Summary: The pillar man in Miracle had a heart attack and died but his wife is trying to pass it off as a departure. Nora doesn't buy it and proves that he died and didn't depart. Nora's job takes her to St Louis where she meets Mark Linn-Baker who says he found a way to transport people to the place where the departed went in Australia. Nora plans to expose him as a fraud and heads to Australia with Kevin. Before leaving, she goes to see Lily who has now been taken by Christine.
The Good: I really enjoyed this episode and it was a major improvement over the last one.
I really liked the exploration of the pillar man's death. It felt very real that someone would die and that people would want to pass it off as a departure, so the storyline fit right in with the world. But more than that, it allowed for some excellent development of Nora's character, who received a heck of a lot in this episode. But to start, this storyline demonstrated how hardened Nora has become and demonstrates how she is entirely against people running frauds for attention. She herself received lot of attention after her tragedy and doesn't feel that others should get this same attention over nothing. These views are also totally at odds with Matt's. Matt, who has now lost Mary, has still managed to keep his intense faith and just keeps trying to serve that. But more than that, he sides with the pillar man's wife because Matt wants somebody who was devoted to something to be rewarded in the way that he wasn't. It's great storytelling and the fundamental difference between the two characters were on display through an electric conversation early in the episode.
I also really liked that the most pressing questions we had last episode (minus the ending) were answered. Those questions being the ones about Nora and Erika. I'll start by talking about Nora's cast. It was a small detail in the previous episode but became a big one here as it really highlighted a lot of Nora's pain which comes from the attention she is given regarding her lost family. The scene with Erika was a real highlight (see: Best Moment) and gave off a fantastic emotional response and made us feel lots of sympathy for Nora. The cast, a small detail in "The Book of Kevin" has provided the most poignant scene in this season thus far.
Another fantastic storyline in this episode was the Lily story. We got our answer for what happened to Lily and it's honestly quite heartbreaking and makes a lot of Nora's pain easy to understand. She had her child but had to give it away because it wasn't hers and the child's real mom wanted her back. And Nora, who knows the pain of losing her child, sympathetically gave Lily back to her real mother. But the story is more than that. Lily gave Nora hope in the world and she was literally the very thing that made Nora reconsider going for a fresh start instead of giving up on life. And now that she's gone Nora feels empty, just like before. It makes her admission to Tommy that she wished he never left Lily for her that much more powerful as it shows that she is a broken woman who wished she never tried to fix herself.
This leads me to my next point, which is Kevin and Nora's relationship in this episode. They both seem to be happy together but it's clear that as individuals none of them have gotten over their pain. Though I didn't get a chance to mention it in my review of "The Book of Kevin", Kevin is also just as broken and upset as Nora. These 2 episode make it clear that these 2 haven't let go of their baggage and are barely keeping themselves together in this world. And now they are both heading out to Australia, a much-needed escape from their current lives. And I'm very excited to see what's going to happen in Australia.
The Mark Linn-Baker storyline was excellent as well. I loved the use of the Perfect Strangers theme in the opening of the episode, which was funny and unique. As for Mark himself, he had a very good scene with Nora. I'm glad that he wasn't just used as a flashy plot device to get Nora to learn about this program to send people to where the departed went. He received some character development and even got our sympathies when we learned that he went through something similar to Nora.
The Bad: Though it was good to see Erika again, her scene did leave me with some questions that took away a little from the episode. Where does she live? Why is she staying separate from her family? Have Nora and her made up now? Are they friends? What is their relationship? It seems that the timeskip has caused these problematic questions and it would have been more clear had we seen what happened to Erika during the timeskip.
I also remain confused by John's claims that Evie is still alive. Erika says they buried her so surely John should know that she is actually gone if he got the chance to bury her.
The Unknown: Though we got some answers, we also got a lot more questions to deal with.
Surely Matt's nosebleed wasn't just a coincidence. I suspect that his cancer has returned.
Was there any significance in pillar man's stuff? I remember he went to the hotel wit Virgil's help so is there any significance with that plot point?
Does Mark Linn-Baker's machine actually work or is Nora right in assuming it's just an incinerator? Is Nora interested in using the machine herself to be with her kids? Or is she just that against frauds that she is willing to go to Australia to expose it as a fraud?
What was the significance of the many things that didn't work for Nora? I'm sure there is some kind of symbolism there but I just can't figure it out.
What is going to happen in Australia? Apparently it will leave Nora all alone. Could it be that she takes the machine and what we saw in the future was Nora in a world where the departed are and that Kevin is going to find her? It's definitely an option. Perhaps Nora will be alone because her family has moved on without her.
The ending sequence was very interesting. So many questions. What time frame does that take place in? Is it in he future? Why is Kevin Sr. there and why is he on crutches? Was that police chief some other form of Kevin? How did the girls know about Kevin and his ability to resurrect? Was the police chief Kevin in the future somehow? Even though they look different their mannerisms were similar. Could the ending scene be depicting Kevin's future n this episode in contrast to last episode depicting Nora's? So many questions with that scene.
Best Moment: The Nora and Erika scene was wonderfully emotional. It was powerful to hear Nora talk about why she had her cast. She went to get tattoos of her kids names because she loved them, but she was reminded of their departure and had it covered up. And yet the thing that was covering it up only reminded her of it so she broke her arm to get a cast to cover it. It's really sad stuff but it feels very real as it examines the lengths people will go to, in order to escape their pain. There was also a wonderful connection to the pains of losing a loved one as Erika tells Nora that he feels he pain still because she lacks closure, whereas Erika managed to get her closure.
Character of the Episode: Nora was the focal character and Carrie Coon was stunning in the role as always. She gets it for this episode.
Conclusion: This episode had a lot of different storylines all connected together by the central character Nora. This approach to the episode worked insanely well and allowed us to sympathize a ton with Nora. In addition it provided a lot of the thematic exploration that this show has become known to explore. A wonderful episode that proves that last episode's weak elements were just from the sudden timeskip and that everything from here until the finale will be the same storytelling that we can expect from The Leftovers.