The Leftovers recap: 'Solace for Tired Feet'

Kevin's dad escapes the loony bin and Tom discovers a painful truth.
Ep. 07 | Aired Aug 10, 2014

THE PRODIGAL FATHER Chief Kevin Garvey gets some "wisdom" from his father, who has been running loose in Mapleton.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Communication between the Mapleton police department and local mental-health facilities housing violent offenders isn't what it used to be because Kevin doesn't find out that his dad is on the loose until Jill mentions it to him that night. Once again, Aimee is there playing the role of mother more than best friend: "Just ask him," she counsels Jill, who asks her father what her grandpa did to get locked up. Yes, he hurt people, Kevin says. Turns out he burned down the library. (The churlish cop who blabbed that detail...? I was hoping his name was Neil, making him Patti's estranged husband and the recipient of her post-meal doggy-bag surprise. Alas, lists him as Det. Louis Vitello.)

Grandpa is still obsessed with libraries, apparently, because he assaults a cop while breaking into the town's new one. The Spanish-speaking library custodian tells Kevin that his father requested $200 and was using the computer to try to purchase something online for his son. Grandpa's girlfriend, the mayor, isn't any help in the manhunt. She tells Kevin she broke it off with him months ago due to his crazy ramblings, but warns Kevin, "He's coming for you." Kevin is on edge, so he drifts off to sleep that night with the police radio humming, his gun and taser at the ready.

What follows is a sequence right out of the season's delirious first two episodes. Kevin is awakened by a howling dog scratching at the door, but Dean the dog-killer is waiting outside, saying he's got a pooch trapped in the mailbox. (Mailboxes and being trapped in dark boxes qualify as themes in this episode.) While the angry canine shakes the mailbox, a teary-eyed Kevin takes aim with a rifle. Tommy appears in the doorway, slamming the front door on Kevin. A pile of GR corpses with bullet wounds are piled in Dean's flatbed, including Laurie. "I don't want to shoot them," whispers Kevin and he lowers his gun.

Kevin wakes up the next morning on the floor of his bedroom, with a dog-bite on his left hand. A feral dog is tied up outside, and Aimee is there to remind him and tell Jill what really happened the night before. Kevin doesn't remember a thing, but Aimee says he has a plan to rehabilitate the dog and that she tenderly bandaged his bite injury. Aimee eyes him suspiciously, and later, when Kevin comes home to find her making herself at home, sans Jill, she says, "You don't remember, do you? Last night... getting the dog?" Is she asking about just the dog? Or are there other things that Kevin can't recall from the previous night—and perhaps other nights as well. Is he having a physical relationship with Aimee in his haze of tranquilizers? She seemed slightly bothered by Kevin's subsequent admission to the girls that he'd spent the night "with a friend."

(Did you notice that Aimee was killing time watching Perfect Strangers, the same 1980's sitcom that was playing at the mental hospital? According to Grandpa, the three main cast members all were Raptured, apparently giving the show a post-Departure renaissance in syndication. Bronson Pinchot's surviving family members must be doing the Dance of Joy.)

Grandpa is coming for Kevin, like the mayor suspected, but first he needs some money. Unfortunately, the buried stash in his backyard is now the purview of the vicious dog. Jill lends a hand by giving her grandpa some food and a sweatshirt. She doesn't believe him when he claims to have just stumbled upon her and her friends in the woods. Did the voices in his head tell him where to go in order to save here? Can you hear the voices right now, she asks. Yes, he nods. "They're saying that you look like Snow White." She does resemble the fairy-tale princess, truthfully, and the fridge could pass for the glass coffin Snow White slept in after being cursed by her wicked stepmother. The Ping-Pong twins are kind of Dopey, and Aimee... sorry to dwell on this, but she has the potential to be the wicked stepmother, if not in title than in spirit. I'm dreading/anticipating Aimee's behavior when she and Nora are in the same room with Kevin.

Jill was savvy enough to call the cops before letting Grandpa in the house, so Kevin arrives and handcuffs his father. But he promptly escapes in traffic when Kevin brakes to avoid a GR demonstration. Later, after stumbling across the stash of cash in his backyard, Kevin surmises that his father is hiding out with Matt. One roll of cash was still in the buried peanut-butter jar; Rev. Matt apparently had borrowed only one (of two) for his successful—but ultimately futile—gambling spree. Calling Matt, Kevin demands that he give his father up, and Matt arranges a meeting at a local restaurant. Kevin's father arrives, still handcuffed but bearing a gift: the May 1972 issue of National Geographic magazine. Are there clues in the yellow-framed cover that features Yellowstone tourists photographing an upright black bear? ("Nine Yellowstone visitors were mauled last year," reads the fine print.) Other stories from that issue: "Cairo: Troubled Capital of the Arab World," "Living in a Japanese Village," "The Spider That Lives Underwater," and "Have Excavations on the Island of Thera Solved the Riddle of the Minoans?" [Note: As astute commenter Matt points out, when Christine is half-awake and suffering from a fever, her first words to Tom are, "Spiders underwater."]

When father and a self-doubting son once talked at the hospital about going crazy and the voices they hear in their heads, father cautioned son about about acting too publicly on his visions. But now, he's giving the hard sell: "That whistle blew three years ago and you can't ignore it any more," lectures Grandpa. "Your services are being requested, eyes open, wide awake. This is your invitation. This is your purpose."

Kevin doesn't buy any of it, and accuses his father of trying to infect him with his b.s. "They're not going to let you off the hook so easy, son," whispers Grandpa, before he's locked back up. Outside, a sinister-looking Rev. Matt starts to quote the story of Jacob's blessed son, Joseph, from the Koran: "Said the father, my dear son, relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee..." Kevin rudely tells him where to go before he can finish the rest of the line, "...for Satan is to man an avowed enemy."

NEXT: Tom discovers Wayne's betrayal

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