We theorise how Season 3 of The Leftovers might end by searching retrospectively for clues

By ·January 12, 2017 12:02 pm

The Leftovers, for me personally, is not only the best show still currently airing, but is also one of the very best shows ever made. The fact that we’re big LOST (and therefore Damon Lindelof) fans here probably plays a part in that, but even irrelevant of that fact, The Leftovers has achieved things that few TV shows ever have and words cannot express how happy I am that the show acquired a third and final season, which begins in April 2017.

Ahead of this closing swan song I decided to re-watch Season 1 and Season 2 with a view to spotting any clues that might give hints as to what might happen in the show’s third and final season. I looked for the little nods or foreshadowings and I utilised these to form my own theories about how the entire show might end.

It’s important to note first what we do know for certain about the show’s ending:

  • Season 3 will see the Garveys living in Australia, but the season will pick things up back in Texas first, before moving to Australia for its final episodes.
  • Lindelof long ago revealed that the reason for the departure will never be explained and that we will never find out where the departed people went (it’s a solid move, in my book, as it enables the mystery to remain strong and foreboding).
  • We also know that the writers will have to come up with an ending from scratch, because the book only covered up to the end of Season 1. This doesn’t mean that Tom Perrotta won’t have a hand in crafting the show’s ultimate end, however, since he works on the creative team for the show.
  • Lindelof has called the end of the show “wildly ambiguous but also mega-emotional”.

Below list my theories and highlight my basis these speculations. Naturally, heavy spoilers lay within, for those who haven’t seen the show. And if my theories do prove to be correct, then this also makes my hypotheses potential spoiler content.

NOTE: All of the headings below are my theories, not official information about Season 3.

Australia is the key to salvation

Basis:

  • LOST, Season 4, Episode 9 – The Shape of Things to Come
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 2 – A Matter of Geography
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 3 – Off Ramp
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8 – International Assassin
  • Promotional information about Season 3’s location

Despite coming initially from Tom Perrotta’s mind, this show is Damon Lindelof’s baby, who of course was one half of the creative genius behind LOST. In LOST, when Hurley is playing the board game RISK he points out that “Australia is the key to the whole game” (not to mention the survivors having crashed on a plane coming from Syndey), which to me has always indicated that Lindelof has a strong obsession with Australia and with having Australia be the place where answers lay.

Many times throughout both seasons of The Leftovers Australia has been highlighted as being of importance. Usually this comes from Kevin Sr, who states in Season 2 that he is visiting Australia for an indefinite amount of time to attempt to kick start the world again. When Kevin is on the other side in ‘International Assassin’, Kevin Sr talks to him from the same hotel room in Perth. When Laurie meets the Publisher about her book, the publisher states that there is a “wing nut in Australia who said he went to the other side and cannot die” (which is explored itself in a later theory).

Lindelof has also stated:

“Australia is the end of the world geographically and our show is about the end-of-the-world emotionally,” showrunner Damon Lindelof explains. “And there’s also something about Australian cinema — it’s primal, ancient and spiritual — that felt like it fit The Leftovers, whether it’s Mad Max movies or Walkabout, or Waking Fright or Peter Weir movies.”

Explaining my theory

The show has dropped endless clues that Australia is key to the answers and to salvation. Season 3 being confirmed as being set in Australia only proves that and cements the theory.

In LOST, the Australia being the key clue was never really delivered on in any way, due to the writers not being able to answer all of the mysteries that they posed. I hypothesise that The Leftovers will succeed where LOST wasn’t able to, in that the show will truly utilise Australia as being the key to salvation for not only the characters, but also the world (see my theories below about how this will be achieved).

This might seems like less of a theory and more of a fact at this point, but I wanted to point out the importance of Australia both to Lindelof and to the show’s core mysteries, before I delve into my meatier theories.

Our perspective on The Guilty Remnant will be altered through the reveal of their secret origin

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 2 – Penguin One, Us Zero
  • The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 8 – Cairo
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 3 – Off Ramp
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8 – International Assassin
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 9 – Ten Thirteen
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 10 – I Live Here Now

The basis for this theory comes from Kevin Garvey in Season 1 Episode 2, in which he states:

“A year ago these people didn’t even exist. Now there’s almost 50 of them. Where did they come from? What do they want? You don’t even know who they are.”

