The Leftovers: “Certified” Season 3 Episode 6 Review

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“We’re all gone.” Will that prove to be true in the final two episodes? Either way, Laurie’s not sticking around to find out. Her journey ends here in this deeply distressing entry. It’s only appropriate then that we see how Laurie’s journey began after the Sudden Departure. After her unborn child disappeared on October 14th, Laurie’s career as a therapist became endangered by her own inability to cope with the event. What is she supposed to say to these people? The woman she’s talking to is the same woman from the opening scene of the pilot, who’s baby disappears in the parking lot of the supermarket. There’s no solace for her, just as there’s to be none for Laurie. There’s nothing to say that can help. Laurie’s failure to go through with her suicide shortly after the Sudden Departure comes as she sees that the people around her aren’t okay. It’s her need to help, to tell people how to get better, that pushes her to keep going. But seven years later, those around her have found some sort of grounding. It’s clear that Nora has made her decision, just as it is that Kevin’s made his. So now Laurie must make hers.

“Certified” splits itself in half, showing Laurie helping Nora on her quest to shut down her supposed scam, and then later goes to Grace’s ranch to talk to Kevin. The storylines interweave, allowing for maximum impact for both of their subsequent devastation. This ever-inventive series, even as it’s wrapping up, continues to find ways to show us something unexpected and new.

For the Nora and Matt side of the episode, we get a lot of strong character work for all three, particularly Nora, who’s rope seems to have ended. Chasing down the purporters of this supposed machine that transports people to where the departed went, Nora has relinquished any sense of stability. From childish bullying, in taking Laurie’s lighter, to snarky comments, Carrie Coon has unleashed Nora’s inner sass factory, one of the few joys of this bleaker than bleak episode. Matt has found himself in a similar mood, having given up on the world after God’s series of rejections. He can barely even be bothered to correct the assertion that the Book of Revelations is to be taken literally (though he still does because even our more enlightened Matt can’t help himself). But even Laurie’s help isn’t enough to truly help them. Nora and Matt, whether they’ve admitted it to themselves or not, have already made the biggest decision a person can possibly make. Matt’s dying of cancer and refusing to go for treatment. Nora, meanwhile, by the end of her role in the episode, stands on the edge of a cliff, looking down on what Laurie calls a “suicide machine.”

Laurie and Nora have always been connected in that they like the facts. Where Laurie diagnoses everyone in her brain and attempts to calmly steer them in the other direction, Nora has a tendency to disprove, however publicly she can, people’s beliefs. But man, that story of young Matt in the baseball park with the beach ball. Nora’s done. She’s done telling people who want to hold onto something implausible that they’re wrong. She’s done having people boo her. She’s done accepting people’s pity. And maybe, she’s done living. Nora just wants “some fucking closure.” There’s two ways that can happen: the machine will either take her to her children or eviscerate her from this Earth. She’s fine with either, and Laurie sees that, as she’s also done. But not before her goodbye tour.

Arriving at the ranch, she’s greeted by Kevin Sr. like she never left the family. John and Michael are already there, but Kevin has taken a horse and gone for a little stroll. Because of her views, everyone’s skeptical of the help Laurie seems to be offering. Sitting around the dinner table for what Kevin Sr. calls the “Last Supper,” minus their missing Jesus, Kevin, this makeshift family start to assign themselves roles of the apostles. The way the scene is written, the name Judas fills the air with its absence. Laurie takes delight in assigning it to herself, just as everyone starts to collapse. She’s purposefully knocked everyone out, but her reasoning proves to be the greatest growth Laurie has made over the series.

When Kevin returns, she’s waiting for him on the porch (only on The Leftovers can your ex-wife drugging your family be laughed off). Kevin immediately suspects that she’s there to stop him from trying to die, but she just wants to talk and say goodbye. It’s the first time on the series we see them talk one on one for an extended period after the divorce. Reminiscing with laughter and an unspoken history of a love more solid than steel at this point in their lives, Laurie finally tells Kevin about the pregnancy that was interrupted by the Sudden Departure. It doesn’t end up being a big deal now, seven years later. Laurie gets assurance from her former husband that his upcoming death is really going to be for something. Kevin only injects excitement into the idea of returning to the place introduced to us in “International Assassin.” Who’s Laurie to take that away from him?

So she leaves, sure that Kevin is going to do the best thing for himself in a world where the best thing in your life could disappear without warning at any second. She lets him believe.

But this is also a world that left Laurie and her ideals behind, and she has not adjusted well. First she joined a cult, then she tried to convince everyone that her son could hug the pain away, and finally she Googled people and read their lives into an earpiece for John to regurgitate back to them. Laurie’s career as a therapist fell apart when the world did too. Since then, she’s made money off of lies, delivering empty promises of closure to herself and everyone around her. But one of her final acts, if the ending is to be taken that way, and come on, it has to be, sees her return to the life she left behind. Laurie helps Nora, and not by telling her what to do, but by listening and providing support. That doesn’t change the fact that Laurie is done. And as she sits on that boat, talking to the beautiful children she and Kevin raised, she knows she did some good with her time in this world. But a storm is coming, one that could be the end for everyone, if you believe that sort of thing. So Laurie, left alone in a world full of mystery, takes matters into her own hands.

Maybe Laurie survives her plunge, we might not even find out by the end. But if this is the end for her, The Leftovers successfully found a way inside Laurie’s head to find a way to show how she justifies her final act and making us understand. This show is magical in its devastation, lyrical in its tragedy, but oh so human. So pour some out for Laurie, provider of wisdom and the fractured rock that somehow strung this family back together. May she rest in peace, no longer left over or left behind. She will be remembered. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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