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The Leftovers - Guest - Review: "Angel Of Death"

"There's a battle ahead
Many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're traveling with me"
- "Don't Dream It's Over" - Crowded House

I like when producers and showrunners incorporate music into a TV series. The right piece of music, the best choice of song, can make all the difference in an episode. Most of the time it is perfectly placed and mirrors what is going on in the scene or the episode as a whole. True Blood is a show that first pops into my head when I think of the marriage between music and TV as they, with each episode, end with a song meant to capture the previous hour. The Blacklist is another show with deliberately placed tunes that heighten each scene and/or episode. It takes skill and knowledge of the many different styles of music to be able to pull this off and The Leftovers, I believe, has done a very good job with their tune selection. The episode last Sunday featured music from Slayer, Crowded House and Agnes Obel. They captured Nora's true emotions and how the SD affected her and is still, to this day, wrapping its tentacles around her day-to-day activities, robbing her of some semblance of a normal life.

Last Sunday's episode of The Leftovers was a perfectly placed chapter focusing on Nora Durst's life and what she has been going through post SD. Much like episode three, "Two Boats And A Helicopter" (My favorite episode so far), that focused on her brother The Rev, "Guest", gave us some insight into the trials and tribulations of Nora. This was another great hour for The Leftovers and I am getting excited for the final four episodes of the first season. Carrie Coon, who portrays Nora Durst, does a wonderful job exhibiting the right amount of confidence and sadness when appropriate. I couldn't help but laugh at some of her lines that were impeccably delivered with a dead-pan look on her face ("Oh, f*@# your daughter" - LOL).

Initially, I wondered what the title of the episode could possibly mean and how it relates to the story. The first 'guest' we see is the aptly named "Angel". Nora calls on her after finding Angel's "Forbidden Pleasure" advertisement claiming that "Nothing Is Forbidden". For a second, I thought, The Leftovers is going into some strange territory with Nora and a prostitute. Then, I realized, that Nora just wants someone to shoot her in the chest as she wore a bullet-proof vest...oh. Nora feels so horrible about what has happened regarding the SD and her family that she needs to feel the pain again and again. Physical and emotional pain. It was a strong scene that, once again, was amplified by the musical selection of Slayer's, "Angel Of Death".

Through previous episodes, Nora has been built up as a secretive and obscure character. We hardly knew anything about The Reverend's sister until last Sunday. Through Jill and Aimee we learned she carried a gun with her and hates coffee cups...I'm joking...she pushed a coffee cup over the edge of her table that we thought was Nora being weird, but now understand it's her way of coping with pain and loss.

The majority of the episode was following Nora through the Departure Related Occupations and Practices (DROP) Conference weekend in Annapolis she was sent by her employer, the newly created U.S. Department of Sudden Departure...lol, I laughed a little when I saw that. We quickly learn another meaning for the title of the episode when the organizers unintentionally hand someone else Nora's panelist badge, resulting in Nora receiving a "Guest" badge to wear for the remainder of the weekend. Nora's predicament brought up certain ideas belonging to the overall story of The Leftovers. Ideas of identity and loss are just a few. She was able to roam the floors of the hotel as someone other than herself, in turn learning what some people really thought of the SD and, what they called people who lost family members, legacies.

Nora's time with Marcus, and the other people from the conference she met in the elevator, was one of the highlights of the episode. She is offered drugs that she downs with alcohol resulting in some funny scenes. I enjoyed learning more about Marcus and his employment with the Loved One's company that we've learned about from previous episodes. Here we get an up-close view of what is really going on with the 'models' of the departed and Marcus has one of himself set-up in the hotel room in all its creepy glory. I thought it was interesting he kept asking Nora if she thought he was 'soulless', while she straddled and subsequently made-out with it.

