“The Leftovers” 2.09 or White Lines or Let The Mystery Be

Leftover 2x09 Meg

Sunday night’s episode of The Leftovers, “Ten Thirteen”, was brought to you by the letter M. M is for Matters. As in, does it?

Good God that finale. Good God, Meg! We will get to all that, but first I must point out how exceptionally telling the music was in this episode. The soundtrack was so deliberate it seemed to be guiding us somewhere. As Olivia Newton-John sang towards the end of the episode “Come take my hand / You should know me / I’ve always been in your mind / You know that I’ll be kind / I’ll be guiding you.” Really though, that was a reference to Meg’s leadership throughout the episode. Revealing (reminding) what was always on your (Evie/Jarden’s) mind, but far from kind.

Last week’s idea of an evil in the water (rather than the supposedly blessed Jarden water) is echoed early on, as well, when a bus full of tourists sing the Negro spiritual warning: “Wade in the water / God’s going to trouble the water.”

Then we have Grandmaster Flash’s 80’s classic “White Lines” played at the opening, middle, and closing of the episode. This song is also a warning, this time against the destructive consequences of cocaine (“Vision dreams of passion blowin’ through my mind / And all the while I think of you / (High price) A very strange reaction / (For us to unwind) The more I see, the more I do of.”) but the meaning goes beyond Meg’s addiction. One cannot ignore the militant white lines of white-robed Remnant followers forming behind Meg towards a literally destructive and violent resolution.

Finally, there is a country cover of When in Rome’s “The Promise” as Meg and Tommy dance at the Honky Tonk (“But if you wait around a while I’ll make you fall for me / I promise, I promise you, I will / When your day is through / And so is your temper / You know what to do / I’m gonna always be there”). Poor, poor, Tommy.

Just a little something to think about in this episode as well as past/future episodes of “The Leftovers” where music has frequently served as a foreshadowing if not a warning.

And now for the good stuff.

“You are the most relentless person I’ve ever known. When you have a cause, there is no stopping you.” – Meg’s mother

With the introduction of Meg’s story it is undeniable that The Leftovers is not so much a supernatural psychological thriller but as it is a family drama. It may not be as light hearted as Gilmore Girls but it also differs from The Sopranos, in that Leftovers is perhaps best described as a drama about families. More specifically the intense emotional and psychological scarring family ties and histories imprint on us. So much music and film is devoted to the intensity of romantic love, but what of its transience? Lovers are many but family bonds are forever. Even Matt and Mary’s relationship is constructed far more as that of a family than two lovers.

This week we learned that Meg’s mother was a warm, polite, and generous lady, seemingly unware or her daughter’s suffering and drug addiction. She was left twice to raise her daughter on her own in a very short amount of time and seems to have been quite capable of keeping a smile on her face despite it. Likely based in her own childhood traumas of abandonment, Meg’s cocaine addiction points at a desire to feel less pain and “smile” more as she reminds herself in the mirror after taking a bump. In other words, to be more like her loving mother. Losing a loved one is a difficult enough, but as psychic Eddie Winslow reminds Meg, the world forgot about her pain when 3% of the world disappeared the following day. At least the families of those departures had each other to cling to and the sympathy of the world but the truth is no matter how someone departs, there are always questions!

People die and the questions may not always be “Why were they taken?” or “Where did they go?” or “Will I ever see them again?”. As we saw with Meg, even a question as simple as “What was she going to tell me before I went to the bathroom?” is enough to cling all your pain into. What good are the answers really? I’ll point at another song in this episode, this season’s theme song, which reminds us to just “Let The Mystery Be”:

I’ll admit I really had to let this song grow on me. It seemed out of place with the tone of the show for weeks but, as the season has developed, I understand it’s message more and more.

Leftover 2x09 Dancing

“To get you pregnant […] That’s why I fucked you.” – Meg

Is Meg really pregnant with Tommy’s child and if so why did she do it? The simplest and most obvious answer would be to use (and then perhaps disprove) the uselessness of attachment by manipulating Tommy into protecting her (body) or using the child as leverage. After all, we saw that she doesn’t have limits in violence towards children. Now that Tommy is in Jarden, he may come in handy in protecting Meg (as in her body) if she can convince him she is carrying his child. Stirring up memories of Tom’s childhood, his abandonment, and her own, was reminiscent of the way Patti attempted to manipulate Kevin through empathy at the end of “International Assassin”. Once again, poor, poor, Tommy.

“It doesn’t matter.” – Evie

Let. The. Mystery. Be. Of course we continue to watch a narrative like The Leftovers because we want to see WHAT happens next. Next week is the season finale and we are all anxiously awaiting to see what happens with Meg’s plan, with Tommy’s discovery of it, with Matt’s suspicions, with Kevin’s resurrection, and of course with Evie’s forthcoming appearance in Miracle. I think we’ll get answers to most of these questions but the WHY is much harder to come by, and it may not come at all.

Anyone who followed The Leftovers over from LOST land learned this lesson well. If I haven’t said this before then I am sure I will bring it up again — just as LOST fans were divided by those that hated not getting all the answers at the finale, and those that loved it for what it was and just had gratitude for the series, the characters on The Leftovers are likewise divided into those for whom “it” matters and those for whom “it” doesn’t.

We can argue ideologies all day but as Evie and her friends have decided, her name (her existence!) doesn’t matter in the bigger picture. In line with Patti, with Meg, and the entire Guilty Remnant, the big picture is all that matters. However (and this is a big however) there seem to be conflicting if not unclear messages as to what that big picture looks like. After all, Meg and her white lines of followers have deviated to a kind of sub-division or defection of the Guilty Remnant which values the role of violence and destruction. The argument can be made that it is only Meg’s methodology and not her beliefs which differ from the Remnant’s but something tells me otherwise. From her relentless resolve in this week’s  episode, it seems evident that Meg has something tangible and real planned beyond blowing up that bridge between Miracle and Jarden. A new social structure? A total apocalypse? I don’t know, but its something.

What do you all think? What in Evie’s own history made her want to join the Remnant? Will Evie’s seizures play a role in the finale (because otherwise it feels like a throw-away)? In her chance meeting with Meg she seemed to be in quite a bit of pain that we had not seen previously. Did that feel all too sudden or did it make sense to you? Maybe not. I’ll leave you with a joke.

Evie: Knock, knock.
Dad: Who is there?
Evie: Broken pencil.
Dad: Broken pencil who?
Evie: Never mind. There’s no point.


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