Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Which Mysteries Will Be Solved In “The Leftovers” Finale?

Season 3 of The Leftovers on HBO was a surprisingly short 8 episodes, and with only one episode left, I’m beginning to suspect some of the show’s biggest mysteries will never be solved.

How does Kevin keep rising from the dead?

In season 2 – which in my view was the show’s best season by far – Kevin dies not once, but twice. Both times he ends up in that bizarre hotel that represents Purgatory (or some other form of the afterlife), providing the series’ best two episodes: “International Assassin” and “I Live Here Now.” I always chalked up Kevin’s supernatural resilience to the “miracles” of Miracle, Texas. On the show, Miracle was the only place on earth where no one vanished in the Sudden Departure, and the whole place reminded me a bit of the island on LOST (also created by showrunner Damon Lindelof). And in Season 2, we saw a dead bird come back to life in the opening episode, so it appeared the land’s “magic” could ressurect the dead.

This notion was reinforced in episode one of Season 3, when Matt told Kevin he can’t die so long as he’s in Miracle. But last episode, it happened again, far far away from Miracle, Texas. The episode, which played like a sequel to “International Assassin,” was great, but only raised more questions about how Kevin keeps pulling this off. Is he truly some type of “savior,” like Matt believed? I doubt it, given where the show seems to be going. But somehow Kevin has become the most resurrected man in history. There’s only one episode remaining, and we have Nora’s entire storyline to wrap up, so my guess is we’ll never learn the secret to Kevin’s immortality.

What was the Sudden Departure?

This has been the biggest question on The Leftovers since the series premiered. Was the Sudden Departure, where 2% of the world’s population vanished into thin air, the biblical Rapture? Season 1 went out of its way to suggest that might not be the case. After all, many of the departed were not good people: Nora’s cheating husband; the woman who had sex with Kevin on the day of the departure knowing he was married; and Gary Busey. (In all seriousness, the show has had fun with this for three seasons, but who’s to say Bucey wouldn’t be the first to go in the biblical Rapture?)

Season 2 did nothing to solve the big mystery, but Season 3 has at least offered the possibility that we’ll get an answer. In episode 2 (titled “Don’t’ Be Ridiculous”), Nora is contacted by a secret group of physicists who discovered that Low-Amplitude Denzinger Radiation was detected at the site of each departure. Based on this discovery, they have created a machine that utilizes this radiation to transport people to wherever their loved ones departed. Either that, or the scientists are defrauding people into giving up their life savings only to be incinerated by the machine. In any event, Nora is so desperate to be with her departed children, she’s willing to risk her life in this mysterious device to be with them.

I suppose next episode she could be transported to heaven or wherever the departed may be, though I doubt it. This appears to be the fundamental mystery the show is determined to remain unsolved. So just like we never really learned what the island was on LOST, my bet is we’ll never learn what the Sudden Departure really was. In the words of the Iris DeMent song that opened every episode of Season 2 (and which I suspect will open the season finale), we’ll have to “let the mystery be.”

Will we learn what happens to Nora in the machine?

This is the one question I believe we might get the answer to. The mysterious departure machine has been one of the driving plot lines in Season 3, and Nora is desperate enough that I think she’ll find a way to get in it. Also, we have the strange scene at the end of episode one where a woman named “Sarah” – who looks and sounds a lot like an older Nora – is gathering up doves someplace near a church and denies ever knowing someone named Kevin. Were we glimpsing the future? It sure looked like it.

So, could the machine actually be transporting people forward in time? Or to some alternate reality? All that remains to be seen. But for a show that’s taken Kevin to a bizzaro Purgatory three times now, I truly hope it takes us to wherever Nora goes.

That said, even if these questions are never answered, The Leftovers has been a wonderful and thought-provoking show. But that’s just my take. How will you feel if mysteries remain unsolved after the series finale of The Leftovers?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

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