The Leftovers: Season 3 Episode 4 review – G’Day Melbourne
This review contains spoilers.
Finally, we reach ‘G’Day Melbourne’ – an episode I had always assumed (pre-season) would be the starting point for the Garveys living in Australia. Instead, we have Kevin and Nora simply visiting down under, as a means for Nora to take down the likely-deceptive organisation that she is tracking.
Following a brutal argument that involved burning The Book of Kevin, Kevin and Nora now appear to have fallen out for good. Thanks to Carrie Coon’s adept acting, you could see the line that Kevin crossed sparking a furnace in her eyes, even though her tone remained calm and reasonable. To tell your partner that they should go and be with their departed children (which could be construed as saying “go and kill yourself”) is very harsh indeed.
I think the writers have intentionally broken Kevin and Nora apart so they can free Kevin up for the drug-fuelled journey that he’s about to go on with his father, who conveniently happened to be watching G’Day Melbourne at the precise time that Kevin moved along the window in the background (the camera focusing on this made it clear that someone important would see it).
If Kevin had remained tied down to Nora, it would have placed restrictions on the surreal trip that’s likely about to unfold. So whether Kevin and Nora do makes amends with one another down the line (perhaps they don’t, due to how an elderly Nora reacted to Kevin’s name in the flashforward), I think this could be the end of their relationship, which was always a turbulent coupling.
Nora’s distraught reaction at being turned down by the group (following being asked that cancer question from the previous episode) that she met with indicates that maybe she wished to go through with the procedure after all (being zapped by their device). Since Nora is a realist and doesn’t seem to be believe that her children are alive, this means that she simply wishes for the device to kill her. Kevin is typically the one to show suicidal tendencies, not Nora, but she could easily have reached the end of what she is able to endure.
Earlier on in the episode there was a seemingly mad man at the airport who was babbling about preparing for a nuclear explosion. When the hotel attendee stated “the explosion?” to Kevin later on, outside of the hotel, as though Kevin should know what he was talking about, for a moment it seemed like the room containing Nora might have somehow exploded (which wouldn’t have made sense, as Nora is alive in the flashforward – if it is indeed a flashforward).
Before the attendee could truly explain, Kevin Sr stole away Kevin’s attention, but I think it’s possible that he could be talking about a large, perhaps Nuclear blast of some kind that has landed elsewhere. This would take us into the endgame apocalypse much sooner than anticipated (which is supposed to be a large flood). Personally, I think a nuclear explosion has happened and that this occurred at sea, the result of which will form a large tsunami to form which will head straight towards Australia’s shores (thereby delivering the great flood).
We’re made to think that the building is being evacuated because of the fire that Kevin started, but perhaps it was for an altogether different reason – something grander which is on the news and which the world is panicking about. Anything could be possible at this point, but the placement of the (not so-)crazy man who ranted about a nuclear bomb at beginning the episode seems too coincidental.
Moving onto Evie, this episode had us considering the possibility that Evie was genuinely alive and trying to live a new life in Australia. It seemed believable because The Guilty Remnant seem capable of eluding even death, under Meg’s intelligent guidance. As soon as Kevin sent the photo to Laurie, given how she reacted to it, I knew that the photo didn’t in fact depict Evie at all.
Eventually (and wonderfully looping back in that line from a previous season about not telling someone in the midst of a mental delusion that they are having a delusion) Laurie revealed to Kevin that he was only imagining Evie’s presence. His focus was in fact a muslim girl who looked nothing like Evie and eventually Kevin saw that.
For me, this is yet another example of the writers being a bit regressive with how they are handling Kevin. We’ve seen Kevin see people who aren’t there before, so to present this to us at this big reveal at the end of an episode seems little thin. Its intent was no doubt to show that Kevin is still mighty broken (so that he can be fixed by what’s to come), but I feel like this reveal trod over old, familiar ground too heavily.
