Previously on The Leftovers, “I Live Here Now”
There’s no time to change your mind | The Son has come and you’ve been left behind | I hope we’ll all be ready; you’ve been left behind
Much like the season two opener, “Axis Mundi,” the third season of The Leftovers begins with a snippet of life long ago; this time, the early 1800s. A portion of a village’s community believe the rapture is coming on January 21, 1844, thanks to a piece of parchment delivered by a bird. One family, a couple and their young son, gives away their possessions and wait on their rooftop on the prophesied day. Of course, nothing happens. They’re scorned by the other villagers, yet still attend church and believe the new date in April (the 16th; the day season three premiers) when it’s delivered. Same thing happens – or doesn’t happen. The husband loses faith and joins the others with his son, as they watch his wife, once again, wait to be taken, this time in the pouring rain. The next morning, not raptured, the wife slogs through the mud, past the other villagers who mock her, and enters their church. Clad all in white, she tearfully joins other believers who are curled up on the floor of the church.
Jarden, Texas; October 15, 2014
Evie awakens on the floor of the Miracle Visitor Center. The other GR are still asleep, except Meg who smokes a cigarette nearby. Despite Meg giving her permission to talk, Evie writes, “What are we waiting for?” Meg tells a story very similar to Chris Rock’s “that tiger went tiger” bit, and they’re interrupted by a small hole being drilled into the wall. Through the hole comes a spy camera. Evie runs outside in time to see all of the nearby military personnel evacuating and a plane firing a missile in her direction. She closes her eyes before impact.
Loose horse in the valley | Tell me, who gonna ride him? | And Jesus gonna ride him
Three years later, and Kevin is now the police chief in Jarden, which has embraced its celebrity once more. Visitors still descend upon the special place, but now wristbands aren’t required. Going with the flow seems to work as Kevin deputizes two visitors breaking one of the restrictions in order to keep the peace when Tommy (a real deputy) is ready to boot them from the town.
“I’m better now.”
Even though Kevin seems to have settled into his new role and life, the seventh anniversary of the Departure is two weeks away, and everyone seems to be preparing for… something. His old hunting buddy, Dean (Michael Gaston), arrives in town to warn Kevin that those evil dogs are taking human form; one is a U.S. Senator who requested a peanut butter sandwich at a fancy gala. Dean is now in possession of this half-eaten sandwich and wants Kevin to have it tested for canine DNA. Kevin promptly directs Dean to the campgrounds where he promises to meet him soon.
Laurie is still in town and this is Kevin’s first stop. He may have disappointed Dean when it was clear Kevin didn’t believe him, but he cares enough to confide in Laurie and ask that she meet with Dean. Laurie is still practicing… kinda.
John Murphy has taken up where last season’s medium left off; he communicates with the dead and reads fortunes from painted handprints while his wife, Laurie, yes, Laurie, feeds him information about their customers through an earpiece. This scam doesn’t appear to be for personal gain as John later shreds the $80 the man pays him.
“I’m not making anything up. It all happened. It’s still happening.”
Matt is still preaching in Jarden with an assist from Michael and his very own miracles: Mary and their young son, Noah. Matt’s not saying the end of world is nigh, but he’s not saying it’s not, either. Plus, the bible is filled with seven years of trials and tribulations and how else would you explain what they’ve all been through the past two seasons and seven years?
Tired of being held up as an example for the congregation and of Matt’s overprotectiveness, Mary confides in Nora and Kevin that she’s going back to Mapleton without Matt. This is similar to the man in 1844 who leaves his wife with their son after he comes to lose the faith that still drives her. When Kevin tries to plead Matt’s case for him, Mary reveals Matt is writing a book about Kevin – a good book.
Kevin confronts Matt, Michael, and John about the book and insists they hand it over. He’s not special. He can die. The book is bullshit. Unfortunately for Kevin, he’s literally preaching to the choir who witnessed him die and come back to life. Kevin insists he can die, and Matt doesn’t dispute that, but he maintains Kevin cannot die in Jarden.
Matt gives up the book, but Kevin hesitates to destroy it like he threatened.
A plane writes in the sky above, “13 DAYS TO GO.”
I got no deeds to do | no promises to keep | I’m dappled and drowsy | and ready to sleep | let the morning time | drop all its petals on me | Life, I love you | All is groovy
Last season, Kevin seemed to accept that there was something special about him, or at the very least, him in Jarden, so his denial now is confusing. But is it real?
He waits until Nora leaves the house to suffocate himself with a plastic bag and duct tape. If he makes another trip to the hotel, we don’t see it. Is he indulging in a dangerous game like Nora hiring escorts to shoot her, or is he making trips to the after life with a purpose?
Later, protestors interrupt Matt’s baptisms at the newly replenished spring claiming that the ninety-three Guilty Remnants in the Visitor Center were murdered by the government. Of course, they were, but the official story is a gas leak ignited by one of their cigarettes. The protestors dump an unknown substance in the water, and Kevin dives in to identify it with no thought to his own safety. He later claims he knew the water was fine, that it was a prank, but Tommy doesn’t buy it. Kevin may not want to admit it, but he knows he cannot die in Jarden.
And when Dean opens fire on Kevin and Tommy, Kevin seems more concerned for Tommy’s safety than his own. Tommy kills Dean, saving Kevin’s life. Later, Kevin tells Tommy he should speak to someone about the experience, but Tommy brushes it off as just doing his job. Kevin shares that he killed a woman and her security detail once. Again, he’s accepting that what happened in the hotel was real. If this is a front he puts up to keep his family normal and intact, that’s understandable, but with the anniversary just thirteen days off, it doesn’t appear that’s going to last much longer.
Nora still works with the DSD, but now out of Jarden. She’s sporting a cast on her left arm; what happened? And what happened to Lily. She was absent from their blended-family birthday party for Tommy, and Jill, visiting from college, asks Kevin if Nora talks about Lily. He says no and wonders if he should try to make her.
Where is Erika? Her and John’s marriage was already on shaky ground before Evie went missing, and she was planning to leave him. Was losing Evie on Oct. 15th the thing that finally pushed them apart for good?
Jill tells Kevin this is the last time they’ll see each other since people believe the world is ending. We know the world doesn’t end because of the flash-forward final scene with a much older Nora, going by the name Sarah, delivering doves to a church in Australia (maybe). However, I do wonder if that was the last time Jill and Kevin see each other for other reasons.
Is Kevin sleepwalking again? The push in on his face as he falls asleep and the whooshing sound as he jolts awake is the visual clue we received in seasons one and two when something significant happened while he was sleeping.
Why was his gun empty? Could that be linked to possible sleepwalking?
And what up with Sarah/Nora?