Spoilers for The Leftovers Season 2 finale below. Join the rest of the Departed if you don’t want to know what happened.
As much as I adored Season 1 of The Leftovers last year, the emotional bluntness had me wishing I could speed through the episodes a little quicker. The exact opposite has happened in the slightly less depressing Season 2, which has seemingly zipped by when all I want to do is spend more time there. But now it has ended in a most expectedly spectacular fashion, as the Guilty Remnant once again do the unthinkable and Kevin once again has some of the most unexplainable experiences known to man. I need a drink now.
As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, Evie and her two friends were hiding out inside of a vehicle under the apparent guidance of Meg and the Guilty Remnant, and now we know what that was all about. They were driven to the middle of the bridge leading to Jarden under the guise of transporting explosives, but the goal wasn’t to destroy the bridge, but merely to present a catalyst for Remnant members outside of Jarden to pop on some white clothes and bumrush the gates and take over the holy town themselves. Which fits right into their mostly non-violent and merely hyper-confrontational manner.
So the Murphy family was reunited, sorta, which cleared up that side of the story. But I’m still wondering exactly how Evie and her friends found their way into the Remnant’s ranks. Is that just what they did when they went out at night? Headed outside the border and went to Remnant houses to get their nicotine fix and rest their vocal cords? The Leftovers has done a pretty good job of delivering backstories that explain why certain members of the Remnant joined up, but I didn’t get that with Evie. Though I suspect dead bugs and things are involved.
Kevin has been dead, or something like it, for a few weeks now, after getting Virgil’s weirdo voodoo treatment to get Patti out of his head. In this episode, we not only got to watch him crawl out of the ground like a goddamned zombie, but we also got to revisit the hotel room set-up for “International Assassin,” one of the greatest TV hours of all time. That latter part happened after he got shot by John and died again. It turns out when you’re dead on The Leftovers, all you have to do is face the karaoke wheel in order to stay alive, and Kevin’s emotional performance was to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound.” And the episode ends with Kevin coming home to not only his original family – Laurie, Tom and Jill – but also Nora and Lily, and everyone’s happy to see him. Somehow that was the weirdest most-afterlife-ish moment of the whole episode.
But a happy ending doesn’t exactly explain why Virgil killed himself after poisoning Kevin, and why Kevin had to be buried. The Leftovers has done a great job of making the reason behind the Departure feel like unnecessary knowledge, which possibly should make viewers comfortable with no explanations for other mysteries. But Kevin’s entire plot this season is so mind-bogglingly odd that it’s frustrating to be given the crust without all of the filling. Why didn’t he bleed out? Is he still going to see Patti again or at a later date? And why was Tommy so happy to be a part of this family again after being such a turd?
After two seasons of watching Janel Moloney mostly sitting expressionless in a chair without moving, I’d prepared myself to never see this woman return from her catatonic state, forever serving as a (currently pregnant) cross for Matt to bear, and I wasn’t totally sure if I believed his story about her waking up that one time. But after that one earthquake, she’s back to talking and laughing, and she confirmed that their child’s conception was something she gave consent to.
But why did she wake up now? The show has had some earthquakes in the past, and none of them brought her out of her state, at least in front of our eyes. Had Matt finally served some greater good by being on the outside? I’m certainly happy she’s back, but I’m even more confused now about what’s happening with her than I was in the beginning. Not enough to bother me, though.
All in all, Season 2 of The Leftovers is one of the most fascinating and thematically brave seasons of any TV show to come before it, whether you’re talking about cavewoman survivors or little girls in wells or support groups for members of former support groups. It’s not clear if we’ll get a Season 3 from HBO to keep things going, but even if we don’t, the two seasons we got combined for an incomparable TV tour-de-force.