Previously on The Leftovers, ‘Ten Thirteen’
Whenever a season of television has been very good – and The Leftovers season two has been excellent – there’s a worry that it will fail to deliver in its finale, that it won’t “stick the landing.”
Not only did Lindelof, his writing staff, the actors, and crew stick the landing, they shut down the entire competition. Everyone else can just go home now. Thanks for playing.
I have been singing this show’s praises since season one, and it always baffles (and kinda annoys) me when people say they don’t want to watch it because it’s depressing. The subject material isn’t light; that’s true, but I’ve come to realize the show is actually full of hope. This has been a show about people trying to find ways to continue after experiencing great loss – and sometimes, as we see with the residents of Jarden, even without experiencing any Departures. Their struggles have led them to pretty dark places (cults, suicide attempts, etc.), but I always found a beauty in witnessing these people’s pain because it reminded me that we’re all human. I could relate to almost every character at one point, and wanted nothing more than for them to find whatever it was they were looking for to feel whole.
As if the show knew we’d all be counting down the days, minutes, and seconds to the finale, I Live Here Now opened on a black screen against the opening bars to a song. The episode we’d waited ten weeks for was finally here, and we still had to wait. Soon enough, we’re back to the night the girls disappeared and we witness Evie’s goodbye to her family, but this time with a complete understanding of what’s about to happen.
In my season re-watch (and I’ve watched this season’s episodes at least six times each), I noted that Evie was the first to jump into the water in episode one, and then lied, convincing her friends that the water was fine so they’d jump in, too. It made perfect sense when we learned last week that it was Evie’s connection to Meg – thanks to a chance meeting a year prior – that eventually led the girls to the Guilty Remnant. The night of their disappearance, she’s the one to turn the music off and wipe away Violet’s tears as she drives. With a warning look and a sternly scrawled note (Don’t.), Evie confirmed my suspicion that she is the ringleader.
Once at the spring, they set the scene for their “Departure,” but stop short when they spot Kevin clutching that cinderblock to his chest. No one utters a word as they watch Kevin, and then continue on their way. That’s a sign of their commitment. Evie doesn’t look surprised that her new neighbor just took his life. She already knows no one ever finds what they’re looking for when they come to Jarden. To her, Kevin just figured it out sooner than most.
Almost immediately, the earth shakes and drains the water, saving Kevin’s life.
Though it’s not clarified, there’s no way this was the girls’ first stop after leaving home. Evie was told to be home by 11pm, and we know the earthquake woke the Murphys and alerted them to her absence around 2am or 3am. Plus, Kevin beat them there even though they pulled off long before he presumably went to bed. My head canon is that they went to pick up the packs we see in the trunk, as they would have had to stash supplies ahead of time and wouldn’t pack clothes from home.
I Saw Her Somewhere Else
Kevin claws his way out of his grave and is greeted by Michael, who tells him he’s been dead for eight hours. Now, I’m of the mind that The Departure isn’t the only supernatural event on the series. I am a believer in Patty not being Kevin’s mental illness and I believe the hotel was a sort of purgatory where personalized missions need to be completed in order to return to the living. And him being buried for eight hours (even if what he drank wasn’t poison) points to that being true. When Kevin tells Michael he didn’t see Evie at the hotel, he realizes he needs to talk to John to tell him where he did see Evie.
You Wouldn’t Let it Go
John’s at home, morning drinking and staring at his unopened birthday present. Erika finally opens it to reveal a dead cricket. I had called this weeks ago, but became fascinated with other theories like it possibly being Evie’s G.R. burner phone with a cricket ringtone like Meg’s. I’m glad it wasn’t that because having a phone with the ringer on was a good way to get caught, and Evie’s too smart for that.
John mistakenly thinks it’s the cricket that has been tormenting him with its chirps, but Erika says it’s another cricket Evie must have caught because she knew “you wouldn’t let it go.” Yes, remember: John is the man who hits people because he needs to hit people. Those five words are loaded with history, and I suspect she’s referring to whatever Virgil did that caused John to shoot him. His inability to “let it go” removed him from their family, setting up the years of pretending and pain that led to what’s about to happen next.
This observation earns her a “Fuck you, Erika,” and Regina King delivered some of the best black woman face-acting in the history of television. “Oh, I know you didn’t just… Okay. I got your fuck you, mister.”
The handprint scan has been matched to Kevin, as we knew it would be, and Kevin returns home (with Michael in tow) to find John and some officers questioning Laurie and Jill about his whereabouts. They agree to go talk it out in a neutral place. Kevin, boo. It’s a trap!
Michael doesn’t tell Erika what went down while he was away all night, but he does admit he was with her father, Virgil. This is one of the reasons there needs to be a season three. There’s still some ambiguity surrounding the Murphy family dynamic and what Virgil did to incur John’s wrath in the form of three bullet wounds.
You’re Gonna Have to Talk to Me
The Leftovers has delivered many poignant moments in small, blink-and-you-miss-it scenes. When Laurie places a protective hand on Jill’s shoulder while they’re talking to John, Jill coldly brushes her off. When they’re alone, Laurie tries to get Jill to speak to her – complete reverse of where they were in season one – and when Jill refuses, Laurie offers to leave. Jill points out that Kevin said they should stay put, which is her way of saying she wants her mother to stay without having to actually say she wants her mother to stay. Teenagers.
