The Leftovers: Season 3 Episode 6 review – Certified
This review contains spoilers.
Three episodes away from the finale (this final season is, alarmingly, only 8 episodes in length) and we were this week granted one more Laurie-centric outing, before the show bows out. This is only Laurie’s second point of view episode in the show – the other being in Season 2.
Unlike her previous outing, this episode felt rather muddled and off-track, while still managing to retain the usual brilliance of the show in the process. It opened with a flashback (with an alternate, instrumental version of Metallica’s Sad But True playing) of the moment that Laurie chose to leave her profession and join The Guilty Remnant.
This showed Laurie conversing with the mother who lost her baby at the very beginning of the show (a great call back). It was then revealed that Laurie actually tried to take her own life, before changing her mind at the final moment and deciding to join the GR instead.
I’m entirely pro the writers giving us flashbacks of early content like this; it sheds some crucial light on Laurie’s character and gives a little more context around how someone could make that huge jump from normalcy to cult member. Interestingly, Amy Brenneman said that Lindelof and her hashed out this backstory a long time ago and that she always held it in mind when playing Laurie, but she was never sure if the scene would ever be filmed or not.
This is exactly what we need from Season 3; revelations that shed a brighter light on what’s come before. Take Laurie’s little confession about her pregnancy while on the steps with Kevin, for example. I rewatched Season 1 not long ago and I was never certain if Kevin knew about this unborn baby or not (I figured not, since he never mentioned it). This week concretely answered that minor mystery and it was a small but welcome answer.
After that the episode adopted a calmer pace, showing simple interactions between our group, who are now finally all together (bar Kevin having ridden off on a horse, like the coolest messiah ever). The humdrum nature of the discussions felt almost insulting to the grandeur of the narrative that we’re all waiting to see explode, but I think they served a little as a tension relief too.
I’m mainly referring to Kevin Sr’s quick summation of everything that’s going on and everything that they intend to do. This includes getting Kevin to die and learn the song from Christopher Sunday – which I called in my theories – and allowing Kevin the possibility of seeing some of the dead again, such as Evie, which I hadn’t even considered. We’ve already had Jasmin Savoy Brown return for one episode, so it’s perfectly reasonable that we might see her again in the afterlife (if Meg’s GR faction don’t make a last minute comeback).
The mystery of why the ship mate on the French submarine detonated the nuke was also given an answer this week. According to Nora, he thought there was a big egg in a volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and he was convinced that a giant, seven-headed sea monster (straight out of the bible) was going to hatch on the 14th and eat everyone.
As much as I truly adore any mention of sea monsters in any form of fiction, I don’t feel like this was a mystery that needed answering, especially in this fashion. I had assumed that his motivations were more political and to hear that he was another crack pot end-of-the-worlder somewhat cheapens that great scene just a little. It also seems clear now that the cause of the flood will be a storm, rather than the nuke, as I predicted.
Then we have the most baffling moment of this week. This was while many of our characters were sitting having a “last supper”, while Kevin Sr wonderfully ascribed apostle roles to each and every person at the table. In my theories piece I predicted that Nora would be the one to betray Kevin in a Judas-like manner. It seemed right to me, given that Judas killed himself and that Nora seems to be eager to do the same (via the physicists that she continues to hunt). I got the idea right, but the character wrong; Laurie proclaimed herself as the Judas, precisely as she drugged everyone around her.
Now, I’m not sure how this scene was intended to come across and I’m not sure how other fans took it, but in the exact moment of it happening I took it as something different than what it ultimately ended up being. And what I for a moment assumed it was blew my mind. I thought – for a brief minute – that in this action was Laurie pulling away a mask, revealing herself to have been a true villain all along; i.e. that she had always been GR and that this was the ultimate long con, undertaken to place her exactly where she can do the most damage: among our group amidst the endgame.
Just imagine that for a moment – if Laurie’s leaving the GR and all of her ill-will towards them ever since had been a ruse. If she had been Meg’s woman all along, throughout the entirety of Season 2 and what we’ve seen of Season 3. Imagine the mind-blowing twist that would have been; if she used this opportunity to murder or at least remove Kevin’s “apostles” so that she could get at Kevin himself and stop what he is planning. I was so sure they were going that way and even her earlier request to “be a part of it” seemed highly sinister, in retrospect.
I’m mostly upset that they didn’t go through with it, but also a little glad. It would have ruined the warmth of her character, for sure, but it would have been bold and beautiful and thoroughly chilling. It also would have been a beautiful way to bring the GR back in – with their usual manner of slyly being five steps ahead of everyone and their trademark manner of springing a brutal surprise on everyone.
Instead, the writers side-stepped that path, choosing to have Laurie state that she drugged them just so she could speak to Kevin alone, which seemed a little thin to me. The discussion between her and Kevin on the step was riveting, however, and although he spoke like the same old Kevin, in that moment he truly felt like something a little more than a man to me – even if just for a moment. Something close to a messiah.
That’s one of the many things that I adore about this show – it’s ability to tap into the true awe and wonder that can be found within the biblical narratives, while not lowering itself to being preachy of any religion. There’s something magnificent about being in the presence of a man who you feel is someone great (whether he is or not) and that feeling of belonging to some greater purpose can suck anyone in.
During the conversation, Kevin spoke about how he never felt more alive than when he was in the afterlife. This was a truly beautiful moment and I really believe the show could produce something utterly stunning in its next episode – the one in which Kevin assumes an alternate identity.
I’m also – as a hardcore fan – very scared, however. As much as this season has managed to retain the beauty and elegant writing of Season 1 and Season 2, it hasn’t, in all honesty, quite lived up to what I had in my head for this final season. It’s also more alarmingly obvious than ever now that there’s only two episodes left of the show, which doesn’t give the writers a lot of time to do anything at all.
Add to this the fact that the finale is titled ‘The Book of Nora’, which to me makes it sound Nora-focused – as though all of Kevin’s remaining content might be in Episode 7 alone, including his final demise – and it saddens me that the show might not live up to the perfect swan song that I hoped for. But there’s still time yet.
This episode closed with Laurie deciding to take the “elegant suicide” advice that Nora gave – to intentionally toy with the oxygen tubes underwater, so that no one but her (and Nora and Matt, I guess) will know that she committed suicide. It would look like an accident instead, so that Tom and Jill Garvey (whose lack of presence this season feels like someone has robbed something crucial away from us – but at least we got to hear them on the phone, sounding almost as happy as they did pre-departure) won’t be heartbroken by her choice.
Next week is what it all comes down to. I’m hoping for something that would make Carlos Castaneda weep with joy. Something drug-fuelled, mind-bending, cavernously deep and utterly beautiful. Let’s see what Lindelof and co can deliver.
Image credits: HBO