Season 2 of "The Leftovers" has developed a pattern. Episode 1 was about the Murphys, while episode 2 brought the focus back to Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his new family. However, Episode 3 shifts to yet another character. Laurie Garvey (Amy Brenneman) is back! This is not the same Laurie, though. The former Guilty Remnant champion is now its biggest enemy. How will it go down in "Off Ramp"?
The episode begins with a dizzying "Birdman"-inspired sequence, as Tom Garvey (Chris Zylka) leads a disillusioned would-be Guilty Remnant member, Susan (Heather Kafka), to Laurie's secret therapy center set to a chaotic jazz score. She is now helping the cult's followers escape and return to their lives -- she's also writing an exposé about her experience. No surprise, the Guilty Remnant is not happy about this and regularly sends its silent thugs to intimidate the support group.
Laurie has a few other problems as well. For one, her son Tom is working undercover, pretending to be joining the Guilty Remnant's ranks to bring more lost souls to her mother for help. Needless to say, the mission puts him in serious danger. Laurie is also behind on the rent for her support group's offices, and the sleazy landlord, Chuck (David DeLao), does not appreciate her letting her members sleep in the building. Plus, the now-speaking Laurie is having trouble reaching out to her daughter (Margaret Qualley). Fans see the flip side of a scene from episode 2 when Laurie asks Tom to give Jill her letter. Tom lies to her and says she read it.
Things soon get worse for Laurie. She arrives at her therapy center one day to find that Chuck has evicted her and put all her things outside. That would be fine if not for the fact that her laptop, which contains the only copy of her book, is missing. She knows the landlord is holding out until she pays him the overdue rent, so Laurie gets creative and breaks into his house in the middle of the night, reclaiming the laptop and fleeing from Chuck's angry wife. Feeling pretty tough, she blasts some loud music while driving away from the house. When a pair of Guilty Remnant members stand in the road blocking her way, she drives right into them -- is the scene real?
However, the real problem comes when Tom messes up and reaches out to the wrong person at the Guilty Remnant headquarters. He is outed, detained, tied up and left for who else but Meg (Liv Tyler). He tries to explain himself, but she is not interested in hearing him out. Instead, she pulls his pants off and has sex with him. Then she has some of the Guilty Remnant tough guys pour gasoline all over his body. She pulls out a lighter, but after a tense pause she just lights her cigarette. Then she speaks: "Tell your mom Meg says hello." They leave him handcuffed and naked in the middle of nowhere.
When Tom gets back to Laurie, he grills her to find out about Meg, whom he did not know of before their little pre-gasoline tryst. He is also having some Stockholm Syndrome, claiming that maybe the Guilty Remnant is right after all and their rehab program is useless.
He is not the only one having second thoughts. Susan, who had promised her husband she would not leave again, is rattled after finding a note from her initiation reading, "Any day now." She starts driving down the wrong side of the highway with her husband and son in the car and gets into an accident.
Laurie finds out about Susan while meeting with a publisher about her book. However, she is thrown when the publisher urges her to put more feeling into the book, insensitively recounting her past traumas in blunt detail.
"I know all of this because I read it in your book," but what I need to know, Laurie, is how you feel about it."
That sets her off. She lunges at the publisher and tries to strangle him. She does not get a book deal. She ends up in prison and has to be bailed out by Tom.
"Why are we losing?" she asks her son.
"They give them something [to believe in]," Tom replies. "We can strip that away, but once it's gone, we have nothing to put back in its place."
When they return to the support group, Tom tells the whole story about him and Holy Wayne (Paterson Joseph). He says Wayne transferred to him his power to ease people's pain with a spiritual embrace. He has just been been afraid to use the power until now.
"I can't let you hurt anymore. I can't be afraid anymore," Tom says. "Who wants a hug?"
Well, they are sure giving the group something to believe in now!