Summary: Nora lets out her frustrations by throwing a rock through the Murphys window. Nora meets an agent of the DSD who makes her believe that she is responsible for some of the departures. Erika is facing the same struggles and she comes to blows with Nora. Erika throws a rock into the Garvey household. Kevin tells Nora about Patti.
The Good: This was another really powerful episode. The Leftovers always excels when it has character focused episodes, and it does once more by giving the focus to Nora and Erika who are in a deep state of self-blame in this episode.
Nora had a wonderful storyline as she faces off against multiple Departure agents who try to talk to her. Her insecurity is made obvious in the first scene when she snaps at the scientist, and that anger is shown throughout the episode while she talks to the doctor over the phone. And we are never told why she's angry, we are expected to figure it out ourselves. I love to see smart television like this that lets us figure things out ourselves. We are never told that Nora is blaming herself for the departure of her family and Evie, but her behaviour strongly implies it, letting us come to that conclusion. And then it becomes a fascinating episode to watch as we get to see Nora attempt to prove to herself that she wasn't responsible and that here in Miracle she is actually safe despite the evidence pointing to the contrary.
It's great to see the lengths that Nora went to try to prove to herself that she is safe. She is most bothered by Erika who is dealing with Evie's departure in an eerily similar way. This leads to an amazing scene where Nora tries to tell Erika that she wasn't responsible for the departure but then her plan backfires horribly on her (see: Best Moment). Another thing that bothered her was the whole "lens" theory that she was introduced to which culminated in another amazing scene where Nora finally listens to what the doctor on the phone says. The scene makes us believe that she may be onto something before going into the absolutely ridiculous suggesting that Nora is being controlled by the demon Azrael. Nora's exhaustive laugh afterwards definitely helped communicate the emotions of the scene as well making it affecting and comedic.
Erika was another highlight of this episode. We are treated to her story which at first feels a little similar to Nora's, including a scene where she lets her frustrations out on Jerry, but it doesn't take away from the emotions of the scene. But even though it's familiar, that is the purpose as Erika is supposed to feel familiar to Nora in how she is dealing with her loss. Both are self-destructing due to the pressure of blaming themselves for the departure. But Erika got to really shine in her own story once she talked to Nora. Her reveal about the bird in the box and how she wished that Evie would be okay after she left the day she departed was really powerful and depressing stuff, making for the fantastic television this show is becoming known for. It was good to see her return the favour to Nora by throwing a rock through her window. It seems that the 2 of them are enemies now.
It was good to get some progression with Kevin's storyline too, though I didn't like all of it (see: The Bad). I was happy to see him decide to tell Nora about Patti and I'm very excited to see where it leads to.
Surprisingly, this episode contained a ton of answers for once. We learned everything that we didn't know about Erika and we also got tons of information about mysterious people in Miracle, like Jerry, Virgil and the woman in the wedding dress (I didn't catch her name).
The Bad: I thought the final Kevin seen was poorly written. By Kevin saying "I'm seeing someone" he made it sound like he was having an affair and I thought that Nora would think that too but apparently she realized that Kevin was hallucinating someone and I was wrong. The confusing nature of this scene took away a lot of the emotion and I didn't feel as much as I should have. This scene was vastly overshadowed by the Nora/Erika scene preceding it.
The Unknown: A few questions.
Is Nora actually a lens and does that theory have anything to it? I doubt that this will be answered.
Virgil sent the pie so we got that answer but why? Was it really because he knew they were in pain, and if so, how? Or is it just him trying to reconcile with the Murphys? What did Virgil do that turned him away from the Murphys? Was that why John shot him? I would assume that shooting Virgil was what put John in prison.
What happened between Laurie and Tommy that scared Tommy away? I presume that we will see this in a later episode.
Best Moment: The conversation between Nora and Erika was fantastic. Regina King and Carrie Coon really delivered in this episode and absolutely provided the necessary emotion for this conversation. I love how the camera was fixated on the 2 of them assuring that our immersion would be with what they are saying too each other and nothing else.
Character of the Episode: It's tough between Erika and Nora, but I think I choose Nora because her story was gripping all the way through and Erika's wasn't until that wonderful conversation.
Conclusion: This episode was spectacular just like all of the other character-focused episodes but unfortunately there was one poor scene that hurt the score overall. Other than that, this was more of the usual excellence from The Leftovers.