Dear Damon Lindelof: If 'The Leftovers' Doesn't End with a Dance of Joy, We Riot
I loved last night’s episode of The Leftovers, “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother),” a sequel to “International Assassin,” that did everything I love about great television. It brought back Patti Levin and Meg and God, it pulled the trigger on a few of those Chekhov’s guns, there was not one, but two references to Kevin Garvey’s dick — one of the show’s best inside jokes — and it ultimately closed the book on that other world. Kevin can’t go back, which means that the finale has to be resolved in this world.
How the hell is Damon Lindelof going to end the series?
I mean, no pressure or anything, Damon. I mean, all you have to do is make up for the Lost series finale and meet the expectations you put on yourself by creating two of the best seasons of television in the Peak TV era. Or ever. You’ve put yourself in a near impossible situation, brother. You can’t get too cute with this one. Trick endings won’t work. If someone wakes from a dream at the end, I’ll throw my television out the window. It doesn’t have to explain everything, but it does have to be emotionally satisfying. I have no idea how you do it, but I weirdly trust that you will.
I have two theories and both will probably be dead wrong. I kind of hope so, anyway. With a show like True Detective or even Westworld, I feel like the Internet often crowdsourced better endings than the showrunners, but Lindelof has been ahead of us all along, and I hope he stays out in front.
Theory Number One: The Departed return. When Patti Levin said that on the seventh anniversary, something big had to happen, that this netherworld needed to be destroyed, my first thought was, “By killing everyone, Patti is sending The Departed back home.” If there’s one thing we learned from six season of Lost, it’s that Lindelof loves a good reunion, and I can’t imagine a more crowd-pleasing ending than seeing all of these characters reunited with their lost loved ones.
But, it won’t bring back Meg. Or Evie. Or Patti. Or even Laurie, because these are all people who died post-Departure. In fact, all of these reunions would be with characters we never knew. It also doesn’t make a ton of sense, because the Garveys, the Jamisons, and the Murphys didn’t actually lose anyone (save for a fetus) in the Departure, so these reunions would ring hollow.
Theory Number Two: Love, man. The entire series comes down to Kevin and Nora. We know Nora survives, and she stays in Australia. We’ve seen her there. We know Kevin survives, because he’s looking for Nora. Maybe this whole series is about Kevin and Nora figuring themselves out. Figuring each other out. I don’t know. Maybe The Departure — and the device that Nora is trying to get in — didn’t evaporate two percent of the population. Maybe it zapped them into the future. Maybe Kevin is 85 years old and trying to track down Nora in the future. Maybe it’s The Notebook? Or The Time Traveler’s Wife. Kevin’s romance novel is The Book of Nora (the title of the last episode), is about the search for Nora, as the page Dean ripped out of the typewriter suggests: “He stood on the bow of the merciful. The water endlessly stretching into the infinite horizon as he contemplated the impossible distance between them, but he would not stop until he found her.”
It tracks, and any emotionally satisfying ending for The Leftovers will necessarily have to include a reunion between Kevin and Nora, because I’m a fucking optimist, that’s why. Because these two have gone through too much not to deserve a happy ending. Because I want Kevin to learn to love himself. Because I want Nora to be able to accept the past and move on. And because even in the midst of a show about existential despair, I crave the romantic ending.
More important than anything, however, is that Larry and Balki find each other on whatever plane of existence they are now. I can’t live in a universe where those two Perfect Strangers aren’t doing the Dance of Joy in some timeline in some dimension somewhere on this crazy planet of ours. This is the end credit sequence the world demands.
Now blow us away, Lindelof. Blow us away.
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