was walking away from Kevin in the cabin. Like he was taking to same voices as Garvey Sr.

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