The season finale of HBO’s The Leftovers aired last night, answering some of the most nagging questions I had about the show and leaving just enough mystery to tempt me to tune in next season. As I pointed out in my initial Leftovers post, the slow pace and tone of the show frustrated me and though I never quit watching, I came close. After the jump, let’s look at the 10 questions The Leftover answered last night (Spoilers Ahead, obviously).
1. Besides keeping cigarette companies in business, what is the Guilty Remnant planning?
This was some pretty twisted shit. We had seen glimpses of the Guily Remnant (GR) stealing photos of the departed and laying out clothes, and we knew it would lead up to something big, but I couldn’t have imagined this kind of mean, cruel reminder to the townspeople who had lost loved ones. The GR’s ultimate, elaborate three year plan was to create mannequins in the departed’s likenesses and place them in the exact clothes and locations they were in right before they disappeared. Needless to say, the town of Mapleton doesn’t take their prank too well.
2. Is Kevin Garvey Jr. going insane?
Not anymore, I think. The dream he had while passed out in Ben’s car seemed to put an end to this question for the moment. Having the woman whom you just buried give you a lap dance in front of your father is some complex shit to be sure. Garvey Sr. seemed to want him to stay in the nut house with him, while Patty wanted him to leave and go back to the world. She was a shock to his system that woke him out of thinking he was a ‘bad man’ like his father insisted he was. So, he made the choice to stay sane I guess? If he’d listened to his father, and not turned around, he’d probably be dropping off random magazines at his daughter’s kitchen by now.
3. Is Holy Wayne a complete sham?
Maybe Not! I’m sure if you asked Ken and Laurie’s son Tom, who we saw driving with his girlfriend/wife/baby momma to meet with Holy Wayne earlier, he’d probably have a different opinion. I like to think that Tom’s responsible for stabbing Wayne here on the toilet of a local burger joint and leaving him to die. But when Wayne asked Kevin to think of a wish, and he would grant it right before he died, he smiled and granted the wish, it seemed to bring him some peace at least. But as we see at the end of the episode, he may have indeed fulfilled Kevin’s wish, which was surely to have a family again. So not a complete sham. But most likely a false prophet with a pretty solid excuse for not paying child support.
4. Why did Laurie join the GR?
This wasn’t specifically answered by the show, but I thought it was probably similar to Nora’s letter to Kevin about not being strong enough to deal with the after effects of The Departure. As we learned in the penultimate episode, she lost a baby from her womb during the event and who knows how badly that would mess someone up. The GR with their no talking policy and easy clothing options must’ve seemed really tempting after 10/14.
5. What is Ben’s Deal?
Forgiveness… and cheeseburgers. Although, he seemed creepily well prepared to dispose of a body, it felt like the dream sequence where he drops Kevin off at the sanitarium was misdirection, we were supposed to think he’s up to no good, but he’s really ok. Although he does have a genuine axe to grind with the GR for taking his church, he seemed genuinely concerned for them, including the two who were tied to the street sign and beaten. Having Kevin read from the book of Job and asking him questions over food about Patty’s death were exactly what Kevin needed to forgive himself. Until further evidence is presented, I think he’s one of the good guys.
8. What’s this fucking show about?
Letting go? Closure? Moving On? All the above? Yes, yes, yes and yes! As cruel as the GR stunt was, I can see the twisted logic that they were trying to help Mapleton leave the departed behind and get on with their lives. The burning of the effigies in the pyre outside the GR church, with the old couple throwing their downs syndrome ‘son’ in the flames and watching him melt illustrated this beautifully. The fact that the town went crazy and shot at/killed a bunch of them was probably the hoped for side-effect as well. A lot cleaner than jabbing a jagged piece of glass in your carotid vein. Extra points to Patty for planning it on the anniversary of The Departure, with the bunting and flags hanging everywhere, it looked like Mayberry on the fourth of July. Until that woman started shooting everyone. Very Blue Velvet of you Patty.
9. What is that National Geographic Grandpa Garvey dropped off about?
Besides smuggling notes in Kevin’s dream, who knows! But the stupid thing keeps popping up whenever Grandpa Garvey is onscreen, so it will probably play out later. Of course, my grandfather had stacks of that magazine in his basemen, and he would drop a few off whenever he’d come by to visit. Maybe Garvey Sr. hates throwing away magazines?
10. Can we have one last loving look at Charlie and Max Carver’s bodies?
This Ain’t No Peepshow!
After a slow burn of a season that at times felt like a celebration of grief porn, The Leftovers ultimately rewarded us with a smart finale that answered a lot of the questions it created for itself, which I have to say was pretty satisfying. The final scene of Nora, about to leave Mapleton after dropping off her note at Kevin’s, clutching Holy Wayne’s baby was a very moving, beautifully realized and played out. Kevin’s family may be slightly different than it was before The Departure, but it’s there if he wants it. And from his expression while talking to Holy Wayne in the bathroom, it’s evident he does.
I’m glad HBO is giving this show a second season, I’m interested to see where they take it, as they’ve reportedly exhausted the source material of Tom Perotta’s book. The look in that Guilty Remnant’s eyes while Kevin questioned her was menacing enough to make me want to know what happens next.
All screencaps via HBOGO.