In ‘The Leftovers’ recap, as the final season begins, Kevin Garvey and his family prepare for the seventh anniversary of the sudden departure…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Eight episodes will complete the story that is ‘The Leftovers’ — one of the most ambitious, creative and unique series to debut on television over the past 25 years — and the first kicked off on Sunday night setting up all sorts of questions with seven hours left to give us the answers.
Of course if you’ve been watching ‘The Leftovers’ for the past two seasons you already know that answers are tough to come by on this series, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. In fact, the unknown and attempting to decipher all the messages scattered throughout this series help to make it can’t miss television from week to week.
As the final season begins, ‘The Leftovers’ once again travels to the past before returning to the future.
This time the show begins in 1844 with a fundamentalist family who are hoping and praying for the Lord to rapture them from Earth to return to his side in heaven. Sadly with each passing day where the preacher tells them to climb on top of their roof and wait for God to take them, they walk down the next morning with all the other townspeople laughing and mocking them for their beliefs.
By the end of the sequence only the wife in this devoted flock is still climbing on top of the roof and waiting for the Lord to take her, but despite her belief that she’ll be taken away, every morning she’s still just walking down that same ladder, disappointed to still be alive.
Perhaps there’s some symbolism in all of that because the scene then immediately shifts to Jarden, Texas and the welcome center that was invaded last season by the Guilty Remnant in an evil trick after three local girls went missing only to return clad in white with a message of retribution for the people who traveled there looking for salvation. Led by the mysterious Meg, who went from confused follower to prophetic leader over two seasons, watches as her latest disciple walks outside and looks up into the sky where she spots a bomb headed straight for her.
It turns out the government took this threat from the Guilty Remnant quite seriously and decided to wipe them all out — 93 in total — rather than deal with their crazy delusions about the Sudden Departure and the people left behind in its wake. After the bomb drops, the story picks up three years later and that’s where we find Kevin Garvey in a familiar situation with his family all around him.
With that said, let’s recap the first episode of the final season of ‘The Leftovers’ titled ‘The Book of Kevin’…
Three Years Later
As the story picks up three years later, we find Kevin Garvey has returned to his job as the chief of police — this time in Jarden, Texas rather than Mapleton, New York. He’s leading law enforcement alongside his son Tommy, who returned to the family fold at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, John Murphy has undergone a dramatic conversion from a season ago. His wife Erika is gone — to where we don’t know — and he’s taken up Isaac’s old position as the palm reading medium who speaks to the dead for the people willing to pay him a fee to talk to those who have departed. Now that might seem like a stark contrast for John considering he kicked Isaac out of town last season, but his daughter’s dramatic return and sudden death have left him rattled.
While John has taken up Isaac’s old job, it turns out he doesn’t possess the same skills because he has an earpiece connected with a voice coming from upstairs telling him what to say. The voice belongs to Laurie Garvey, who is now married to John, and she mines social media sites for information to pass along to the people showing up looking for comfort after losing someone to the Sudden Departure. It seems they aren’t doing it for money — they actually shred the payments from the folks visiting them — but instead they are just trying to offer them some closure and comfort as a good deed.
Nora Durst is still working as an agent of the Department of Sudden Departures but now she’s a liaison to the police department as they deal with the flood of people still pouring into Jarden, Texas looking for a miracle. Nora is walking around with a broken arm for a reason we don’t know yet but she’s very much still in love with Kevin and they are sleeping next to each other every night — without him hand cuffed to the bed this time.
Matt Jamison is running the local church where he’s preaching the word to parishioners while extolling the miracle he witnessed when his comatose wife Mary returned from the dead and then gave birth to their holy child, Noah. Matt loves to get everybody riled up about the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, which is only two weeks away. Matt has also welcomed Michael Murphy — John’s devout son — into his parish as an assistant.
Of course there are still plenty of unanswered questions about Erika Murphy’s whereabouts as well as baby Lily — the prodigal child given to Nora and Kevin from Tommy at the end of season one. Her name is mentioned so there will definitely be more to that story at some point in the future.
This particular day where ‘The Leftovers’ picks up happens to be Tommy’s birthday, which everyone celebrates, including his sister Jill, who returns home from college for the occasion. She’s living away from home now while avoiding staying in town because Jill knows if she stays with her father it will only make her mother jealous but if she stays with Laurie, she’ll have to deal with a night full of apologies as she continues to try and make up for all the mistakes she made after joining the Guilty Remnant.
The birthday celebration goes off without a hitch but that doesn’t there aren’t other strange happenings going on around Jarden, Texas with two weeks to go until the anniversary of the Sudden Departure.
Dogs of War
Following a season where Kevin Garvey died and was resurrected at least three times, he’s trying to inject a little normalcy into his life while settling into a routine again while being a police officer. Remember last season when Kevin died from the gunshot and he traveled to the Purgatory Hotel and had to select another outfit from the closet — the one he ultimately chose before his escape was his police officer’s uniform from Mapleton. Of course, Kevin also chose a suit in one of the dream sequences where he became an international assassin and he’s now telling part of that story to his son later in the episode.
The lines between life, death and purgatory are very much blurred on this show.
Kevin polices the town alongside his son Tommy and while they are still dealing with the cults coming to Jarden looking for a Miracle — including a group who have built a gigantic Gary Busey blow up statue in hopes that he’ll return on the anniversary of the Sudden Departure — life seems fairly regular for them.
Kevin has made peace with Laurie and it seems like John is his best friend again despite being shot by him a season ago. Kevin and Nora are better than ever and enjoying passionate and intimate moments at night together.
Of course the next morning after Nora leaves for a bike ride, Kevin puts a plastic bag over his own head, duct tapes it shut and attempts to asphyxiate himself for reasons we don’t quite understand — or maybe we do by the end of the episode.
