After a series of truly bizarre events throughout the final season, ‘The Leftovers’ ends with the extremely emotional reunion of Nora and Kevin. The catch? Well, you’re just going to have to read on to find out.
Ladies and gentleman, it is finally time for the mysterious and fascinating The Leftovers to come to an end. The series finale episode kicks off with Nora (Carrie Coon) finally getting what she wanted: to travel to where ever it is her children are. Before leaving she gets to say a final goodbye to her brother, Matt (Christopher Ecclestone), and then she goes inside a bizarre circle chamber. The chamber fills up with fluid and Nora gasps for one last breathe before going under and then suddenly the screen goes blue. It’s the sky, and we watch as doves start to fill the screen as the camera pans down to a much older Nora with long grey hair and a baseball cap. Or should we call her Sarah? As you might remember, this is the same woman we saw in the final season’s premiere episode.
Nora, aka Sarah, brings the recently captured doves to a nun who asks her if she knows someone named Kevin. He apparently showed up with a picture of Nora asking if the nun knew her, but the nun claims she lied to him. Bizarre because, well, she’s a nun and also because Nora/Sarah tells her she doesn’t know anyone named Kevin. When Nora/Sarah returns to her home she panics. We watch as she locks her doors, closes her blinds and then apparently starts packing. But, it’s too late. There’s a knock at the door and when Nora opens it to see Kevin her face washes over with emotion. When we finally get to see Kevin he’s older just like Nora, and for some bizarre reason he introduces himself as if they don’t know each other. He tells her exactly that — that they don’t know each other very well — but that they talked a couple of times. Nora is clearly confused because this isn’t true: they were married, they moved to Miracle together, there’s a lot more to their story than he’s saying.
Nora’s reaction is to accuse Kevin of lying. She mentions the nun and that he’s been showing people a picture of her and that’s how he found her, but he laughs it off as if she’s crazy. One thing to note? Kevin can not stop smiling as he stares at Nora. It’s as if he’s seeing her for the first time all over again. He refuses to let Nora ruin the moment and interrupts her to invite her to a dance. Nora is stunned. She asks him to leave through tears and he tells her that he’ll be there if she changes her mind.
No, Kevin’s Not Crazy & Neither Is Nora
Just when you think something really, truly weird is going on we find out that it’s not. Nora calls Laurie, who is also much older but living back in America and holding a baby on her lap. Apparently Nora and Laurie have been in touch all these years and Nora believes it was Laurie who told Kevin where she was. Laurie vehemently denies this because she’s been acting as Nora’s therapist all these years, then tells Nora that she called her because she wants to go to the dance and wants approval from someone else. Nora screams at Laurie that this isn’t true, hangs up on her, and heads back home. Later, Nora goes to the dance.
It turns out the dance is not a dance, it’s a wedding, and when Nora finds Kevin he continues the charade of pretending to barely know her. He even tells her that he never left Mapleton and that he’s still a cop there. Despite the charade Nora manages to get Kevin to talk about her brother, Matt, and his funeral. He tells her over 400 people came and that Matt’s wife, Mary, gave the eulogy. Kevin also shares that his daughter, Jill, got married and has a one year old — likely the baby we saw sitting on Laurie’s lap earlier. His son, Tommy, also got married but it didn’t work out. When Nora asks Kevin if he ever got remarried he says no because he was always holding a candle for her. Nora gets overwhelmed by this and changes the subject immediately to ask how Kevin’s dad is, and we learn he’s 91 years old and still going strong.
Nora uses this to bring up Kevin’s mortality. She jokes that being “immortal” runs in the family, and Kevin gets serious and tells her that he had a heart attack a few years back and now has a pacemaker. He’s officially not immortal. After an interruption by the bride Kevin asks Nora to dance, and she quietly agrees. It’s clear that they are both emotional as they take the dance floor together, and slowly but surely they begin to embrace each other as they rock back and forth. She asks him one more time how he found her and he tells her the same thing he’s been telling her all along: that he’s on vacation and he saw her riding her bicycle. Nora’s had enough and she tells him she can’t do this because it’s not true, then leaves him standing alone on the dance floor.
Both Kevin & Nora Finally Tell The Truth
The next morning, after a torturous night for Nora I’ll get to in a minute, Kevin shows up at her house again. He storms into her backyard where she’s sitting and finally tells her the truth: that when her brother, Matt, told him that she was gone but he never believed it. He had a “feeling” she was still here. He tells her that he was determined to find her after that so every year since he has spent his two weeks of vacation in Australia. Kevin says he shows her picture to everyone he meets hoping they’ll know her but up until he met the nun no one had. Now Kevin is crying as he tells Nora that once he saw her he didn’t know where to start or what to say, which is why he was pretending everything they had been through never happened. He hoped it would give them another chance. Nora’s response to this? She invites him inside for tea.
Once they are sitting down, Kevin tells he’s still in Jarden (aka Miracle) in the same house. Nora confesses that she talks to Laurie sometimes, which seems to upset Kevin since it’s likely Laurie knew he was looking for her all these years. Nora also tells Kevin that he was right, that she needed to see her children, and explains how she said goodbye to Matt and went to the other side. We don’t get to see what Nora experienced, but she tells him in detail that it was essentially the exact same world they are in now, all the while being the complete opposite. As if it was another plane, a mirror of where they are now. The difference? The people on the other side have lost so much more than they have. As Nora puts it, “Over here? We lost some of them. Over there? They lost all of us.”
She did, eventually, find her children. When she got to Mapleton she said most of the houses were abandoned and overgrown with weeds, but she found her way back to the home she shared with her family. Nora shares that she was too scared to knock on the door so she just stood across the street watching the house and waiting for any sign of her family. Eventually the front door opened and her children came outside, but she didn’t recognize them. Her son was a teenager, her daughter eleven years old. Nora also saw her husband come outside, but he was with another woman. She said that they were smiling and seemed happy, that they were the “lucky ones” because they had each other. She was the ghost in this scenario, and she immediately knew she had no place there. To get back she had to track down the man who made the machine in the first place and beg him to make another, which he did.
So, why didn’t she call Kevin when she got back? She thought too much time had passed, and she didn’t think he would believe her if she told him where she had been. Kevin tells her he does believe her and they take each others hands as they both cry. “You’re here,” he tells her. “I’m here,” she responds. The camera pans outside and we watch as slowly but surely Nora’s doves return while the sun sets behind her house. The end.
Here’s What’s Up With The Doves
Since this is likely extremely symbolic, let me explain the doves. As you see in the beginning Nora (then going as Sarah) catches a bunch of doves, puts them in a cage, and rides them over to the nun. Later that night when she shows up at the wedding and the bride interrupts her conversation with Kevin, we learn what the doves are for. The nun brings them to weddings where guests are asked to write notes that are attached to the doves and then they are released into the sky. There is also a goat that is brought around the wedding so that guests can put their beaded necklaces around it’s neck. After the wedding when Nora first returns home her doves are not back in their cage. She rushes over to the nun’s house and demands to know what the nun did with her trained doves, but she hasn’t done anything. On her way home Nora finds the goat from the wedding trapped on a fence. The necklaces he was given were never removed before he was released, and Nora has to help free him by removing them and detaching him from the fence he’s stuck to. She brings the goat back home with her and is feeding it when Kevin shows up. As already mentioned, once Nora and Kevin reunite the doves start to return.
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