The Leftovers Finale

The Leftovers Season 2 Finale Recap: Paradise Lost… and Found?

Although the second season finale of The Leftovers featured Meg setting in motion her plot against Jarden and one of our favorite characters being killed off, the stellar episode still left us with a sliver of hope. Maybe not even a sliver but a full-blown ray of hope. How is that possible? Read on…

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW | As “I Live Here Now” began, we flashed back to the night that Evie and her friends disappeared. Sorry, make that MADE THEMSELVES DISAPPEAR. Turns out, after leaving the Murphys’ house, the JV Guilty Remnant members drove straight to the lake to ditch their car and their belongings. Kevin spotted them there — and they spotted him spotting them — but since he then threw himself into the lake tied to a cinderblock, they figured that they hardly had to worry about him busting them. Once the earthquake drained the lake, we flashed forward to Kevin’s emergence from his grave in Virgil’s yard. Michael wanted to know if he had seen Evie on the other side. Nope, he replied. However, “I saw her somewhere else” — and, that being the case, he needed to speak with John asap.

Unfortunately, “asap” wasn’t going to be soon enough. The following morning — October 14 — Erika found her husband hitting the sauce first thing, and defied his wishes to open the birthday present that Evie gave him the night that she vanished. So, after all this time, what was in the box? The cricket that had been driving him crazy! Only it wasn’t, Erika insisted. When John and Michael went out looking for Evie on the night that she disappeared, Erika had heard the insect chirping in the house the whole damn time. As if the unhappy marrieds’ day wasn’t already off to a dismal start, the cops then showed up at their door — as we all knew that they would eventually, they had gotten a match on one of the handprints that John took.

WELCOME BACK | After retrieving his gun, John banged on Kevin’s door and was surprised when it was a stranger — Laurie — who answered it. Though John was understandably skeptical, Jill was sure that her dad would be back — and right on cue, up he walked with Michael by his side. While John drove Kevin someplace “neutral” to talk, Erika scolded her son for having been to Virgil’s again, and Laurie offered to leave if that was what Jill wanted. Hurt as she was by her mom’s past abandonment, the teen couldn’t quite bring herself to say, “No, I don’t want you to go.” So instead, she said that her dad had told them to stay put. #progress

Meanwhile, Nora was holed up at Matt and Mary’s hovel when another quake hit, this one snapping the preacher’s wife out of her catatonic state. When Nora reunited her brother and sister-in-law at the campsite just outside of Jarden, Matt was elated, of course. But he wanted Nora to take Mary back over the bridge that instant for the sake of the baby — which was the first that the jubilant mother-to-be had heard about her pregnancy. While the couple took a moment to, you know, just process everything, Nora went to change Lily and got harassed by a crazy woman who insisted that the baby was stolen. Nora and Lily also got spotted by Tom and Meg, who wondered if, knowing what was coming, he was afraid for his family. “There is no family,” he responded. “I thought that’s the point.” Oh, no, said Meg, enigmatic as ever. “Family’s everything.”

LOADED QUESTIONS | Next thing we knew, the cops were telling Meg that she couldn’t enter Jarden, and she was telling them that the 35 lbs. of plastic explosives in her trailer said otherwise. (Did anyone ever think Liv Tyler would make such a spectacularly scary villainess?) Finally, plowing through the barricade, she parked at the center of the bridge and threw her keys off the side. Only then did Evie and her gal pals exit the trailer puffing on cigarettes and dressed in head-to-toe white.

While all this was going on, John took Kevin to the animal quarantine building for interrogation. And you can imagine how well it went, considering that Kevin’s (true, all true) story involved Evie staging her own disappearance and him not remembering that he’d seen it until he died. “Why in God’s name would she do this to us?” John couldn’t fathom. Kevin’s best guess: “Maybe she didn’t… love you.” Which was clearly the wrong answer, since in response, John shot him and left him for dead. No sooner was John outside than he learned from the police that Evie was on the bridge with a sign that ominously read “one hour.” Nora was relieved that the girls hadn’t departed — she wasn’t a lens! — but Matt immediately panicked: If there was a bomb on the bridge, he’d never get Mary back over it in time to save the baby!

CAN I GET A… BREAK? | At church with Erika, Michael got tired of listening to the sermon about how miraculous Jarden is, so he stood up and told his mom’s favorite story — the one about how when he and Evie were 5, she’d filled the bathtub to overflowing “to see what would happen.” Except that Evie hadn’t even turned on the water, much less for that reason, Michael had done it — to keep Erika from hearing his sister crying because she didn’t understand why John was gone. So, he concluded, although no one “departed” from Jarden on October 14, “they did [disappear] before, and after… We are not spared.”