At work, Kevin has his staff of police officers and he seems happy — or as happy as we’ve seen him in three seasons — but the past isn’t through with him just yet. On this particular day, Kevin receives a visit from Dean — the dog hunting madman from the first season who convinced Kevin that the canines in town had turned evil and they went on a killing spree together.
Dean has arrived in Jarden looking for help from his old pal Kevin. It seems Dean has discovered that the rabid dogs have now found a way to transform into humans and they’ve infiltrated the government. Not only that, but Dean believes this is all part of an elaborate plan to finish what the Sudden Departure started by some sort of planned Armageddon that will wipe out the rest of the world in one fell swoop.
While Kevin certainly indulged Dean during his days living in Mapleton, it’s clear he’s out lived these ravings — especially those attached the man-dog conspiracy theories — and he sends him on his way. Dean isn’t done with Kevin, however, because the next day he goes gunning for the chief of police, believing that he’s somehow in on the conspiracy now.
After shooting up the police car with Kevin and Tommy in it, Dean prepares for the kill shot to eliminate his old hunting buddy. Just before he can pull the trigger, Tommy fires a bullet from his gun that takes off half of Dean’s head.
As Kevin deals with the fallout while his shirt is decorated in Dean’s blood, he can’t help but notice a volatile dog pulling at the sheet covering the dead body before ripping away a sandwich that was hidden in one of the pockets. The sandwich — according to Dean — had the DNA from a particular Wyoming senator who had been transformed from one of those dogs into human form. That was Dean’s evidence that Kevin dismissed, but he couldn’t help but notice how the dog tore it away from the body before the animal was sent packing by the police.
Baptism by Fire
Matt Jamison’s flock is continuing to grow in Jarden as he offers up a baptism to anybody in town looking to be saved by the Lord the next day after preaching his sermon. Sadly, the next morning Matt and his followers run into a group of protesters, who have contaminated the lake where the baptism is set to take place out of anger following the death of the members of the Guilty Remnant three years ago.
It seems the official story involved a gas leak in the welcome center and when one of the members of the Guilty Remnant lit a cigarette, the whole place exploded and killed everybody. The people protesting the baptism believe that the ATF blew them all up with a bomb (which is the true story) and they are rather angry about it.
When Kevin shows up and see the two groups at odds with each other, he looks at the “toxic” barrels in the lake and decides to walk over to the bridge and just dive right in. The whole crowd is silenced for a moment until Kevin emerges unharmed as he declares that the group didn’t poison the water, it was all just a hoax.
Given the asphyxiation scene from earlier in the episode along with Kevin diving into toxic water, you have to wonder if he’s not inviting death? Or perhaps Kevin is just testing the limits of his own immortality because he died three times last season — drowning in the lake before an earthquake drained the water, drinking poison and returning from the dead and finally being shot by John — yet he lived to tell about it.
Either way in this scenario, Kevin has managed to prove the group protesting the baptism didn’t actually poison the water. Before Kevin can leave the lake, Michael joins him in the water and asks to baptize him in front of everybody. Kevin agrees but after his head is dunked underwater, he tells Michael that this time didn’t count.
Countdown to Extinction
When Kevin returns home, he finds Mary sitting with Nora and they both have to tell him something. It seems Mary is leaving Matt and returning home to Mapleton, New York with baby Noah in tow.
Mary explains to Kevin how Matt has forbade her from leaving the city limits in Jarden out of concern that she only woke up because she’s in this town. She’s finally reached her breaking point with Matt’s religious fanaticism and she wants out.
Kevin offers to talk to Matt and try to smooth things over but that plan runs awry when Mary reveals something else about her wayward husband. It turns out Matt has been writing a book about Kevin for months and keeping it a secret from him.
“He got pretty excited when you rose from the dead”
~ Mary to Kevin
Now Kevin has gone from sympathy to anger and he’s about to address this situation with his brother-in-law.
Kevin arrives at the church to confront Matt about the book he’s writing. It seems Matt was inspired by Kevin’s death and resurrection three different times since arriving in Jarden and he’s taken it as gospel. In fact, Matt believes that Kevin’s story is really an addendum to the new testament of the bible and this chapter is crucial to the people who were left behind during the Sudden Departure.
Kevin is irate and he doesn’t get much support from Michael or even John when he arrives at the church. John has seemingly taken up with Matt’s cause because he now believes that his daughter Evie may not be dead despite her entire group being incinerated by that bomb three years ago. John believes that Kevin may hold the key to Evie’s resurrection the same way he watched him take a bullet straight to the chest and then walk out of that dog kennel alive and well.
Kevin demands that Matt hand over the book — it turns out there’s only one copy and it’s hand written — before he storms outside and prepares to burn it up inside a barbecue. Before Kevin drops the book into the fire, he looks up into the sky and sees a plane writing out a message — 13 days to go. It’s the time left until the anniversary of the Sudden Departure.
Kevin feigns that he’s not buying into the miracles or religious symbolism attached to his many deaths and subsequent resurrections but he also seems to believe in it as well. Why else would Kevin attempt to kill himself only to be revived time after time after time?
As Kevin looks at the message in the sky he seems a carrier pigeon and a moment later we flash to that same bird landing on a perch and delivering a message that gets dumped into a bucket. A woman gathers up all the birds and puts them on the back of her bike before riding to a local church where she delivers them to a nun. After dropping off the birds, the nun — who happens to be Australian — turns to the woman and asks if she knows someone by the name Kevin?
The woman turns around and it’s an older Nora — except now she’s being called Sarah — and she denies knowing anybody named Kevin.
What does it all mean? Where is this story going? Strap in kids, the final season of ‘The Leftovers’ is just getting started.
‘The Leftovers’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET for a brand new episode.