The End is Near: Fresh theories on how The Leftovers might end

By ·May 18, 2017 10:30 am

This is a theories piece and therefore it contains a wide variety of potential spoilers.

In case you missed it, ahead of this glorious show’s third and final season I created a theories article. In this I revisited Season 1 and Season 2 to find clues that might hint at what’s to come in the show. From these, I then crafted my own theories about how the endgame of the show might play out.

Now that we’re over the half-way point for Season 3, the show has both confirmed some of my theories as accurate, while leaving others hanging. This mid-point is perfect time to reassess those theories and to create some brand new theories to take into the final few epsiodes of Season 3.

FOR REFERENCE: We theorise how Season 3 of The Leftovers might end by hunting retrospectively for clues

What I got right:

  • Australia is the key to salvation – this was always a given, in light of the marketing information about Season 3 and Lindelof’s predilection towards the continent. While Australia has been featured a fair amount so far, I’ll admit it hasn’t been as crucial to answers as I had hoped (yet), but it definitely will be, for the simple fact that the rest of the season will play out down under.
  • We will meet the man from Australia who went to the other side and cannot die – in my recent review of Episode 5, I explained how I got this theory spot on. I theorised that Bill Camp would turn out to be this man and I was right. This is the same character that we saw twice in the afterlife and it’s the same man that the publisher in Season 2 was referring to.
  • In my review of Episode 4, I predicted that the location of the nuclear explosion would be in the ocean and I was correct. This theory was aided by text within SURAH 81 (see below).

What it is too early to tell on:

  • Our perspective on The Guilty Remnant will be altered through the reveal of their secret origin – the season opened with what very much looked like an early form of The Guilty Remnant. This clan were dressed in white and they undertook resolute (and seemingly religious) practices. The show is yet to confirm if this clan is linked to the GR at all, but I think they will be.
  • Kevin will adopt Epictetus’ philosophy fully before the end – this is still far too early to tell, but I think Episode 7 will shed a lot of light on Kevin’s endgame stance. We know that he adopts an alternate persona in that episode, which could be seen as ‘knowing who you are’ and then ‘adorning yourself accordingly’ (the alternate persona being the guise that is is being adorned).
  • Fire and hallucinogens will prove key to clarity – there has been mention of God’s Tongue this season (in Episode 3), but no one has used it yet. There has also been one instance of fire (in Episode 4), but it is not fire but rather water that seems to be the motif of this season (the flood, Nora’s hotel scene, the submarine), but it’s early days yet.
  • The world will descend into full primal chaos – this has failed to happen so far, but I always expected this to happen at the end of Season 3. We haven’t come quite close enough to the apocalypse yet to allow people the opportunity to begin acting primally chaotic. We did see minor panic outside the hotel after the nuke went off and we did see a potentially end of the world-inspired sex orgy, but other than these, the world’s population remains pretty civil so far.
  • The Garveys will kick start the world anew from Australia – I am positive that this will happen. Kevin Sr thought he was the one whose purpose it was to do this, but he has since realised that he needs his son. I think together the two will save the world and stop the flood (using the interconnected song mentioned in Episode 3 – more theories on this are below).

Two correct theories and five partially correct/still pending theories isn’t a bad result at all. Importantly, this season has thrown some truly surprising references our way so far, so I think it’s pertinent to craft some new theories, to add to my above predictions. Below you’ll find my newest theories and my reasoning behind them.

Almost all of SURAH 81 will come true

What Kevin perceived as Evie holding up ‘SURAH 81’ – a reference to a passage from the Qu’ran.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 4 – G’Day Melbourne

In Epsiode 4 Kevin perceived Evie standing in the background of the ‘G’Day Melbourne’ TV show, holding a sign that read SURAH 81.

Explaining my theory

This turned out not to be Evie at all and just as Kevin imagined her face, I think he also imagined what was being held up on this card.

Either way, I think SURAH 81 is of great importance and when you delve into this passage, it appears highly aligned to the events in the show. I already posed some theories on this passage, but let’s going into them once more, this time in a little more detail, breaking the passage down piece by piece.

When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]

And when the stars fall, dispersing,

This implies to me that when the end of the world arrives, it won’t only be a great flood; it will also be a blocking out of the sun and perhaps some debris falling from the sky (giving the impression that the stars are falling).

And when the mountains are removed

And when full-term she-camels are neglected

When the mountains are removed could mean another nuke hitting a mountain and exploding it, or this could mean that when the flood arrives and the water levels rise there will be no more mountains, in the respect that what used to be mountains will now be ground level instead. My money’s on the latter.

