‘The Leftovers’: Regina King on Erika’s Face-Off With Nora (SPOILERS)

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 206 of HBO’s “The Leftovers,” titled “Lens.”

“There are no miracles in Miracle.” Or are there? The long-simmering tension in the Murphy household finally reached its boiling point in this Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “The Leftovers,” when Regina King’s matriarch, Erika Murphy, made it clear she has had enough. Enough with her abusive husband. Enough with her manipulative father. Enough with the superstitious townspeople, who’ve been repeating the same rituals ever since the Departure.

And enough with her neighbor Nora Durst.

In yet another bravura performance by King (who recently won an Emmy for her role in ABC’s “American Crime”) as well as Carrie Coon, the two women face off for a confrontation that starts with Nora (Coon) administering the Department of Sudden Departures questionnaire as she has been trained to do — but Erika quickly turns the tables.

Here, King tells Variety about that eight-page scene that turns into a challenging conversation about faith.

How did you react when you got the script?

I was so excited. I knew that was the style of (showrunner) Damon (Lindelof’s) writing with the show. They have an episode that showcases one or two characters at a time. So I knew that was going to come. To see that I had the opportunity … I was really excited to read that I had a powerhouse scene with Carrie Coon.

Did you rehearse it?

No, it’s a lot of dialogue. It was just one of those moments. You hope that whoever you’re working with is a great actor, which I already knew. You just have to go for it. You don’t want to rehearse much before because you can kill it. There are a lot of little nuances that you want to play. It’s very easy to overdo it. We both felt like it was a mini stage play.

Erika’s husband John, played by Kevin Carroll, believes there are no miracles in Miracle. What does Erika think?

I think she has a certain amount of faith. Just having witnessed what she’s witnessed prior to (her daughter) Evie disappearing; the way she was raised, she does have faith. She has faith in faith. What’s meant to be is what’s going to be, but you can hope for the best. I think she has a little more optimism going than John when we first meet her. But by episode six, that faith is starting to wane.

Why does Erika open up to Nora at first?

I feel like she doesn’t have anyone else to reveal herself to in that moment. There was that moment where she recognized that this woman and I could possibly share something similar. It was that immediate feeling that you get when you think someone can truly relate to what’s going on inside you.

So I’m going to throw that question back to you: Did Erika’s daughter depart or did she die?

I think she’s in the in-between space. Which one is more painful? A small part of her, I believe, thinks it would be less painful to find out that her daughter has been abducted, as opposed to departed. Either way, it’s a painful thought. Where we meet Erika at that point of that story, I feel that she’s feeling like she’s just hanging on to the curtain. Just barely making it. And she has this false hope.

This episode is a turning point, to be sure. 

Exactly. If you think about it, a woman who’s been planning this getaway, a departure of her own from her husband and kids, that’s got to be a very broken place for quite some time. She’s got quite a pretty elaborate plan that isn’t a plan. She doesn’t know where she’s going or what she’s doing. She’s just gotta get out of here. And then this big moment happens that shuts down her not-so-tight plan. She never anticipates what would happen to Evie. Now what? Did I bring this on myself?

Where does she go from here?

I don’t know! We’ll have to see. When we leave her, she’s numb.

Can she stay with her husband?

That’s an interesting question. I feel like if she found her daughter, or found out what happened to her daughter, there’s a possibility. She has a lot of guilt for having to raise her kids those 4 or 5 years without their father. And how she painted a picture for them that wasn’t an honest picture of what was going on in their family. That’s a tough question to answer. That’s the way Damon writes. He keeps you in this mysterious place where you don’t know where you’re going.

Why did she throw the rock through Nora’s window at the end?

She knew 100% without a doubt that Nora threw the rock through her window. And that eight-page scene is when she realizes Nora’s the one who threw the rock. She really had no clue before then. It was like a f–k you back moment.

What can you tell us about what’s to come?

You guys have no idea what you’re in for! Mind blown. Just get ready.

“The Leftovers” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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