The Leftovers aired its season-two finale on Sunday, the conclusion to one of the more masterful television seasons of 2015. The finale delivered death, anguish, and a glimmer of hope while maintaining its mysterious twists for just more than an hour. Where season one was underwhelming and often moved slowly, season two was a dark horse filled with misery and nihilistic guile. In an era in which the Internet makes it possible for fans of a show to pick up its clues, the audience still can’t figure out who the boogeyman is.
The thing is, the show isn’t interested in exploring that.
Creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta address how we cling to anything that gives us meaning in our lives and a sense of security.The healing process that follows losing family and friends unexpectedly causes misguided coping mechanisms.
Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) continues to try and figure it all out in the world of The Leftovers, where 2 percent of the world’s population—140 million people—instantly disappeared in a rapturelike event. The Guilty Remnants, an all-white-color-wearing cult whose habitual smoking is as haunting as its emotionless personality, emerges as a means of provoking people into remembering those who were lost in the Departure. Communities are left distraught, trying to move on without anything explaining the disappearance of a vast group of people all at once. The sudden exodus in season one of The Leftovers leaves everyone in an existential crisis, questioning the basic foundations of their lives and what it even means to be alive. The season-two finale takes it a step further—now four years after the Departure people have further embraced their respective ideologies.
Meg Abbott (eerily played by Liv Tyler) and Evie Murphy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) join the Remnants’ coup d’etat. Neither lost someone in the Departure, yet both found solace in the mysterious cult. The women’s motives are lost because they are meaningless at their core. Acts are as random as the people carrying them out, and an explanation of why won’t ever provide any resolution.
This is how it is supposed to be with The Leftovers because this is how it is in real life. Sometimes we just don’t get the answers to our questions.
Whereas Meg represents the absolute absence of meaning, Kevin’s shamanistic qualities have him traveling in and out of purgatory. The series is dependent on the state of Kevin, and with each passing moment he is depicted having more of a supernatural ability, refuting the idea that the Departure was a singular and random event.
This is the game Lindelof plays. The ambiguity of events in The Leftovers leaves us wanting more. Is there a divine purpose to the Guilty Remnants? Or is it all nihilistic anarchism taking the helm of a battered society? Does Kevin have supernatural tendencies or is he a schizophrenic looking for his own coping mechanism?
Although its return to HBO is in limbo, the ending of this powerful season of The Leftovers played well as a series farewell. If this is the final episode ever, then so be it. Just like “Dona Nobis Pasem 2″—by Max Richter, who composed the entire score of The Leftovers—the buildup is intense, but an abrupt ending is inevitable.