The Leftovers Season 1 Finale Recap: Where There's Smoke...

The Leftovers Season 1 Finale

After a torturous week of suspense, The Leftovers concludes its freshman season with a gloriously horrifying finale in which Matt digs Kevin out of a hole (and Patti into one), Jill makes not one but two ginormous life decisions (one for the better, one for the worse), Tom and Christine’s road trip takes a major detour, and the Guilty Remnant brings to fruition its cruel plan for Memorial Day. Care for some details? Read on.

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BURIAL PLOTTING | The hour opens with the saddest cigarette ad ever – Kevin puffing away over Patti’s dead body, and Jill and Laurie sharing a smoke at GR HQ (to the tune of “Ne Me Quitte Pas” – clever). Shortly thereafter, Matt answers Kevin’s SOS call and arrives at the cabin in Cairo with shovels and a Bible passage for the chief to read at Patti’s grave. (Job, I believe.) Later, when Kevin wakes from a nap on the car ride back to Mapleton, he’s shocked to find that Matt has had him committed to the same mental hospital that his father calls home. “Hey, baby boy,” says Dad before suggesting that he, Kevin and all of the other leftovers were left behind on the day of the Sudden Departure because they are bad people. But wait, it gets weirder – when Kevin turns around, Patti’s there, and she seems to be alive! (So much so that she sits on his lap and kisses him!) Then, at last, he wakes from his nightmare – whew! – and, over a rest stop burger, tearfully confesses his sins to Matt. Afterward, he’s drying his eyes in the bathroom when he discovers Holy Wayne in a stall with his insides falling out. (What a day – sheesh!) Before dying, the cult leader asks Kevin to do him a favor and make a wish – if he’s not the fraud that he fears he is, he can make it come true. (Though Kevin doesn’t say it out loud, it’s safe to assume that he wishes he could have his family back intact.) “Granted,” says Wayne, who then croaks just as the authorities burst in. (Curiously, they ask Kevin if Wayne talked about Russia or made physical contact… ) Finally, Kevin and Matt get back on the road to Mapleton. Of course, more horrors await there…

UP IN SMOKE | While all of this is going on, at GR HQ, Laurie is trying to convince Jill to leave, just for the night, because – given their plans for Memorial Day – it isn’t safe. Instead, the teen defiantly dons all white. “At least you’ll be together,” Meg scribbles to Laurie. And so Jill is at the GR when all hell breaks loose. The GR’s scheme, we learn, is to place the dummies they had made to resemble the departed in the homes from which they departed, thus forcing their grieving loved ones to remember their vanishing. (The point of this? Beats me. But they sure are committed to it.) When Nora sees her family once again sitting at the kitchen table from which they evaporated, she reacts exactly as you’d expect – with soul-crushing anguish. And all across town, this same devastating scene plays out over and over again. So, by the time Kevin and Matt arrive, it’s bedlam. The outraged townspeople are beating the crap out of any of the GR they can grab, GR HQ is in flames, and the fire department isn’t too interested in responding to this particular 911 call. (Can you blame them?) After Kevin saves Laurie from an ass-kicking, she breaks her vow of silence to scream, “Jill!” to let her ex know that their daughter is in the burning house. Thankfully, he manages to save Jill Episode 110from the inferno, and the two of them walk home hand in hand. (Aww.) They’re even joined by the suddenly tame dog that Kevin tried to rehabilitate. (Double aww.) There’s still a big surprise in store for them, however…

NEW BEGINNINGS | The morning after Memorial Day, Nora is still sitting at the table with her “family.” So, when she starts writing Kevin a goodbye letter, it sounds an awful lot like a suicide note. (Nooo!) Turns out, she’s just leaving Mapleton. (Um, also nooo!) “I’m beyond repair,” she says. But, when she goes to leave the missive at Casa Garvey, she finds something on his porch: Christine and Wayne’s baby! It seems that, after Christine ditched Tom and her newborn at a rest stop, he ditched the infant at his stepfather’s and went looking for his mother. (If he’s the prodigal son of the title – “The Prodigal Son Returns” – he sure as hell picked the wrong parent to return to!) So, when Kevin, Jill and their dog make their way to their doorstep, they are greeted by a beaming Nora, the baby in her arms. “Look what I found,” she says. It’s not only a kid but a reason to stick around, hurrah!

