People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.
That is one of the themes in “Lens,” the first episode since episode 2, “A Matter of Geography,” co-scripted by author Tom Perrotta, who’s clearly invested in Nora’s story in season 2. She’s impulsive, as we know from her spontaneous purchase of the house in Miracle, and she holds a grudge, too. Early one morning, before the neighborhood is awake, she calmly walks next door and chucks a rock through the Murphys’ window. Oh, did we forget that John Murphy banished her brother, Matt, to carny-degenerate tent-city?
Evie and her friends are still missing, and their mysterious disappearance is attracting national attention. The Washington Post did a story, and the clipping — taped on weirdo Dr. Juaquin’s white board — telegraphs a last-act reveal: “…as many choose to continue doing the same things they were doing on the day when no individual disappeared.” Hence, the Miracle woman who was watering her lawn in her wedding dress and the daily goat sacrifice…?
Dr. Juaquin brings some credibility when he arrives in Miracle. Correction: He brings an orange box. Is he a quack? Has he cracked the Departure mystery? Erika is perplexed when he knocks on her door, but he’s actually in town for Nora. Did she cross paths with Evie, he asks Nora? Did they ever touch? Was she touching her own children when they Departed? In other words, did Nora cause this? Nora lashes out and literally kicks him to the curb.
Back in the Dunn/Garvey house, the night-handcuffing has prevented Kevin from any after-hours dates with Patti, but don’t think for a second that she’s gone dark. In fact, Nora’s play for morning nook-nook is interrupted when Kevin is startled. He says it was a cramp in his leg, but the odds are better that Patti lobbed an insult in his direction, killing the mood.
The mothers of the other two missing girls want Erika and John to speak with the Department of Sudden Departure to rule out the possibility that the girls Departed — or as the new term seems to be, Lifted. The genial DSD rep, George Brevity (Mad Men’s Joel Murray) isn’t the soul of wit, but he and Nora have a professional rapport, and he can’t hide his excitement about the new questionnaire. “None of the fraud flags popped,” he says about the girls’ families’ results over breakfast. “If the questionnaire says they Lifted, maybe they Lifted.”
Dr. Juaquin’s visit really rattled Nora because she asks George if it’s possible that someone can be responsible for another’s Departure. Funny you should mention that, he seems to say. It’s called lensing, “like a kid taking a magnifying glass and frying ants with it,” says George, apparently oblivious of Nora’s background. “Someone gives off ultraviolet rays or whatnot, causing everyone around them to Lift.”
Nora wants that new questionnaire. She has to prove to herself that she isn’t a curse.
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Meanwhile, Erika’s Audubon Society/voodoo jogs in the woods are losing their magic. She digs up another bird, but this one doesn’t fly away like before. It’s dead, and she discards its remains with the decaying victims of her other experiments.
At work, she sews up a man beaten for selling reservoir water for $500 per milliliter. We know him as nerdy-looking Dr. Goodheart, the man who met Evie and the girls at the swimming hole in the season premiere. Erika knows that John is the man behind the beating, especially since he forcibly took a palm print to see if Goodheart is linked to the scene of the supposed crime. Recall that it was Kevin’s muddy palm that left a mark on Evie’s friend’s car, and shame on the Texas police for not running those tests by now. At least John and Erika have a sweet deal going in Miracle: John beats people senseless, and Erika sews them up.
Nora is distracted by the lensing theory described in the Scientific American article. Kevin is wallpapering upstairs while obliviously engaging in conversation with an unseen Patti. And Lily is alone outside, sitting precariously in her babyseat on the hood of Kevin’s truck, when neighborly Erika returns her to her family. Some phony motherly banter, and Nora blurts out that she lost her two children. Do you think Erika suspects her new neighbor is jinxed too?
Dr. Juaquin’s colleague doesn’t think Nora is jinxed. She calls Nora and apologizes for his lack of people skills. But the data he gathered in Miracle is very promising, and she thinks she has the answer: Nora isn’t cursed, nor is she is emitting unusual nuclear magnetic resonance. She’s simply possessed by the demon Azrael, but good news — the Vatican has been contacted. This might have been the funniest moment in two seasons of The Leftovers, but Nora’s laughter quickly breaks down into tears.
In an episode where everyone is knocking on the Murphys’ doors, Erika sees and chases down the young man who left them a mysterious pie in episode 1. But he’s just the messenger, and the true gifter is the old man that Michael visited with to pray. He’s family, perhaps Erika’s father. He did something unforgivable once, something that caused John to shoot him. Is it possible he did the something careless that caused Erika to go deaf? It seems like she was born with hearing, and there’s bound to be something major behind it. He offers her another bird for the road after she warns him to stay away from her family.
NEXT: Nora and Erika have all the wrong answers