What the fake Evie (Daniah) was holding when Kevin first saw her is very interesting indeed, whether Daniah was genuinely holding this text, or – more likely – Kevin imagined what was written on the card. This was: SURAH 81. Not only does this repeat the use of the number 81 after last week’s Niagara ’81, but this is actually a direct reference to a passage from the Q’uran. This passage reads as so:
When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]
And when the stars fall, dispersing,
And when the mountains are removed
And when full-term she-camels are neglected
And when the wild beasts are gathered
And when the seas are filled with flame
And when the souls are paired
And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked
For what sin she was killed
And when the pages are made public
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].
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
[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.
And your companion is not [at all] mad.
And he has already seen Gabriel in the clear horizon.
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.
I don’t think the writers’ intent in including this reference is to praise the Qu’ran in any fashion (the show instead actually walks a wonderful line between slamming religion and using its core principles as the show’s primary tools); I think it’s simply to show parallels between this passage and what’s ahead in the show. It’s there to give fans a host of tantalising phrases to mull over and theorise about.
Let’s take a moment to break SURAH 81 down. Take the line ‘full-term she-camels are neglected‘, for example. Some fans are already speculating that the full-term she-camel could be Nora and that Nora could currently be pregnant. The signs were certainly planted to indicate this; her and Kevin had sex on a baby changing table at the airport; a baby was dumped on her; the cancer question concerned whether to kill a baby. Nora’s answer to the question could be seen in an even harsher light when you consider that the group asking the question might have known that she carried a child (or two).
And when the seas are filled with flame could easily be a reference to what I theorised above – that the nuclear explosion in fact impacted in an ocean. And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed could easily be Patti and the post-death discussions that he had with Kevin (or it could even be Evie – who was buried alive by a missile). Those that run [their courses] and disappear could easily be referring to the departed.
And your companion is not [at all] mad could easily be referring to Kevin or Kevin Sr not being insane at all (as we know). For whoever wills among you to take a right course really reminds me of Kevin Sr’s Niagara ’81 line “you want a real adventure, you’ve got to charter your own course.”
It’s probably the deepest reference that the show has ever made, in the sense that it gives fans a whole host of elusive quotes to ponder over. It seems that the writers are not only delving into Christianity for their final swan song, but also into Islam. It’s a risky book to reference in this day and age, and I’m not entirely fond of this passage being indicative of what’s the come in the show, because in a way that implies that the Qu’ran itself is truth.
Taking it at face value, however, it’s an amazing deep cut reference from the writers, which echoes the show’s narrative beautifully. Given how far back some of the parallels in SURAH 81 span, Lindelof and co could easily have had this passage in mind even before the show started, with the intent to only reveal it in the show’s final season.
The song choices this week were absolutely sublime and far elevated beyond anything else that’s been chosen this season. From the title sequence’s ‘This Love is Over’ by Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs, to the way that the episode played around with A-Ha’s ‘Take on Me’, to The Avener’s genius reworking of John Lee Hooker’s ‘It Serves You Right to Suffer’, the selections were not only (as always) highly relevant to what’s going on in the show, but they were also simply great songs.
One more, due to some slightly strange writing choices, this fell very slightly short being being a truly perfect episode of The Leftovers for me (we’re yet to have one this season), but this was still refined, layered and beautiful television, with a reference choice that blows my mind, in both its accuracy and its choice of origin.
If I’m right about the explosion being nuclear, then this episode was a turning point for the show – it’s the beginning of the end for this world, the precise date of which is now only six days away, according to the show’s widespread mythology (even the man on the bench quoted six days at Nora).
This is why I think (minor spoiler ahead) the next two episodes revert back to Jarden characters for their focus (who make their way to Australia) – because the writers want to halt the calamitous brilliance that’s about to occur in Australia and build some suspense before events get really interesting for Kevin and Kevin Sr in Episode 7, which has a very intriguing title and sounds like it’s going to be something very special indeed.
Image credits: HBO