He's had a rough stretch, going all the way back to season 1.
"Why are we losing?" she asks her son. "If you let me, I will help you come back [to society]", she promises Susan. Like giant bowls of nicotine gum that Laurie has available to the former chain-smoking Guilty Remnant members, the pair offer up Tommy as healer to take the place of the bleak reality that GR offered, much like AA offers up God to recovering addicts.
When Laurie confronts the landlord, he refuses to budge and inch and then takes it a step further by refusing to acknowledge that he took her laptop in the first place. They may now be hundreds of miles away from Kevin Garvey, Matt Jamison and the others living in Jarden, but to paraphrase "Magnolia": You may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with you. She did exactly that to the crude, unsympathizing book publisher and - while we wouldn't have recommended burning your only bridge to the book world - it was a rousing representation of this character's astounding depth. Now Laurie and Tommy are both free of their pasts and helping to enlighten other questioning GR members. Laurie says every time Tommy brings a new GR refugee into the fold, and of course the answer is yes, they want to be included. Because despite her facade of professionalism, Laurie is a total mess.
"That's because it was never explained to me". This was the first time I'd ever seen the warning of rape explicitly stated before an episode of The Leftovers.
One of the key elements of "The Leftovers'" first season that, at this point, has been missing in its sophomore season is the presence of The Guilty Remnant. Their deal seems very in line with the way an angst-ridden, mopey teenager deals with hurt feelings, by inhabiting those feelings completely and making sure that if they're not happy, no one is.
Or maybe we all just need a great big hug. These micro-episodes are where The Leftovers shined previous year, so its no surprise that Laurie's mounting stresses felt intense, vulnerable, and engrossing. Like the rest of the season, "Off Ramp" is so complete, nuanced, and lived-in, it's a bit of a bummer that it could possibly be weeks before Laurie and Tommy are seen again. She revs the engine and they don't move. As she explained later in the episode, no one drove her to the Guilty Remnant - they were just the best alternative for someone who believed what she believed - that the world already ended when two-percent of the world's population just upped and vanished without a trace. Was it an intimidation tactic? They can fuck him and leave him for dead if that's what they choose.
Laurie finally gets the news she's been waiting for that a publisher is interested in her book and wants to set a meeting. Psychological torture? A bargaining chip over Laurie through Tommy? Before the interruption, one of the other group members discussed her own struggle to re-acclimate to normalcy, engaging with loved ones who have moved on with their lives after the Departure. I think Laurie's always been a seeker.' Literally, I felt like a bad feminist. "Stuff they care about, feels so stupid sometimes...", she says. "She's not going to leave you again, and she's not going to go back to them".
It's perhaps this scarcity that has made the first three episodes of "The Leftovers" Season 2 so potent.
If that means giving into the huckster behavior that led her and Tommy astray to begin with, Laurie is comfortable with it. She encourages Tommy to essentially steal Holy Wayne's entire act, and as he does so, their group of dutiful refugees is transformed into a small army of passionate soldiers. For one, he's clearly still thinking about his former religious icon, considering he fell asleep watching videos of a young Wayne performing online. Yet the most telling piece of evidence toward Tommy's belief in the story, and thus the story being real, happened last episode when he went to meet Jill at the diner. His sister tried to hug him when he walked in the door, and he refused her, saying he was sick and didn't want her to catch it. He didn't appear sick in this episode, when we got a longer look at him, so I'll bet that was a ruse, and he really was too frightened to use his power.
Granted, that's not the most noble cause for a group, but it's not necessarily that different from what Laurie is trying to do with her deprogramming. Her traditional tactics as a therapist fell apart when Susan changed lanes. She pulls out a lighter, but after a tense pause she just lights her cigarette. Will a new prophet save the day? As she counsels a poor, mousy woman back into the arms of her family, you can see the lack of conviction behind her eyes. He has just been been afraid to use the power until now. Let's not forget: He's a murderer; a cop killer, in fact. Maybe he could've slipped under the radar had he just kept to himself, but now he's about to attract a massive following. He and Laurie have basically started their own religion, and in a time when anyone preaching salvation is under even more scrutiny than before, you better believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be keeping tabs on Holy Tommy.