There were a barrage of clues in Episode 4 that implied that Nora might be pregnant. These included her and Kevin having sex atop a baby changing table and someone lumbering a baby on her. I think these are no coincidence; I think Nora is indeed pregnant. Whether conception happened on the table, or before, I think that the she-camel passage refers to Nora.

This means that Kevin will neglect Nora (whether he knows about the pregnancy or not). Given their huge fall out in Episode 4 I think the show is moving towards a very antagonistic rift between the two lovers (see below for my theory about Nora potentially betraying Kevin).

And when the wild beasts are gathered

And when the seas are filled with flame

The wild beast could refer to the lion sex clan that Matt and co came across in Episode 5. This group already gathered – on the boat – so this line of SURAH 81 has already come true.

Equally, the line about the seas being filled with flame has already happened (the nuclear explosion in the ocean) and this line is partly what enabled me to predict the location of the impact so accurately in my review of Episode 4.

And when the souls are paired

And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked

For what sin she was killed

The line about souls being paired could refer to any of the couples on the show, or even to the departed souls. This line is too difficult to interpret at this stage.

The next two lines about the girl asking for what sin she was killed is mostly likely Patti, who died by her own hand in Season 1 and was then buried by Kevin. This could also be Evie, however, who was arguably “buried alive” when the bomb took out her GR faction. But if this is Evie, then she is yet to appear to ask why she was killed (if you discount Kevin imagining her).

And when the pages are made public

This refers to The Book of Kevin but it depends on your interpretation of “made public.” Technically Grace and her group have already seen it, which is a form of making the book public. Or we could have a much wider public acknowledgement ahead for the gospel, which would see people far and wide take heed of its theology.

And when the sky is stripped away

And when Hellfire is set ablaze

And when Paradise is brought near,

A soul will [then] know what it has brought [with it].

This circles back to the beginning of SURAH 81 and talks about how the end of the world will appear visually. Some have pointed out that the GR were likely killed with a Hellfire missile, which would nicely tie in with this line.

Paradise being brought near is a very intriguing proposition, as this could mean something as simple as the departed’s location being discovered. Some believe they went to “paradise” and “brought near” could simply mean to learn of this location.

However, Lindelof and co said they would never answer the question of where or why the departed went, so I don’t think this will happen. I do think that this line – just like most of SURAH 81 – will come true in some manner, however.

The final line about a soul then knowing what it has brought with it seems to me like it’s talking about Kevin. Kevin doesn’t truly accept or realise the power that he holds. I think once he accepts this, this could be construed as him knowing (learning) what he has to offer in the saving of the world.

So I swear by the retreating stars –

Those that run [their courses] and disappear –

And by the night as it closes in

And by the dawn when it breathes

This again references stars vanishing from the sky, which I think is more a case of the sky being obscured than the stars actually moving. “Those that run their courses and disappear” is no doubt a reference to the departed, or to a future departure (though I don’t think the show will undermine the first departure by having a second departure).

[That] indeed, the Qur’an is a word [conveyed by] a noble messenger

[Who is] possessed of power and with the Owner of the Throne, secure [in position],

Obeyed there [in the heavens] and trustworthy.

This is why I theorised that almost all, but not every word of SURAH 81 will come true; because some of it outright declares the Qu’ran as being the true and accurate word of God. I don’t think Islam (or any religion) is true or accurate, nor do I think the show would ever seek to concretely imply as much.

And your companion is not [at all] mad.

And he has already seen Gabriel in the clear horizon.

The mention of not at all being mad is very clearly a reference to Kevin and Kevin Sr not being crazy, as some suspect them to be. We already know that they are both perfectly sane and that what they are experiencing is real.

The next line about Gabriel is very interesting indeed. To me this implies that Kevin has already come across someone who is in fact more than human. Some angelic guide who has crossed Kevin’s path to guide him a little (think Jacob in LOST).

One could easily claim that this was David Burton, who helped Kevin in the afterlife and who has since claimed to be God, but I think Burton is no more a deity than any man off the street. So perhaps there is someone else we have seen; some minor character who will turn out to be something greater than a man (see my final wildcard theory for who I think this might be).

And Muhammad is not a withholder of [knowledge of] the unseen.

And the Qur’an is not the word of a devil, expelled [from the heavens].

So where are you going?

It is not except a reminder to the worlds

For whoever wills among you to take a right course.

And you do not will except that Allah wills – Lord of the worlds.

This is all more Islamic rhetoric about the Qu’ran and Allah being the true and right path. “Where are you going?” is a very pertinent line for a show about a sudden departure.

I do find the line about the Qu’ran not being the word of the devil very interesting. It’s almost like the text doth protest too much; why would it need to proclaim that something is not the word of evil? Could the show equally be presenting something as good and true, when it is in fact crafted by evil? Think The Man in Black masquerading as John Locke.

