Spoiler warning (and mild overall judgment) for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Leftovers series finale.
A few weeks ago, one of TV's most complex and fascinating series came to its too-soon ending, as The Leftovers bid farewell to HBO and viewers with a stellar series finale that offered as much satisfaction and sidebar conversations as every previous episode. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Damon Lindelof co-creation bowed out on many unresolved notes, particularly the verisimilitude of Nora's tale of an alternate reality. Don't go looking to get any answers or insight from the stunning actress Carrie Coon, either, because she's not talking. Here's why.
There's a lot of ambiguity in life, and so often, our art is very neatly wrapped up at the end, when our lives never feel that way. I didn't care for the questions to be answered; I knew they wouldn't be, really. Of course, the big question is whether or not Nora was telling the truth. Our crew was split about 50/50, and I'll never say what I think. I think that robs the viewers of their own experience.
For anyone who thought that Carrie Coon would be more on the audience's side than Damon Lindelof, by metaphorically loosening up her lips and letting the facts fly, this is probably a disappointment. TV ambiguity has a way of generating ire in immeasurable and unpredictable ways, and Lindelof has had a front row seat to fan derision for all the years that came after the polarizing final episode (and final season, if we're being real here) of Lost. So he knew damned well that setting up Nora and Kevin's last conversation would send viewers up the flagpole with curious inquiries.
But for those of us who don't need every iota of plot mechanisms and story exposition spelled out, there's something quite lovely about Carrie Coon's answer to Deadline, and her insistence on keeping Nora's possible truths and untruths to herself. In the same way that some fans go all St. Elsewhere-finale with their theories and assumptions about some TV mysteries, The Leftovers has seen its share of wild fan-formed explanations meant to tie up loose ends. But without Damon Lindelof and the writers directly telling us how to read into things, we're allowed to think whatever we want, which one might think people would enjoy more.
If someone obsessively wanted another Earth to exist in The Leftovers, offering a form of resolution to the Sudden Departure (if not an outright explanation for it), then the only thing needed is just belief in Nora's story about what happened to her that fateful day. On the flip side, if a viewer wants to really read into that cut-away from Nora inside the "device," when she appears to start screaming something, then he or she is free to believe that the experiment was either a hoax or just altogether ineffective. It's technically a win-win situation for all.
To be fair, The Leftovers has received far more praise and acclaim than vitriol for its final episode, as diehard fans knew full well how things could potentially go down, at least in terms of generally conclusions and a lack thereof. (Kevin's faked amnesia might not have been the most foreseeable plot point, admittedly.) And in the end, at least the big question The Leftovers leaves us with is more of a this-or-that situation, as opposed to Lost's medley of unanswerable thoughts.
Without anything else from The Leftovers ever set to make it to the light of day, fans will either have to just rewatch the series and come up with new theories, or we'll all just have to go out on our own time to try and find someone to take us to the "Other Side" to see for ourselves. In the meantime, though, hit up our summer TV schedule to see everything that's hitting the small screen in the coming months.