The Leftovers, S1E8 – Cairo

This episode is all about Patti. The screen lights up when Ann Dowd is in the frame, and everything else in Cairo takes a backseat. It starts with intercutting scenes of Kevin setting the table for a nice dinner, and Patti placing clothes on the floor of the otherwise empty church floor. We’re not told what her ritual means, but nothing good or simple can come from it. I thought that these were clothes from the raid, but let’s see.

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Kevin’s dinner is for Jill and Aimee, and with Nora as their guest. What should be a nice evening quickly turns into Jill’s inquisition about why Nora would carry a gun, but, oh surprise, Nora’s handbag is devoid of all firearms. There is also the plotline about Megan beating up Father Matt, then apologizing to him. He knows that Megan’s Mom died the day before the departure, so “her grief was hijacked.” Jill falls out with Aimee and breaks into Nora’s home and finds the gun, realizing that life probably won’t get any better, and Kevin finds his missing shirts hanging from the trees near a hut in the woods, but the real center this time is Patti.

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The evening ends with Garvey’s dream that turns out to be real. It’s morning, he is in the woods near Cairo, NY, with Dean awaiting his Kevin’s orders. Turns out that the dog in Kevin’s backyard is from a bet he made with Dean: if Kevin can civilize the dog, Dean gets a dollar, if not, Dean gets to shoot the animal. If you think this is bad, think about this: Patti is in a nearby hut, tied to a chair. This is real. This has happened, and it’s still happening. Kevin, as his evil alter ego, has beaten and abducted her, much to Dean’s delight, and to his own horror. The chief of police hides the leader of the Guilty Remnant in a cabin, against her will, and against his own will, too, if you can believe it.

It’s spellbinding how Patti seems to have a few tricks up her sleeve. Somehow, she’s still in charge because if he sets her free, she will report him to the real authorities: “You will have to finish what you started here, my friend.” She drives a wedge between Kevin and Dean and is so successful that Dean tries to suffocate her, but paradoxically, Kevin saves her life. Which makes Dean leave, disappointed in Kevin’s lack of decisive leadership.

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So now it’s only the abductor, Mapleton Chief of Police and undiagnosed schizophrenic Kevin Garvey Jr, and the abductee, Patti, leader of the Guilty Remnant, who is holding the upper hand, in a cabin in the woods. What a set-up. Patti has the right words for it: “It’s a pickle. Can’t let me go, won’t let me die.” Then she explains the philosophy of the GR: shed everything that’s unnecessary and focus on the vanishing, pure and simple. It’s beautiful and sickening at the same time, not least because it makes Garvey realize that the GR have killed Gladys. Which means that Laurie might have been part of the lynch mob as well. When Patti starts quoting from a W. B. Yeats poem, you know that things won’t end well. Kevin’s decision to cut Patti loose is somehow inevitable – there isn’t anything else he could have done.

But it’s Patti’s suicide that got to me. I never liked her – who would? But there was something to her that made me look and listen. Ann Down has a commanding presence. While watching, I was surprised, even somewhat overwhelmed by her death. Afterwards, I found it confusing: what does her death prove? How does it help the GR and their cause? Is everything prepared to an extent that even Patti doesn’t have to be there? What the frack have the GR planned?

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Megan and Laurie receive a trailer-load of something wrapped in plastic that the GR place in the church among the empty clothes. Those packets look too light to be bodies, but what the hell are they, and what are they for?

This episode had me glued to the screen as long as Patti was there. The rest was unspectacular, and Tommy and Christine were not greatly missed. Jill joining the GR did not have a great impact because Jill is simply underwritten and badly cast. I am eager to learn what Kevin will do in his large, empty house now that Jill and Aimee have gone and even the dog has been cut loose and vanished in the night. Maybe his episodes will increase. But most of all, the series will have to make up for losing Ann Down. We’ll see.

 

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