When you look back on Season 2 of “The Leftovers” — which wraps up Sunday (Dec. 6) with an epic finale — it feels like a tea kettle. The move to Jardin was the water being added; the Murphy family brought the heat; and in every episode, the kettle got hotter and more intense.
With this season finale, the kettle reached full boil, and there’s nowhere left for the steam to go. It all erupts with “I Live Here Now,” a tense, plot-heavy episode marked by an awakening, suicide bombers and a bullet.
Read on for all the details, but beware: Unlike the Guilty Remnant, there’s gonna be talking … with spoilers.
One of the most touching moments of not only the episode, but the entire 2-season run of “The Leftovers,” came via an earthquake (the first of two, as it turned out). After Nora (Carrie Coon) sheltered wheelchair-bound Mary (Janel Moloney) from falling debris, she is jarred out of her catatonic state.
“This is real? This is real?” Matt (Christopher Eccleston) keeps asking as she is wheeled up behind him and calling out his name. It is a rare moment of joy in a show often marked by its extreme misery.
With Mary awakened and able to confirm the previous sexual encounter that got her pregnant, Matt’s long journey of self-imposed torture seems to have finally come to an end. He’s able to finish Season 2 with the return of his wife and a baby on the way — and as a fan favorite, it’s nice to see him smile for a change.
Meanwhile, after a season-long quest to find Evie (Jasmin Savoy Brown), the truth comes out: The fingerprints on the car belong to Kevin (Justin Theroux). When John (Kevin Carroll) discovers what the audience has known for most of the season, his well-established rage erupts.
“I want you to tell me the truth,” says a furious John, when Kevin says he just remembered what happened to the teen girl the night she went missing. “What made you remember?
“I died,” replies Kevin.
But John insists that his daughter loved her family, leaving Kevin to choose his words poorly. “Maybe she didn’t … love you,” he responds.
Not really something you want to tell a gun-wielding father asking about his child. Sure enough, those words push John over the edge, and he takes out his weapon and shoots Kevin — killing him for the second time in less than 48 hours. Let’s just say the man is having a bad week.
But as it turns out, the bullet passes through Kevin — which causes him to return to the limbo hotel, be born again (and sing some karaoke, natch) and return to Jardin just in time to watch it be burned to the ground.
As all this is happening, Meg (Liv Tyler) is ready to make some major revelations of her own. Evie and the other missing girls have gone Guilty Remnant and have been under her control all along. Many of the refugees in the neighboring camp of sin are also “undercover” GR members. And oh yeah, the girls are going to blow up the bridge with themselves on it.
Asked to see some identification to enter Jardin, Meg responds: “I have 35 pounds of plastic explosive. Will that work?”
After the three missing girls step out of the vehicle, they hold up a sign that says “One Hour.” The crowd of outcasts goes crazy, chanting “Blow it up! Blow it up!”
And although the bomb turns out to be a red herring, in many ways the Guilty Remnant seems to have won the battle of Jardin.
Although it might get lost in all the major plot moments, perhaps the best scene in “I Live Here Now” is a beautifully-shot sequence with Regina King’s Erika confronting her daughter on the bridge, screaming at her — while we don’t hear a single word.
By the end of it all, everyone’s lives are impressively transformed, setting up a “Leftovers” Season 3 that will undoubtedly feel quite different. And the biggest surprise of all may have been that Season 2 ends on an uplifting note, as born-again-again Kevin makes his way into his house to find a motley crew that makes “Modern Family” seem traditional by comparison. Under his roof now is his ex-wife, his girlfriend, his daughter and estranged son (now holding Kevin’s adopted son), and his girlfriend’s brother and newly-awakened wife, all smiling at him.
Nora looks at him lovingly and says the final two words of the powerful second season: “You’re home.”