Talk about harrowing. We finally spend more than a scene or two with the Jamiesons—which means a lot of heavy lifting for Christopher Eccleston’s determined reverend—and in a season that’s been all about scaling down, “No Room at the Inn” was The Leftovers’ most intimate hour yet.
And possibly its darkest. Spoilers!
Mary Jamieson has been completely unresponsive since her accident during the Great Departure. Except, as Matt confided to Nora last week, on the couple’s first night in Miracle, when Mary “woke up” and was her old self again ... for about three hours. Since then, Matt’s been repeating the routine of that day, right down to feeding Mary the same meals and blasting the same infuriatingly chipper Bellamy Brothers song. It hasn’t worked, but there has been an important change in her condition, a direct result of that one magical night: she’s pregnant.
Which is awesome news, because the Jamiesons have been trying to have kids for 10 years. But it’s also terrible news, because you have to believe Matt’s story that she woke up and was a willing participant in said babymaking. Otherwise, yikes. The doctors in nearby Austin who’ve studied Mary’s brain don’t believe the good reverend’s story, but their disapproval is nothing compared to aggressive skeptic John Murphy’s reaction.
Matt finds himself in John’s sights after a series of hideously terrible events. We’ve seen, in earlier episodes, how difficult it is to get past Miracle’s gates—which only makes all of the people on the outside more desperate to gain access. Driving back from Mary’s doctor appointment, Matt pulls over to help a stranded motorist, who swiftly clocks him over the head and steals the Jamiesons’ “sanctuary” wristbands for himself and his young son. In his head-injured haze, Matt hears Mary speak: “You have to hurry. You have to get us back in.” If they stay outside of Miracle, “he will die.” We can’t be sure she really did wake up for a moment, or if Matt was hallucinating, though the “he” seems to be a reference to their baby—and it’s repeated later by a random man who apparently has Virgil-like abilities to know the unknown.
Matt would’ve already been hauling ass to get his medically fragile wife back to the safety of their home, but now he’s got double the reason. Unfortunately, Miracle’s border guards are deeply unsympathetic, and the only long-term resident available to help—Kevin’s new best frenemy, John Murphy—basically tells Matt he’ll have to admit to raping his wife if he wants back in. Remember, “there are no miracles in Miracle,” and “people don’t get healed.” I’d almost forgotten that John’s wife is deaf, a fact that (to my recollection) has only been referenced once prior, in the pilot, when we caught a glimpse of Erica conversing with Evie in sign language.
But there’s more to John’s coiled rage and lack of faith than his missing daughter, and the fact that his wife hasn’t regained her hearing. Matt’s almost about to take the terrible bargain that’s been offered when he asks, “What happened to you? You’re angry at this place.” That’s it for John. Mic drop. There’s nothing Kevin can do. And until Nora is able to creep back across the border with a plan for smuggling her brother and his wife back in, the Jamiesons have to endure the seedy refugee camp that’s sprung up outside the fence.
Oh, the characters they meet: a twitchy “tall man with a Samurai bun” who offers to help them (for a price); a foul-mouthed Christian (Brett Butler! Remember Grace Under Fire?) who agrees to loan them money, but requires a weirdly violent favor of Matt in return; and the methy crew huddled below a naked man on display in stocks with the word “REPENT” carved into them. It’s a dangerous place, but Matt willingly returns at the end, once Mary is safe with Nora, to take the sinner’s place.
It’s not news that Christopher Eccleston is a fantastic actor, but we haven’t gotten to see him cut loose this season. “No Room at the Inn”—in which he’s equally convincing as Mary’s kind and loving husband as he is a furious yet despairing man on the edge—showcases his versatility and makes us remember why his character is so important to The Leftovers. With five episodes to go, it’s likely we’ll be spending more time on John and Kevin’s mystery-filled storylines, as well as somehow looping Laurie and Holy Tommy into the micro-dramas of Miracle. But this high-stakes, small-scale episode was a powerful one, and an encouraging sign for the show’s future.