Summary: Matt lives every day similar to the first day he arrived in Miracle with hopes that it will cause Mary to wake up again. Matt leaves town to see a doctor for Mary and learns that she is pregnant and he realizes he needs to be in Miracle for the child to survive. Matt's wristbands are taken by a man and he is trapped outside of Miracle. Nora eventually comes to get him but Matt only lets her take Mary inside and he stays outside of the town.
The Good: We get another Matt-centric episode and much like the previous one this delivered in spades. The Leftovers always seems to bring its A-game with Matt episodes and they did it again.
The opening sequence was truly wonderful. It showed the same thing over and over again to make us realize what Matt does every day, and then we quickly realize why Matt is doing this: he wants his wife to wake up again by doing similar things. It's sad stuff and culminates in a tremendous and emotional speech from Matt who just begs Mary to wake up and come back to him. Much like "Two Boats and a Helicopter" Matt is instantly likeable and we want to see him get what he is working so hard for.
One of the things that makes this episode so powerful, just like "Two Boats and a Helicopter" is the usage of the viewers' sympathy. We feel for Matt's struggle and we want him to succeed because these episodes really show how great a person Matt is. He has all these terrible things happen to him and yet he retains his faith and good-nature which earns him our sympathy, making us root for him to succeed in his mission. And thankfully he succeeds this time and Mary is now safe in Miracle even if he isn't.
Mary's pregnancy was an excellent twist that helped reinforce Matt's fate and led into a spectacular conflict between Matt and John. John, like any regular person, would suspect that Matt was fooling around with Mary in her catatonic state since he was hiding the pregnancy papers but of course we know Matt and we know he wouldn't do something like that. However John doesn't know this and we learned in the previous episode that he doesn't believe in miracles so it makes perfect sense that he would oppose Matt's claims. Their 2 confrontations were superb and delivered powerful scenes in the way that only this show can do.
I loved this episode's focus on those outside of Miracle in the camp. It emphasized how terrible of a place that is and how these people badly just want to enter the city and have turned into truly cruel, strange and creepy human beings in their desperation. I'm sure these people will come into play later on at some point and this was a fitting introduction for them.
Another great bit of writing was the man who stole Matt's wristband. Obviously we wouldn't like him for taking advantage of a good person for his own gains, but that storyline came to an unexpected and brutally sad closure as the man died in a car accident and left his son orphaned. It was a sad image to see the boy hand over his wristband to Matt, and gave the storyline some very emotional closure.
The ending sequence was very good too. The way I'm interpreting it is that Matt has to pay for his sins, in the possibility that he did impregnate Mary while she was in a coma and so he will pay the price until he can prove it to the world that he is innocent. The music that was being played also really delivered as Matt put himself into the stocks completely naked and ready to - as the stocks said- repent.
This episode was also a little bit lighthearted at all of the right times. Things like Matt dropping his phone in the toilet, Matt and Mary getting swept away in the sewage pipe and more delivered some well timed laughs and provided some moments of levity to make this episode easier to watch for those who were bothered by this show's very depressing themes. It's good to see The Leftovers trying to embrace a new aspect with good success to make the show have a greater appeal.
The Bad: This episode feels very familiar to "Two Boats and a Helicopter" because both episodes show Matt struggling through desperate measures to accomplish something with things going wrong at every turn and his own good will screwing him over. It still works as a story but it doesn't let the episode rise to the same heights that "Two Boats" reached. But that doesn't change the fact that this was an awesome episode.
The Unknown: A few things this time.
Did Mary actually wake up like Matt said or did he perhaps hallucinate her? We saw him hallucinate Mary waking up once in this episode so is it possible that it happened before? That would be the only way it could make sense if Mary didn't wake up because we know Matt is a good person that wouldn't have sex with his wife while she is in a coma.
How did the Visitor's Centre man know to tell Matt to get Mary inside or his child would die? It seems something supernatural is at play unless Matt imagined that as well.
What's the story of the man that Matt had to hit with the oar? It was very strange that Matt had to hit him and scream "Brian!" with so many people watching. What was that man's story? This question doesn't need to be answered though as it could easily work as just a way for us to understand how messed up the people outside of Miracle are.
Best Moment: Tough to choose, there were many good scenes. I'll pick Matt and John's first conversation. Really tense and emotional stuff and both characters behaved realistically.
Character of the Episode: Matt of course. f there is a Matt-centric episode on this show, how can it not be Matt?
Conclusion: Another stellar episode this season, with this one being the best episode of the season for sure. Matt's story captivated once more and delivered another memorable hour. This show is on fire and I can't wait to see what other emotional stories will be told in the next half of this season.