‘The Leftovers’ Season Finale Review

09
Sep
2014

 

Of all the new shows to debut in 2014, The Leftovers is the one that intrigued me the most. The concept was a brilliant and original one for a show: one day millions of people just disappear off the face of the Earth. There is no explanation, no reasoning, and no obvious cause. Just absence and questions. It’s a great starting point for a show, but also one that needs to capitalize on such a smart concept. The series premier was very powerful and hit with strong emotions as it showed where people are 3 years after “The Departure”. Many are still struggling to cope with the loss. One cult, called the Guilty Remnants has formed to remind everyone of what happened in a very harassing way. Another cult formed because a man named Wayne (Patterson Joseph) believes he has powers and can relieve people of their grief for a price. There are rabid dogs that have been running around the woods hunting deer ever since the Departure happened. There is a reverend who thinks it is his duty to assure people that those who departed weren’t raptured because some of them were evil. There is a woman named Nora (Carrie Coon) whose entire family disappeared during The Departure moments after having a fight with all of them.

Then there are the Garveys, the main focal points of the show, led by Kevin (Justin Theroux) who is the chief of police in the town where all of this is going on. His wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) has left the family to join the Guilty Remnant. We learn in the episode before the finale her reason was she watched her unborn child disappear during the departure while getting a sonogram. The daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) went from a happy-go-lucky kid to the most miserable and removed person on the planet. And finally there’s the son Tommy, who has also left the family to join Wayne’s commune. Tommy throughout the series has been searching for a father figure and was hoping to have one in Wayne. Tommy’s biological father abandoned him and it doesn’t seem he has accepted Kevin as his new father. After the premier, the show had a really slow build, even taking a few episodes to single out the lives of 2 of the characters. But as the season progressed, the show started to pick up. The big moment coming when Kevin blacks out and ends up kidnapping the leader of the Guilty Remnant Patti (Ann Dowd). She ends up killing herself after trying to bait Kevin into doing it.

This is where we are as the season finale begins. Kevin has to deal with the dead body of Patti. Tommy needs to find answers after being abandoned by Wayne (another father figure) after the birth of one of Wayne’s many new born children. Jill has shown up on the doorstep of the Guilty Remnant wanting to join, leaving Laurie puzzled and worried. Kevin calls up Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) to help him deal with Patti. Matt is eager to help out, and has sympathy for both Kevin and Patti. Even after Kevin says “If you touch her, we’re in this together” Matt still closes Patti’s eyelids. He also insists that Kevin reads a passage from the Book of Job which brings Kevin to tears. Kevin later has a dream where he is taken to the loony bin, where he runs into his father. Kevin Sr. (Scott Glenn) begs him not to give into the crazy, but then Kevin Jr. turns around and sees Patti. It seems like Patti will haunt Kevin’s dreams, and her spirit will battle Kevin Sr. in Kevin’s brain for his peace of mind. After Kevin wakes up Rev. Matt takes him to a diner. During their conversation in the diner, Kevin reveals to Matt that when the departure happened he was in a hotel room having an affair, and the woman he was sleeping with disappeared while in bed with him. He then reveals that before the Departure all he wanted for was to be free from his family, but after it happened he rushed to his children’s school and after seeing the joy on their face after realizing he didn’t disappear, that all he wanted was his family to be together. Kevin then goes to the restroom where he weirdly finds Wayne in a stall bleeding to death. In his dying moments Wayne reveals to Kevin, who has no idea who he is, that he feels he might be a fraud. Wayne asks Kevin to make a wish, and if Wayne is for real than he will grant Kevin that wish. After Kevin closes his eyes, it seems like Wayne could feel Kevin’s wish. After he utters “Granted” Wayne dies with a big smile on his face.

