HBO News Blog

The Leftovers: “Off Ramp”

By Eleonora Iafano on Oct 21, 2015 to The Leftovers


When I think of what an off ramp is, it’s a turn off point from a highway – an exit of sorts; you either take one to get to where you need to go to or you keep on driving down the highway. Or, if you make a wrong turn, you can always exit off of the off ramp and get back to your correct destination. Or does it mean that when something is ‘off ramp’ – it’s kind of like saying it’s ‘off kilter’ – meaning that something is not right and could later on spell disaster for everyone else? Speaking of driving, guess who we are reunited with? Laurie and Tommy Garvey. And boy, oh boy, does this episode not disappoint. There’s a lot of guilt, rage, confusion and futile attempts to ‘rescue people’ out of the Guilty Remnant.

LOTS OF RAGE. OH MY GOD. I can’t get over how Laurie has become a red hot cinder block of anger, rage and sheer frustration. This woman is mad as hell and is not going to take it anymore. Anyone who crosses her path either ends up getting a smack down or worse…..finds themselves getting run over. Gulp. So many twists and turns in this episode that I felt slightly anxious and had a sense of ominous foreb71407-megoding. Something bad was about to happen. Laurie has returned to her occupation as a therapist, doing the day to day normal errands that anyone of us does – banking, shopping, cleaning, keeping appointments and writing a manuscript in a coffee shop. She has a clandestine therapeutic group with members of the Guilty Remnant – those who are feeling unsure or don’t want to be in the GR anymore – and those people are recruited by her son, Tommy. Tommy puts on a pretty convincing act. That is until he gets outed by a whistle blower and ends up being “punished” – although I really don’t think any red blooded man would consider being seduced by Meg (the two have sex in the back of a van, out in the middle of nowhere)  punishment. Then she coldly says, “Tell your mom Meg says hello.” Cold. Stone cold.

Laurie has a few problems that lead to mounting tension and frustration: her landlord has increased her rent; she’s having problems making her rent payments on time; her patients are found locked outside her office space and her laptop has been stolen. Not one to rest on her laurels, Laurie quickly remedies the situation. She doesn’t even bat an eye at retrieving her stolen laptop, nor does she care about the two GR members she smashed into with her car. She also receives an offer from a prestigious publishing company who want to take her book and transform it into a more intimate examination of what is was like to be in the GR and come out of it alive and be able to ‘deprogram’ out of that state of mind. Once in the meeting with the publishers and editors, she becomes subdued with the news that one of her patients has committed suicide by killing herself and her family in a traffic accident. Visibly shaken at the news and having to sit opposite the publisher, who pointedly remarks that Laurie did nothing to save her daughter during the Mapleton riot, causes her to snap. It’s safe to say her book deal is not going through anymore.

tumblr_nvtgmkOneD1tjjp5uo5_500The fact that this episode focuses specifically on Laurie is no coincidence. I believe she has a bigger part to play in this season. She left the GR for a reason: was she sick and tired of them? Did she feel that they were a scam, preying on people who were weak? How strong is the GR nowadays if people can either infiltrate them, walk away from the GR for good or turn their life back around? What are the after affects? Laurie is angry: one of her patients pointedly remarks this during a session. Laurie denies this and you can’t help but think that she is so deep in the denial, she believes it to be true. You ARE angry, Laurie, that’s the WHOLE point. You were pregnant with your third child during the first season, your marriage was on the rocks, and then the Departure happened. The Departure created a crisis of sorts: people’s loved ones vanished without a trace, leaving in its’ wake a steady stream of fear, shattered dreams and unanswered questions.

It left a lot of people hurt, upset, depressed, inconsolable and completely lost – or in Laurie’s case, really angry with the world. From being on the inside of the GR, wearing white, not talking, chain smoking and abandoning her family, there are some deep seated emotional scars that are in need of healing. Completely changing and reclaiming her life back, we now see Laurie turn into some who isn’t taking any bulls**t from anyone or anything. Writing a book about being on the inside of the GR is probably the most cathartic thing for her – it’s productive and allows her to have a sense of release. Better than going out at night for a drive and using people from the GR as target practice. I mean, think about it: how frustrated and volatile does a person have to be in order for them to start running people off the road with their car? Pretty damned angry. Is this Laurie’s Plan B – as in her alternate route, in case things don’t turn out the way she had planned? After all, she started off in the GR, now she’s out of it and trying to reclaim purpose and sense of her life, with Tommy aiding and abetting the recruitment of other people who want out. Another ritual we see Laurie doing is washing her car over and over again. Of course, one can say she’s doing it to get rid of any blood form the victims or you could surmise that she is cleansing herself of any wrong doing.

cdn.indiewire.comTommy seems to be shaping up as the new Wayne 2.0. This is especially creepy, given the fact that last season Wayne was seen as a scam artist: he got girls pregnant and claimed he could take people’s pain away by holding them. Very suspicious, indeed and yet Wayne had enough followers who were willing to pay him to get rid of their pain. Whether Tommy has now inherited some of Holy Wayne’s healing powers remains to be seen. Tommy and Laurie seem to be recruiting people in their own way….as if they are forming their own secret group – like the Guilty Remnant but made up of people who left the GR.

I couldn’t stand to see all those GR members smoking and writing on those note pads. Seeing Tommy infiltrate the groups and successfully pick out people who are full of doubt indicates that he has a keen eye – except for the one woman who turned out to be a whistle blower – but there’s something creepy about the way he and Laurie are attracting people. You have to stop and wonder about Tommy’s purpose in all of this…is this the path that he is predestined to follow? Is he the real deal or another hoax? Is this a lie built up in his head or does he truly believe that he can actually heal people? He was floundering in the first season but believing that he has the power to help others end their suffering is something that has given him stability and purpose for the first time.

And what’s with the multiple mentions of Australia? First, Kevin’s father mentions that he’s going to Australia. Then, the old man who is in the top of the watchtower in Jarden has a letter that needed to be sent….to Sydney, Australia. In this episode, we heard about a ‘wing nut in Australia.’ These three things being connected is no coincidence. Something is about to happen in Australia and what I want to know is when these two Garveys will be headed down to Jarden, Texas. That would REALLY rattle people’s cages.

Check out the preview for next weeks episode below and the review of last weeks episode here

  • Jef Dinsmore

    I totally forgot to weigh in about this one. It was a great episode, but there is something disconnected about it.

    In Season One with the Garvey’s near to each other everyone seemed to be of the same story. Now this season we have two separate stories going. We have the Jarden story and the Laurie/Tommy one. Are we going to alternate between them both all season or do they intersect? I know, they intersected at the scene at the diner when Tommy met Jill, but it wasn’t enough. Which leads to the question are Laurie/Tommy in Texas also? Why did they go there? Surely they didn’t drive from NY state to Jarden and back , did they?

    I am intrigued in how they made Tommy Holy Wayne 2.0. It gives that character an interesting path to play. And what about Meg? I am curious to see how dangerous she becomes…and she can flash us anytime.

    I suspect the next time we visit this storyline it will go deeper and darker. Plus, now on top of it all we got to piece together the clues about what is going on in Austraila. Are the Garvey’s going Down Under for Season Three?

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