The Leftovers Review: Season Three, Episode 4


Two infant twins are born. One of them will grow up to cure cancer, but only if the other one dies now. You don't have to kill the baby yourself, but you do have to nod to make it happen. Do you nod? - Dr. Eden

Holy crap, what an incredible hour of television from The Leftovers, a series now unquestionably the best show available anywhere. Last week, we traveled to Australia to spend some time with Kevin Garvey, Sr, and this week, we took a second flight to the Outback, but this time it was with Kevin's son and his girlfriend. The two episodes couldn't be much different, except for how similar they were.

The Leftovers continues to be about finding purpose and taking a journey to explain either what's unexplained or why those that remain are even alive. It's driven many people mad, from our gasoline-soaked friend last week to Kevin and his plastic bag to Nora, her gun, her broken arm, or her various obsessions. Some joined the Guilty Remnant, others fought them, and still others attempted to live above the fray, but only in public. Privately, no one is okay.

That's the crux of the series. Everything sucks for those that remain behind, and the mental stability of the global population has shattered over the past seven years. Thus, when we see the suicide attempts, witness the earsplitting arguments, or watch these people weep openly, regardless of who might be around, we understand. These aren't circumstances to which we can relate, but as we've taken Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta's journey these past three seasons, we feel like we're there.

In many ways, we are, because we don't understand why anything happened either, or what these people should do with their lives, and similarly to everyone in that world, most of us don't hope to understand our greater purpose. We live based on someone's plan, whether our own or one through religion or ingrained through parents or loved ones, but it's all built on faith. The difference between the show and reality is the lack of faith that has overtaken so many of those people, because they feel betrayed or shunned by whatever they might have previously believed in.

Kevin and Nora weren't destined to last, although the heart wants what the heart wants. I'm not sure the hearts are fully functional for either one of them though, and these two people came together based on mutual individual misery. They were both unhappy, both ready to die, and each basically became the 12 step recovery sponsor for the other. What happens when Kevin sees and communicates with ghosts? Nora can't handle it, which we saw with Patty and almost witnessed again last night with Evie Murphy.

Kevin thought he saw Evie on "G'Day Melbourne," an Aussie morning show hosted by the effervescent Pam Jolly and Bruce Quartermayne. We also saw Evie, which could have felt like a cheap trick, except we were viewing that moment through Garvey's eyes alone. There's no way to pull the scene off without us being snookered, because if we had seen the actual woman, nothing Kevin did would have made any sense. So, The Leftovers had to screw with us. It wasn't the first time, and no doubt won't be the last.

It was wild to see Jasmine Savoy Brown pop back up, but I was pleased when it turned out she wasn't alive. That would have been a twist for a sub-par, cheesy show like The Event, not something like The Leftovers. Still, it sent Kevin completely off the skids, and led to the fight in the hotel room. But, it takes two to tango, and while Kevin attempted to get to the bottom of his vision, even contacting Laurie, Nora sought the head honcho behind the Mark Linn-Baker con.

Except, on the way to the final destination, Nora fell for the scheme. Dr. Eden and Dr. Bekker were crafty and matter-of-fact in their manner of speech. How they laid it out, from the medical testing to the questions to the rectangular box, was designed to make the subject desperately want what they were selling. We're still pretty sure it's a scam, although the reticence to take money and willingness to walk away from a payday is quite the slow play.

Last week, Kevin Sr. came upon a man in a Volkswagen Beetle. This man intentionally burned himself to death, but not before asking Kevin a question. If he could cure cancer by killing a child, would he do it? Kevin Sr. was just as confused as the rest of us, but it makes more sense now, although we still don't know what the "right" answer is. It would stand to reason the group wants to hear "no," but who knows? Nora's answer wasn't satisfactory, and she was left chasing the women down, only to be rejected again.

Then she returns to the hotel room, where Kevin is beside himself over Evie, fearful he's losing his mind, and the napalm is ignited. Old wounds are reopened, first with Nora placing blame on Kevin for not obstructing her ability to give Lily back to her biological mother. Kevin points to his girlfriend's overwhelming desire to play the victim, and that having a child with her, making her a mother, might make her "okay," which isn't what she wants. Eventually, Kevin storms out and leaves Nora in the room, but not before setting his book ablaze in the sink. The cigarette didn't set off the sprinklers as she had prepared for it, but the actual fire did.

Kevin walks outside and hears his father's voice, and sure enough Kevin Sr. is behind him along with Grace Playford. We should've known they'd have been watching G'Day Melbourne, but I never even thought about it until he said it. So off Kevin goes with his dad, leaving Nora in the hotel room. What a beautiful final shot of her drenched by the water and motionless with her head down. We are left to wonder if any saline is mixed with the water. Remember, this is a woman who didn't panic when inside what was basically a Styrofoam peanut-filled coffin in a shady warehouse. How much did it matter to her when Kevin walked away? And, is this truly the end of their partnership? We know she ends up old on a bicycle with doves, still in Australia, but we don't know if she traveled there, transported there, or got there some other way.

The Leftovers is halfway through a stupendous, mind blowing final season. I'm very sad it's coming to a close, but we're amidst an all-time great stretch of episodes. Each one leaves me pondering its contents long after the credits have rolled. This is why I love TV so much. Movies can't tell this kind of story. This show is a real treat to observe and to cover. Just awesome, awesome stuff week after week, and I didn't even mention the three versions of "Take On Me," or I didn't until just now. If Nora had all of a sudden become animated with a pencil drawing, I probably would have taken off work for a week just to deal with the ridiculousness of it all. Alas, we just got the tune, and it was excellent.

I'm @JMartOutkick. I prefer my A-Ha with a horn section.