One of the great things about character based dramas is that they often have the opportunity to take a step back from the overall story being told and focus purely on one character and their specific journey. Not all series have the luxury to do this, or would even want to try to, but already this season The Leftovers has given us two character-centric episodes in 'Two Boats and a Helicopter', which followed preacher Matt, and this week's episode, 'Guest', and these episodes are becoming a highlight of the series.



'Guest'' followed Nora Durst, who we've learnt enough about prior to this episode to make us feel extremely sympathetic towards her, having lost both her husband and two daughters in the departure on October 14th. She's such a fascinating character to follow because the series' focus is the differing human response in the wake of the events that occurred on October 14th, and out of all the characters on the The Leftovers, Nora's life has probably been the one that's changed the most since then. Her family are gone, and she works for the U.S. Department of Sudden Departure, a branch obviously created by the government in the wake of the tragedy, where she assess' claims of those who have also lost love ones with an extensive questionnaire about the departed.

The episode opened with Nora divorcing her departed husband, but seemingly only as a result of her brother Matt revealing that he was cheating or her with her children's pre-school teacher. Perhaps even if he were to come back she wouldn't want to stay with him, but it was obvious from some of her more heartbreaking and disturbing past-times, like getting hookers to shoot her, buying groceries for her family as though they were still there, and stalking the aforementioned preschool teacher, that she has been having extreme difficulty dealing with her loss.

To take her mind off things she suggested an impromptu trip to Miami with Kevin, who was conveniently also filing his own divorce papers at the courthouse, but things do tend to go sour when you tell someone to 'fuck your daughter' and go on a roadtrip with them (I agree with Nora though, who cares about Jill? She's the worst). No trip to Miami meant that Nora had to attend a work function in New York in which she was a panelist.



Upon arriving Nora received a name badge titled 'Guest', someone having already picked up her welcoming bag, and what followed was an almost terrifying glimpse at how paranoid and delusional the people that live in the world of The Leftovers have become in the wake of October 14th. The metaphors regarding 9/11 were blatant, there were conspiracy theorists abound, over-the-top security measures, and even those willing to make a profit off of the world's loss. Nora's identity being stolen seemed a far-fetched and nonsensical story while it was occurring, and it's result was underwhelming as it turned out it was just one of those conspiracy theorists trying to hijack a conference and let everyone know 'the truth'. In retrospect, though, Nora's whirlwind weekend in New York highlighted some of The Leftovers most thought-provoking ideas, even if they did clash a little and get lost among each other.

Having such a weekend Nora decided that, against the craziness she encountered at the conference, and the grief she's been holding onto, that she didn't want to feel that way anymore, and found herself meeting Wayne, the man with the ability to heal people's pain, and she let him heal her's. The episode left us with a Nora that had moved on after her encounter with him. There was no more family shopping and there was no more staking the preschool teacher. She seemed generally happy, and in return the universe seemed to thank her with a visit from Kevin who wanted to do tea sometime. He warned her that he was a little crazy, and it's interesting to think that Nora's character may have been completely altered, even wiped clean, by the events of this episode and that we may never see her like that again. I liked the cynical and slightly-unhinged Nora, but I think The Leftovers is telling us that she was just a guest, and that Wayne has restored her to her former self. The person she was before the departure.



THE GUILTY REMNANT NOTEPAD SCRIBBLES:

- Would you buy a human replica of your departed loved one?

- What are everyone's thoughts on Wayne? Is he a fraud? Does he have magical powers? Is he God?

- What would your answer to Question 121 be? Do you think the departed are in a better place? Why/ why not?
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