 

intense-trailer-for-hbos-new-series-the-leftovers

 

Throughout this first season, the Guilty Remnant have continued to find ways to make their presence felt to the people of Mapleton. They basically use performance art to both remind people what happened and also try to get people to be less sympathetic about it. While they are planning a new presentation for those who have lost people, Jill shows up and despite Laurie’s wishes, wants to join the GR. In the finale, they buy a bunch of replicas of the Departed (which are being sold by a company so that people can “bury their loved ones properly”), dress them up in their clothes, and leave them in the homes of their family members for them to see. The only scene we see of this is Nora walking downstairs to find plastic replicas of her husband and 2 children sitting at the table where they disappeared, in their exact seats. Nora has made a lot of progress through the season. Whether it was becoming emotionally closer to Kevin, or one of Wayne’s magic hugs, she seemed to be able to move on from losing her entire family. But when she comes downstairs and sees the lifeless faces of her family’s replicas, she loses it. She begins to violently cry as the sound cuts out, which is very difficult to watch.

In the final minutes of the episode, Kevin and Matt are driving along when they see chaos ensue. A woman is chasing down members of the GR because of their recent action, and Kevin can’t talk her out of shooting at them. Matt sees Meg (Liv Tyler) bound and beaten. Even though she is hurt, she is also smiling. Kevin asks her what happened, to which she replies on paper “We made them remember.” Kevin then gets to the cul de sac where the GR have bought multiple houses, and they are engulfed in flames. Guilty Remnant members are running out of the house to avoid the flames only to be met by angry citizens who are beating them. There is a giant bonfire in the middle of the cul de sac where people are throwing the fake family members that were left in their houses, and then turning around to join in the beating of the GR members. There are police cars blocking the road but little to no police are trying to contain the situation because they don’t care what happens to the GR. Kevin sees a man pulling Laurie out of the house, ready to attack her. He knocks the man unconscious, after which Laurie utters her first word in a long time “Jill!” Kevin runs into one of the houses to find Jill lying surrounded by flames. He manages to pull her out just in time. Kevin and Jill leave the chaotic scene, and end up being greeted by a rabid dog that Jill had cut loose a few episodes prior. Laurie walks away as well, and while by the shore ends up seeing her son Tommy. Nora ends up writing Kevin a note explaining that she can’t find hope anymore, and that she’s too damaged to go back from. As she is about to leave the letter on Kevin’s doorstep, she finds one of Wayne’s newborn children left there by Tommy who clearly did not know what to do with her. Nora picks up the child and smiles a big smile.

With a season that took it’s time building characters and storylines, the first season finale ended in both a depressing and hopeful way. Depressing because as Nora said in her note, everyone left is beyond repair, and it is like living in the ruins of a dead society. The Garveys and everyone else on the show will face struggles as they continue to deal with the fallout of the departure. And yet, the ending was hopeful because of the victories some of the characters gained, both little and random. Kevin seems to have reconnected with his daughter. Tommy and Laurie have reunited and might be on a new path. Nora has found a new person to care for and protect. Matt bonded with Kevin, which is something he needed even if he didn’t let it show. Despite an overwhelming sense of despair these characters face on a daily basis, the finale left some hope. Yet with every season finale we are left with questions. Is the relationship between Kevin and Jill repaired? What’s next for Laurie now that she has seemingly left the GR and met up with Tommy? With the GR in shambles and Patti dead, is Meg poised to take over as the new Mapleton leader? Will Kevin descend further into madness? What exactly happened to Wayne? What was Kevin’s wish? Most shows face the dilemma of having to answer questions in a way that is satisfying to the viewers. However with a show like The Leftovers there is a theme of not having answers. The characters seem to never get answers to their problems, and we may never get an answer to why the Departure happened. There is always a giant aura of mystery surrounding each episode, which gives the show some mystique that makes it really intriguing. Viewers like myself will continue to be in for an emotional and often devastating ride, as the show has been picked up for a second season by HBO and looks to be the focal point of their summer lineup from here on out.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • Outstanding

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  • Last modified: September 10, 2014

Review Summary:

Pros

Strong character and storyline development, all around great performances, good wrap-ups to storylines

Cons

The story arc with Wayne and his baby was weak and wasn't developed enough