Kevin Garvey - Justin Theroux
Laurie Garvey - Amy Brennerman
Tom Garvey - Chris Zylka
Jill Garvey - Margaret Quilley
Nora Durst - Carrie Coon
Matt Jamison - Christopher Eccleston
John Murphy - Kevin Carroll
Kevin Garvey Snr - Scott Glenn
OTHER HEAVEN AND HELL SHOWS
THE BOOK OF KEVIN
The town of Miracle prepares itself for the seventh anniversary of the Departure, especially Chief of Police Kevin Garvey. Nora is back with the Department of the Departed, Laurie is married to John Murphy and running a scam as therapy palm reading business. Jill's off to the college and Tom is working as deputy. Could it be that the Garvey's have found their peace in time for the next apocalypse?
The third and final season of THE LEFTOVERS kicks off in usual leftfield fashion with a sequence in which a family's belief in oncoming apocalypses is slowly eroded over time. Not nearly as incomprehensible as the cavewoman nonsense from the beginnning of Season 2, this neatly sets up a theme for what is to come. This is immediately underlined by the crazy dog killer from Season 1 showing up with an even crazier theory that Kevin completely ignores, in contrast to his previous belief.
Add to that Laurie's faith scam and it is clear that the loss of faith is going to be big in this last season. It also seems clear that some of the characters are going to be jettisoned to slim down the narrative. Jill is sent off to college with just a cameo and Kevin and Nora's adopted baby has disappeared, along with John Murphy's wife.
Even so, what with the arriving apocalypse and Kevin being the star of Matt's new testament, there is plenty of crazy to go around. And that's even before we get to the surprise, and strangely unconnected end sequence.Top
DON'T BE RIDICULOUS
Nora Garvey is still struggling with the loss of her children. This comes out at inopportune moments and in very hard ways. It does, at least, allow her to understand why her husband is trying to kill himself, though not why others seem to have found the truth about what happened to the Departed.
This is Nora's episode and focuses on her to the exclusion of all else. She takes a trip from Jarden to investigate the claims made about being able to be reunited with her family and we learn what happened to her adopted daughter, but not why. We also learn how she came to break her arm and this is perhaps the most shocking revelation, showing just how far the character is from her outer image of peace. This is improved, of course, by Carrie Coon's impeccable performance as Nora, making all of the contradictions and mood shifts of the character seem like facets of a real person.
The idea that there is a way for Nora to be with her Departed family is dismissed as a scam, and possibly murder, but you just know that it's an idea that she is not going to be able to ignore quite so easily and may underpin the rest of the season's plot.
Her discovery, on returning home, shows just how tortured the two main characters still are despite everything appearing placid on the surface.
And that's before the show throws in an extended coda that sees a sheriff in Australia with a familiar name meeting an unexpected fate, with no explanation as to how this fits in with the rest of the story.Top
CRAZY WHITEFELLA THINKING
Kevin Garvey Senior is in Australia researching Aboriginal story songs in order to create the one song he needs to prevent the floods that he believes will finish the job started by the Departure. His journey, however, is dogged by strangeness and challenge and an explanatory climax.
THE LEFTOVERS delights in sudden shifts in focus and story that take the audience completely by surprise. This is one of those episodes, apparently having nothing to do with the other storylines apart from the fact that it features Kevin Garvey Sr and takes place in Australia, where Nora and Kevin Jr are heading.
Scott Glenn has been barely more than a cameo in the show to date, so it is welcome to see an entire episode devoted to the character and he certainly makes the most of it, having to deal with high comedy, low desperation and even sincere loss in the short running time. And since the character's sanity has never been considered reliable at any point, there is the very real possibility that everything is only happening in his head.
That said, his perambulations make sense of the extended coda that ended the last episode and hints at fitting in with the overarching plotline as the show starts running out of episodes.
Once again, THE LEFTOVERS shows that the only thing you can predict about it is how unpredictable it will be.Top
Arriving in Australia, Nora sets out to uncover the truth about the scam involving a fraudulent promise to reunite her with her Departed family. She must face a set of bizarre tests and answer a very difficult question. Kevin, meanwhile, sees a face in the crowd on TV talk show G'Day Melbourne that sends him on a quest for a missing person.
The path of true love never runs smoothly, but Kevin and Nora's relationship has never been about pure love, more a sort of supportive mutual desperation. That relationship comes to a crashing end here in a dramatic and brutal fashion that is all about the characters and their emotions, utterly believable and completely heartbreaking. After all that they have been through, this could mark the end of their time together.
Before that, however, they both have to deal with very bad days. Nora's meeting with the scientists she wishes to expose is extreme and unusual to say the least, but exposes the truth once and for all that she was here to take their offer all along rather than to bring them down, as she claimed. This entire sequence of events is delightfully off beat and unpredictable and the result is shattering for both Nora and the audience, setting up both for the shouting match to come.
Kevin, on the other hand, faces a quest that will take him to the very edge of obssession and, it turns out, sanity. What it tells him about himself puts him in a place where reality is finally cemented and he can face the truth about the fragility of his relationship with Nora. It could mark the end of his issue of his mental problems as much as the end of their lives together.Top
IT'S A MATT, MATT, MATT, MATT WORLD
Matt Jamison decides that he needs to bring Kevin back to Miracle for the anniversary of the Departure in order to meet the impending apocalypse. This is complicated by the fact that a nuclear incident has grounded all non-essential flights. Before they know it, Matt, Laurie, John and his son find themselves on a ferry that is playing host to an orgy dedicated to a horny tiger and, possibly, the Lord God Almighty himself.