It also comes from Season 2 Episode 3, in which Tom Garvey – after spending time undercover in The Guilty Remnant – states:

“They make sense. They know something.”

Explaining my theory

Despite it still being possible that Patti started The Guilty Remnant (in ‘International Assassin’ she reveals that silence holds power, which is why she probably chose it as a tool for the GR), the show has never concretely revealed the origin of the cult and there has been evidence that Patti might not be the source of the group.

When Kevin has Patti tied up in Season 1 he asks her who she reports to. She claims “no one” and Kevin answers “bullsh*t!”. Then in ‘Ten Thirteen’, when Meg sits before a council of her GR superiors and is chided and ordered to obey. These superiors can’t have flourished from nowhere and have most likely existed all along. This gives us an answer to the hierarchy of the group but still not to their true origin.

What fascinates me further is why the GR all appear to be so resolutely devout to their cause. This dedication is brilliantly and keenly observed by Tom in Season 2 Episode 3, when he states: “They make sense. They know something,” and he shows inclinations of sympathising with their cause.

Both seasons so far have held a very heavy focus on the GR, so I expect Season 3 to be no different and since Season 3 is a conclusive season for the show, I think the writers will give us the answers to these GR mysteries. The show often uses flashbacks as a narrative device, so I think Season 3 will use flashbacks that reveal the true origin of the GR and that through this we will learn that underlying knowledge that gives them all such confidence in their cause.

At this point in the show viewers have been made to strongly abhor the GR and their actions. I would argue that while their actions are indeed horrific, you can’t truly judge them until you know what it is that they think they know; i.e. what lies at the core of their philosophy. And knowing this just might change the audience’s view on them a little. Even if we don’t sympathise with them fully, it might make us a little more understanding of their motivations and their plight.

One of their slogans is, of course, ‘Any Day Now’, so whatever future incident that this refers to (if indeed it refers to one solitary incident) could occur in Season 3. I hypothesise that Season 3 will answer all of these intriguing questions about the GR. While the show’s ultimate mystery won’t be answered, the show does have the ability to answer smaller mysteries such as these.

We will meet the man from Australia who went to the other side and cannot die

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 3 – Off Ramp
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8 – International Assassin
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 10 – I Live Here Now

In Season 2, Episode 3, when Laurie visits the Publisher to talk about her book on the GR, the head publisher in the meeting talks about other books on the departure that have swept the world. He mentions What’s Next? first, which is a call back to the author that Nora meets and berates for being a fraud in Season 1.

Then he reels through some other titles and authors, one of which is:

“This wing nut in Australia said he went to the other side and cannot die.”

This means that there is an Australian person who experienced the same things that Kevin did in ‘International Assassin’, before Kevin experienced them, who then decided to tell the world about his experiences (and who probably released a book on the matter).

In ‘International Assassin’ and ‘I Live Here Now’, Kevin meets a man on the other side (played by Bill Camp) who seems to hold an Australian accent. The first time this man is on the bridge and offers Kevin a way out via hanging himself, the second time this man reveals Kevin’s way out by telling him he must sing. This character is never named and knows a great deal about the other side and how to escape back to the world of living, which means he could very well be the man that the publisher is referring to.

Explaining my theory

I hypothesise that Kevin will meet this man in Season 3, upon arriving in Australia, and that Bill Camp’s characters is this man.

There are definitely more people like Kevin (and like Kevin Sr and Michael’s Grandad), who are aware of the other side and who know how to navigate and come back from it. Edward – the man who lives permanently at the top of a tower in Jarden’s town square – is another person who has crossed over, bested his adversary, then returned.

It’s really interesting that one of these men went so far as to write a book about it and that the world actually listened to the degree that a Publisher in America is aware of the book, so the man must be very knowledgable and convincing in telling his story (otherwise no one would believe him enough to publish his book) and I feel that Bill Camp’s character fits this criteria well. He’s already imparted wisdom on Kevin in the afterlife and I think he will prove to be Kevin’s guide in reality too.

This also means that Kevin himself cannot die (which is reenforced by the Season 2 finale when Kevin comes back from the dead for a second time), as long as he completes the trails in the afterlife and does not drink the water, which itself has fascinating implications for what could occur in Season 3.