God’s Tongue will be consumed again and the user will showcase knowledge that they otherwise shouldn’t know

Kevin Sr trying to learn the tribal song that forms part of his plan to prevent the flood.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 3 – Crazy Whitefella Thinking

In Episode 3, Kevin Sr provided a little more context around what happened to him in the hotel in Perth, when he assisted Kevin in the afterlife. This answer basically stated that Kevin Sr remembered nothing at all of the experience.

Explaining my theory

It wasn’t the answer I wanted, as it destroyed my assumption that Kevin Sr had learned a lot about the afterlife since he reached Australia, but it might just be the answer that we needed. What I mean by this is that God’s Tongue seems to provide the user with a whole host of knowledge that they otherwise do not know.

Under the influence of the drug Kevin Sr adeptly assisted Kevin in the afterlife, right down to knowing that if the fire went out then they would lose the connection. But in Episode 3, Kevin Sr is back to knowing little to nothing about the rules of afterlife communication.

This means one of two things: either Kevin Sr does have this knowledge buried deep within him already and it took God’s Tongue to pull it, or that God’s Tongue gives the user temporary knowledge that you otherwise shouldn’t and wouldn’t have known, as if some entity is speaking through you. Given the name of the drug, I think the answer is the latter.

I’m not saying it was God speaking through Kevin Sr in that Perth hotel, but I do think that the drug links you up with some otherworldly force, which then imbues the drug user with enlightenment about the rules of afterlife engagement. I think the drug will definitely be used again – this time by Kevin – and I think while under the influence of the drug Kevin will say a variety of wise things that he otherwise would not have known.

Nora will betray Kevin in a Judas-like fashion

Nora drenched by the sprinkler system in her hotel room, with the pouring water emulating tears.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 4 – G’Day Melbourne

In Episode 4, after Kevin and Nora fall out, there is a very strange shot of water pouring from Nora’s face as she looks down, almost like a shot of her dead (after hanging herself perhaps, like Judas did). But this is less based on any specific moment in the show and is more based on my suspicion that Lindelof and co will continue to follow emulate Jesus’ narrative.

Explaining my theory

We already have John and Michael and co acting as disciples of Kevin, so I think the Judas narrative will also be replicated in the show. The scene that I mentioned above put Nora in mind for me as the prime candidate for who will betray Kevin.

This season seems to be building a huge rift between her and Kevin, even perhaps to the point of having them become enemies. Even in the flashforward, when Nora is old, she doesn’t seem happy at all at the mention of Kevin’s name.

I think this is because she betrayed Kevin in some major way (perhaps selling him out to en enemy), when the end of the world arrived, and I think when we catch up with that flashforward, the elderly Nora might kill herself as a result – in true Judas fashion (when he could bear his guilt no longer, he took his own life).

It’s a longshot and the betrayer could be a different character entirely, but I think it might go down this way. The show has often shown that Nora is capable of hasty and brutal actions.

Kevin will retrieve the final song from Christopher Sunday in the afterlife

Christopher Sunday listening to Kevin Sr’s plan.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 3 – Crazy Whitefella Thinking

In ‘Crazy Whitefella Thinking’ Kevin Sr lays out his plan to acquire all of the song parts in order to stop the great flood from happening. The reason he thinks this will work is a chicken called Tony pecked the tape labelled ‘Niagara ’81’, which held a recording of a young Kevin and Kevin Sr singing Icy Wincy Spider, during which a harsh rain stopped.

Kevin Sr’s plan is foiled when he falls from a roof and accidentally kills Christopher Sunday, whom held the final song.

Explaining my theory

I think it’s very clear that Kevin will be the one to retrieve this final section of the interconnected song from Christopher Sunday in the afterlife. The narrative has built itself up very precisely towards that conclusion; Kevin Sr wants the song but doesn’t know how to visit the afterlife safely; Kevin Sr has now accepted that he will need his son’s help; in the promo for Episode 6 we see that Kevin Sr asks Kevin to die once more.

It’s a dead certainty, in my opinion, but I still think it will be wonderful to see it played out. We haven’t been to the afterlife since the Season 2 finale and it will be amazing to finally return there. One crucial question is: now that Kevin is in Australia, will the afterlife still be presented as a hotel in Perth?

I don’t think so; much more likely it will be something else this time and I can’t wait see what the writers come up with and how Christopher Sunday acts in that setting. We will also get to hear Kevin sing again; this time probably some ancient tribal song rather than ‘Homeward Bound’.

