You can tell you have an exceptional show on your hands when itâ€™s able to churn out an episode that mostly exists to bridge two locations, but also ends up the best one of the season so far.
Usually, The Leftovers‘ character-specific episodes stand out, but “G’Day Melbourne” managed to resonate deeper than its preceding episodes, even if its main role was to finally get our leads to Australia and to connect the Kevin and Kevin Sr. storylines.
What â€œGâ€™Day Melbourneâ€ also accomplished was expose the cracks in the Nora/Kevin relationship, and those cracks turned out to be more like canyons. Nora and Kevin are our emotional core, and it happened so gradually, that although it should be obvious that these two are in a mess of a relationship, itâ€™s still a surprise when things go awry. Nora and Kevin feel like a constant; both are so screwed up itâ€™s hard to imagine they could ever be with anyone else. And whatâ€™s so compelling is that itâ€™s less about them being bad togetherâ€” they donâ€™t work even work as individuals.
The first half of â€œGâ€™Day Melbourneâ€ is as tense as The Leftovers has ever been. Iâ€™ve mentioned many times that weâ€™ve never gotten confirmation that all of the mystical thing happening to and around Kevin are actually real. There has always been a very good chance that Kevin was going crazy or just imagining everything. As spiritual of a show as The Leftovers is, itâ€™s not a fantasy. And Kevinâ€™s entire mental break, starting from the seeing Evie in an â€œother sideâ€-esque scene to the realization that he wasnâ€™t seeing Evie at all was as thrilling as it was unsettling.
We realize how easy it is for us to be manipulated when we see things through Kevinâ€™s eyes. Thereâ€™s an amazing moment when we think Evie is actually alive and that all of this is real, and it is replaced with apprehension when we notice that didnâ€™t get to see the photo Kevin sent Laurie, and itâ€™s beautifully destroyed when we do finally get to see the photo, confirming that all of this is in Kevinâ€™s head.
Noraâ€™s storyline is more exasperating. Kevin can blame his delusions at least in part to a possible mental illness. And as much as he puts up a fight, he can be reasoned with because there are clear methods to refute his points (like the photo of Not!Evie). Nora doesnâ€™t get this luxury. The fact that sheâ€™s still saying that she’s investigating this con is astounding. To us, she is incredibly transparent, but itâ€™s important to note that Kevin has been very OK with ignoring the obvious signs that she is actually interested in being â€œincineratedâ€ until things finally came to head in that fantastic argument scene of this episode.
And god, that scene. Frequently, the same background music is used throughout shows to denote thematically similar scenes. The Leftovers has done this quite a bit, but has been taking lots of risks this season (ahem, Wu-Tang). The backdrop of argument between Kevin and Nora is the classic ’80s hit â€œTake on Meâ€ by A-ha, which was also playing when Nora was meeting with Mark Linn-Bakerâ€™s crew of doctors. The contrast between this terrible fight and an upbeat synth-pop jam (though it is about desperately trying to get a relationship to work out) worked perfectly.
As Nora and Kevin rip into each other, the fire from the â€œBook of Kevinâ€ grows behind them, and when Kevin leaves after telling Nora to go be with her children (ouch) there a great shot of Nora watching him leave, her face aglow from the flames. In fact, â€œGâ€™Day Melbourneâ€ is filled with these visually stunning moments. Thereâ€™s a beautiful overhead shot of Kevin in the public library, the center shaped like an octagon with rows of desks branching out of it. And thereâ€™s Nora sitting in her burnt out hotel room, soaked, with the water from the sprinklers pouring from her eyelashes, rivers of fake tears.
And shout out to the always incredible Carrie Coon for ratcheting up Noraâ€™s unhinged-ness in this episode. When Nora walks through the mental detector, we all know sheâ€™s up to something just from her slightly exaggerated body language. Sheâ€™s fidgety and agitated the whole episode and it just escalates until the argument scene where everything blows up.
And still, â€œGâ€™Day Melbourneâ€ ended with Kevin, accepting his insanity, leaving with his father and Grace. Kevin Sr. and Grace have drunk the Kevin as the messiah kool-aid and itâ€™s hard to imagine that they wonâ€™t try to get Kevin to die and then come back. Itâ€™s also notable that although it wasnâ€™t Evie that Kevin saw on Gâ€™Day Melbourne, what he saw was the catalyst that got him and Kevin Sr. reunited. The sign that Evie was holding in Kevinâ€™s vision read â€œSurah 81.â€ Surah 81 refers to a chapter in the Quran that spells out the signs of a day of reckoning. Surah 81 lists many signs of the end of days, like when stars lose their light, or when the sea boils. But one of those signs in the list is especially pertinent to our story: â€œWhen the pages are published.â€ Safe to say that the although the â€œBook of Kevinâ€ went up in flames, its message is still as important as ever.
The final season of The Leftovers airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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