The Leftovers ‘Off Ramp’ – review


The Leftovers third episode of the second season entitled “Off Ramp” was another departure (zing!) from the main storyline of Jarden, Texas. Jarden dominated the marketing leading up to the second season, but so far only one of the three episodes been set in Jarden.

“Off Ramp” follows what remains of the Garvey family. Laurey and Tommy are picking up the pieces of their lives by infiltrating Guilty Remnant chapters in various areas. Tommy gets on the inside, finds someone who is clearly not all-in on the Guilty Remnant practices, and leads them to Laurie’s GR support group. Over time, Laurey gets them to accept their mistakes in joining the GR and slowly transition them back to their family.

While these support groups offer a shoulder to cry on and a fishbowl of Nicorette gum to quit their chain smoking habits, is it actually doing any good? Is it making a real connection with these people who threw their lives away for HBO’s second set of white walkers? It turns out that Laurie and Tommy aren’t doing so well, but they have an ace up their sleeves.

Laurie’s new purpose in life is repaying the GR for turning her life into shambles. Not only is she taking members from their ranks one by one, she’s also writing a tell-all about her experience on the inside. She’s shopping her book entitled “Guilty” to various publishers.

In classic Leftovers fashion, the bottom drops out on this plan. Tommy barks up the wrong tree and tries to approach a seemingly sullen GRer when she blows the alarm whistle on him. Tommy is kidnapped and chained up in the back of a van. It looks like it’s the end of Tommy, when Meg shows up again. Remember Meg? I actually forgot her name, but I did remember she was played by Liv Tyler.

In one of the more troubling scenes in The Leftovers, which is saying a lot, Meg rapes Tommy in the back of the van. She then comes inches from lighting a pantless Tommy on fire just before she stops and says, “tell your mom, Meg says ‘hi.’” That’s cold blooded, Meg.

Tommy is starting to crack, and Laurie is looking for a win after receiving the news that one of their new converts killed herself and the rest of her family. Things are looking grim for their plan of espionage, until the two of the devise a plan. Logic isn’t going to work with the mentally fragile GR folks. So Tommy tells themes the story of Holy Wayne. Well, he tells them version of Holy Wayne even if it is a completely fabricated one. If you remember, the holy hug giver ran into Tommy last season and told him he was a total fraud while he was on death’s door. Tommy still saw the value in Wayne’s lies, and that’s what the recruited GR need: a lie of hope. Tommy tells them that Wayne passed along his power to him, and now he wields the power of holy hugs.

A Guilty Remnant in season two is good to check on to see what their doing after nearly destroying all of Mapleton, but I still have fundamental problems with the cult. I don’t understand why they smoke. More importantly, I don’t understand why people would ever want to join them. They were the focus of tonight’s episode, but I still don’t know anything more about them. Laurie made an offhanded comment that they believe the world ended, but I’m still as puzzled by them as Laurie’s book publisher.

“Off Ramp” failed to push much of the season two plot forward, but also didn’t raise any new questions. Questions and mystery have been been the driving force behind The Leftovers. Without them, what’s the point?

HBO Binge grade: B

Quick note on the music played in this episode: “Where is My Mind” by The Pixies makes its second appearance in The Leftovers in a row. Is this the new unofficial song of the series. Also, Laurie pumps hard electronic music in the car when her adrenaline is pumping after stealing back her laptop that has her book on it. It looks like she has the same horrible taste in music that Kevin has.

Guilty Remnant Theory: I just came to this conclusion while editing my review. The idea behind their reclusive behavior is to cut themselves off from their families and things they love to avoid being hurt by another departure. The recruited GR that went back to her family was given a note by another GR that just said “Any day now.” Does that mean there could be a departure any day now? So the only way to save her and her family from the pain of sudden loss was to kill herself with her family? Perhaps the smoking is so they can die quickly by “natural causes.” That’s the only reason I can come up with for why they are such terrible people.