The Leftovers Recap Season 3 Episode 2: ‘Don’t Be Ridiculous’


Nora desperately seeks control of her life as she continues to grapple with loss by way of visits with a former adversary and a “Perfect Strangers” cast member.

The Leftovers Season 1 episode “Guest” gave viewers their first glimpse into the psyche of Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on Oct. 14, the fateful day in which 2 percent of the Earth’s population disappeared, and who now investigates Sudden Departure claims for the government.

Like that installment, the latest Nora-centric episode “Don’t Be Ridiculous” finds her on a business trip where she agrees to dole out cash to a stranger in her quest for answers. But unlike her encounter with Holy Wayne after attending a conference several years ago, her trip to St. Louis is precipitated by a phone call by Perfect Strangers actor Mark Linn-Baker, who briefly popped up in passing in past seasons as being reported to have fled to Mexico after faking his Departure in what seemed like a throwaway joke at the time.

Instead, co-creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta fully embrace the cheesy 80’s sitcom by borrowing the theme song, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now (later heard as an instrumental version), for the show’s family photo montage opening credits highlighting the sudden departures that was introduced last season, while the catchphrase of Linn-Baker’s onscreen cousin, Balki Bartokomous, lends the episode its title.

The actor calls Nora out of the blue requesting that she meet him in St. Louis if she wants to see her departed children again, prompting her to get the trip approved by her job under the guise of investigating a potential scam.

At the airport, memories of Lily — the baby abandoned on her doorstep at the end of the first season who we learned last week is no longer in her custody — come to mind when a self-check-in machine gets stuck on the question, “Are you traveling with an infant on your lap?,” demonstrating that Nora is dealing with grief beyond the loss of her kids in the Sudden Departures. It’s also, unfortunately, the first of several technological malfunctions she experiences during the trip.

During the meeting in a hotel upon her arrival, Linn-Baker explains that a certain kind of radiation was detected near Departure sites, and physicists have now developed a machine that can blast people through to wherever the departed went using the same type of radiation in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money based on your net-worth.

Naturally, Nora is skeptical and believes Mark to be the victim or perpetrator of a scam, but he attempts to connect with her as two people who were left behind. For her, it was her loved ones, and for him, it was all three of his former Perfect Strangers co-stars. She goes on to assert that the subjects are likely being incinerated and questions whether Mark is suicidal.

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“What happened was arbitrary. It was purposeless. It wasn’t my fault … I don’t want to kill myself. I want to take some f**king control,” he responds. Mark leaves her with a video of all the people who have been sent through, who hold up a newspaper to confirm each date and profess to be of sound mind and body before using the device.

The next day, Nora takes the opportunity to drive to Kentucky where she encounters Lily and her mother Christine on a playground, but quickly bolts when she realizes the child no longer recognizes her. We later learn during a conversation between Nora and Tommy back in Texas that she willingly gave her up rather than fight for custody, but after the visit, Christine is scared about what she might do. Nora confesses that she wishes he had never left Lily on her doorstep, to begin with. “I left her for my dad. I didn’t know you existed,” he admits.

But her encounters with Mark Linn-Baker and Lily weren’t the only visits she makes. Nora also tracks down Erika Murphy, absent from last week’s premiere, who’s settled into a new home. It’s there that she reveals she got a tattoo of her kids’ names on her arm but quickly decided to cover it with the first design she could find — the Wu-Tang Clan symbol — after realizing that it would be a constant reminder of her loss.

She then asks Erika why she’s not going crazy over the loss of Evie, who it was revealed was killed by a drone along with the remaining Guilty Remnant members at the Miracle Visitor Center. But Erika explains that it’s a different situation given that she was able to bury Evie and knows she’s actually dead, a fact that her ex-husband still denies. Having a giant trampoline in your backyard also helps, which the women use with childlike abandonment to the tune of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Credit: HBO

Nora’s trip came in the midst of her investigation into the alleged departure of the Pillar Man, who’s seen falling to his death at the beginning of the episode, though his devoted wife Sandy insists that she saw him depart just shy of the seven-year anniversary of the cataclysmic event.

When she hears that the woman was seen accompanied by a town preacher, Nora gets her brother Matt to confess that the man died of a heart attack and that he helped the woman give him a Christian burial. Fed up with the lies and unfairness found in her own life, Nora decides to expose the truth when she returns to Jarden by posting a photo of the deceased man’s exhumed corpse for all of the residents to see.

She then heads home to find Kevin engaged in his asphyxiation ritual. He’s surprised by her sudden arrival but she quickly assures him that he doesn’t have to explain himself. This is a woman, after all, that used to pay prostitutes to shoot her in the chest while she wore a bulletproof vest just so she can feel something as seen in “Guest,” so she’s certainly in no place to judge Kevin challenging his supposed immortality.

We also learn that she slammed her own arm in her car door to cover up her tattoo as she gets her cast removed, which was allegedly witnessed by a hospital employee before she entered the facility to receive treatment.

After laughing off Kevin’s request to have a baby together, Nora soon receives a phone call regarding her meeting with Mark where she’s informed that she must travel to Melbourne, Australia with $20,000 for the radiation procedure. She tells Kevin that she must go to Australia to work for a few days and agrees to allow him to tag along.

Like the Season 3 premiere “The Book of Kevin,” the episode ends with an epilogue down under. This time a group of older women on horseback surround a police chief named Kevin who they believe to be a man they heard of who’s incapable of dying, citing a passage from what sounds like Matt’s book about Kevin, which they test by drowning him in water on a plank after shooting him with a tranquilizer gun.

When the man doesn’t wake up and appears to be dead, the women realize they got the wrong man, just as Kevin Garvey Sr. emerges in the background to question what they’re doing. However, like the last episode, which featured an aged Nora (now named Sarah) denying knowing a man named Kevin, it’s unclear when the events are taking place, though it is mentioned that the Sudden Departures anniversary is celebrated a day later on the continent due to the time difference

The Leftovers airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.