The Leftovers: “G’Day Melbourne” Season 3 Episode 4 Review

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How do you eradicate pain? Do you lie to yourself? Do you fight for control? Do you see things that aren’t there? Do you run away? The Leftovers has always been about long-term suffering. Seasons two and three of the series have received critical praise for the great comedic ironies set within the bounds of this world. But “G’Day Melbourne” is much heavier on the dark side of suffering, acting as a culmination of every false hope Kevin and Nora have tried to make work since season one. Every lie they told themselves. Every quiet betrayal. It all came to a head this week, and it really fucking hurt.

Right at the top of the episode, a comment Nora makes in a petty argument in the airport perfectly sums up everything we’ve seen to this point from Kevin and Nora. She describes their relationship as “toxic” and “co-dependent.” At various times, they’ve leaned on each other to too hard, using each other as an escape from problems that are just going to keep resurfacing.

Upon arriving in Australia, Kevin and Nora split up for two very different but equally significant quests. Nora has to see through this potential scam to the end. So she gets the call, almost missing her bus because a woman on a job interview asks her to watch her baby for a few minutes. The idea is thrown to her from a stranger that she’ll have this baby forever. Nora has never had a permanent motherhood experience. She interrupts the woman’s job interview once the bus arrives, putting herself before the child. No matter what, she’s about to get her much needed control. But what does that mean exactly? Is Nora going to go through with the plan she keeps verbalizing to take down the scam? Or is she going to use the machine, either incinerating herself or rejoining her family? During a medical examination at the facility, she is essentially getting into a coffin, after which the doctors say she was calmer than most patients. Nora appears to be done living, something the final moments of the episode illustrate with harrowing beauty.

I have to say, after what happens at the facility, there’s a chance this device does exactly what these supposed scientists think it does. What would they gain from not letting Nora through and refusing her money? Is that they see that Nora would prefer to die than to see her family again?

Kevin’s side of the story begins when he, just like Nora, fumbles around with technology. But what he sees in his inability to turn off the TV shocks him. Evie stares at him through the screen. The Leftovers purposefully refused to answer exactly what happened to Evie just after season two’s finale for this moment. This might be the only show on TV where a lack of a body doesn’t mean shit. At first, Kevin suspects she’s another delusion, or whatever Patti was in season two. But then another person addresses Evie and the game changes. He snaps a photo and calls Laurie, but we only see her reaction to the photo, not the photo itself. After he tracks Evie down again, Laurie talks him down and Kevin looks at the photo he took again to see a totally different person, who he then sees in front of him instead of Evie. And so continues the great tragedy of Kevin Garvey, a man driven to insanity by his own demons.

Kevin returns to the hotel to find Nora trying to cover the smoke detector to light a cigarette. He doesn’t even know she smokes. After their respectively horrific days, the only way to cap it off is an even worse blowout. Kevin and Nora say things to each other that are as vicious as they are true. It’s a fight no couple can come back from, and they know that. After years of this bubbling to the surface, it all collapses in on them. They were never the solution to each others’ problems. They were small band-aids on large wounds.

And so, the band-aids melt off in the flames that devour the Book of Kevin. For now, and maybe for always, they’ll let their open wounds rot. Kevin leaves the woman he only may have loved to burn. Nora just sits there, water from the sprinklers pouring down her face and the electricity leaving her in the dark, the flames failing to devour her as well. We know she survives from the flash forward in the season premiere, so the world isn’t ready for her to die just then, no matter how much she wants it to be.

With four episodes left, The Leftovers just drastically changed. Despair has once again consumed the show and its characters. What hope is there? This is Damon Lindelof’s masterpiece at its most bleak, and therefore its most effective. “G’Day Melbourne” is one of the best episodes of the series, maybe even the best. Amazingly, it still somehow feels like we’re just getting started. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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