Welcome to “The Leftovers” recap, where we’re going to follow one of the best HBO shows to the end of the series. We’ll break down each episode in recap, quickly review it, and finally, give you the musical cues of the week. Get ready, it’s going to be fun (and probably super depressing) along the way!
The episode begins with “The Man in the Tower” collapsing off the side of his tower, tumbling to an implied death. However, we’re quickly descended upon by people claiming he departed, making Nora (Carrie Coon) quickly grow frustrated with the town. It’s quickly revealed that her brother, preacher Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) had something to do with the following events. It quickly turns out that Matt’s actually buried the man, who apparently had a heart attack before falling off the tower. While Matt wants to leave the man to have a legacy, Nora quickly shows she’s playing no games and tells Matt she’ll be exhuming the body shortly.
Nora goes back to the tower with Kevin (Justin Theroux), who goes to the catalog and cleans up the Man’s personal effects left on top of the tower. While there, John (Kevin Carroll) comes to pay his respects. Nora makes fun of John’s writing, specifically the Gospels that other characters on the series have written about Kevin. For those unaware, Kevin was resurrected from the dead twice last season. You read that right, twice. Back to the recap.
After dropping off the man’s personal effects with his wife, Nora goes to the clinic to get her cast taken off. After it’s been removed, the doctor accuses Nora of breaking her own arm in the door of her car. Given that Nora used to have people shoot her as a coping mechanism, this seems like something Nora could reasonably do. As she leaves, she receives a phone call about her children, and a man tells her that she could see her children again if she goes to St. Louis. Turns out Mark Linn-Baker, former TV star of “Perfect Strangers” is the one calling, and he will make it possible for her to see her children. Needless to say, Nora calls the DSD and gets them to authorize the travel.
After swinging by the house to pick up a bag, Nora goes to the airport. On the way she makes fun of Kevin, continuing the ribbing based on the Gospel book written about him. She takes the only copy with her to St. Louis, because light reading is always best when it’s about your significant other. She runs into a bit of an issue at the airport, where the check-in kiosk is stuck on whether or not she’s traveling with an infant. This visibly upsets Nora, who has to restart the process at a different kiosk. Money’s on us finding out what happened to Baby Lily, who seems to have passed/gone missing sometime between the Season 2 and 3 time jump.
We get to the hotel, and Nora meets up with Mark. He asks for her phone and tosses it in the toilet before making a somewhat snide remark “that everything that matters is up there in the cloud.” Nice little double meaning there as we talk about Nora’s missing children. Mark goes through the “science” of The Departure. He mentions LADR, a form of radiation left behind by those who departed. Mark seems to be working for a group that is promising a way to be with those who departed. This is where things get extremely heavy. Mark absolutely tears up the screen for the next five minutes, discussing his feelings after the Departure. This was one of the most emotionally rewarding scenes in the entire episode, so I’m just going to leave it at that.
Nora heads back to her room, where she begins to smoke and watch the testimonials of people who supposedly went through the process. We get a montage of people giving permission to go through the process, and soon Nora is off to Kentucky. Turns out, her GPS won’t work so its back to the old map game to find her way there. Nora arrives to see a playground and stares longingly at the children.
It doesn’t take very long to realize that Baby Lily is one of the children on the playground. A child steals Lily’s shovel, and Nora storms over to take the shovel back to Lily. Lily doesn’t remember her, and after Christine (Annie Q) shows up, Nora hurries back to her car. She realizes she still has the shovel in her hand and quickly drives away. When she gets home, she can’t leave the parking lot and has a borderline mental breakdown that ends with her breaking a rising arm barrier, before she races away.
Nora goes to the home of Erika (Regina King), perhaps the character she can relate the most to in the world. With Nora on the verge of tears, Erika lets her into the house. They begin the conversation with some small talk but get onto the subject of the broken arm. Turns out, Nora broke her arm to cover up a tattoo of the Wu-Tang Clan symbol. When pressed, Nora used the Wu-Tang symbol to cover up her kid’s names that she had tattooed on her body. She thought it was a Phoenix symbol, and with her regret, she chooses to break her arm. She asks Erika how she deals with her daughter’s death, and Erika reminds Nora that she at least got to bury her child. We then get a wonderful montage of Nora and Erika jumping on a trampoline to “Protect Ya Neck” by the Wu-Tang Clan. How can you not love this show?