After John interrupted the service to find Erika, she broke through the police barricade to get to Evie. Only, sadly, she couldn’t “get to” Evie. Her daughter wouldn’t hug her or even look at her. As the countdown clock ticked away, many of the denizens of the campsite outside of Jarden — as well as Tom — traded their colorful clothes for all-white ensembles. Suddenly, with half a minute until detonation, Matt, Mary, Nora and Lily were surrounded by members of the GR. Frantic, Erika burst into the camper… and discovered that it was empty! So, at 0:00, there was no big explosion. Or at least not the kind that everyone was expecting. At that moment, the masses of GR members stormed the gate, pushed their way past the cops and crossed the bridge into Jarden. “Why are you doing this?” Erika asked Evie. “I don’t understand!” Evie’s reply — written, of course, and as brutal as it was cryptic: “You understand.”

SWAN SONG | While Matt seized the opportunity to try to get Mary back into Jarden, the crazy woman who had been hassling Nora actually stole Lily from her arms and took off running. Giving chase, Nora was halfway across the bridge when she saw the baby on the ground — and looking like she was about to be trampled! Instinctively, Nora threw herself down to shield Lily. And for an instant, it seemed like she was going to end up getting trampled to death. But then, Tom reached out, helped her up and hid Nora and Lily away from the chaos in the camper.

As for Kevin… well, he died again. And woke up again in a bathtub in the purgatory hotel. This time, he chose his old Mapleton sheriff’s uniform to wear, and was immediately called to the lobby to break up a fracas. Once he got there, though, there was no fight, only a mediocre karaoke night hosted by the Englishman who’d attacked him on the bridge to Jarden the last time that he died. (Honestly, what other recap includes a line like that?!?) Irritating as the Brit was, he did have a way back to the other side for Kevin: sing. “I don’t believe you,” Kevin huffed, “because it’s stupid.” But the chap made a good point: “You pushed a little girl into a well, [yet] you don’t want to sing?” So Kevin ended up croaking out a heartfelt, if pitch-imperfect, rendition of “Homeward Bound.”

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME | Awakening in the animal quarantine building, Kevin found that all the dogs were gone… except for his. After thanking the pooch for waiting for him, they ventured outside to find the outskirts of Jarden a mess of burning ruins. Worse, the GR had taken over the welcome center. (As if to prove just how flippin’ evil she really is, Meg outdid Kevin’s “Homeward Bound” with her and Evie’s much prettier singing of the Miracle theme song.) Making his way to Urgent Care, Kevin was patching himself up when John came in looking for Erika. As sorry as sorry could be for what he had done, John tearfully admitted, “I don’t understand what’s happening.” Kevin replied for all of us: “Me, neither.” After cleaning Kevin’s wound, John helped him home… but hesitated before entering his own house. “What if nobody’s home?” he wondered. “Then you come over to my house,” Kevin said. And the wave they exchanged, echoing their first encounter, suggested that indeed, this had been the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Finally, as the episode — and the season — came to an end, Kevin entered his house to discover the unthinkable: Not only were Jill and Laurie there, but so were Matt and Mary… and Tom and Lily… and Nora! “You’re home,” Nora said in disbelief. And somehow, the saddest show on television managed to leave us with (at least temporarily, at least sorta) a happy ending. Unthinkable!

So, what did you think — of the episode? The season? Grade the episode below and then hit the comments! And then return at 11:15 pm/ET to read Ausiello’s post mortem with EP Damon Lindelof. 

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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53 Comments
  1. Eli Edwards says:

    I just hope Erika didn’t join the Guilty Remnant!! OUTSTANDING EPISODE!

  2. Amanda says:

    The finale was fantastic. This season as a whole was probably one of the best TV seasons I’ve seen in a while. Man, what a difference from the first season! The cast was excellent, too. I HOPE it gets renewed, but if not, then I think the show ended on a very high note.

  3. Pete says:

    That was amazing! If it’s the end it’s a great ending. I want it to continue just because it’s so good but don’t even know where it would go from there. Either way, season two of The Leftovers is one of the best tv seasons.

  4. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give it an A. Fingers crossed for a Season 3.

  5. Kermit says:

    Perfect season.

  6. Lynn says:

    This was my favorite show all season of everything. I too am hoping for a renewal……but I agree what a high note! Outstanding finale

  7. Marilyn says:

    Fantastic finale, stellar season, and excellent recap! One correction – the guy on the bridge/karaoke was Australian and not British.