Kevin will adopt Epictetus’ philosophy fully before the end

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8 – International Assassin
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 10 – I Live Here Now

In the show’s most perfectly sublime episode, Kevin travels to the afterlife, in which he finds a plaque in his wardrobe with a quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus. This reads:

‘Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.’

Epictetus was a fascinating philosopher who believed that we should not be troubled by any loss and that we should instead say to ourselves on occasion: “I have lost nothing that belongs to me; it was not something of mine that was torn from me, but something that was not in my power has left me.” Loss is of course at the heart of this show, so it’s fitting that the writers chose Epictetus to quote and I think that there’s far more to it than it just being a wonderfully apt quote for that particular episode and Kevin’s costume choice.

Explaining my theory

What Epictetus’ belief comes down to – in relation to the themes of the show – is this:

‘To Epictetus all external events are determined by fate and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.’

The key part of that is accepting events (meaning loss of loved ones here) ‘calmly and dispassionately.’ Much like Jim Caviezel’s character in The Thin Red Line learns to accept death with a smile on his face, I think that Kevin will come to fully adopt Epictetus’ philosophy by the close of the show. I can see an event occurring in which Kevin experiences the loss of some of those close to him and I can see Kevin exhibiting nothing but calm, dispassionate grace about it.

This confident and assured Kevin has already been seen once in the Season 2 finale. Having been to the other side Kevin is extremely confident and calm when he confronts John Murphy, even thought Kevin admits that he has no idea what’s going on. It’s exactly this sort of shining confidence (one that one comes with secure knowledge and acceptance) that we’re going to see Kevin adopt more and more towards the end of the show.

This would bring the quote from ‘International Assassin’ full circle. Kevin read it in that episode without fully understanding it, but by the show’s close I think he’ll not only understand it fully (remember how Jack similarly grew to understand what he had to do at the end of LOST), but that he’ll adopt it and embody it, before undertaking whatever is required of him in order to complete what I mention in my theories below.

Fire and hallucinogens will prove key to clarity

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 8 – International Assassin

In ‘International Assassin’ Kevin’s Father, Kevin Garvey Sr., manages to contact Kevin in the afterlife through the use of a fire, a drug called God’s Tongue (though he makes the drug sound incidental to the process of communication) and a television set. Through this communication channel he gives Kevin advice about how to escape the afterlife. Part of the conversation goes as so:

“Dad? Where are you?”

“I’m in Perth. Jesus; we’re staying in the same room.”

“What?”

“Son, I am f*cked up on this shit they call God’s Tongue so I really hope this is real.”

Kevin Sr mentions a couple of times that the communication channel is dependant upon the fire still burning (he asks those in his hotel room not to douse the flames) and when the fire is finally put out, the channel cuts.

In Season 1 it is also mentioned that Kevin Sr – during his mad period – once nearly burned down a library. Knowing what we now know from ‘International Assassin’, this library event was most likely Kevin Sr trying to communicate with the other side back then also.

Explaining my theory

In ‘International Assassin’ Kevin Sr also points out that he is on a drug called God’s Tongue (this and the fire no doubt a direct reference to Moses and God speaking through the burning bush), which Kevin claims is incidental to the communication, but which I feel is probably just as crucial as the fire. Just as water was a strong motif in Season 2, I think fire will not only be the strong motif of Season 3, but that it will be pivotal to starting the world anew. Fire is known as a cleansing element, so perhaps the world must burn before it can be reborn (see the theory below).

The outback in Australia is also a perfect place to go out of your mind on hallucinogens while being wild and primal (think Beth DeVille in Y: The Last Man) and I’m certain that Kevin will do this as some point during the final season, and that what he sees or experiences will enlighten him somehow with answers. I can foresee a naked Kevin waking up in the outback after he’s sleep walked (although Patti is no longer “on” him, his sleep walking might remain).

The world will descend into full primal chaos

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 10 – I Live Here Now

The basis for this theory comes from a line by one of the Frost twins in the Pilot episode. This Frost brother tells the tale of the town’s dogs that witnessed people departing. He states that upon seeing their owners vanish into thin air, the witnessing of which broke them, these dogs ran away and now live as a wild pack in the woods.

To quote him exactly, the brother states:

“They see something like that and they just snap. All bets are off right there. No more chasing sticks, no more licking your own balls. They just go primal, man. The same thing’s gonna happen to us; it’s just taking longer.”

