Iâ€™ve been equally full of dread and excitement when it came to watching the series finale of The Leftovers. The excitement part is obvious; we all want to know how it ends. But the dread was two-fold.
It was the fear that this last episode, â€œThe Book of Noraâ€ would be disappointing, and it was also having to accept that this show that has grown to mean so much to me is over. But if thereâ€™s one thing to learn from The Leftovers itâ€™s that you can only live in denial for so long.
And I’ve spent much of this season writing about the role of denial in this show and how characters on The Leftovers frequently lie to themselves and to others in order to cope with the world around them. “The Book of Nora” dug in deep with this concept, not only having Kevin blatantly pretend that most of his life with Nora never happened, but also Nora’s repeated reactions to lying. She is furious with the nun for denying her tryst with the man that just climbed out of her window. She’s told she is lying when she’s filming her video before she enters the machine. She brusquely responds that she doesn’t lie.
But weâ€™ve seen her lie plenty of times. She lied about getting rid of her handgun in season one, she lied about going to see Lily, and she lied about the purpose of her trip to Australia. And then she spent the rest of her life having Laurie and Matt lie to Kevin about her being alive.
Kevin assumes Nora backed out of going through the machine and remain in Australia since then. Nora denies this. She claims that she went through and that the machine sent her to another world, just like our own, except that instead of two percent of world’s population disappearing, 98 percent of the population disappeared. Meaning, to everyone who departed in “our” world, it seemed like they stayed exactly where they were and the people around them departed. She says that had to spend a long time there, and she came back because in this other world, her family was happy.
I must say, it’s a simple, yet elegant explanation of what could have happened. But itâ€™s not really believable. For one, we see more than once Nora yelling while in the machine, very convincingly looking like sheâ€™s changed her mind. And we donâ€™t see any scenes of this other world. At this point, Kevinâ€™s â€œothersideâ€ is more convincing. And I hate to nag, especially in a finale I throughly enjoyed, but the one thing that bothered me was what happened to Laurieâ€™s unborn child then? I didnâ€™t like it at all when this plot point was introduced, because the last thing I wanted to cloud this fantastic show was frustrating discussions about when life began and arguments about Laurieâ€™s fetus disappearing being some part of a political discussion.
So if the fetus disappeared, according to the rules Nora has introduced, the fetus would experience Laurie disappearing around it? And if the machine exists in the other world, why isnâ€™t everyone going through it? It doesnâ€™t make sense. My point it is, of course Nora is lying.
But itâ€™s kind of perfect. What our show runners provided is both much less certain, and much more grounded in reality. We were given an answer, but weâ€™ve also been given reasons to doubt that answer. And while this could be seen as a copout, it actually drives home an important point.
The beauty of The Leftovers is that you can choose to believe what you want, whether itâ€™s to embrace the fantasy of separate dimensions and an afterlife, or to embrace humanityâ€™s flawed desire to build stories so we can feel better. It doesnâ€™t really matter if what Nora said was true or if it was made up. Kevin believes her, he believes in her. And thatâ€™s the truth that matters.
There were some portions of “The Book of Nora” that were at risk of seeming manipulative, including the ambiguity with what actually happened. But for me, it was finding out that Laurie was alive. “Certified” left me reeling for days, and it might be my favorite episode of this final season.
In my piece about that episode, I flippantly mentioned that it was always possible that Laurie never went through with killing herself. I wasn’t expecting that to actually be true, but part of the reason I felt the need to mention it was the fear that we were going to get hoodwinked. And we did. But, oddly, it doesn’t bother me very much. I found “Certified” to be important and effective in it’s own isolated bubble, and the fact that Laurie decided to live doesn’t cheapen her struggle with suicide. She decided to live before and she decided to live again. And I wanted her to choose to live. When you assume The Leftovers will be bleak, itâ€™s turns around and gives you hope.
I adored the early scene with Nora and Matt doing Mad Libs to make up an obituary. I know the final scene with Nora and Kevin was supposed to be the emotional high note, but itâ€™s this funny, dark, goodbye scene between a brother and sister that really got to me. Christopher Eccleston and Carrie Coon have great chemistry, and they exude the perfect mix of love and frustration that feels true to a sibling bond. And then the actual moments leading up to Nora getting into the machine had an eerie sci-fi feel that The Leftovers has never really done before.
But for the most part, â€œThe Book of Noraâ€ stuck to the tried and true that have come to characterize The Leftovers. It had black comedy (Nora talking about Matt keeping her â€œfossilâ€ had me rolling), random, absurd events as catalysts (Nora almost trapping herself in the bathroom spooks her enough to get her to meet Kevin at the dance), and animals as a symbol (The birds of course, and also Nora saving the goat! AARP-aged Nora rolling down a hill after falling off her bike, and getting back up to save a damn goat!). â€œThe Book of Noraâ€ was an ode to the entire show.
I like that this finale wasnâ€™t a monumental, epic, earth-shattering ending. Although The Leftovers has a mythical, world-encompassing quality, this story doesnâ€™t need anything huge. Itâ€™s a show about how a few regular people cope with a traumatic event. And maybe thatâ€™s one of the reasons that it has hit me, and I think most people who watch it, so hard. Everyone will experience grief at some point or another. If anything, The Leftovers is infinitely relatable. And its conclusion simply being Nora and Kevin sharing an emotional moment over a cup of tea is startlingly regular and a lovely, quiet way to close this journey.
â€œThe Book of Noraâ€ was also a straight-up happy ending, or at least as much as you could ask for from a show like this. Iâ€™m legitimately delighted that at the end of this emotionally harrowing 28 episodes, our people are OK. Laurie, Kevin Sr., Erika, John, Michael, Jill, Tommy: all living normal lives. They made it. Itâ€™s all I could have asked for.
As for Kevin and Nora, we knew things wouldnâ€™t be so easy for them. How heartbreaking and romantic and depressing as hell is it that Kevin has spent years looking for Nora while she hid from him? But in the last moments of â€œThe Book of Noraâ€ it seemed like maybe theyâ€™d be able to help each other make it through the rest of their lives.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…