The second episode, “Penguin One, Us Zero,” of HBO’s new drama, The Leftovers, begins with federal authorities looking into Wayne, and his possibly messianic following. The authorities take a leap of logic to determine that Wayne is a threat to national security because he sometimes talks to members of congress and “heals them.” Wayne also likes to “recharge his batteries” by mixing with his harem of young Asian teenagers.
The federal authorities decide to raid the ranch with no regard for human life. It is a shoot first and ask questions later operation. Tom Garvey, the son of the main protagonist, chief Garvey, kills a federal officer in order to save Christine, who Wayne believes is very important. Both Christine and Tom are able to escape and meet up with Wayne in an abandoned gas station later. There is a dead body in there, which Wayne seems to kiss, saying that he (the dead man) would never let Wayne do that if he were alive. It is very disturbing and lets the viewer into the psychotic mind of a man who believes he can cure people of their inner sufferings, and ultimately take them on himself. Wayne’s story is likely to be one of the most disconcerting on the show.
This episode of The Leftovers as the entire series does, revolves mainly around Chief Garvey and his family. Even though no immediate members of the Garvey family were taken on October 14, they, like so many other people around the globe, have become unglued by the existential crisis of existing in the leftover world. Chief Kevin Garvey is still set on finding out all he can on the Guilty Remnant (GR). He goes to deliver a missing person’s report, but ends up talking to Meg Abbott. Asking her if she is there on her own free will. She says, yes, but he leaves his card anyway to let her know he is there if she needs to escape.
Laurie, Kevin Garvey’s wife, and the member of the GR in charge of grooming Abbott, gets in an argument with Patti Levin, who seems to be in charge of the entire chain smoking organization. The furious scribbling of pen on paper as they exchange messages is a disturbing, yet attractive way to argue. No loud screaming or unnecessary words, but well thought out quips to get their points across. Levin wants Laurie to cut Abbott loose before she decides to leave herself.
A character who was briefly introduced in the first episode of The Leftovers, but whose role expands greatly in the second episode, “2 Penguin One, Us Zero,” is Nora Durst. She lost her entire family in the disappearance, and is now a sort of pitied celebrity figure around town. Jill Garvey, after seeing a gun in Durst’s purse and watching her purposefully knock over her coffee, decides to follow her to see what she is doing. Jill and her friend Aimee are misguided young teenagers, who will likely get into trouble repeatedly throughout the series.
Durst it seems has taken up a crusade to try and find out why certain people were chosen to go, and why others were not. Being the only person in her family not to be taken makes her very curious. She is asking people an extensive list of over 150 personal questions about those who disappeared. In return those being questions receive some sort of financial incentive from a benefit fund that has been raised.
All the while in The Leftovers, Kevin Garvey is trying to find more information about this mysterious man who’s killing the dogs. Kevin even goes to a psychiatrist in the beginning of the episode who insinuates that maybe the man is not even real. This really unsettles Kevin because he is already having weird dreams and has a history of mental illness in his family. The truck of the mystery man is found in Garvey’s driveway, giving the chief’s lieutenant, Dennis Luckey, a reason to suspect Garvey is making up this man as well.
Garvey also meets with Mayor Warburton at the precinct. She jokes that she should not of told him to watch The Wire in reference to the extensive surveillance that Kevin is doing on the GR. This small self-promotion of another HBO show is subtle yet a bit kitschy. During this scene Kevin also losses a bagel inside of a toaster, which troubles him until the end of the episode when he takes the toaster completely apart and finds the bagel, and possibly his sanity.
Later on Meg Abbott is struggling to understand what it is the Guilty Remnant do, and how they can help her. She harshly questions if Laurie Garvey even remembers what it feels like having emotions. Laurie takes a moment and writes down that she understands that Meg met her husband today. Abbott is very confused at first, until Laurie pulls out the business card that Kevin left Meg. Abbott says something about how Kevin is a “hot cop,” and why would she leave a life like that? All Laurie supplies is that she does indeed remember. It seems to help Meg, but at the very end of episode two of The Leftovers Levin thinks Meg Abbott has left the GR. But she just went outside to work on chopping down a tree, which was a possibly cathartic exercise that Laurie had Meg doing in the beginning of the show. If the tree is supposed to symbolize something or just get rid of tension remains a mystery.
The enigmatic dog killer finally shows up on Kevin Garvey’s doorstep near the end of the episode. Aimee and Jill even see him, enthusiastically taking a six-pack of beer from his hands, so Kevin can be sure that he is indeed real, and not a Tyler Durden like figment of his imagination. The mystery man then asks Kevin to meet him the next day to take care of another pack of wild dogs, which leaves Kevin unsettled.
Finally the in the second episode, “Penguin One, Us zero,” of HBO’s The Leftovers the viewer gets to see the last member of the Garvey family, Kevin’s crazy father, the former chief of police, played by Scott Glenn. Kevin Garvey Sr. and Mayor Lucy Warburton apparently had some kind of romantic relationship, as the two were together, and then kissed when Kevin appeared to visit his father in the institution. What begins as a very straightforward and honest conversation quickly turns downhill as the father begins to talk to himself. Oddly enough Garvey Sr. hints that he was told, by whom there is no indication, that help will be sent to Kevin and that he should keep the identity of that help to himself. Presumably he is taking about the mysterious dog killer man, but since the father is crazy it makes the identity and authenticity of the man even more unknown. It brings into questions the possible existence of aliens or perhaps even angels in to play in the upcoming episodes of HBO’s The Leftovers.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash