From the very beginning, the first season of The Leftovers has been characterised by great acting, compelling characters and amazing cinematography, but a story that has been hard as hell to follow, winding mystery that has had no discernible end point and a plot that has not only seemed pointless at times but sometimes just downright boring. Still, we stuck it out for ten episodes and we’ve finally reached a semi conclusion in the form of the season one finale. So, now, it’s time to pass judgement.
Before I even start with the review, let me direct your attention to Justin Theroux’s interview with Conan O’Brien, in which he claimed to have not known that his swinging bulge was “a thing” until his second jogging scene when he was asked to wear two pairs of underwear because it was so distracting.
Mr Jennifer Aniston, please! You may now have several seats… all the way to the back, because who are you kidding?! HBO is no rookie to understanding what draws in viewers, ratings and watercooler discussions. The Leftovers has been relying on Justin Theroux’s sex appeal from episode one and they’ve made no attempt at hiding this. I’m so mad at myself because in my last review I forgot to mention how much it seemed to me that the cameras were always focused directly on Justin Theroux’s bulge throughout the episode. I actually made the GIFs for the primary aim of bringing up this point, and I still forgot to mention it. It would have been incredibly pertinent to this argument now. Either way, homeboy needs to cool it with this bashful “the focus on my bulge is so surprising and mortifying” talk, because Jon Hamm did it first, and did it way more convincingly. On to the review!
My first thought on this finale is that it wasn’t nearly as confusing as I was afraid it might have been. We’ve had so many clusterfucks of episodes this season that it seems that we’ve gone through the rocky period of total confusion to emerge onto a smooth valley of just some confusion.
We start off with Tom and Christine, who are both seeming to come to terms with the fact that Wayne was a total manipulative psychopath who messed up both their lives while they were in their youthful prime. What a shocker! It’s like you can’t even trust a deranged cult leader anymore. Christine appears to be more damaged by the realisation, but then you would be too if a middle-age sleazebag proclaimed you to be special, took your virginity, knocked you up, paid you off, took off and left you lost and defenceless only to realise later that he did the same thing to another half dozen girls just like you, making your name the only thing special about you. Even though Tom promises to get a job and take care of them all, Christine leaves morosely to change the baby’s diaper, leaving Tom to later realise that she left the baby in the stall of a public restroom and abandoned them both. Is it just me, or would she make the perfect addition to the cast of MTV’s Teen Mom?
After Patti’s shocking suicide, Kevin calls Matt, and the reverend actually drives all the way up to Cairo to help get rid of the body. On their way back home, Kevin awakens to find that Matt has taken him to the same mental hospital where his Kevin Garvey Sr is kept, with Matt insisting that he had no choice. After being manhandled and thrown into a cell, Kevin receives a written message from his father in the same Nat Geo magazine from a few episodes back, telling him to stop talking to himself. When he calms down some, he is taken to a living room-type area where he finds his father. The two of them share a weird conversation about being bad men and being left behind because of it until one of Kevin Sr’s voices kick in again. Only this time, Kevin hears the voice also and, even worse, sees who it belongs to: Patti. Despite trying to convince himself that she isn’t real, Kevin fails to make this ghost go away and Patti taunts and teases him until she screams at him to wake up. To my complete surprise, he does, and we find that the entire thing had been a dream and that he’d never left Matt’s car at all. My loudest thought when this happened was: the fuck did I just watch?!
Kevin and Matt then stop for something to eat, and after Kevin goes into this long sob story about not being able to hold on to his family after the Departure, he runs into the washroom to compose himself. In there, he realises that someone is bleeding out in one of the stalls and, when he opens it up, we find Wayne slumped on the toilet with his guts spilling out of his stomach into his hands. He begs Kevin not to leave him and then asks him to make a wish. According to him, he fears that he may have been a fraud all this time, but if he is able to make Kevin’s wish come true, he would prove to himself before dying that he’d been real. Though Kevin only says the wish in his head, Wayne evidently hears it, and his last word before dying is “Granted.” We don’t know what the actual wish is, but considering Kevin’s last conversation with Matt was, and how miserable he’s been all season, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it had something to do with getting his family back. Can I just say that I never really liked Wayne, so his death wasn’t very sad to me, but holy hell, that was the creepiest dying scene that I’ve ever seen!
For several weeks now, we’ve been seeing the members of the GR doing some pretty weird but mysterious things and this week, everything came full circle and their big plan was revealed. Remember how they’d gone around stealing everyone’s family photographs while they slept? Remember how they also kept tabs on everyone who’d lost someone in the Sudden Departure? Also remember that weird company who specialises in making identical, life-sized mannequins of those who’d Departed, provided that they had pictures of the subject? Well, ding ding ding, wouldn’t you know it? Everything connected in the end, after all.
The mannequins got back to the GR and, while everyone from Mapleton slept, the cult sickos placed them into the homes of their Departed inspirations, and the result was the most horrifying, heart-wrenching and macabre image that you can imagine. Seriously, when Nora walked in on her “family” at the breakfast table, I just couldn’t.
Well, enough was enough. This was the last straw for the residents of Mapleton, and the entire neighbourhood declared all-out war against the GR and, to put it mildly, beat the ever-living shit out of them. It was mayhem! And the houses of the GR were even set on fire… with GR members still inside! One of those happened to be Jill, who’d stubbornly converted to the cult in an attempt to be closer to her mother. I don’t even want to go into that because, as much as I dislike Jill, my newfound sympathy for Laurie made Jill’s rebellious conversion to the group an incredibly powerful move, and I felt for both of them. Also, it turns out that maybe I don’t hate Jill as much as I thought, because the entire time that Kevin was running inside the burning building looking for her, I was hoping that she wasn’t dead.
Of course, she wasn’t, and I did expect that. If she’d died, it would mean that Wayne had been unable to grant Kevin’s wish, and if Wayne were a fraud, then the story would lose one of its most powerful supernatural elements. As the episode came to a close, we found Nora penning a farewell letter to Kevin, admitting that she was too much of a coward to go on pretending that everything was fine when she was still hurting every day for the loss of her family. I don’t know if the letter was made to be purposely misleading, but I thought almost up to the very end that it was a suicide letter, and I just couldn’t bear it. It turns out, though, that it was an actual farewell letter, and when Nora stopped by Kevin’s house to drop it off, she finds Christine’s baby on the front porch – seems that Tom is just as bad as Christine – and Nora instantly falls in love with her.
Considering everything that we’ve had to endure this season, I think that it was a pretty good finale. I’m still on the fence about staying for season two, but the fact that the story seemed to get progressively clearer is a bit of an incentive to give it another chance. Now that True Blood and The Leftovers are now over, and Teen Wolf will be also in another 24 hours, I’m left with the conundrum of not having any shows to review. Of course, when October rolls around, I’m going to be watching a slew of other shows, including some of my favourites like Arrow, American Horror Story and Glee, though I’m not so sure I can still count that last one as one of my favourites. I’m also planning on getting into new shows like The Flash, The Americans and a few others, but I’m not sure if I should review any of them. I’ll figure it out soon enough but, until then, happy viewing, everyone!