Each week following episodes of season two of The Leftovers, Sophie Gilbert and Spencer Kornhaber will discuss new characters, old visitors, and whether smoking really is the best way to express profound nihilism.
Kornhaber: What a twist: The Leftovers’ second season has a happy ending. The extended Garvey family—estranged wife and son, adopted partner and baby, the near sister-in-law no longer braindead, and all others—greet Kevin after his exceedingly traumatic 24 hours. “You’re home!” Nora says. Cut to black. Aww.
The dose of communal happiness was well-deserved after what the show just put everyone through. The suspense heading into the finale was over what Meg was planning; the truth—she unveiled the girls as GR members, pulled a bigger version of last week’s bus-grenade fakeout, and then stormed the gates of Jarden—felt a bit underwhelming simply because it wasn’t that crazy. But Erika’s silent screaming at the teary but stoic Evangeline, and the thought that they might both be about to blow up, made for supremely taxing TV. Even more stressful: when Nora had her baby snatched, in a sick echo of what happened to her on October 14 four years earlier.
The most harrowing element of the finale, though, was Kevin’s saga. Once John Murphy pulled the trigger and ran out of the kennel, I felt a pang of dread. When Kevin woke up in that overflowing hotel bath, I had the same horrified reaction he did. And when the guy at the bar pointed out that there’s no particular reason for Kevin to escape death, it suddenly seemed clear that The Leftovers had extravagantly killed and brought back its main character only to gain more shock value from axing him an episode later. The lovey-dovey memories flashing through his mind while singing “Homeward Bound” sealed it: Oh my god, Justin Theroux is off the show!