The Guilty Remnant will return just as the world ends

One member of The Guilty Remnant-like clan in the opening flashback of the season.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 1 – The Book of Kevin

I already theorised last time around that the GR would have some secret origin revealed this season. This looks like it might have been what we saw in the Season 3 opener, though whether that clan were in fact GR-related is yet to be seen.

Explaining my theory

It was a very surprising move for the show to state that the GR were killed off (Meg’s faction, at least), given how heavily the show has leaned on the group up until now. We’re now 5 episodes in and there’s been no GR at all, except for Kevin mistakenly seeing Evie and that elusive Season 3 opener.

I think there’s no way that the show is done with the GR that easily. The end of the world arriving is something that the GR would never ever miss (it’s probably what their ‘any time now’ posters were referring to). Therefore, I think they will return – whether it is literally Meg and co, or some other faction – and I think they will time their return to coincide perfectly with the end of the world events (they might even claim credit for it).

The nuclear explosion will cause a tsunami to hit Australia, which will be construed as the great flood

The submarine mate intentionally detonating the nuclear bomb.

Basis:

  • Season 3, Episode 5 – It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World
  • Season 3, Episode 3 – Crazy Whitefella Thinking

The opener for Episode 5 (which was one of the best scenes on the show) saw a submarine ship mate intentionally detonate a nuclear bomb within the ocean.

Explaining my theory

In Episode 3 Kevin Sr mentioned that a great flood is approaching. I think (and I called this before the submarine scene aired) that it would make logical sense for this flood to have be caused by the nuclear explosion. I don’t know the physics around whether an ocean-detonated nuclear bomb would cause large tsunamis. It seems probable to me, but whether these would be large enough to travel as far as Australia is another ball game.

In real life, tsunamis are caused by earthquakes on the ocean floor. If something so far away from the ocean’s surface can cause such immense waves, then you have to assume that a nuclear explosion near the surface would cause even more severe tidal shifts.

That being said, the news channels in the show don’t seem concerned at all about the potential of devastating waves and I think they would know if any were approaching. So we’ll see how this plays out, but I think it would be a very easy segue for the writers to use this bomb as the source of the flood (I think this is why they decided to have it denote in the ocean in the first place).

Bonus wildcard theory (Season 1): This old man is more than he seems

The old man who says “good morning” to Nora on the street in ‘Guest’.

Basis:

  • Season 1, Episode 6 – Guest

While rewatching ‘Guest’ recently (Season 1, Episode 6), I noticed a moment where Nora is frantically walking the streets, trying to think of a way to get back inside the hotel, and an older man with a white beard passes her, tips his hat and genially and randomly says “good morning,” directly to Nora.

Explaining my theory

This is a very thin theory, which is why I have thrown this in as a closing bonus wildcard, but I can’t ignore my nagging suspicion about this man, so hear me out.

Knowing how Lindelof thinks (I am a huge LOST fan)  and knowing what he likes to hide within shows, I think there’s a slim chance that this man could be a Jacob-like figure within The Leftovers, or perhaps even God himself.

Whereas in LOST Jacob wasn’t conceived as a character until Season 3 and wasn’t cast until Season 5, wouldn’t it be wonderful if this time Lindelof had everything planned and cast from the outset (SURAH 81 being so accurate to events throughout all three seasons implies as much). That would mean that he could have an important deity (or angel) walk among our characters even in Season 1, because he already has the full narrative locked down and the actor tied in.

One thing that could easily shoot this theory down is the fact that the man has a lanyard around his neck that is identical to the ones used in the convention that Nora is attending. This means he might just be saying “good morning” because he recognises Nora from the conferences. But I would argue that if he is some kind of supernatural character, then the precise place that he might want to be is at a convention about the departed (where he knew Nora would be too).

As I said, it’s thin, but I think it’s highly probable that Lindelof has hidden something like this along the way for us to casually miss (and then realise later), and it could be this jolly old man, who is suspiciously close to the common conception of how God is presented (white beard, genial personality). When Nora sees and hears him say “good morning” she ignores him entirely, as I think we are also meant to do.

I hope you enjoyed my second round of theories for the most glorious and intellectually satisfying show on television, and I hope you’re as eager as I am to see how many of these turn out to be accurate. I’d love to hear what you think of my theories and I’d love to hear your own theories, so post them in the comments below and we can begin some interesting debates.

Image credits: HBO

Written by Christopher Hart

Lead Writer and Copywriter

Chris is a Copywriter for a major bank. He an MA in Publishing and a BA in Comparative Literature. He's also a self-published author (Altered Stone).

His areas of interest include LOST, The Leftovers, The Prisoner, Y: The Last Man, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, BioShock, Supergiant Games and Josh Malerman.

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