The evening of letting loose was something Nora definitely needed to escape her day-to-day life. However, she still had the issue of an impersonator to deal with. She is jarred awake by hotel security, claiming she trashed the hotel bar hours before and they kick her out of the hotel telling her to never come back. Nora makes a fake badge of her own, insistent on attending her panel that day only to discover the impersonator had every intention of taking her place there as well. One thing I would like to note, especially to those people who don't fully enjoy The Leftovers yet is, the person pretending to be Nora and Nora discovering her at the panel would normally be the climax of any other show, and in this series, it is merely a plot detail with the high point further down the road, waiting to be examined under meaning and symbolism. It's what makes The Leftovers so unique and enjoyable, at least for me.

I thought about making the tagline of this article "What's Next', after the title of the book by Patrick Johansen. He is the author that Nora berates in the bar after coming to her own conclusion about him being a fraud. They make him out to be someone very special because he lost four people in the SD. While Nora lost three people she claims to him that he doesn't understand loss like she does claiming he is probably counting his parents who were probably on their way out anyway. It almost felt like everyone was competing to see who lost more. Seeing Holy Wayne was something very unexpected, but apparently his hugs were exactly what Nora needed. Holy Wayne wants to take her pain, and $1000, away from Nora. He sums up her life, post-SD, perfectly by saying that she seeks out pain whenever she feels it slipping away from her. She thinks that she does not deserve hope in a world where this tragic, unexplained, event took everything form her.

The episode ends, unlike most others in the series, in that there is some hope at the end. It appears that Holy Wayne does have some magical properties after all. Nora no longer stalks the woman her husband was sleeping with and no longer goes to the grocery store purchasing food for her entire family that is sadly not there. Question #121, on her companies questionnaire, would be answered differently if Nora took it now. Wherever the Departured went they would be in a much better place in the arms of the people they unintentionally left behind.

Thoughts and Discussion

- The other songs in the episode were:

- "Angel of Death" - Slayer
- "Pass Them By" - Agnes Obel

- I like that the Guilty Remnant is everywhere and not just in Mapleton. We have now seen them in the southwest with Tom and now Maryland.

- The Loved Ones models cost up to $40,000! Wow, that is a lot of money for something you are going to bury. Well...hopefully that's all people do with their models...right?

- $1000 for a hug? Really, Holy Wayne? I suppose it's smart that you don't tell people what they are paying for until well after they have paid for it.

- Did you notice...The signs that people held up as Nora was walking into the hotel had all sorts of things written on them. There was a fake grenade that reads "Any time now"; "WHO did it"; "The Pope is hiding in a basement in Sicily" Notable ones had scripture...Matthew 24:40 - There will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

- Do you want to go to Miami with me...person I just met a few days ago? Lol, really?

- Did you notice...I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but it was still interesting that, while Nora was in the bar berating Patrick Johansen, her dirty martini had 'three' olives in it; the same number of family members she lost in the SD. It was her figuratively drowning her woes in alcohol.

- I really like the standalone episodes The Leftovers employ that show us a character more in-depth. I wish more shows would do something like that.

- Nora was so depressed that she sadly calculated the odds of landing in her situation...one in 128,000.

- Did you notice...There were plenty of LOST Number references in this episode as well as the reference of Tallahassee, FL. Tallahassee is where Nora's impersonator claims the questionnaire's are sent to become incinerated. The number 121 (from the questionnaire) adds up to "4". Patrick Johansen lost 4 people in the SD. He tells Nora a story of his little girl when she was 8 years old. The 'models' from the Loved Ones are $40,000 each.

- Did you notice...Kevin is the only major character that appears in this episode beside Nora just like in the Rev's episode.

The episode was awesome and I had a lot more to say, but it was getting so long. If anyone wants to discuss the show more please comment below and I will gladly talk to you about it. I would love to hear what everyone thought about the episode. Nora is such an interesting character and she provides just the right amount of comic relief in a show that is mostly dark and bleak. Have a great weekend everyone! I plan on getting these Reviews out earlier each week.

About the Author - Geo N
My name is George and I am from Detroit, MI. My favorite shows are The Blacklist, Hell On Wheels, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, LOST, Sons Of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow and countless other shows. When I'm not watching tons of TV, I enjoy reading, playing hockey, comic books, weightlifting, and writing. Thanks for checking out my post.
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