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Review: 'The Leftovers' Season 1 Episode 8 'Cairo' Makes You Understand the Guilty Remnant, Like It or Not

Photo of Ben Travers By Ben Travers | Indiewire August 17, 2014 at 10:50PM

The episode title "Cairo" may mean nothing to you -- it's actually where Kevin and Patti squared off -- but plenty of other answers were given during HBO's latest entry in "The Leftovers."
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Justin Theroux and Michael Gaston in "The Leftovers."
Paul Schiraldi/HBO Justin Theroux and Michael Gaston in "The Leftovers."

I have never been less happy about a despised character dying. Before Patti picked up the shard of glass that would be her undoing, we already knew she wasn't going to make it out of that cabin alive. One way or another, it was going to end, just as the Chief said it would. Yet Patti's end is only the beginning for the rest of the characters in "The Leftovers," as more happened in the eighth hour of HBO's recently renewed freshman series (yay!) than in any episode to date. Let's dig in:

READ MORE: Review: 'The Leftovers' Season 1 Episode 7 'Solace for Tired Feet' Finds Some Levity... and Answers

Facts:

1) Laurie knew about Kevin's affair.

We've been wondering this for some time, and Patti gave us confirmation of it just before offing herself in an appropriately gristly fashion. Laurie knew about Kevin's wandering eye, and Kevin thought that's why she left him. Just like a man to assume all his wife's problems are because of him (more on that in Theory No. 2), Kevin was blaming himself this whole time for his wife's newfound beliefs. It wasn't his fault. That doesn't absolve him, nor do I believe he feels any better knowing it. But it does matter. 

2) Nora wasn't fully healed by Hugging Wayne.

In another in a series of devastating surprise moments on "The Leftovers," Jill's discovery of Nora's gun wasn't the satisfying moment it should have been. Instead of knowing she was right and reveling in her intelligence, Jill broke down in tears seeing another sign of a hopeless future. If Nora wasn't healed, how could her Dad ever be? How could she? It was the straw that broke the camel's back, leading her to her last resort: her mother, and the GR.

3) Patti killed Gladys.

Speaking of reveling, can I just take a moment to bask in the glory of one accurate theory proven correct? The night Gladys was murdered with "100 stones," yours truly put up the following as Theory No. 1: "Patti orchestrated Gladys' murder." So just keep that in mind when you start reading some of my crazier theories down the line (including a rather reach-y No. 1 below), and, more importantly, remember that for everything you may want to believe about the purity of the GR's quest, they're absolutely fucking bananas and need to be committed. 

Questions:

Liv Tyler and Amy Brenneman in "The Leftovers."
Paul Schiraldi/HBO Liv Tyler and Amy Brenneman in "The Leftovers."

1) Did Kevin sleep with Aimee?

I mean, this can't be what actually happened...right? After Aimee's furious, heartbroken "confirmation" of Jill's blunt question, it's impossible to believe she actually did sleep with her best friend's Dad. Yet...it could make sense. Aimee has always been the one most concerned about Jill's happiness, and she's even played the mother role from time to time with Kevin, giving him advice on what his daughter needs. She could have actually gone through with the regrettable deed and has been trying to make it up to Jill ever since. She could have been a young kid in love with an older man. She could have done itBut dear God, I hope she didn't. 

2) Has Meg always been a selfish jerk?

One of the more significant facts in the episode (I know -- wrong section) came about when Reverend Matt provoked Meg into such a fury she not only beat him bloody but also SPOKE. From that point forward, she couldn't stop speaking, even if she had nothing to say when Matt revealed Meg's mother died the day before the rapture/non-rapture/October 14th/fantasy 9/11. "She has a right to be angry," Matt said. "Her grief was hijacked." 

Ah, okay. You're right, Reverend. She should be angry... for about a month! But that's it! Then it's time to move on. If that's really what's been up Meg's butt this whole time, it turns her into a selfish asshole who's more concerned with attention for her mom who met her demise in a normal, timely, understandable fashion than all those people who lost loved ones for no reason at all. I doubt this is the only thing going on -- in fact, there's probably some Meg backstory I'm forgetting -- but it does make her much easier to hate, especially if she turns into Patti 2.0 and especially after that shit-eating smile she plastered on her stupid face after Laurie slapped her.

3) Where did the GR get all its money, and are those what we think they are in that truck? 

Speaking of that slap, where in the name of the Guy With the Truck did the GR get all that money? Where do they keep getting money? As far as we know, they're not robbing people when they sneak inside their homes. They're not running some sort of service or conducting a weird pyramid scheme with members. I don't remember Meg bringing her family's bank accounts with her when she came to the house, and the Garvey family seems perfectly well off without Laurie's income. 