  8. gabriel says:

    Best episode since Ozymandias on TV

  9. Question says:

    I think I missed something. When Kevin told John he knows what Erika’s dad did to him, because Erika’s dad told him…what was “it” that he did?

  10. Disappointed says:

    It was a let down, especially when they did so well with the finale for the first season. It felt like they couldn’t figure out how to end it and didn’t have enough time, so they just winged it. What was the point of the hour on the bridge? why couldn’t all of those people rushed the bridge at any time without the build up? What’s with the earthquakes? Who let the dogs out??

  11. Drew says:

    That ending with the Garvey family reunion was everything I needed to see and feel. I can’t believe how hard I was hoping the whole family would be there and I teared up with Kevin and Nora at the end. If this is how the series ends, I’ll take it. If we get a third season I’ll be just as happy.

  12. Michelletvline says:

    Why did Kevin’s dog run away from him outside the animal shelter?

    • Kathi Berman-Gilmore says:

      My guess? It implies that, like in the first season, there was going to be or had been another departure…remember how all the dogs ran away and became feral at some point, either before, during, or after the first departure? It was never really explained but the implication (according to my understanding of animals)is that the dogs “understood” or sensed that something ‘bad’ was happening so they ran…at least initially. Then remember how Kevin attempted to return the dog to its ‘owner’ and a woman answered the door and told him (angrily) that the dog had belonged to her husband and she never liked the dog anyway so she didn’t want it.
      What I don’t remember is what series of incidents caused the dog to become a ‘pet’ again and to give up its feral behavior…anyone?

      • Q says:

        Kevin, in his sleepwalking, brought the dog hoke and chained him in his back yard (so says the dog shooter in season 1). He told Kevin that he said he was going to fix him or something like that. In after a few episodes the dog had toned down and became their pet.

  13. matt says:

    I can’t help myself from watching this crazy show every week. I have never missed an episode, however I still have absolutely no idea what is going on. I guess I watch it hoping for the happy every after ending, only to feel even worse and more confused each week. Why was Kevin’s dad in the t.v? How did Eve hook up with the gr? What is the significance with the earthquakes happening everytime something big happens regarding Kevin?

    • Shaun says:

      Kevin Senior travelled to Australia so he could communicate with his son.That’s why the fire alarm kept going off in the hotel.

      • Q says:

        Wrong.

        SR was out of the mental hospital somehow because he did what the voices told him to do. With his new life, he travelled to Australia to “start the world over” or something along those lines. Whatever drugs he took made the whole tv thing work I guess.

        If you want insight on the whole Australia thing, look up a few articles that explain his dad going, and the letter the homeless man in the center of town wanted Micahel to send to Australia.

    • Q says:

      Sounds like you didnt really pay attention every week.

      His dad took some kind of drug that made him hallucinate but it made communication work in purgatory.

      Evie and Meg met years ago and had a moment of chatting. Its assumed they kept in contact over the years. See episode 9 for this.

      The earthquakes in my opinion were more of a representation of life and death

  14. dan says:

    Absolutely stunning finale!! Have not been moved so much by a television episode since Star Trek Next Generation’s episode: The Inner Light.

  15. Jules says:

    For a show that may not have a 3rd season, it was pretty uninforming! Not much was answered during the season finale! Great show though with amazing actors/acctresses!

    • Amanda says:

      I agree. Still lots of questions unanswered.

      • Amanda says:

        Why all the earthquakes, why did the dog leave Kevin, why has he survived death twice, why waste all that time on the bridge, it felt like a lot of wasted time if this isn’t getting renewed they wasted this finale on pointless dialogue. Fingers crossed for season 3 I want to know why the departure even happened, what caused it and why were some people taken also what is the deal with the Lens and that Alien entity that allegedly Nora has I mean come on way to leave us with more questions than answers,

        • JB says:

          You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you are expecting any kind of an explanation on the departures. The writers have been very clear that will never happen.

  16. ? says:

    Genius. Just genius. I love this show. I love that it was above blowing up that bridge and instead blew up the town’s entire idea of itself. So perfect. If there isn’t a season 3 I’ll be gutted.

  17. ford says:

    I dont understand the point of the show. What does the plot mean?

  18. Catherine Williams says:

    I love The Leftovers and beg you not to cancel. Please come up with another great season.

  19. Mmm says:

    The show is supposed to be about the people and how human beings can be capable of great changes. Tom Perrotta never ever explains what caused the disappearances in the book. It’s more about what these disappearances caused people to do. I love how they are taking this show so much further. Great finale.