He also points out that humans are simply animals and that we’re all trying to reason out a world that doesn’t make any sense. By the episode’s close we learn that his story about the dogs snapping and living in a pack is true, because we see this pack appear to Kevin (and we know that he didn’t imagine them, because his colleagues find a pile of dead dogs after Kevin unloaded on them). Therefore, by extension, this Frost brother’s musing about it ending similarly for us as a human race might just be correct too. Our final act might be a descent into primal chaos.

Explaining my theory

I theorise that Season 3 will end in a manner of full primal chaos. I stress the word ‘full’ because both Season 1 and Season 2 have already ended in exactly this manner. Both ended in primal chaotic events, both of which involved fire (which links to my earlier theory). Because the writers never knew if this show would be cancelled, I’d argue that they delivered a smaller form of their endgame (primal chaos) twice already, at the end of each season, just in case they never got to see the entire show through (Lindelof might tell you different, but writers are often forced to hedge their bets, whether they admit it or not).

If I’m right, this means that the writers will have to top this chaos for the true ending of the show at the close of Season 3. I’m betting on some truly horrific primal madness that probably affects the entire world, or at least the entire country of Australia. Think of the film These Final Hours (see the note below), crossed with the comic book The Goddamned and you’ll have an idea of the kind of barbaric havoc that I have in mind. After all, in order for the world to begin again (see my final theory below), it first must fall fully and completely.

NOTE: These Final Hours (2013) is a film about the end of the world as perceived by characters in Australia. In the film, the whole world knows that the world is soon going to end, so lawlessness ensues and people do as they please to enjoy themselves before the destruction of mankind. Season 2 of The Leftovers very heavily drew influence from Picnic at Hanging Rock, which I called out straight away as soon as Season 2 Episode 1 aired. Could These Final Hours be the influence for Season 3? I doubt it, only because These Final Hours is such a modern piece of art (much more likely Lindelof and co will draw influence from an older piece of literature, if any), but there’s a definite similarity here that I’d be amiss not to highlight.

The Garveys will kick start the world anew from Australia

Basis:

  • The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 10 – The Prodigal Son Returns
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 2 – A Matter of Geography
  • The Leftovers, Season 2, Episode 6 – Lens

In ‘A Matter of Geography’ Kevin Sr explains that he is not moving to Australia, but is rather “visiting for an indefinite period of time”. When Kevin queries this further, by asking if the voices told him to go to Australia, Kevin Sr states:

“I can sit around and cry about how the world f*ckin’ ended, or I could start it up again.”

The implication being that this is the reason that he is going to Australia: to start the world up again.

The feral dog narrative that I mentioned in an earlier theory also supports the world being reborn back to its old self. By the close of Season 1 (just as he bet Dean he could) Kevin does indeed manage to re-tame the dog that had gone feral. This mirrors hope that society can also be reformed and repaired back to the way that it used to be before the departure.

In Season 2, Episode 6 Matt comments:

“Suffering breeds compassion.”

Which might signify that after all of the great and final suffering has been endured in Season 3, compassion will shine through as a crucial ingredient in the the rebuilding of the world.

Explaining my theory

If my theory about primal finality is correct and the world falls apart, then it will need to be rebuilt in order to survive and Australia seems to be the key to that rebuilding. Kevin Sr’s line about actively attempting to proactively kick start the world anew is, to me, the biggest clue the writers have ever given away as to their intended endgame.

It makes us think of Desmond Hume going down into the well in LOST to manually affect the island’s light source. But instead of pure light being the key, I feel that fire (which is another form of light) will be the tool that Kevin Sr uses to save the world (see my earlier theory about fire).

Although Kevin Sr has the intent of kick starting the world anew by himself in Australia, I get the feeling the his son Kevin will be the person who actually undertakes this and pushes the final button, if you will, under the guidance of both his father and of the man in Australia who wrote the book.

I hope you enjoyed my predictions on what’s to come in Season 3. Use the comments section below to share your thoughts and theories on what you think the final season might hold.

Image credits: HBO

Written by Christopher Hart

Lead Writer and Copywriter

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

Chris' specialist subjects include LOST, The Leftovers, Y: The Last Man, Preacher, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and BioShock.

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