Fix That, Jesus
Nora has spent the night at Matt’s place with Mary and Lily. When music doesn’t soothe a fussy Lily, Nora opts for a radio talk show, only to throw the radio to the floor when the host suggests a listener will not fix his life if he replaces his Departed child by having another baby, but only by turning to Jesus. This is all a little too close to home for Nora and she challenges Jesus to fix that. Jesus (or someone) responds with an earthquake. When the dust settles, Mary is “awake” and talking.
Matt is overjoyed by the news, of course, when they arrive at the campground outside of town, but begs Nora to take her back in order to protect the baby. And that’s how Mary finds out she’s pregnant.
Here We Go
Also at the campgrounds, Tom and Meg spot Nora and the baby, and Meg wonders if Tom is scared for his family. He says what he thinks she wants to hear (and what Kevin identified as the purpose of the G.R. in International Assassin): “There is no family.” Meg assures him that is not the point at all.
“Family is everything.”
Meg proceeds to drive through the bridge’s checkpoint, trailer attached to her truck, after telling a ranger she has explosives. She parks in the middle of the bridge, chucks the keys, and then calmly gets on the ground as instructed. Her face as she watches three pairs of white sneaker clad feet exit the trailer is chilling.
Take a Fucking Guess
John wants to make a deal. He takes Kevin to the kennel and offers him his dog in exchange for Evie’s whereabouts. Kevin tells John that Evie and her friends staged their Departure because he saw them, but his explanation of why he now suddenly remembers this only infuriates John. There are no miracles in Miracle.
It doesn’t help that Kevin, like us, assumed Virgil molested John, so when he tries to prove what happened in the trailer with this bit of info, John doesn’t believe him. We know John is pragmatic and unwilling to believe in miracles. He needs things to make sense and his daughter willingly leaving the family she loved is the opposite of something that makes sense. Kevin suggests Evie didn’t love them at all (perhaps coming to terms with Laurie leaving him the same way), and this earns Kevin a bullet in the chest. Told your ass it was a trap, Kevin!
As John stumbles outside, the violins of Max Richter’s arrangement threaten to break my heart. Rangers lead Kevin to the bridge where he sees his daughter, but he’s not allowed on the bridge because of the bomb threat.
It’s The Three Girls
From below, Nora takes a bit of smug satisfaction in seeing the girls didn’t Depart. However, panic sets in when Matt sees Evie’s “One Hour” sign and the countdown clock begins to tick down. He realizes they mean to destroy the bridge, eliminating his way to get Mary and his unborn baby to safety.
We Are Not Spared
At church, Michael is unable to listen to the sermon expressing gratitude that they were spared. He takes to the pulpit to tell the story of Evie flooding the bathroom when they were children. As Erika listens on with the rest of the congregation, Michael admits that he was the one who turned on the water so that it may drown out Evie’s cries. They were both lost and confused as to why their father was gone. Michael knows, like Evie, that Jarden is not special. People disappeared before and after the 14th, and that affected them just as much as the people left behind on the 14th. Loss is loss.
John arrives at the church and we don’t see or hear him telling Erika about the events at the bridge. It’s just a quick cut to Erika sprinting past the police barricade and across the bridge, barreling into her daughter. We also do not hear what she says, but we don’t need to. Regina King and Jasmin Savoy Brown needs Emmys just for this scene alone.
Evie refuses to speak to her mother, and she won’t look her in the eye. Erika resorts to sign language, but to no avail. Evie, Violet, and Taylor stand there, stoic and smoking. Confession: I cried grown-ass woman tears.
That’s Not Your Baby
A woman who earlier rudely asked Nora where she got “that baby,” gets up in Nora’s face again and repeats, “That’s not your baby.” If she know like I know, she’d back the hell up out of Nora’s face.
While Erika continues her attempts to get through to the girls, people in the camp below begin to strip and change into white clothing, revealing themselves as members of the Guilty Remnant.
With 30 seconds left on the countdown clock, John yells for Erika to leave the bridge because of the bomb. Erika vows to stand there and be blown up as well if Evie refuses to budge. Evie finally makes eye contact with her mother, but remains. Poor Violet tried to keep Erika from entering the trailer, but was pushed aside. After checking inside and under the trailer, Erika yells to the crowd that there is no bomb. I was certain the mention of the explosives in Ten Thirteen were a red herring. Glad to see I was right. Blowing shit up isn’t The Leftovers style. It destroys with All The Feels.
When the clock strikes zero, the G.R. storm the gate, pushing their way past rangers and onto the bridge. Erika pleads with her daughter one last time, saying she doesn’t understand. Evie’s handwritten response is: You understand. And then she and her friends join the rest in defiantly entering Jarden.
