On The Leftovers series finale, Nora Durst had the Kevin Garvey she finally wanted — and, somewhere within this Kevin Garvey was the one he wanted to be.
Within the first fifteen minutes of the series finale (we did miss the season 2 theme song — perfect time to “let the mystery be once more”), Nora found herself undergoing the complicated procedure to shoot herself off to another world. She stripped down, climbed into a chamber, and for someone watching the show for the first time tonight for some reason, this had to be one of the strangest exchanges in the history of television. It would make sense in time, but not how you would first think.
Somehow, what happened in the aftermath of that was even stranger, as time pushed … forward? If you remember Sarah from earlier this season, otherwise known as the older woman in Australia who looked just like Nora, that’s because she was Nora. She had all of the memories of the old Nora, but she had a new life for herself in Australia and seemingly fewer burdens from the past.
Then, enter Kevin Garvey. He claimed that he was just there on vacation, and that his father had traveled out there many years beforehand. He then used that as an opportunity to reconnect with Nora after so many years apart, and at a wedding, no less. (Actually he told her that it was just a dance, so he got her in way over her head.)
The scenes between Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon at the wedding was all sorts of fantastic, and while it didn’t answer many questions when it comes to this “universe,” those would come later. The big symbol here came in the form of a goat, used in the ceremony as a way to release the attendees of their burdens and to move on to the next phase of their lives. Everyone tried to do that, but for Nora, she thought that she’d done that long ago. She left the party, but when she saw the goat in distress, she had to help it. This was almost her recognition of regret, her admission that she couldn’t let every essence and memory of Kevin go.
Then, herein lies the twist
This whole “alternate universe” following Nora’s experiment wasn’t anything at all. Instead, it was the same exact universe, and Kevin came to her and admitted that his claims of having no memory of her were false.
After last week’s episode, the prevailing theory for The Leftovers was that this was, at its core, a love story. It was about two people coming together in crisis, falling apart, and then seeing if they could figure out a way to get together again. Nora claimed that she didn’t back out from the experiment, and it did apparently work (or so she said). She visited the other side, which was a world where almost everyone was gone and only the Departed were still alive. However miserable she and many others were on this side of the world, in that world almost everyone was … with the exception of Nora’s former family, who had found a way to move forward and actually uncovered happiness. In her own words, she was a “ghost” there. She had no place, but she knew that her children and her former husband were happy.
It took her a long time to come back and eventually find herself again, but she did. Kevin believed her, and that was all she needed to do something that she hadn’t in quite some time: She smiled. She had that moment. The two characters came together.
Outside, the goat said its goodbye and Nora’s birds returned. She was home, and Kevin finally found her.
The final verdict on The Leftovers series finale (for now)
For a show that was at times so complex, this was a series finale and an episode that was effectively simple. It was about two characters realizing how they needed each other. It was everything that a series finale should be, and a master stroke from Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta. One of the best series finales in a rather long time. Grade: A+.
If you excuse us, we need to go wipe away all of the tears for a while.
What did you think about the story of The Leftovers series finale, and then the execution of it? Share in the comments! (Photo: HBO.)