This is the now-traditional let's torture Matt episode, though it actually starts off with a man on a nuclear submarine deciding to strip naked, beat the crap out of his crewmates and set off one of the weapons under his care. Exactly why he should choose to do this is not explained, but there are a lot more people who are doing things that don't get explained. Take, for example, the hundreds of people who are celebrating the life and times of a legendarily procreative tiger by hiring a ferry and shagging each other continuously throughout the night's voyage. Why are they doing this? Because they can, apparently.
It is on this ferry that Matt's brittle faith is brought to the brink of destruction by an encounter with a man who has declared himself to be the one and only God. Matt's theological bickering with his sister Laurie, the revelation that he is dying from an illness he thought he had been cured of by divine intervention and the constant obstacles placed in his way by the universe take a heavy, heavy toll on the character in a display of real authorial tormenting of a character, but it also takes the man to an encounter with his God that is quite genuinely startling in its power. This is down to Christopher Ecclestone's performance, which has often verged on the pantomime, but here is subtle, layered and utterly convincing. So convincing, in fact, that it anchors the most outlandish of narrative contortions.
What this has to do with any of the other plotlines is questionable, but the remaining Garveys of interest are now all in Australia and a collision course seems inevitable.Top
Kevin Garvey Sr's plan to save the world is to drown Kevin Jr so that he can go back into the afterlife, get the missing Aboriginal song from its dead owner and return to teach it to him and thus stop the apocalypse. This, though, is put at risk when Laurie, Nora, Matt and John all find out where the Garveys are hiding out. Betrayal, it seems, is in the air.
Amy Brennerman's Laurie has had little to do in the show since she left the Guilty Remnant. This episode makes up for all of that. It starts with a seriously rough and downbeat, but utterly brilliant, explanation of how she joined up with the white-clad cultists in the first place. It's an explanation that we've been waiting for since the opening season, but it is worth the wait, bringing together excellent writing and excellent acting in a powerhouse of an opening sequence.
These two elements come together again at the end, equally powerfully, as Laurie pulls a surprising betrayal on her entire family and then slips away to find her own peace by escaping the apocalypse and meeting the end on her own terms. It's a stunning, bravura conclusion to an extremely powerful episode.
Quite apart from the opening and closing sequences, there is an exchange between Laurie and Nora over a lighter in which all of the antagonisms, rivalries and even hatreds that the women share threaten to explode into serious violence. It's a scene with two actresses at the very top of their games showing what they can do, something that the show has excelled at all the way through.
The final strands of the plot are falling into place as the end is, literally nigh, but it is that haunting last scene that will linger in the memory from this episode.Top
THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD (AND HIS IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER)
Kevin Garvey is dead. Again. He finds himself in the afterlife where he is both the Guilty Remnant's elected President and the assassin sent to kill him. Can he carry out his assigned tasks in the other world in time to save the real one?
Are we really here again? Apparently it is now necessary for Kevin Garvey to make at least one trip into the surreal world of either his dying subconscious or what lies beyond death (take you pick) per season. Cue a whole lot more unreal shenanigans involving spies and self-help surgery and penis scanners. All of these are supposed to illuminate Kevin's state of mind, but the conclusions that we get to are pretty much obvious from the outset. Once again, this trip to the crazy side of the street seems very much like filler.
Which is not to say that there aren't some nice touches along the way, many of which are very funny, but quite honestly this whole episode could have been lifted right out and we would never have missed it.
Apart from the fact that the long-promised apocalypse comes and goes without any true ill-effects. Talk about your anticlimaxes.Top
THE BOOK OF NORA
In the back end of nowhere, Australia, Nora makes a living raising pigeons for a scam involving local weddings. One day, a man called Kevin walks into her life, claiming that he is dying and that he can't recall anything that has happened since they first met many years before.
And so we come to the end of THE LEFTOVERS in this final ever episode. It starts off dramatically enough with present-day Nora going into the machine that will either send her to her Departed family or kill her. This is a stunning sequence with Carrie Coon proving just what a great actress she is. She has certainly been the revelation of this show.
We then flashforward to the time of the coda from a couple of episodes back in which the older Nora is confronted by the older Kevin. Is she in an alternate reality? Is Kevin lying to her? Did the machine do anything at all? This sudden switch gives us so many questions and, for once, the show goes on to answer them.
After all the surreal side roads and cul-de-sacs that the show has taken us down over its three seasons, THE LEFTOVERS was never likely to be able to tie up all the questions that had been raised along the way, and it doesn't really try. What it does do, however, is provide a completely satisfying conclusion, which is a surprise in itself. All along, Kevin and Nora have been the heart of the show and it is quite lovely that those viewers who have stuck with it right to the end are given an emotional closure. Two broken people find that the way they can be fixed is through each other.
There is a sense that maybe the writers were given fewer episodes than they would have liked to tie things up so nicely, leading to an infodump soliloquy for Carrie Coon in which she once again shows her versatility. The Departure is explained. Sort of. What happened with the machine is explained. Sort of. Why the future coda exists at all is explained. Sort of.
'Sort of' is all that we really could have expected from this show and whilst the first season was the best, this final episode of this final season closes in the most satisfactory way.Top