Matt sees this as his opportunity to get Mary back into town and heads for the bridge as well. Crazy lady who needs all the damn smacks in the world snatches Lily from Nora’s arms and walks off. Nora chases her through the crowd and finds Lily lying on the bridge. Those rushing to enter the Jarden of Eden don’t bother to stop, running right by her. Nora attempts to shield the baby with her body, and is finally rescued by Tom who takes them inside the trailer. He assures Nora that she is safe, the only thing she’s ever wanted since losing her family.
Kevin awakens in the hotel bathroom again, and we’re treated to him slipping onto the floor, naked and wet. For season three, can we just do this every episode?
When reaching his father through the TV doesn’t work, Kevin adorns himself accordingly: He chooses the Mapleton police uniform for the closet. This instantly triggers his “mission.” The phone rings and brings news of an officer being attacked in the hotel bar.
Kevin rushes downstairs to find the only thing being assaulted in the bar is popular songs. People are doing karaoke and nothing more. The man from the bridge – who I’m convinced is the man in Australia who claimed to have gone to the other side – asks Kevin if he wants to sing. Kevin declines. He’d rather find out what he has to do to go home.
And finally, Kevin accepts that he deserves the family he left behind. Season one Kevin had everything he thought he wanted in The Garveys at Their Best, but admitted to his father that he felt there had to be more. For the past two seasons we’ve watched Kevin struggle with the fact that, though flawed, he is a good person (remember his one-night stand asked if he was a good man and he said no), and he deserves the family he has. To get back to them, mystery man explains, Kevin needs to sing. A spin of the wheel gives Kevin Homeward Bound, and as he sings, we see him finally accept that he wants to live, and he wants to live his life with his family – as fucked up as they may be.
Thanks For Waiting
Song complete, Kevin awakens in the kennel and finds all of the dogs gone except his own. It’s nighttime and the streets have been trashed. The town sign is in flames. His dog is like, “Fuck.This.Noise,” and takes off across the bridge out of town.
In the Visitors Center, Kevin finds the Guilty Remnant, including Meg (why isn’t her ass in jail?), Evie, Taylor, and Violet. They’re just smoking and chilling like it’s all legit. He asks Meg why she’s there and she tosses the question back to him.
“I live here now.”
He limps away as they sing the Miracle song.
Kevin discovers the streets of Jarden are now like Sodom and Gomorrah. Fires burn, there’s drinking, yelling, and public sex. Kevin just stumbled into the worst.rave.ever.
I Killed You
He seeks medical supplies in Erika’s urgent care office, but is too weak and wounded to do more than slide onto the floor holding a package of gauze. John comes looking for Erika, but finds the man he thought he’d killed. Nope. Guess he didn’t try hard enough. (See what I did there?)
Though the bullet passed through, John is amazed that Kevin didn’t bleed out. Perhaps to atone (in some small way), John proceeds to clean Kevin’s wound, but eventually breaks down and cries. The man who did not believe in miracles, is now confronted with one. The man who needs to hit people because he needs to hit people, is now confronted with the outcome of his violent ways. The man who just knew someone had taken his daughter, is now confronted with the fact that Evie was unhappy and he missed the signs.
Kevin and John return home, and John wonders what he’ll do if no one is home at his house.
“Then you come over to my house.”
John enters his house. What awaits him is a mystery.
And just as an earthquake separated a pregnant woman from her family all those ages ago, another earthquake in Jarden precedes Kevin entering his home and finding his family (Jill, Laurie, Matt, Mary, Tommy, Lily, and Nora) waiting for him.
Why This Show Is Excellent and Deserves a Season Three
- The writing team spent a month together planning the entire season and it shows. Every twist was earned, nothing felt forced, and I never felt like the show was trying to be clever for the sake of being clever.
- The music is outstanding. Max Richter’s score is haunting, beautiful, and heartbreaking. That and the other songs chosen (Where is My Mind, Homeward Bound, Never Gonna Give You Up, etc.), were always perfectly placed and used in the right scenes at the perfect moments.
- The acting is consistently great. Fantastic. Phenomenal. No weak links. Everyone was flawless. Just give the entire cast, crew, producers, and writers an Emmy. Ten Emmys. One for each episode. And hand out some to Kraft Services. I’m sure the food on set was fucking amazing, too.
If HBO doesn’t renew this show, I will cry grown-ass woman tears.
Leave your thoughts on the finale below and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.
The Leftovers S2E10
I am legit annoyed with HBO and myself. HBO for pushing The Leftovers to the fall so that it was up against The Walking Dead, and myself for actually watching The Walking Dead live for the past nine weeks. If you like exceptional storytelling that doesn’t talk down to the audience, you should be watching The Leftovers. If you like stellar acting, you should be watching The Leftovers.
As satisfying as this finale was, and it was like great sex followed by a delicious meal and serious nap (don’t judge me; that sounds like heaven), I wouldn’t mind seeing how Michael is affected by what Evie and his grandfather did. And what, exactly, did Virgil do? Will Erika remain with her family now, when they need her the most? What happens to the G.R.? They just committed an act of terrorism against a Federal site. Has Kevin truly found peace?
If this talented ensemble wants to create more The Leftovers, then HBO should give it to us no matter what the ratings are. Consider it your good deed for humanity, HBO. That’s my Christmas wish.