So where did they get all their money? I have no idea, but I think I do have a good idea of what's in those bags. Remember when Nora went to the conference and got a little too drunk and a little too high? Remember that guy she met who asked if he was a soulless asshole? Remember how that answer was yes when we found out he was peddling fake bodies built to look exactly like the lost members of families around the world? Yeah, I think that plot point is coming full circle now. The GR is about to remind everyone of their lost loved ones by shoving replicas of them right under their noses, dressed in the clothes they once wore but without the life once held within them. 

I hope that's not the case, but damn it if it doesn't fit with their M.O. of provocation above all else. Oh shoot. We're getting into "theory" territory now...

Theories:

Ann Dowd as Patti in "The Leftovers."
Paul Schiraldi/HBO Ann Dowd as Patti in "The Leftovers."

1) The Guy With the Truck is an undercover federal agent.

Sadly, Patti didn't provide any references for her claiming she has "experience in research," but I'm betting she wouldn't lie about something so seemingly inconsequential to her cause. This means the fact even the digger of all diggers, the person who's invaded homes, pinpointed weaknesses, and grown a cult out of nothing but bleached clothing couldn't dig up a single bit of info on The Man With No Name, aka The Guy With the Truck. 

Could that mean he's a ghost, or at least a wanderer of the world between worlds? His last words in the episode, said to an unseen being who's probably good buds with Chief Sr., certainly implied as much. He's the helping hand sent to Garvey Jr. at the behest or at least approval of his now incarcerated father. But unless he literally is from another world (and the alien theory is only getting stronger these days), his behavior doesn't explain his lack of identification. 

What would? He's a federal officer. Why would a federal officer be shooting dogs and helping The Chief? Oh, I don't know, maybe because the FBI already offered to help him eradicate the GR, and those dogs absolutely, 100 percent represent the white-cloaked cult (the symbolism was given even more evidence when Jill freed the dog before joining her mother at the GR). The FBI certainly want to let any mass murders or disappearing acts to come back on them, thus the lack of identity for their top shooter. Of course, the Guy With the Truck could also be an undercover agent for the GR (he's been messing with Kevin's head all along, stealing shirts and kidnapping him in his sleep, all to arrange the death/murder of Patti). But that seems a little extreme.

2) The Garvey family is now officially at war: a gender war.

I recognized the voice at the door of the GR's headquarters, but I refused to believe it until she stepped inside and locked eyes with her horrified mother. Don't be mistaken. Laurie wasn't happy to see Jill join up with the Guilty Remnant. It's not that she doesn't want to spend time with her daughter -- though that will lead to many confusing feelings for the parent still ready to slap the shit out of anyone who badmouths her family. Laurie doesn't want Jill there because it means her daughter is as miserable as she is, and Laurie's belief system means there's nothing she can do about it.

The Leftovers

Still, it sets up an interesting battle of wills within the fractured family. Tom wasn't around this week, but he's got to be on his way home after finding the baby in the bathwater (literally) the week before. That means it will be the Garvey Men vs. the Garvey women in a challenging development for the show's gender dynamics. The GR is made up of far more female members than male, but what does that mean? Are Lindelof and Perrotta -- neither of whom were credited with writing this episode -- trying to present a "Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus" argument via its central family?

Think about what Patti said she wanted from Kevin: she wanted him to understand her, which is exactly what Laurie wants and also, arguably, what all women want from their partners. Kevin, meanwhile, refuses to try to understand something that brings such misery and pain to his life. It's Kevin's faith that things can get better and improve set against Laurie's nihilistic beliefs everything is meaningless. Everything but one thing: October 14, the one thing Kevin says he never thinks about. The longer this fight continues and the more bodies are stacked up, the more engrained each Garvey and ex-Garvey member will become in their beliefs. As damaged as both Jill and Tom are, they represent the one bonding unit for their parents and possibly the only thing that can break their stubborn demeanors. Hopefully, the children are their future. 

3) Kevin is going to hide that body with all his shirts.

Kevin talked a big game about confessing his sins to the authorities, but that's before a first-degree murder charge came into the picture. Now, alone in the woods and scared for his family (don't forget about the threat Patti made regarding Laurie's upcoming martyrdom), Kevin will bury that body deep in the ground along with all those shirts he claimed to have found (okay, he won't actually put the shirts in with her -- that would be far too incriminating). Kevin needs to figure out a way to convince Laurie that Patti killed Gladys, without her finding out what happened to her precious cult leader. It's going to be difficult, and I can't see it going well, but it may be the only way to dismantle the GR: from within. 

This article is related to: The Leftovers, HBO , Reviews, TV Reviews





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