The Leftovers – Lens Review


Tonight’s episode of The Leftovers, called “Lens,” taught viewers a new buzzword within show’s universe. Lens refers to the theory that someone is the direct cause of a departure. A lens is someone who may give off some sort of ray or aura that may or may not be the cause of a departure. According to the theory, Nora Durst is a prime candidate to be considered a lens.

The word “lens” is more than a scientific term in The Leftovers. Everyone is viewing the world through a very specific lens. John Murphy has his ultra-realistic worldview where superstition and miracles don’t exist. His son Michael and Matt Jamison view it through a lens of faith. The townspeople in Jarden live their life around miracles. Kevin Garvey’s lens is a tad more cloudy.

Much of “Lens” observes The Leftovers through the viewpoint of science. Well, let’s call it pseudoscience masquerading as actual science. The episode begins with a newcomer in a lab feverishly talking into a phone. He’s headed to Jarden for research, which actually means he’s there to harass departure victims Nora Durst and Erica Murphy.

It isn’t until later in the episode that we learn that the newcomer’s company isn’t about science at all. They truly believe that lenses are vessels for the demon Azrael. Nora was terrified of receiving answers for the departures that have happened in her life, but it ended up being total nonsense.

Nora has a lot on her plate right now. She’s taking care of Kevin who is on the fast track to madness, a newborn, her comatose sister-in-law, and now she has to play frienemy to her new neighbors of the Murphy’s. She’s getting worn thin, and we see some of that in “Lens.” Her stress is manifesting itself as anger as she hurls a rock through her neighbor’s window, or as she steals a classified document from an employee within the Department of Sudden Departures. It turned out that the Department use a new kind of document to determine if a disappearance is a bona fide departure. Nora is terrified that she’s not actually safe from another departure.

Speaking of her neighbor, we finally got an answer for why Erica remains with her troubled, and admittedly violent husband John. It was revealed during Nora’s impromptu departure interview that Erica actually planned on leaving John before Evy’s disappearance. But now that Evy is gone, it looks like she’s not going anywhere.

John is still in carrying out his violent ways, and has no sign of stopping. He sent a man who was selling “miracle” water for $500 per milliliter to her hospital after roughing him up, and it’s no mystery to anyone involved that it’s John’s doing. Someone at the hospital suggested specifically that Erica see the battered man. Poor Erica is stuck in a life of dread as she mourns for her daughter and shares a bed with a troubled man.

Her stress, much like Nora’s, also came to a head during a fundraiser held to beef up search efforts for Evy. The man who loves to slaughter goats showed up with a goat ready for sacrifice, but Erica had no interest in watching an innocent goat be sacrificed in the name of invisible miracles. For some reason, John gives that guy a pass. That doesn’t seem to jibe with his “no miracles exist” worldview.

The last 10 minutes of the episode were terrifically powerful. Nora and Erica face off as two people who have suffered one the biggest pains a parent can experience. Nora rattles off the new questionnaire from the Department of Sudden Departure until the conversation hits on a much more personal level. Erica gets the last word when she asks Nora if she remembered the last thing that Nora’s children said to her. Nora understandably leaves in tears.

As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to Nora’s day, Kevin drops a bombshell as soon as Nora walks through the door. He finally reveals to her that he’s seeing and hearing Patty. Nora asks him what she’s saying, and he responds with, “she says I’m making a huge mistake.” It seems like Nora truly believes Kevin, but she surely doesn’t seem comfortable with the idea.

Poor Kevin. He’s become a minor cog in The Leftovers machine. He’s out of the loop. Nobody tells him anything. He seems constantly caught off guard by every bit of information he’s presented with. He’s gone from police chief to a stranger to his own life; a life that he barely has control over.

HBO Binge Grade: A-

Key points to know from tonight’s episode:

Lorie called Nora looking for Kevin’s son. He’s MIA, and Lorie can’t find him.

The pie on the Murphy’s porch was left by the mysterious man who spoke with Nora at the corner store; the same man who offered to help Kevin at the welcome center. Michael feels the need to pray with him because he says he deserves forgiveness. We don’t know what he did quite yet.

Jill and Michael are seeing each other.