On the way home, Nora’s stopped by Tom (Chris Zylka), who confronts Nora about the trip to Kentucky to see Lily. The two have always shared an interesting relationship, and the combo works extremely well. It’s revealed that Nora willingly gave up Lily to Christine when Christine asked for custody of her child. Tom tells Nora the story about his adoption, and how he wished he’d never known that Kevin wasn’t his birth father. When Nora grows upset with Tom for leaving Lily for him, Tom reminds her he didn’t even know Nora existed. He coldly tells Tom that he left her Lily for his Dad. The interaction is a gut punch to Nora. She reacts by printing the largest image of the Man in the Tower’s corpse and placing the picture next to those who believe the man had departed. From there she leaves and goes home.
When Nora gets home, she walks in on Kevin with a plastic bag over his head. His greeting “You’re Home” is the same she used when he walked in on her packing her bag. Nice parallelism. He lets her know he does it to feel, and that he tears off the bag all the time. She shows off her Wu-Tang tattoo to compare scars. Kevin asks Nora if they can have kids, and Nora responds with laughter. She asks Kevin if he’s happy (he is), and she doesn’t want to mess up what they have.
Nora receives a phone call from the organization Mark is working for. Nora is given the option to go to Australia with $20,000 to potentially see her children. She says yes. Nora tells Kevin she’s going to Australia for work, and he asks to come along. She reluctantly says yes to him as well, and the plan to go to Australia is finally put into motion.
We cut to Australia where the chief of police hits and kills a kangaroo along the road. He goes back to the station and tells an officer trying to dip out early, that he has to stay home. Seems the guy is kind of a jerk. However, when he gets home, a group of women on horseback are waiting for him. When he asks who they are, they ask him his name. It’s Kevin. The eldest woman quotes something that feels like a Bible verse (probably from Matt’s Gospel). They ask the chief to come with him, and when he refuses, they tranquilize him.
When he awakens, he’s tied to a post. After he yells some unkind words to the women and the women drown him. They seem to think he’s our Kevin, but he’s definitely not. However after they’ve already killed him and try to revive him, none other than Kevin Garvey Sr. (a.k.a. Scott Glen) asks the ladies what they’re up to.
- Regina King and Carrie Coon absolutely rock every scene together. They both got robbed last year at the Emmys. So far we’ve only seen Regina King twice, fingers crossed we get more in the next few episodes.
- Not sure if you noticed at the beginning of the episode, but it’s “written by The Lonely Donkey Kong and Specialist Contagious.” Gotta love the respect given to Wu-Tang considering they play a surprisingly strong role in the episode.
- Lindeloff playing with multiple timelines could cause some to worry given how some feel about “Lost.” That said, I’m more impressed he chose not to stay away. Get that monkey off your back Damon! Oh yeah, and let the “Westworld” folk know you’re coming for them. Love it.
- Carrie Coon absolutely nails this episode, so expect this to be the Emmy episode. It’s a really great mix of subtle work and showy moments. A great showcase for her.
- Absolutely killer episode, and it might be one of the strongest of the season due to its pathos-driven punch. Get ready to have stuff go wild over the next couple of months.
Music Cues of the Week:
- Opening Cue: “Nothing’s Gonna Stop me Now”- David Pomeranz (This is the theme from “Perfect Strangers,” the show that Mark Linn-Baker was on in the 1980s)
- “Appleseed John”- The New Christy Minstrels
- “Son of the pious Itinerant (Hallelujah, I’m a Bum)”- The New Christy Minstrels
- “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis” – Judy Garland
- “Protect Ya Neck” (The Jump Off) – Wu-Tang Clan
- “Lucia Di Lammermoor, Act 1 Scene 2”- Elizabeth Hainen
- End Credits: “I Never Heard a Man”- The Original Five Blind Boys of Mississippi