OK, your turn. What did you think of the season finale? Are you satisfied with the explanation that the leftovers were left because they are “bad”? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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37 Comments
  1. Luke Smith says:

    The point of the dummies is to make them remember… (They,GR) “we watch so they can remember”

    • Dan says:

      The author asks about what’s the point in remembering.

      • Cassandra says:

        I’m not sure if the GR are pro or anti The Departure, but I would say it’s so people start altering their lives to either recreate or prevent it from happening again. People for the most part went back to business as usual after a period of time, so nothing was learned from the experience. Sure more people are probably attending church, but being devout doesn’t appear to be a condition for being one of the chosen. It’s why the reverend is hell bent on telling everyone that some of the Departed are sinners, because to say that God took them would mean he and his family were found wanting. Most people seem to be trying to resume their “normal” lives, the members of the GR seems to be the only ones really taking notice to the idea that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

        • Mai says:

          I agree with you that the GR wants them to remember, but actually “Sure more people are probably attending church” isnt true. Matt even says on episode 3 that after The Departure people stopped believing and very few people still go to Church (one of the reasons why he ends up losing his Church)

          • Cassandra says:

            In the premiere, they showed that public schools were now allowing prayers and all but 3 students participated. What I took from Matt’s episode was that his church was suffering because of what he was doing with the flyers.

          • Cassandra says:

            Also, apparently enough cults have popped up that the government had to assign the ATF jurisdiction over handling them.

    • Guest says:

      What’s interesting to me is not that the dummies were to make them remember, but that for some unexplained reason the GR knew exactly in which position they all were when they were taken. I get that we only saw the most iconic ones (such as Nora’s family), but all those people wouldn’t have had reacted so bad if they didn’t get it right. So how did they know? Is there a dummy of Tom’s lover still in that motel too? Are the kids Jill was holding hands with still at the school?

      • Dan says:

        I’d love to know that as well, but not sure if the writers are going there (wish they did, tho). The huge binder Patti collected may be indication enough.

      • Justin says:

        My assumption was that over the last 3 years most of the leftovers had explained where their family was at the time of the departure through support groups or in conversation. Then at a certain point the GR started to keep track. Certainly not a definitive theory but it’s what came to mind.

        • gayelle says:

          I agree. There was a large book that Patti had as she was laying out all the clothes. I assume it was a file on the departed. Also, look at Nora’s familiy. They had it almost right. The three were sitting at the table. But the little girl and the little boy had their position’s switched. So the GR may have known they departed while sitting at the table, they didn’t know exactly in which chairs.

      • jencolefluke says:

        Plus, many of the GR were locals who likely lost family. They would know personally the circumstances of the sudden departures.

  2. Elly says:

    I think his wish was to repair Norah somehow and the baby and Christine were special because they were the wish fulfillment Wayne was suppose to provide in the future to Norah at Kevin’s behest. Thus showing he wasn’t a fraud all long.

    • Dan says:

      His whole path in the show so far screams “I want my family back”. He could either have his old family back now in some way or (more likely) he can have a new one in the form of Nora and the baby. The finale ties it all together beautifully. We have to wait for season 2 and see, and also to know if Wayne granted his wish.

    • Dan says:

      You do have a good point, tho, in that interpretation of the prophecy. If the show is centered around Kevin, that’s not by chance. Wayne could have meant a kind of “save the cheerleader, save the world” situation. If he can help Kevin, this would spread and give renewed hope to everyone else somehow.

  3. PSNByte says:

    WHY DID THEY ALL DISAPPEAR!!! … im about done with this show

    • Dan says:

      You *completely* miss the point of this amazing show…

      • Et al says:

        Agreed. If you’re hung up on the disappearance, you’re missing out on an amazing piece of television. It probably will be explained but it doesn’t need to be. It’s the inciting incident, it’s not the point of the show.

