the leftovers finale

At the end of The Leftovers, almost all the questions and answers don’t matter. They never really did. In the final minutes, all that matters are the two people sitting across from each other. As far out as Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta‘s HBO series got, it became increasingly more intimate over the course of three seasons. A clean and simple answer isn’t closure in The Leftovers finale; it’s a beautiful scene between siblings playing Matt Libs.

Below, check out our thoughts on The Leftovers finale.

Nora Durst

A Powerfully Recounted Visit to the 2%

Nora Durst’s (Carrie Coon) $20,000 experiment gave her what she needed, even if it maybe wasn’t what she wanted. Her description of where she went is all The Leftovers needs. Even little information – the deserted streets and no airplanes – are simple yet vivid details about where the departed 2% reside and where the 98% left. Even if Nora imagined this story, as Lindelof has suggested, what matters most is she found some way to cope. There’s some lying going on in the finale, but whether it’s another lie doesn’t matter. Truth or fiction, it’s emotionally truthful and helps bring Kevin and Nora together.

The ensemble narrative effortlessly narrows itself down to the two of them at the end. Some of the best episodes are about Nora, so it’s not surprising “The Book of Nora” ranks among the show’s finest hours. Coon is the kind of actor who can strike a relationship with an audience, where you’re fully invested in them and even care enough to question what they do or say in an episode. She keeps us memorized in director Mimi Leder‘s fantastic opening long take with Nora addressing the camera and that ending monolog and…well, throughout the entirety of The Leftovers.

Scott Glenn

Kevin Garvey Sr. is Still Dropping F-Bombs at Age 91

Not every relationship in the finale is tied up with a bow, which wouldn’t have been The Leftovers‘ style. Lindelof and Perrotta avoided convention and going with the expected throughout most of the series, and that’s how they wrap things up. A phone call with Laurie (Amy Brenneman) is enough. Knowing Kevin Garvey Sr. (Scott Glenn) is still alive at the age of 91 is a more than satisfactory. There’s no hugs or teary-eyed goodbyes. Life just goes on.

The final moment with Jameson is monumental to the series, but it’s a believable conversation, not a grand farewell to a character. It’s just him sitting in a chair next to his sister, playing Matt Libs, opening up about his fears and supporting her, just moments before she’s about to hop into a tank to enter another dimension. The absurd and the emotional are always powerful together on The Leftovers, like in this season’s “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World.” The show leaves Matt with one of the most honest and warm conversations he’s shared with Nora throughout the series.

Garvey

Old Man Garvey

Knowing Kevin, although older but not exactly a whole lot wiser, finds some comfort and happiness with Nora is infinitely more important than knowing where it was he went exactly after his insane baths. Rewatching season one and seeing where he began – pissed off at everybody and everything – isn’t the man we say goodbye to in the finale. The characters, just like the show, have all evolved and grew from their pain and misery. Season one ended with chaos and suffering, while the final episode concludes with a beautiful sundown and doves (and characters) returning to where they should be.

Old Kevin is still making mistakes, not sins, by pretending he forgot the past. It’s the type of mistake only he would make on this show. We can see all the years he spent searching for Nora on his face. We don’t need to see it in a montage or anything, just like we don’t need to see Nora’s trip. Those years, like Kevin’s time on the Other Side as President, are, in the end, only a couple of chapters in his life, as crazy as they are, and they’re not what gives him meaning.

Theroux is magnificent, whether he’s delivering a mouthful of expletives or not. There are otherwise excellent actors who can look uneasy when they have nothing to say in a scene, but not Theroux. He can just listen. His stillness, tearful eyes, and the few lines of dialogue say everything Kevin needs to say, especially after he confesses about how he spent his vacation time. You feel how much the two of them love each other in the final scene. It’s such an emotionally satisfying ending for them and The Leftovers as a whole, a show which always had a lot of love to go with the pain.

It was also a series that had a great sense of humor and made sure Gary Busy’s departure did not go unremembered.

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