The Leftovers: “I Live Here Now” Season 2 Finale Review

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“Family is everything” the now terrifying Meg says to Tommy early in this phenomenal piece of television. “Family is home” would be equally fitting given the final moments of the finale.

When The Leftovers picked up and moved to Texas for season two, many called it a reboot. If there’s a criticism to be laid onto “I Live Here Now,” it’s that it’s a tad too similar to the season one finale. So no, this season is not a reboot. It’s as much of a continuation as any other show that gets a second season. There just has never been anything quite like season two of The Leftovers.

The finale appropriately drops the perspective storytelling every episode of the season employed before it. Not everyone gets their moment, Laurie is annoyingly ignored, but those who do make every second count.

Before things got insane, the show delivered a ray of light in the form of Mary finally speaking again. Matt more than anyone deserved this miracle in Miracle. It also set the tone perfectly for John’s overall arc for the finale.

With this revelation out of the way, the episode starts weaving its large cast around each other. I can’t say The Leftovers has ever been more exciting. As Meg puts her plan in motion, we also have John and Kevin’s unbearably tense conversation at the pound, as well as Michael’s monologue to his mother at church. Michael says it loud before Meg even gets a chance to make it true. Jarden was not spared of pain. The lies the world told itself after October 14 about this town are empty. So when Meg marches into town with Evie and the other disappeared girls by her side, she makes an example out of a place that thinks it was chosen. Grief over one event cannot be banned from a place the event didn’t happen. It’s the foley of those who turned Jarden into a tourist attraction.

But then Kevin appears to be a walking miracle. After John shoots him, Kevin wakes up in that hotel once more. Once again, he has another chance to return from the dead. But instead of assassinating Patti, he has to do a little bit of karaoke. Justin Theroux is hardly a singer, but his overall performance her is astounding. Every microexpression he makes during his rendition of “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel contributes to one of the most powerfully acted scenes of television all year.

After escaping purgatory once more, he walks out into hell. Jarden, like Mapleton a year ago, is in flames. He finds Meg with the Guilty Remnant in the visitor’s center. They clearly run this place now.

Looking for Erika in the hospital to tend to his bullet wound, he finds John. After Kevin tried to explain everything to him in the pound, John had all his beliefs torn down. As the icing on the cake, the man he shot sits in front of him, alive. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he says as he cleans Kevin’s wound. “Neither do I,” Kevin answers. In this weird world, there are no definitive answers. John’s mistake was that he claimed to have some. But now the world has silenced him, as it has Kevin many times over the course of these two seasons. Now, in the face of the unknown, these former adversaries are united. Limping back to their neighborhood, John worries no one is going to be there when he gets home. The show doesn’t tell us, as the Murphys are in a much more ambiguous spot than the Garveys at the moment. As for Kevin, following one last freak earthquake, he enters his home and the camera pans to Jill, Laurie, Matt, Mary, Tommy, and finally Nora. It’s a beautiful moment after so much darkness. Family is everything. Home is where they are. Finale Grade: A-/Season Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • Another performance I just have to highlight again is Regina King’s. Her moments on the bridge with Evie were gut-wrenching to say the least.
  • The shot of the GRs sitting around the globe in the visitor’s center was pretty intimidating. After they turned Jarden and Mapleton into dystopias, what’s next? Will they only stop once they’ve ended the world like they believe it already took place?
  • What a beautiful, tremendous season of television. The Leftovers came back this year more focused and more confident in what it was trying to do and absolutely nailed it. The returning cast, as well as newcomers, put out some of the best work in their careers. I’d give special shoutouts, but it would be pretty much to everyone. But beyond acting, season two was just a a remarkable piece of filmmaking, both in its reliable beauty, returning from season one, and its more experimental nature. This is a show that pushes the boundaries of television as an art form, and it should be rewarded as such.
  • The ball is in your court, HBO. Do you want to be responsible for canceling what I’m sure many will name the best show of 2015?

By Matt Dougherty


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