Well, we’re back on the Garvey family, but it’s a new and improved Garvey family — or so they want to believe. Picking up right where we left off at the end of Season 1, with Nora (Carrie Coon) discovering Holy Wayne’s bastard daughter on Kevin’s (Justin Theroux) front steps, the couple confesses their darkest secrets to one another before deciding to form a new family based around its newest member. This, rather predictably, brings on a mental freefall for Kevin, who did not tell his new surrogate baby mama about the voices plaguing his brain. Descending into past habits, Kevin panics and tries to get himself arrested by digging up Patti’s body, throwing it in the back of his truck and proceeding to jerkily pass a cop on the highway, before readily confessing to the crime.
That, though, doesn’t work out for him, as the cops could care less about how a Guilty Remnant leader ended up dead. In an unsettling combination of relief and disappointment, Kevin proposes a family move, leading the clan to Jarden, TX — aka Miracle National Park. After some drama surrounding their residence and Nora dumping $3 million on a questionable old house, Kevin freaks out — a consistency with Season 1, for sure. Whether he was visited by the “ghost” of Patti one too many times or simply scared to death of the “plan” falling apart, he stepped over the line. Apologizing to Nora at the behest of Jill (Margaret Qualley), the family stabilizes… until Kevin wakes up with a cinder block tied to his leg, in the middle of a lake that’s just drained. As he hides from his neighbor John, who’s out looking for his daughter, Kevin is again visited by Patti with one last haunting message: “Uh oh.” Indeed.
Below we’ve broken up the events of “A Matter of Geography” into facts, questions and theories to best discuss the most pertinent points of Episode 2. Considering how much we’ve already touched upon, let’s get right to it.
1. The Garveys are not okay.
Sorry, Jill. As much as I’d like to confirm your deepest desires, things are not going well for Nora and Kevin. Look no further than the couple’s body language when Matt expressed surprise that Kevin told Nora about burying Patti’s body. “Yeah, we tell each other everything,” Kevin said. While those are the right words, the meaning behind them is lacking. Kevin looks at Nora with an accusatory stare, admitting with his eyes what he can’t with his voice: There are still secrets here. And Nora knows it, responding in kind to her partner’s pointed statement. If they come out at the wrong time, the Garvey family could fracture faster than the lake bed Kevin almost drowned in to end the episode.
2. Kevin Sr. leaving is the worst thing that can happen for Kevin Jr.
As combative as the father and son became over the course of the past three years, the Garvey men need each other now more than ever. Well, Jr. needs his pop, at least. With the voices in his head becoming more and more persistent and Kevin remaining unwilling to talk to his loved ones (or a professional) about the problem, Kevin Sr. represents the one person Jr. might open up to about what’s clearly destroying his life. Kevin not only tried to get himself arrested and sent to prison for a very long time, but he tried to bomb the adoption interview by showing up late, blandly repeating the exact words he was instructed to say and bringing up a history of family mental health issues. He needs to address these voices — either to fight them or do their bidding. Ignorance isn’t the answer.
3. Jill needs her brother, not her mother.
After seeing Tommy (Chris Zylka) and Jill as happy not-so-little kids in the flashback episode from Season 1, all I want is for the siblings to reunite for good. So you can imagine how happy I was when the two met up in a diner to discuss family business. Tommy seems in rough shape (more on that next week), but still, perhaps, the sanest member of the original Garvey clan. Pessimistic with a purpose, able to see through his sister’s lies, Tommy could provide a needed balance for Jill. If things head south, again, she may not slip so far into the darkness if he’s there to offer a reality check (and, you know, just there for her). That being said, Jill’s reaction to Laurie seems right on point. Nora may not be the perfect role model, but positivity trumps doom and gloom any day. We’ll learn more about where the former ex-Garvey is at next week, but until then Jill can keep ripping up those letters.
1. Who tried to kill Kevin?
Instinctually, you want to blame John Murphy. After what he did in the first episode (burning down a man’s house, livelihood and the Garveys’ rental unit), he should be at the top of everyone’s suspect list for any unsettling wrongdoings. But I don’t think he was behind this one. In terms of timing, it seems like he was dead asleep whenever Kevin went missing, and he also wasn’t looking for his body in the lake once he learned it had emptied (a killer would be worried about evidence). That leads me to suspect his daughter, Evie, and her friends. Not only are they missing and their car at the scene of the crime, but her trance-like states as well as that unexplained shot of the girls running naked through the woods leads me to believe there’s more to her than meets the eye. They also were seen eyeing Kevin hard when he left the Murphy household. Whether they’d have the means to incapacitate a former cop is the theory’s main hole, but a) that pie could have been poisoned, and b) anything seems possible in Miracle.
2. Who is the old man who lives out in the woods, and what does he know about Kevin?
He’s helping or is being helped by young Michael. He’s got a place in the city, or at least close enough to Miracle that Michael can ride his bike there. Yet he hangs out at the visitors’ center, passing on ominous invitations to people — or just Kevin. Who he is should become clearer in the future — he’s been teased more than the bearded, tower-living guard of the city Michael sent a letter for — but what he knows about Kevin could remain hidden even longer. I can’t imagine why our suspicious, private former police chief would pay that man a random visit.
3. Which family is our focus, and why?
Even after a brief, far from all-encompassing confessional, seeing the newly-established Garvey family glossing over their deepest fears made for uncomfortable viewing. Kevin, Nora and Jill want things to be “okay” — to be is like it was — but they know it’s not. That’s the right direction for “The Leftovers” given what happened at the end of Season 1, but the dismissal of some storylines — namely Patti’s dramatic martyrdom being pushed past in a matter of minutes — seems forced; overeager, almost, to move on from last year and find new footing. Going into this episode, we all wanted to know what happened next to the Garveys. Fans of the book have been waiting the longest, but given the dynamite finale of last season, it may have worked better had we never gone back to Mapleton at all, and instead been briefly told how they ended up in Miracle. Seeing their side of things is crucial, as our investment in these characters needs to pay off, but Patti’s tease is even more ominous when comparing the first two episodes of Season 2. Who will we be tracking next season (if we’re lucky enough to get one): The Garveys or the Murphys?
1. Jill is next to disappear.
This is almost wholly a gut reaction. I feel as though Evie’s disappearance can be kept under wraps — John probably has the power to keep the other girls’ families quiet — but more missing people might trigger some departure-based paranoia. Jill’s my pick because any harm to her would cause Kevin to bust down every door in the county, really mixing things up and exposing some secrets along the way. Also, after spending a season with an upset and angry Jill, losing the new happy and enthusiastic Jill would be oh-so-devastating.
2. Kevin will never see his dog again.
Perhaps Kevin’s most humanizing moments in the entire series have been with dogs. The heartbreak on his face when he started shooting them was one thing, but his sleepwalking savior complex for the family’s new pet has been moving. His reluctance to give him up was, too, but given Patti’s appearance and the show’s rough history with dogs, I’m guessing Kevin will regret his forced decision to leave him behind.
3. There will be another departure before Season 2 ends.
This is a theory I, admittedly, only half-believe. While Nora’s MIT house buyers were hauntingly ominous in responding, “Why wouldn’t it?” when Nora asked if they thought another departure would happen, a repeat of October 14 seems like a little too much for a show based on how society is still trying to cope with the first one. Another departure could feel like a reboot when the story is still running its course. That being said, it would certainly shatter any illusion of Miracle being a safe space, so I’ll go on the record with it (in the hopes it doesn’t actually happen.)