  20. Shaun says:

    Kevin nearly dying again was crazy!Wonder if Carrie actually got styepped on during the bridge rush.

  21. Dave says:

    I was hoping for a bow to tie up loose ends but was left hanging on nearly every sub plot looking for meaning and answers. Why, what? Huh? How can you bleed out and not die “again”? Wait maybe that’s it, the miricle is that they are all already dead, poking around in purgatory while the departed have all gone to heaven. Is that it? I can’t make sense of this show but I’m easily drawn to keep watching in hopes of same rational, clear meaning.

  22. rafael_ says:

    hope there’ll be some Emmy nominations.

  23. Bundy says:

    I’m among the minority, but I didn’t like it. Hours passed from the bridge getting stormed to Kevin waking up and the whole town is in chaos. No national guard, no state police, no fbi, nothing. I find it hard to believe that in a world where dangerous cults exist everywhere that the government is that soft on the GR. It fails the believability test. Won’t be tuning in for season 3. They should have not brought the GR back into the show, it was better without it.

  24. Helen says:

    People that were waiting for answers from this show clearly don’t know what they were watching and haven’t read a single interview from the creators. It was never about getting answers.
    Best show of the last couple years.

  25. jakis says:

    For me, this show is about how human beings deal with loss and unanswerable questions. It’s what Michael said in the church — maybe nobody “departed” from Miracle on Oct 14, but people leave every other day and people miss them and mourn them. Here we are, human beings, and we don’t know what we are or why we’re here, except religion and religious leaders try to provide answers, scientists try to provide answers, we all search our souls and try to form families and communities to get answers or at least to make this place nicer while we’re here, but in the end, there aren’t really any answers. Where do people go when they die? Where did these people go when they departed? It’s how the people left behind deal that counts, that we CAN answer. I don’t know — I just find this show fascinating and devastating and BRILLIANT. This finale was scary and sad and hopeful, all at once. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  26. Kathi Berman-Gilmore says:

    Please don’t cancel The Leftovers!! It is one of the most thought provoking shows I’ve watched in a very long time!! Strange? Weird? ABSOLUTELY! However, it always leaves me sitting in silence trying to determine what just happened and why…what it meant…what was the writer(s) trying to say or to get us to think about. I know some people think it’s ridiculous but they can’t see the significance of the strangeness or how to look for the deeper meaning.
    Please bring it back!! I wait every week with “baited breath” to see where it’s going to take us next!!!

  27. Myboys says:

    The book is fantastic, and season one followed it closely. But season two knocked it out of the park, and into the next jurisdiction. HBO: please, please, please to season three.

  28. I don’t see where to grade the episode but I loved the last few episodes and I loved this one. If you make me shout at the TV, then you have my attention, and they definitely had it. I loved when he came home. I also loved that getting back, he just had to do something simple. Sometimes we think we have to do all these complicated things in life to get back to the basics and sometimes it’s the simplest thing we do and bam, it’s right again.

  29. CSun says:

    What a show-seriously. I am really moved by this show, and I can’t remember another show making me think and feel as much as this does. The season finale, and the two episodes before, were incredible. The symbolism, emotion and character development are unmatched. They have to renew!!

  30. Sheldon W. says:

    Best exchange of the night:

    ‘I killed you!’

    ‘Nope.’

  31. Agustin says:

    I’ve just watch the finale, i loved it!
    i just hope it gets picked up for another season!
    A+ for me

  32. Jack says:

    As it has already been stated, the guy at the hotel bar was clearly Australian!! Have you ever left America?

  33. Deb says:

    This is the best TV series I’ve ever seen. I love, love, love it! The combination of the supernatural with the suspense of the twisty turny plot and intensity of the characters makes this series addictive to watch! Kevin’s character is riveting and just emotionally draining in the final 2 episodes. I’ve never felt so connected to these characters and these families. I have to see more. I want to know what happens to Jill & Tom, and Mary & Matt, and Laurie, and Kevin & Nora, and Lily, and John & Erika. I can’t even imagine how season 3 will begin, I just know I want more! Brilliant writing! I’ve never seen anything so original on TV. Thank you Tom Perotta and Damon Lindeloff for giving us such an intellectual ride!

  34. Maria says:

    Loved season two, so amazingly nutty and yet so much got done, explained. Still confused as to what happened to Evie, if they are implying abuse by either of her parents with the bathtub story. Can’t wait for season three!

    • Barb says:

      Just started watching this (have to watch it online) as I missed it when it was on HBO on tv. Is there going to be a season 3? I think I like the show so far.