        • Terry Bruge Hiplo says:

          I love the show but you aren’t at least curious? Saying “You’re missing the point” is just a pompous way of deflecting the question. I’d like at least a few more answers…especially more stuff about holy wayne. That actor was great on peep show. I was a bit happy to see the GR get what they gave in the end, though. I just hope we don’t have another Lost on our hands, where the questions pile up, answers don’t make sense, and we end up with an incredibly lame series finale.

          • Sterling says:

            Everyone is curious but the show isn’t about the disappearance. There is not answer. The show is about what happens to the Leftovers. There will never be an answer to what happened because the characters left behind will never know. This is about how to move on from that.

          • Mai says:

            The book doesn’t explain where they went so I doubt the series will. Damon has said before this is a show about the people who stayed.

          • Dan says:

            Terry, they have been answering the questions and I can say I’m personally very satisfied with that so far. Curious? Yes. Everybody who watches the show is curious about that. If that happened in our world, we would all be dying of curiosity, but probably would never have an explanation and that’s how life would and should go on. It goes exactly as Sterling and Mal said above. As for Wayne, I’ll run the risk of saying there’s gonna be a flashback about him and it will connect to the story at a future point.

    • Kellie says:

      They (the writers and producers) have said that the viewers will not find out why they departed. The story is and will be about how “the leftovers” deal with life after. I would like to know too, but it’s not going to happen.

    • dys says:

      It has been said from the start that we are never going to know. it is a shame you didn’t know that before, so you wouldn’t have wasted your time hoping to find out. If you decide that you’re more about seeing how people continue to react though, then keep on watching.

    • CountryQueen says:

      This show is based on Tom Perotta’s book. In the book he never explains what happens as that’s not the point. Imagine if this happened. Put yourself in the shoes of The Leftovers. That’s the point.

  4. Diane says:

    Loved the “Nothing Else Matters” instrumental. Kevin got his wish, he wanted his family back.

  5. Cassandra says:

    In response to you possibly rhetoric question of what the GR is trying to accomplish, it’s not just that they remember those who departed, but to get society as a whole to focus on how or why they departed. A lot of the people left have handled the loss as if it were a natural occurrence, and have treated grieving it in the same manner. You even have a company fabricating the departed so they can be given a proper burial. The GR are trying to stop people as viewing it as just another tragedy to be memorialized like any other and start figuring out what their purpose is for being left behind.

  6. Kellie says:

    I don’t think the leftovers remained because they are/were bad. If that was the case, Nora’s husband would have remained. He, like Garvey, was a cheater.

  7. jencolefluke says:

    I finished the book last night about 15 minutes before the finale (thanks Boardwalk Empire for giving me an extra hour!). Both end at the same time – with Nora finding the baby at Kevin’s house. There was a lot of variation in the story, but its arc and the characters’ overall journeys were similar. A second season would be a completely new plot from Tom Perrotti, the author/screenwriter. It is not a story about the why of the Sudden Departure, it’s about the lives of the people left behind, period. Both book & tv show were excellent. It must be so interesting for the author to revisit and tweak the characters – look at them through different eyes!

  8. christopher bee says:

    Yet another brilliant Mimi Leder directing, what a superb hour. Max Richters score was heartbraking, so as of the insertion of the String quartett version of nothing else matters and the unpackable Ne Me Quitte Pas.

    Can´t wait for Season two.

  9. Pinky says:

    You are correct, sir. That was a passage from Job – it was Job 23: 8 – 17.
    :)

  10. Kay Black says:

    I think what dissapointed me the most was the ending. I would like the ending to have illuded to what Kevin has wished for when he was in the toilet with that God like man. I could only assume because of how regretful he is over what he did to his family, that his wish would be to have them all back together again, that would have been right in my eyes. So when the fires happened and killed all the strange people in white and his ex wife survived. I figured they would all kind of find each other……the mum finds her son, i thought after that she’s start speaking again and return to normal. Then they would both go home and be with Kevin and her daughter and the new baby left on the doorstep, which would also mean she could go ahead and have the child that was taken from her in her womb. He had always really wanted her back I felt throughout the whole series so that ending would have been perfect to me. Do we even know what he wished for, because that part was very poignant to me.